Monday, October 29, 2012


The Initial beginnings of the Virtue of Faith.

Pope Benedict had given us in his "New Evangelization" the four steps we must take to attain Eternal Life; namely, first, Conversion. Secondly, entrance into the Kingdom of God or entrance into the Catholic Church. Thirdly, encounter with Christ and union with the Holy Spirit. And lastly, attainment of Eternal Life. Reviewing the Plan of Salvation is the first thing that every Pope does as he begins his Pontificate: he reminds the faithful the complete steps that lead to eternal life according to the teachings of Christ and handed down to us by the Apostles and their successors the Popes.

I have lived through six Popes and Pope Benedict is my sixth. But it is now only that I am learning the way to have eternal life. I just did not mind the first five Popes though they did their duties. I guess we only become serious when we grow old. Now that I have checked the stay of my soul with Pope Benedict's reminder I suddenly find myself nowhere near eternal life. My salvation is at stake. The Holy Father wants all of us to take our salvation seriously that is why he is calling the "Year of Faith." He wants everyone, Cardinals, Bishops, priests, brothers, sister, parents and children to check if they have the Catholic Faith by checking if they have accomplished, at least two of the four steps. Or as Christ Himself preached, if we had 'repented and believed.' This 'Year of Faith" is just precisely repent and believe.

From the first initial steps of Conversion, through entrance into the Kingdom of God up to the end the attainment of eternal life....are all works of grace. There is absolutely nothing human involved in all these processes. The moment a soul responds to the initial grace given by God to the soul, that grace simply grows  from perfection to perfection until we are perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. This is growing from grace to grace. There is nothing man can do or contribute to aid the process. Any human effort might even forfeit the grace God gives because such attempts would be Pelagianism.

Let us look at the first initial grace. When does God give us that initial grace of Faith? Why does He give it to one and not to another. Why to Dimas and not to the other thief? This question bothered St. Augustine. He gave a very convincing reason but his answer can give us sleepless nights. This initial grace which is the beginning of Faith that gradually leads us to Eternal Life is not given to all. It is, in fact, given to very few. Let us pretend happily that we are one of those chosen;  how is this initial grace given to us and how do we react to it by the prompting of the same grace?

Let us look at the Gospel of the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (keeping in mind that all the  Sundays in Ordinary time are all about 'attained Faith' and are perfect lessons for this 'Year of Faith.') The story of Bartimaeus, the blind man shows the gradual steps he took from a life of sin, through conversion, to the attainment of Faith and finally to perfection and the attainment of Eternal Life. The story shows the four steps enumerated by Pope Benedict except for the union with the Holy Spirit which was not yet given at that time but the wording of the Gospel showed that Bartimaeus eventually attained the final steps.

We want to know what Bartimaeus did to acquire the proper disposition that made God give him the Faith that healed and saved him. This is the disposition we want to acquire during this year of Faith. The Gospel begun by describing the blind man as quietly sitting by the way side. This is the state of all man born in sin. He is totally blind to  all divine and supernatural realities. The 'conversion' of Bartimaeus begun when spiritually, like a blind man he completely lost interest with the world around him. Being blind he knew that there is nothing in the world that can make him happy. The world cannot be a source of happiness for a blind man. So Bartimaeus was just by the road side hoping there is something that could be a source of happiness for him.

Then he heard a crowd passing by together with Jesus. Bartimaeus was not known to have been shouting at people before. But now he calls out 'Jesus Son of David, have pity on me.' Observe that just previously he had become completely convinced that there is absolutely nothing in the world that could make him happy. From this state he now felt there is someone who can make him happy, Jesus. But he addresses Him as a human, the way a patient calls for a doctor. 'Jesus Son of David' was a human description of Christ. But that is the beginning of conversion. So the world around controlled by the devil tells him to shut up. 'Don't ask for happiness from Christ. Ask it from us, from the world, from jobs, from good times, from men, etc. This is the temptation not to begin one's conversion. But Bartimaus cried out the louder but still in the human, natural level, "Son of David, have pity on me."

Then Christ ordered his disciples to call him over. The disciples called him. And Bartimaeus did something that made him have the proper disposition to receive soon the grace of Faith. He obeyed. He obeyed Christ who gave the command. He did not obey the apostles who simply repeated the command. He stood up, threw away his last possession his coat and went to Christ. At this point Bartimaeus received the grace from Christ. Obedience enabled him to approach Christ. That is the only way to approach Christ, through obedience to His command. Then Christ asked him 'What do you want me to do for you," just for those around to hear what Bartimaeus wanted which he will eventually receive. 'Rabboni, that I might see." He was asking to see what could make him happy outside of the world that he had already found useless. He wanted to see divine truths and realities. He wanted to see the way to heaven and eternal happiness. he was praying for Faith. And Christ answered: I have already given you the virtue of Faith. Now, with Faith you will see divine realities, supernatural truths and the way to heaven. Faith has healed your spiritual blindness caused by original sin.

What is the sign of Faith? In the story of the calling of the apostles, they all left all things and followed Christ. Bartimaeus had lost all desires for worldly things due to his blindness, he had thrown away his last possession, his cloak. To show his Faith he follows Christ by living a life in obedience to all His Commandments which he begun when Christ first called him to come to him. Now he would continue to obey the rest of the commands.

The four steps that make up the necessary disposition that God may give us the grace of Faith are: first, the soul must be convinced that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can make him happy. Secondly, that he seeks and wait for a true source of happiness from all around him.  Thirdly, that he listens to the apostles of Christ who are telling us to go to Christ. And fourthly, he obeys Christ whom the apostles preach. A confirmation that he has  Faith is that the soul continues to follow Christ in obeying His other commandments. The  third step is 'Evangelization' and the Fourth is 'Porta Fidei.'

Monday, October 22, 2012


The Conversion of John Cardinal Newman.

The four steps enumerated by Pope Benedict that leads to happiness in Union with God are; first, conversion. Secondly, entrance into the Kingdom of God or entrance into the Catholic Church. Thirdly, Encounter with Christ and the Holy Spirit. And fourthly, Life Everlasting.

We are discussing the first, Conversion. We have seen the ideal manner of conversion as exemplified in the life of St. Therese of Lisieux, co- Patroness of the 'New Evangelization. We saw how she had the natural, initial focus of her mind on the 'Self' and on 'God,'  how she made the intellectual conclusion that the "Self" is inferior to God and, therefore, she ought to subject herself to God.

Then, we saw how having had the proper disposition mentioned above, she received 'grace' from God and as a consequence made the Act of Faith with the assent of her mind and consent of her heart. Her proper disposition that is naturally lost early in age as a result of original sin was sustained by the zealous care of her parents, Zellie and Louise, giving her ample time to make her Act of Faith when her natural proper disposition was prolonged due to the zeal of her parents.

Then we saw how St. Augustine like St. Therese, had the initial natural proper disposition but could not be prolonged because of his pagan environment and, therefore, could not make the Act of Faith in his youth. He lost the proper disposition needed for the Act of Faith but at his adult age he examined his memory to recall the childhood days when he had that proper natural disposition. He recalled that time, put himself in the same proper disposition and made his Act of Faith. A little late in life but he was able to make it. Of course, a sharp mind and a good memory was his advantage.

Let us now look at the conversion of another favorite saint of Pope Benedict, Blessed John Cardinal Newman.  Like St. Therese and St. Augustine, John Newman had the initial, natural disposition wherein his mind at the very early age was focused on the 'Self' and on 'God.' His mind had realized that the God was much superior to the 'Self" so he had to subject himself to that Creator. Unlike St. Therese, but more like St. Augustine, John Newman could not make the Act of Faith. St. Augustine could not make Act of Faith because he lost the natural, initial proper disposition. Newman preserved the initial natural disposition, he continued to use his conscience in thinking of 'Himself' and of 'God' but because of his Anglican upbringing he had wrong informations  about himself and about God. And he could not give an intellectual assent on an erroneous doctrine. And so he could not make an Act of Faith.  Fortunately in his effort to prove that the Anglican Church was the true Church and that the Catholic Church was erroneous he studied the Fathers of the Church. From that study he begun to know 'Himself" and who is God, both in the right way. And with this right information, he was able to receive the grace of God and make his Act of Faith.....a little late but in good time enough for him to finish his conversion, enter the Catholic Church, become a priest, become a cardinal and become a Beatified.

In making the Act of Faith necessary for our salvation, most of us cannot imitate St. Therese because we are no longer young children and we do not have saintly parents as she had. We, also cannot imitate St. Augustine because he had a very sharp mind and memory that enabled him to become like a child again. We cannot also be like Blessed John Cardinal Newman because we did not live our lives in imitation to his fidelity to the voice of conscience. And we cannot devour the writings of the Fathers of the Church to check on the things we believe. We, probably, have no other way except Pope Benedict's 'New Evangelization' to attain eternal life. So let us study his four steps zealously since the schema of the Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris for the Bishop's Synod is different from the Holy Father's....and this is what some Bishops are already using for their homilies. Basing those documents on the Traditional teaching of the Church, specially the Apostolic Commission of Christ to His Apostles written in the Gospel of Matthew, the two documents are defective. We are still hoping that the documents are modified to conform to Pope Benedict's 'New Evangelization.'

In the next article we shall describe an individual's act of Faith.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


The Importance of Conversion - The Conversion of St. Augustine

The 'Year of Faith' had begun. The Holy Father had given his opening address repeating the importance of 'Conversion,' the first step in the whole process of Evangelization. In a Mass at the Vatican with participants of the Bishop's Synod attending,  the Pope received a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness under whose protection the "New Evangelization" leading to 'Porta Fidei" had been entrusted. We shall see later the significance of this gesture. But today everybody is talking about something else. A bishop in a large diocese here, talking in Catholic TV mentioned 'the New Evangelization'  and wandered off to the hermeneutics of discontinuity. He cleverly started with the hermeneutics of continuity, which the Pope says is the right one, then slowly switched into the hermeneutics of discontinuity without anyone noticing the excursion into  dangerous heretical grounds. Bishops with rejected pet projects during Vatican II had not stopped insisting on their ideas up to the present and will do so again during the Bishop's Synod. This bishop is known to belong to the Bologna group who believe in the hermeneutics of discontinuity.  Another young bishop from the States had, also, openly declared that everything before Vatican II was horrible while everything after Vatican II is heavenly. No different from the hermeneutics of discontinuity which the Pope had contradicted in many of his talks.

We have presented St. Therese as the model of conversion Though she was the most natural in her conversion she is not the model for most conversion. St. Augustine is the model for most. Like St. Therese he was born with the semi-permanent state of having a mind conscious of ONESELF face to face with the Creator who is superior to oneself. Augustine, also, had the humble attitude of wishing to submit himself to the superior Creator but his natural desire to submit himself did not persists. Maybe due to an unnatural environment since he lived in a pagan age. His father was a pagan, though his mother was a devout Christian, Augustine did not get a thorough Christian education. And so, his natural situation where his mind was conscious of the MYSELF face to face with God the Creator plus his  decision to submit himself to the Creator did not last long enough for him to maintain his humility and make him deserving of  the initial grace of conversion. In no time, he lost all; his mind's consciousness of himself, his mind's consciousness of the greatness of his Creator and  his consciousness of his obligation to submit himself to the Creator. His mind wandered far and wide.

While wandering far and wide the above natural thoughts were forgotten but were permanently registered in his memory. That is what memory is for. Let us go back briefly to St. Therese. St. Therese's mind was focused on the "MYSELF' and at the same time face to face with God, the Creator of the self to which she must subject herself totally. Of course at her early age her knowledge of 'MYSELF'  and of God was insignificant but it was not that but the assent of her mind and consent of her will of which she was competent to do at her earliest age that made her worthy to receive the grace from God that begun her conversion.

In the case of St. Augustine, his mind was on the 'MYSELF' face to face with the Creator. His knowledge of the MYSELF and of the Creator was according to his very young age. But he was not able to make the assent of his mind and the consent of his Will to the truth he was faced with. And so we would suppose that he did not receive the grace of conversion from God. Thus he went on his wanderings away from God.

In Augustine's quest for all kinds of truths he wandered away from God searching among all the garbage in the world until completely dissipated by his useless search he began to recall his youth and the thoughts he had during those time. He remembered his thoughts about himself which grew as it accumulated during the years. He, also, recalled the God he was face to face with which also grew during the passage of time. Of course, by the time he was an adult his knowledge of himself and of God was still full of errors. So an assent of the mind and a consent of the Will towards those errors would be useless. Augustine was moved to return to the Scriptures where his errors were dissipated. Once again he had a natural knowledge of the 'MYSELF', improved this time due to his excursions into different philosophies specially of Plato.  Also improved was his  natural knowledge of God, his creator. Then his mind made its assent and his will made its consent to subject himself completely to the God he now knew again. He had begun to be a child again and received the grace because it is for such as this that the Kingdom of God is for, as Christ would say. Because the mind of St. Augustine was very mature during this time his assent was more mature and his consent was more mature in which case the grace with the accompanying Faith he received from God was more mature.

As St. Augustine described it:  he came unto himself and rediscovered his nature as a man. But most important he discovered his personality which was for a moment during his restless years deteriorated into unnaturalness. But with his retreats in the mountains of Casisiacum, while his human nature remained the same, his personality that made up his humanity together with his human nature learned to love. That was a great improvement from the initial conversion he had experienced in Milan. This was an improvement not in his nature but in his personality. The former cannot be improved as it is; the latter can be improved depending on the object of its love.

Here St. Augustine showed his greatest fear. Realizing that grace for initial conversion that will guide a soul all through Faith, Hope, Charity and Eternal Life is given freely by God, he asked why does God give it to some and not to others. In humility he answers: that is not for us to ask of our Creator. Even if God answered we would not understand His answer. As for us we know God gives it to those who have become like children because to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

Prior to his conversion St. Augustine confessed to his inability to think of God as a spiritual substance or of human blessedness reserved for those destined to be saved. Without conversion a soul is completely ignorant of the spiritual world.

St. Augustine's conversion is similar to the Prodigal Son. Blessed John Cardinal Newman's is slightly different but likewise outstanding.  For many Catholics today, the three above models are very difficult to duplicate that is why there is a need for a "New Evangelization". This is not essentially different from the Prodigal Son. The difference is only similar to the difference between the monasticism of  John Climacus and the monasticism of Saint Benedict.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

THE CRUCIFIX - A Call for Conversion

We have seen the probable cause of the unexplainable massive lost of Faith in the Catholic Church as an error in teaching theology in the seminaries after the Council of Trent. The Holy Father Pope Benedict concluded this from the findings of the International Theological Commission of which he was formerly a part. Seminarians are supposed to be taught to rise up from the natural level and go up to the supernatural level where God, Himself, infuses the teachings of the New Testament like the Incarnation and Redemption. In his 'New Evangelization' the Pope described this perceived error as an error in Method and Structure. The consequence would be an error in teaching the contents of the Catholic Faith, the error of teaching dogmas instead of teaching Morals as theologians would describe it. Belief in dogmas goes along with a moral life, the latter coming first.

To correct the erroneous way in which Bishops and priest had been taught since after the Council of Trent  he gave us the classical four steps used by the Catholic Church from the beginning of Christianity and taught in her Liturgy. To reach perfection and attain Eternal Life, we must first pass through a Life of Conversion, then enter the Kingdom of God (this is accomplished when we receive the theological virtue of Faith); then Encounter Christ, the created soul of the Church and be united with the Holy Spirit, the uncreated soul of the Church. Having accomplished this we will attain eternal life. These are the four steps that Pope Benedict gave us in his 'New Evangelization.'

This topic "The New Evangelization" that leads to "Porta Fidei" is the topic to be discussed by the Bishop's Synod in Rome that begun this week and will go on for the next three weeks. And the Holy Fathers opening address to them contain these statements: That all Christians are called to holiness, which should include the complete four steps the Pope had enumerated. The reason he gave is that 'Holiness' is the only language understood by all, insinuating what he had already mentioned that vocal preaching as everyone is doing these days is not the way of the 'New Evangelization.' He already mentioned it in Aparecida that 'contemplation' is the way. He had repeated this often in his talks on the New Evangelization. And that is why St. Therese is the patroness of the 'New Evangelization.' a saint who had converted so many souls that she is considered the co-patroness of missionaries ....and yet she never left the clausura of her convent, never preached by mouth, never wrote theological treatises or articles, and never appeared in radio or television.  The life of a contemplative is the most eloquent form of Evangelization (which we shall explain later on.)

The Holy Father, in his opening address to the Bishop's Synod repeated what we mentioned in the last article; that to encounter Christ we must reach  Faith acquired through grace. He also repeated that the "New Evangelization" is a call to 'Conversion and reconciliation" two words that mean the same thing. And the symbol is the Crucifix, he adds. This, we mentioned before, was what was intentionally omitted in both the Lineamenta  and Instrumentum Laboris. ....and yet is essential for the whole process of Evangelization without which Faith is impossible. Then the Pope mentioned something to the effect that Evangelization is similar to making a marriage work......which we shall explain later.

Let us return briefly to the 'initial' grace necessary for the beginnings of conversion that leads to Faith. We shall take three examples, the case of St. Therese of Lisieux, declared Patroness of the 'New Evangelization', the case of St. Augustine whose conversion was so well documented in his confessions and the case of John Cardinal Newman whose conversion was aptly described in his Apologia pro Vita  Sua.

We have seen in the last article the natural disposition prelude to the initial grace that God grants which raises up the soul from the natural level to the supernatural level, which is the beginning of Conversion that leads to Faith.

Every child that is born is made to the image and likeness of God. The image and likeness is in the faculties of the soul namely the intellect or mind and the free will. At birth the mind becomes conscious of Itself, a creature AND at the same time he becomes conscious of a superior Creator whom he believes had created him. A continuous consciousness of this fact puts the soul in an attitude of complete subjection to his Creator. This is a semi-permanent situation.....until the soul with its two faculties become distracted by its worldly surroundings in which the semi-permanent situation ceases. And the soul is in trouble.

In the case of St. Therese, she also found herself in that semi-permanent condition.....a natural state. But this semi - permanent condition continued for some time probably due to favorable environmental conditions, like the conscious transfering of the family initiated by Louis, the Father, from the full, tempting commercial town to a more quiet provincial setting.  This semi-permanent condition became more permanent due to the splendid training given by Louis and Zellie to their children which gave Therese long enough time to make an assent of her mind and a consent of her free will to the semi-permanent condition......which made that condition permanent and supernatural by the grace of God. That is the beginning of Conversion and the beginning of the Life of Faith, which St. Therese never lost. She grew from Faith to the perfection of Charity thus the document declaring her doctor of the Church was entitled "The Science of Love" making her aptly the patroness of the four steps that lead to Eternal Life according to the complete schema of Pope Benedict.

St. Therese never lost contact with that semi-permanent natural condition wherein all souls are born with their minds knowing themselves and where they stand BEFORE the presece of God to whom the creature must be completely subject to  its Creator. That is called HUMILITY the perfect disposition to receive the gift of grace from God that will begin our entrance to the "Door of Faith."

In the next articles we shall see the example of the conversions of St. Augustine and Blessed John Cardinal Newman, both favorites of Pope Benedict. Many souls, like ourselves, would fall under this category because we did not have the favorable environment St. Therese had and did not have the splendid parents that she had. Majority of souls, even of Catholics, would sadly fall under the example of Eve which this year of the Faith is trying to prevent. But which the Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris for this Bishop's Synod is tending to because they had not followed the Pope's schema.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

An ACT OF GRACE - Conversion

The first thing necessary in Evangelization is not a Bishop's Synod. It is GRACE which comes with the beginning of Conversion. From then on it will be grace upon grace....until the soul receives the grace of final perseverance and Eternal Life. The Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris had omitted the first two steps in Pope Benedict's 'New Evangelization'.....because they said it is not needed. They would, then,  have omitted the thing most needed in the whole process of Evangelization which is the initial grace. Without this first grace that comes at the beginning of Conversion the next graces will not follow.

Pope Benedict had noted why there is a need for 'New Evangelization'.....because there was and still is an error in the 'Structure and method of teaching'  the Catholic Faith AND there is an error in the 'Contents' in what was taught.  These errors probably occurred in seminaries and the consequence would  stagger our imagination.  Pope Benedict had already noticed the consequence in Tubingen when he saw that the seminarians did not believe in God. They were in fact communists. This was one of the best theological school. With this error in seminaries there would be no Faith in all seminaries after two generations.

But the gates of hell can never prevail over the Church. Where would true Catholics come from? The Holy Father knows. The answer is found in the last Chapter of the last Gospel according to John which we shall discuss later.

Now, let us look at the importance of 'Conversion,' the first step in Pope Benedict's 'New Evangelization' while addressing priests and deacons last March, he described as the most important step in the 'New Evangelization.'

 On the part of the Evangelized, grace is the most important first step. On the part of the 'Evangelizer' contemplation is the most important characteristic. Let us look first at the ones being Evangelized. The 27th Sunday in Ordinary time and the previous Sunday Gospels spoke about 'being children', learning from children and welcoming children. These Gospels are describing 'Conversion.' Conversion is to become like little children again 'because the kingdom of God belongs to such as this.'  Pope Benedict's second step is 'The kingdom of God.' Christ said : the Kingdom of God  belongs to such as these i.e. to those who are like children. Christ did not tell us to become little children which Nicodemus in fact mistook saying; Do we have to return to our mother's womb. Christ said; 'to be LIKE little children.'

Conversion is to be LIKE little children. If we become LIKE little children then it is to such as this that the Kingdom of God belong. So it is clear that the GRACE  that helps us begin our Conversion is given to us by God at the beginning of 'Conversion.'  Exactly when?

Why did Christ tell us to be LIKE children? Let us study the natural psychology of a child. When a child is born,  his intellect suddenly exposed to the outside world becomes conscious of two things. First,  he becomes conscious of himself. And secondly with his intellect he reasons out that there must have been Someone who created him. That is a natural intellectual process of cause and effect. The child does not think his parents created him. He has no way of finding that out. So he is suddenly conscious of MYSELF before GOD my creator. He further uses his intellect to reason out that his Creator is much superior to himself having the great enormous power and wisdom to be able to create a masterpiece called MYSELF. Seeing MYSELF inferior to GOD  he reasons that he must be subject to this obviously superior Being. And consequently he must do what pleases this superior Being simply because it is obvious that He knows better than ME.

As long as the MIND of this child is in this MYSELF and GOD situation and is conscious that he must submit himself and please this SUPERIOR BEING he has the proper disposition to receive the beginnings of Faith but not yet.  Remember he is still a child and does not need a lengthy conversion.  There is no grace yet. The child has to do one more thing before he receives the grace he will need to propel him up to the perfection of FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY.

Let us go back briefly using the description of conversion according to St. Augustine and John Newman whom the Pope is quoting.  So the child's mind is focused on MYSELF in the presence of GOD, THE SUPERIOR BEING.  He knows God is superior and, therefore he must be subject to Him. He knows he must do all things to please Him. He never removes his mind's focus on these two things; MYSELF AND GOD. Here, he is still in the natural level.

When will he receive the Grace from God so necessary to begin his conversion and on which the next graces leading to perfection will depend on?  When his mind assents to these truths which is confronting him....and when his free will consents to these truths confronting him. When he does these things, God gives him the grace which includes the beginnings of supernatural Faith. He is now in the supernatural level.

This response rarely takes place. It happened to St. Therese of Lisieux. It did not happen to St. Augustine and Blessed John Newman. We shall show the difference between these three in another article.

Because the 'Lineamenta' stated that Conversion is not necessary and the Instrumentum Laboris based everything on that omission....unless this is modified or corrected during the Synod, The Bishops and priest all over the world will omit the most important step in Evangelization,'Conversion' where the initial grace necessary to sustain all the process is attained. It is difficult to imagine any greater disaster that can ever occur in this world.