Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Conference on Same Sex Attraction 2016


Everyone is invited to attend a conference on same-sex attraction that will be held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on September 2-3, 2016 (Friday and Saturday). This gathering aims to address the Church's stance on the issue of SSA in our current times and how the Church can properly respond and minister to those afflicted with SSA by listening to our stories.

Here's a breakdown of the activities for the two-day event:


September 2, Friday (Day 1)

MC       Sr. Mary Anthony Basa PDDM
               Consultant, ECC

08:30   Morning Prayer

08:45   Welcome Orientation; Introduction of Participants
            Fr. Enrico Emmanuel A. Ayo
            Executive Secretary, ECFL

09:00   Understanding Same Sex Attraction
            Most Rev. Oscar V. Cruz
            Judicial Vicar, National Tribunal of Appeals

10:00   Break

10:30   Homosexuality and Ethics in the Family Today
            Fr. James McTavish, FMVD
            Novice Master, Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei

11:30   Q&A
            Moderator: Fr. Norman Peña SSP
            Executive Secretary, ECC

12:00   Lunch Break

01:30   Midday Prayer

01:45   Sharing and Reflection on AL 57 and 250
            (persons with SSA; parents of son/daughter with SSA)

03:00   Workshop 1


04:30   Snacks; End of Day 1

-oOo-

September 3, Saturday (Day 2)

MC      Fr. Norman Melchor Peña SSP
            Executive Secretary, ECC

08:30   Morning Prayer

08:45   Recap of Day 1 and Orientation for Day 2
            Fr. Enrico Emmanuel A. Ayo
            Executive Secretary, ECFL

09:00   Keynote Address: Pope Francis and Persons with SSA
            Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera
            Bishop of Daet; Chairman, ECFL

10:00   Break

10:30   Pastoral Accompaniment of Persons with SSA
            Fr. Daniel Healy
            Spiritual Director, Courage Philippines

11:30   Q&A
            Moderator: Sr. Mary Anthony Basa PDDM
            Consultant, ECC

12:00   Lunch Break

01:30   Midday Prayer

01:45   Workshop 2 (Planning)

03:00   Reporting

03:30   Closing Eucharist
            Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera
            Bishop of Daet; Chairman, ECFL

04:30   Snacks; End of Day 2


-oOo-

Expected Participants
·      SSA Spiritual Directors of Dioceses, Parishes and National Family and Life Organizations
·      Bishops
·      COURAGE (SSA friends)
·      Families and friends of persons with SSA
·      Formators of seminarians / novices
·      Representatives of Catholic Cultural Centers

Venue: Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, 1175 United Nations Avenue, Paco, Manila, tel. (02) 525 9126.

Contribution: ₱1500 per participant (the amount covers conference fee, materials and snacks)

Please deposit payment before 29 August 2016:

            Account name:            CBCP-ECFL
            Account number:        632-763202435-1
            Bank:                           Metrobank

Transportation, accommodation and other expenses c/o participant or diocese/organization.
·      
    To keep the conference cost down, participants are free to organize their own accommodations and meals. We recommend staying and dining in Pope Pius XII Catholic Center.

·      If you require airport transfers, please send your flight details to ecflcbcp@gmail.com and to 0917-8125155.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Courage to Change




May this life testimonial of Bro. Rollie serve as an inspiration and give hope for us people who are experiencing same-sex attractions. May this also challenge us to live chaste lives and grow in holiness in accordance with the divine will of God for each and every one of us. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Second Courage Orientation Seminar 2016



Courage Philippines will conduct its second orientation seminar on June 18, Saturday, for persons struggling with same-sex attractions (SSA). Exact venue will be announced to interested participants but will most likely be in Makati City. Refer to poster above for contact details. Please like our Courage Facebook page to receive regular posts and updates. Feel free to re-post this announcement on your social media accounts or forward it to someone you know who may benefit from it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Eucharist and My Journey to Chastity: A Testimony


A testimony from one of our Courage officers, Bro. Joseph Anthony, on the occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi.


700. That's the estimate number of sexual partners I have had. I was sexually active for many years before I joined Courage. One survey I read said that a sexually active homosexual man in the US would have an estimate of anywhere between 500 to 1,000 sexual partners in their lifetime. I was within this range so my estimate must have been correct (though I am a Filipino, the gay sex scene should be similar.)

Courage was to me God's answer to a lifelong desire to be free from sexual desires. I tried so hard and for so long to not engage in homosexual acts but nothing worked (and the 700 is the overwhelming proof of my failures). On attending my very first Courage meeting, God showed me that it was possible, through the witness of others who have been living chastely for many years despite their same sex attraction, to live a life free from lustful and homosexual acts. This was 2 years ago in 2014.

From that point on, I made a commitment to intensify my prayer life in order to storm the heavens for more graces to resist indulging in homosexual acts. I committed to doing one hour adoration twice a week then. There, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I will be sorry for all my sins and seek God's deliverance and redemption. In May of that year and during one such adoration, I was driven to make an estimate of the number of sexual partners I have had. I would from time to time recall my encounters and be very remorseful for them before God. When I realized the quantity, I became even more remorseful. I prayed to God that He leads me to ways on how to make amends for all these. But the enormity of the offenses I made was just too great and the impact eternal that I do not have the capacity to do so. Then a message came to me: "I want you to receive the Holy Eucharist for every person you have had sex with." Only Jesus, who is eternal, has the capacity to make amends for the eternal damnation our sinful acts have caused.

It was then I understood for myself the meaning of how my weakness reveals God’s strength. Because of my weakness of the flesh, I am eternally connected to each and every person I have had sex with (because sexual union is unitive). And by receiving the Eucharist in me, Jesus will enter these connections to heal us.

Because of the number, this meant that I had to receive the Holy Communion as often as possible. A year has 365 days so to be able to receive communion for 700 meant I had to do this daily for 2 years. Thankfully, God has formed in me the habit of attending mass regularly on weekdays. My office then had a chapel near it and so I already had the habit of hearing mass during lunch or after office daily for years.

The message came with a bonus too. I received this task in May of 2014 (around 2-3 months after I joined Courage). In a succeeding adoration session, I was led to reflect that May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother. I was made to realize that if I was a true devotee of the Blessed Mother (which I thought I was), then I should also be hearing mass on Saturdays because this is a day of the week consecrated to her. Of course, I preferred sleeping till late on Saturdays so I never thought of hearing mass on Saturdays too. In my parish, they only had Saturday masses in the morning. I decided, at least for the month of May, to make the sacrifice and hear mass too on Saturdays. Here we can see how when God asks us to do something, He also provides the solution. In this case, it was sent through His mother.

Since then, I have become a daily communicant. And because I knew I couldn't receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, I had to strive harder not to engage in homosexual acts nor masturbate nor watch pornography. And when I did commit any of these, I immediately sought the Sacrament of Reconciliation so as to receive communion immediately.

Receiving the Holy Eucharist daily has been most efficacious. I have been sober with others since I joined Courage 2 years ago. This for sure is not a small feat for someone who habitually had sex with others. There were close calls but God delivered me from them all. My masturbation and pornography indulgence have been less and less frequent. The Holy Eucharist was both a means and an end. I have been led to a virtuous cycle of which the Holy Eucharist is the center.

It has been two years since God made me a daily communicant. By faith, I know that He has already healed and freed me from all the attachments I had with all my 700 sexual partners. By some unfathomable grace, I now feel freer. God has taken me to a point in my journey where I can now actually distinguish a temptation from sin. Before, I would immediately feel guilt and shame for every temptation and consequently commit sin. The guilt and shame are at the same time cause and effect of sinfulness; cause because I already feel dirty and so I might as well indulge, effect because once tempted I know that I will immediately give in. They used to be the same for me even if theoretically, I knew they were different. The Holy Eucharist has taken out this guilt and shame, which are the weapons of the enemy. God has now made me realize that being weak is not the news, but rather, that He comes and saves us is the Good News. I also have much hope and faith that I will soon get rid of my masturbation and pornography addiction too. I have experienced longer and longer periods of sobriety for these two. If He can miraculously deliver me from homosexual acts, He can for sure deliver me from other sins too.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ this Sunday, let us more fervently adore Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Let us open ourselves to His body and blood and receive Him that He may truly, fully and finally live in us for all eternity.

Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us.

+Joseph Anthony of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Corpus Christi 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Wise As Serpents, Innocent As Doves: A Guide to Catholic Voters


Just a few weeks to go before the May 9 national and local elections, the election fever is switching to a high gear with all the bashing and political mudslinging going around. I am reposting here a set of guidelines issued by CBCP to help us Catholic voters to discern and choose our future leaders wisely. At the same time let us also pray for an orderly and peaceful elections in the coming polls.


As the rhetoric and the noise traditionally associated with Philippine politics and elections reach higher levels of intensity, we wish to offer some guidelines to our Catholic voters deriving from the moral teachings of the Church.

1. Reject claims by candidates that they are candidates of the CBCP, or of a diocese, or of a particular bishop. It has never been the practice of the Catholic Church to hold out a candidate to the faithful as the “chosen” candidate of the Church. Church doctrine has remained consistent: Partisanship is an arena into which the Church should not venture.

2. We your bishops commit to desist from any action or statement that may give the appearance of persuading the faithful to vote for a particular candidate. While bishops, as citizens of the Republic, have the right to make their own choices, our office in the Church as well as our stature, of which we are all unworthy, urge upon us that circumspection that should prevent misunderstanding and confusion among our flock

3. The desired qualities of leaders as well as the political options open to the people are proper subjects of the collective discernment of the members of our lay Catholic communities and associations, as long as these take place in the context of prayer, a careful reading of the Scriptures in the light of the Church’s teaching, a sense of fairness and concern for the common good.

4. The Catholic voter must evaluate candidates according to the model of Christ, who came to serve, not to be served. They must look for the realization of Gospel values in the lives, words and deeds of those desirous of public office, realizing that there are no perfect candidates. There is a crucial difference between one who has been wrong in the past and is willing to amend his ways, and one who exhibits stubbornness and obstinacy.

5. Surveys and polls show trends, and they are as limited as the methodology that is used to conduct them. The Catholic therefore cannot make his or her choice depend on who is topping or trailing in the polls and surveys. There is a vocation to authenticity: the Spirit-inspired courage and determination to make decisions for ourselves, setting ourselves free from “trends” and “herds”, to do what is right and to choose who is right!

6. A Catholic cannot support a candidate who vows to wipe out religion from public life. While we expect every public officer to give life to the constitutional posture of “benevolent neutrality” in respect to the attitude of the State towards religion, the Catholic voter cannot and should not lend his support to any candidate whose ideology binds him or her to make of the Philippines a secular state that has no tolerance for religion in its public life.

7. Similarly, a Catholic voter cannot, in good conscience, support a candidate whose legislative or executive programs include initiatives diametrically opposed to Church moral teachings on such vital issues as abortion, euthanasia, the return of the death penalty, divorce and the dilution of the character of Christian marriage.

8. A Catholic is not closed to the candidacy of a non-Catholic. In fact, there are worthy candidates from other Christian communities and other religions. Their qualifications and aspirations must be given serious heed by our Catholic voters, their truly helpful plans and visions must be supported.

9. A candidate who has thus far spent his time demolishing the reputation and tarnishing the good name of fellow candidates must be suspect. He may have nothing positive to offer, and he debases the level of political discourse by calling attention to the shortcomings of his rivals and competitors, rather than on the programs and projects he or she might have.

10. We warn against the use of government resources, the power of government offices and instrumentalities and subtler forms of coercion and intimidation to promote the chances of a particular candidate. It is God’s will to provide his people with shepherds after His merciful heart!

Finally, we appeal to COMELEC to insure that all the security measures mandated by the Automated Election Law be implemented diligently. The credibility of the elections and the stability of our democracy is at risk if the security and sanctity of the every ballot is compromised.


As Christians we will align ourselves not with powers like Herod who trembled at the news that the King had been born. We shall, like the wise men, choose a different route, guided by intimations of the Gospel, and so do our part, in response to God’s initiative, to make all things new!



From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, December 30, 2015

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP


"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

Monday, April 4, 2016

To Kneel or to Stand



It seems that most of the faithful Catholics attending Mass are not yet aware or have been made aware by their local parish priests and/or bishops about the practice of kneeling during the entire Eucharistic consecration of the Mass. I attended Mass today and only saw two ladies kneeling after the Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus) part up until the grand Amen or right before the Our Father. I myself have only very recently learned that this should be the proper way to do it and rightfully so because this is the part of the Mass when the Transfiguration happens and the Lord deserves utmost reverence no less. Please see letter below from CBCP for a full and detailed explanation.


On the QUESTION of Kneeling or Standing
After the Consecration Until After the GREAT AMEN
During the Eucharistic Celebration

March 19, 2016

Your Eminences and Excellencies,

During the January 2016 112th CBCP Plenary Assembly in Cebu, there was a discussion on the issue of standing or kneeling after the consecration until after the Amen. The discussion included a question on why we do not continue kneeling after the consecration until after the Amen. After a short discussion, the Permanent Council of the CBCP was tasked to look into this issue.

So, at the March 15, 2016 meeting of the CBCP Permanent Council one of the issues discussed was this issue on the posture of standing after the consecration and to keep standing or of kneeling after the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer. This is the reason for this letter.

Before the 1990s, we can still recall that we had the established practice of kneeling after the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer.

In the 1990s the practice of standing after the consecration was begun. This change in the established practice was based on the 1990 Guidelines for the Eucharist which were approved by the CBCP in January 1990. Number 3 of the 1990 Guidelines states: “The people should kneel from the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer…. If the acclamation after the consecration is sung, the people may stand for it and keep standing.” 

However, in reality the practice became always standing after the consecration until the Amen.

In January 2003 at the 86th CBCP Plenary Assembly, one of the proposals that the CBCP approved to include among the Philippine Adaptations to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal 2002 was: “Proposed Philippine Adaptation: ‘In the Philippines, the people kneel after the Sanctus, rise for the memorial acclamation, and kneel after the Lamb of God.’”

In both instances, the 1990 Guidelines for the Eucharist and the proposed Philippine Adaptations to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal 2002, no recognition was ever received from Rome.

Specifically for the Philippine Adaptations to the General Instructions of the Roman Missal 2002 that were submitted to Rome, no answer was ever received. Archbishop Romulo Valles, during an ad limina visit in September 2003, made a follow up at the office of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on the status the Philippine proposed adaptations. After that, until up to now we have not received a formal written reply.

In February 2016, Bishop Julius Tonel, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy, made a query with the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments about this specific proposed adaptation. In reply to his query, it was confirmed that a formal reply or recognition had never been given.

With the above information, we sought the advice of some of our bishops knowledgeable in the Code of Canon Law. They have responded that no answer or silence from Rome means that the recognition has not been given. Without the recognition the CBCP does not have the authority to make or implement any such adaptation. This being the case, we have to revert to the established practice before the request.

Based on the above documented information, the Permanent Council came to the decision that we must ABANDON the practice of standing after the consecration until the Amen as we do not have the authority to make such an adaptation nor do we have the authority to implement it. We must go back to the previously established practice of kneeling after the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer.

To go back to our established practice is very much in keeping with our current General Instructions of the Roman Missal, approved by the CBCP and given the needed recognition from Rome, published in the Philippine Edition of the Roman Missal of 2011. Number 43 states: “Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling after the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer …, it is laudable for this practice to be retained.”

Another way of saying this is that we go back our established practice where the people kneel beginning after the Sanctus and remain kneeling until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer knowing that this is in harmony with the present GIRM.

You are kindly requested to inform our clergy and Catholic faithful about this re-statement of position and lead them, through liturgical catechesis, to deepen our reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament. The spirit of the law is to observe greater reverence for the Real Presence.

We remind you of some lines contained in our Pastoral Exhortation to Open the 2016 Year of the Eucharist and the Family:

Kneeling is part of our Christian culture. We cannot abandon or set aside the culture of kneeling in favor of the culture that says as freemen we must face God on our feet. Bending the knee before the tabernacle in genuflection, kneeling down at the celebration of the Eucharist, kneeling down to adore the exposed Blessed Sacrament— these are little but sublime acts of adoration that we must preserve and protect.


Sincerely yours,



+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!



After meditation on the Passion and Death of our Lord, we now focus our gaze at His Glorious Resurrection. This excerpt is from an Easter sermon by St. Maximus of Turin, an early Church Father.


Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life. His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth. Because of Christ’s resurrection the thief ascends to paradise, the bodies of the blessed enter the holy city, and the dead are restored to the company of the living. There is an upward movement in the whole of creation, each element raising itself to something higher. We see hell restoring its victims to the upper regions, earth sending its buried dead to heaven, and heaven presenting the new arrivals to the Lord. In one and the same movement, our Savior’s passion raises men from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights.

Christ is risen! His rising brings life to the dead, forgiveness to sinners, and glory to the saints. And so David the prophet summons all creation to join in celebrating the Easter festival: Rejoice and be glad, he cries, on this day which the Lord has made.

The light of Christ is an endless day that knows no night. Christ is this day, says the Apostle; such is the meaning of his words: Night is almost over; day is at hand. He tells us that night is almost over, not that it is about to fall. By this we are meant to understand that the coming of Christ’s light puts Satan’s darkness to flight, leaving no place for any shadow of sin. His everlasting radiance dispels the dark clouds of the past and checks the hidden growth of vice. The Son is that day to whom the day, which is the Father, communicates the mystery of his divinity. He is the day who says through the mouth of Solomon: I have caused an unfailing light to rise in heaven. And as in heaven no night can follow day, so no sin can overshadow the justice of Christ. The celestial day is perpetually bright and shining with brilliant light; clouds can never darken its skies. In the same way, the light of Christ is eternally glowing with luminous radiance and can never be extinguished by the darkness of sin. This is why John the evangelist says: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to overpower it.

And so, my brothers, each of us ought surely to rejoice on this holy day. Let no one, conscious of his sinfulness, withdraw from our common celebration, nor let anyone be kept away from our public prayer by the burden of his guilt. Sinner he may indeed be, but he must not despair of pardon on this day which is so highly privileged; for if a thief could receive the grace of paradise, how could a Christian be refused forgiveness?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Love of the Cross


This Black Saturday, let us all contemplate on the love of the Cross, the chief instrument of our salvation.


In the Cross is salvation, in the Cross is life, in the Cross is protection against our enemies, in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the Cross is strength of mind, in the Cross joy of spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross the perfection of holiness.

There is no salvation of the soul, nor hope of everlasting life, but in the Cross. Take up therefore thy Cross and follow Jesus, and thou shalt go into everlasting life. He went before, bearing His Cross, and died for thee on the Cross; that thou also might bear thy Cross and desire to die on the Cross.

For if thou be dead with Him, thou shall also in like manner live with Him. And if thou share His punishment, thou shall also share His glory. Behold! in the Cross all does consist, and in our dying all lieth; for there is no other way unto life, and unto true inward peace, but the way of the holy Cross, and of daily mortification.

(Thomas A. Kempis from The Imitation of Christ)

-oOo-

Our Blessed Lord to Sister Josefa Menendez:

"Whoever loves Me loves the Cross, and whoever loves the Cross loves me. Only those who love the Cross and embrace it willingly for love of Me will possess Eternal Life. Whoever generously accepts the Cross walks in true light, follows a straight and sure path, with no danger from steep inclines in which to slide, for there are none there."

-oOo-

Because Jesus loved us so much, He desired to be loved very much by us; and therefore He did everything that He could, even by suffering for us, in order to conciliate our love, and to show that there was nothing more that He could do to make us love Him. "He endured much weariness", says St. Bernard, "that He might bind man to love Him much."

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Sacred Wound in the Shoulder of Jesus


Today, Good Friday, let us meditate on the Sacred Wound in the Shoulder of our Lord Jesus.


It is related in the annals of Clairvaux that St. Bernard once asked our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and that our Lord condescended to answer:

"I had on my Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the way of sorrow, a most grievous wound which was more painful to Me than the others and which is not recorded by men because they knew not of it. Honor the Wound with devotion and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merits; and in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no more remember their mortal sins."

3 Paters 3 Aves 3 Glorias

-oOo-


SALUTATION OF THE WOUND IN THE SHOULDER OF JESUS

O most loving Jesus, meekest Lamb of God, I, a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful. I praise Thee, I bless Thee and glorify Thee and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and most painful Wound. Beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross, to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the way of the Cross.
Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Prayer to the Agonizing Jesus in Gethsemane


Today, Maundy Thursday, let us reflect on the agonies of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane through this beautiful prayer composed by St. Padre Pio. 


Jesus, in the excess of Thy love, and for Thy victory over the hardness of our hearts, give many graces to those who meditate on and diffuse the devotion to Thy Holy Passion in Gethsemane.

I pray for the desire to set my heart and my soul to thinking often of Thy bitter agony in the Garden, pitying Thee and joining myself to Thee as far as possible.

Holy Jesus, Who bore in that night the weight of all our faults, and Who paid for them completely, give me the great gift of perfect contrition for my numerous faults, which made Thee sweat blood.

Holy Jesus, through Thy very great struggle in Gethsemane, give me the ability to win a complete and definitive victory over temptations, and especially over those to which I am most subjected.

Suffering Jesus, through the anxieties, the fears, and the unknown but very intense pains Thou didst suffer in the night in which Thou wast betrayed, give me a complete understanding of Thy Will, and strength to do it, by giving me the ever present thought of the great effort and fearful struggle Thou didst bear victoriously, in order to do not Thy Will but the Father's.

Blessed be Thou, very sweet but vastly saddened Jesus, for the prayer, human but divine, which overflowed from Thy agonizing Heart in the night of the unthankfulness and treason.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee all the past, present and future Holy Masses united to the agonizing Jesus in the Garden of Olives.


Most Holy Trinity, make the knowledge and the love of the Holy Passion of Gethsemane diffuse itself through the whole world. Make those who love Thee, Jesus, seeing Thy Crucifix remember too Thy incredible pains in the Garden, and, following Thy example, learn to pray well, to fight and win, and thus to come to the Glory of Heaven. So be it.