Friday, December 11, 2015

The HIV/AIDS Situation in the Philippines



In the fight against HIV/AIDS, chastity (not condom) is the only thing that really works. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not a case of having lack of information or awareness about it (plenty of that stuff online) or the lack of distribution of condoms (certainly not 100% safe). It is first and foremost a moral epidemic and that is why chastity is the best antidote against it. In this life, there are only two kinds of pain - the pain of discipline and the pain of regret so take your pick. The choice is really up to you. 


How is HIV/AIDS relevant to the modern-day Filipino? Let us reflect on some statistics from the September 2015 report of the HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP).

• This year, an average of 22 new HIV cases is diagnosed each day, more than 5 times higher than in 2010. The median age is 28 years old. More than half are from the 25-34 year age group, while 28% are youth aged 15-24 years old.

• Of the 5648 males diagnosed, 5447 of them contracted HIV through sexual contact. Of those cases, 53% contracted HIV by males having sex with males (MSM), while 36% contracted it by having sex with both males and females. In contrast, only 238 females contracted HIV through sexual contact, all of them with males.

Important Things to Know about HIV/AIDS

• HIV is transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk.

• Most of the HIV cases recorded are due to sexual contact, but there are also cases due to sharing of needles (drug injection), and mother-to-child transmission.

• You may not know if you are infected with HIV just by relying on how you feel because it can show no symptoms. If you want to know if you have HIV, go to San Lazaro Hospital and other accredited centers for testing. However, it takes 3-6 months for HIV to get detected in the blood. So if you are still sexually active or involved in risky behaviors, even if you tested negative, you need to take the test again after 6 months.

• If someone we love discloses that he or she has HIV, this person needs our love and support all the more. Expressions of love, such as a hug, give them comfort. Let them know that you are there for them. Accompany them on their regular medical checkups, and when advised by the doctor, ensure that they are taking their medications properly.


The Church Response to HIV/AIDS

The Church has been caring for persons living with HIV (PLHIV) and leading the fight against AIDS. The Philippine Catholic HIV-AIDS Network (PhilCHAN) was organized in 2011 as an umbrella organization of all individuals and faith-based organizations, who for so many years have addressed the needs of PLHIV and fought against HIV/AIDS. Among these organizations are the Daughters of Charity [0933-6173558], Woodwater Center for Healing (Camillians) [Tel#: (02) 926-3147], and RCAM Ministry on Health Care [Tel#: (02) 727-5752].

Chastity is the best weapon to combat HIV/AIDS.


"The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking…if [Africans] do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: Firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with the suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to stand by those who suffer" - Pope Benedict XVI


[Credits: Article by Mr. Rolando C. delos Reyes II as published on Euchalette, Second Sunday of Advent]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mother Angelica on Immaculate Conception





I miss Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN. Please include her in your prayers. She is currently bed-bound and on tube feedings. Enjoy her unique sense of humor and learn from her wisdom in this talk about the feast we are celebrating today - the Immaculate Conception. You can also search her other videos on YouTube on a host of different other spiritual topics.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayer of Peace for Nations



"O Jesus bring me peace. Bring peace to my nation and all those countries torn asunder because of war and division. Sow the seeds of peace amongst those hardened hearts who cause suffering to others in the name of justice. Give all of God's children the graces to receive Your peace so that love and harmony can thrive, so that love for God will triumph over evil and that souls can be saved from the corruption of falsities, cruelty and evil ambition. Let peace reign over all of those who devote their lives to the Truth of Your Holy Word and even those who don't know You at all. Amen."

#prayfortheworld #prayforparis

[Photo credit: via 100% Katolikong Pinoy FB page]

Saturday, October 31, 2015

On Halloween, Paranormal & the Occult



We are celebrating once again the Feast of All Saints and All Souls in our liturgical calendar - members of the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering, who along with all the faithful on earth (the Church Militant), comprise the Mystical Body of Christ. It's also that time of the year when we troop to the cemeteries to pray (hopefully) for our dearly departed loved ones. Unfortunately, this is also an occasion for many of us to attend Halloween parties, go trick or treating, ghost haunting, dressing up as ghouls and goblins to scare other people and all sorts of foolish activities that betray the true meaning of this solemn occasion. Maybe it's about time to grow up and let go of all these pagan practices and beliefs, shall we?

About a month ago, we were fortunate to have Fr. Jeffrey Quintela, exorcist priest of the Diocese of Antipolo, deliver a talk on spiritual warfare. In that talk, he shared the 5 R's of Spiritual Healing & Liberation and I want to share with you those insights that will help us to become better equipped in fighting the good fight and growing our faith as true Catholic Christians.

1. RENUNCIATION

Nowadays, numerous occult and new age practices have become 'mainstream' practice and are unknowingly accepted and practiced by many of us - horoscopes, astrology, feng shui, consulting fortune tellers and tarot card readers, superstitious beliefs - and we think they are okay. We must remind ourselves that these practices directly violate the First Commandment, which states that we should have no other god besides the One True God. To adore the Lord your God and worship Him alone, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, means "to adore God as the Lord of everything that exists; to render to Him the individual and community worship which is His due; to pray to him with sentiments of praise, of thanks and of supplication; to offer Him sacrifices, above all the spiritual sacrifice of one's own life, united with the perfect sacrifice of Christ; and to keep the promises and vows made to him."

Having said that, it is now clear why resorting to occult and new age practices takes away from God the honor and homage that is due Him by us seeking a different path and attempting to manipulate the unknown (i.e., occult) in order to gain some benefit from it. On a personal level, I was drawn to these practices when I was younger. I was particularly fond of feng shui and bought books on mind control. I thought then than if I could harness the 'yin' and 'yang' forces and master the principles of feng shui, then I would attract wealth and prosperity. Same principle goes with mind control. By altering and enhancing my psychic and mental powers, I can attract good fortune and everything that my heart desires. I also got drawn in reading vampire novels and Harry Potter books not knowing that these things take me farther and farther away from the practice of my Catholic faith. Right now, I'm still in the process of disposing these new age books by burning them. I cannot just throw them away or donate them somewhere because others might pick them. This is my personal way of renouncing these practices and I also invite you to examine in what way you have let yourself be involved in occult and new age practices, knowingly or unknowingly, and start renouncing them.

To give you a guide on how to go about this, I am posting here a simple step by step process on how you can begin this process of renunciation. I have personally obtained this straight from the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism. Here are the steps:


Steps in Renunciation

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any occult contacts. Take note of any activity that you have practiced. Write down ALL the activities listed below that you have deliberately or innocently, seriously or playfully believed in/participated in/been involved in/consulted or been a part of in any way.

2. In front of the Blessed Sacrament, repent for all your occult involvement and do Steps 3 to 5 below.

3. Prayerfully say, “In Jesus’ name, I renounce practicing/believing in/participating in/involvement in [name the occult sin you committed (see list below)”. Do this 3x for each occult contact, that is, each item you listed below. This must be done three times for each sin, which represents a three-fold act of reparation for the offense committed against the Most Blessed Trinity.

4. Repent fully and ask for forgiveness by praying “I repent and ask to be forgiven.”

5. Re-commit and proclaim Jesus as your only Savior and Lord praying “and, I ask You, Jesus Christ to be my only Lord and Savior.”


Comprehensive List of New Age and Occult Practices

1. Witchcraft, Sorcery, Wicca, casting spells/curses like evil eye, gayuma, barang, kulam, love potions & spells.
2. Voodoo, Santeria, Macumba (black witchcraft), Sufism and other forms of local witchcraft.
3. Consulting “albularyo”, “mangkukulam”, “mangbabarang”, “mangtatawas”, “Curaderos”, “manghihilot”, cult herbalist, cult groups.
4. Magic.
5. Developing psychic powers, opening third eye.
6. Power of the mind, science of the mind, Mind Control Programs – Silva Mind Control Program, mood-altering programs, ESP, cognition.
7. Psychic and aura readings.
8. Reading new age books such as Gnostic gospels, Bible codes, Celestine prophecy, and alternative religions.
9. Reincarnation and past life readings.
10. Superstitious beliefs and rituals.
11. Satanism, Satanic rituals, Luciferianism, Diabolism.
12. Satanic Bible or material.
13. Foretelling, fortune telling.
14. Card reading, Tarot card reading.
15. Crystal ball or crystal gazing, scrying.
16. Palm reading, palmistry, Kudlit.
17. Oracles.
18. Casting or reading of omens and/or lots, tea leaf reading, reading of animal body parts.
19. Horoscopes and astrology.
20. Feng shui, Geomancy, Cleromancy, Pyromancy, Hydromancy, Lithomancy, Ceromancy, Aeromancy, and similar rituals.
21. Numerology.
22. Enneagram.
23. Divination using rod and pendulum, water divining – for finding water, treasure, etc.
24. Automatic hand writing or spirit writing.
25. Astral travel/projection, remote viewing.
26. Trance channeling, mediumship.
27. Consulting spirit guides, familiar spirits, guardian spirits, ancestral spirits, nature spirits (like fairies, dwarves, other elementals).
28. Shamanism, espiritista.
29. Soul attachments – Ascendant Masters.
30. Seances, spiritism, necromancy (communicating or calling spirits of the dead), spirit questing, ghost hunting, spirit photography, ancestral worship.
31. Ouija Board, Spirit of the Glass/coin/paper, pendulums.
32. Oracion – magical incantations.
33. Banishing/cleansing of spirits using non-Catholic rituals and practices.
34. Animism and paganism – worship of nature.
35. Offering to Idols and other similar rituals – food offering, animal sacrifice, bloodletting, blood offering.
36. Psychic Healing, Reiki, Crystal Healing, Faith Healing, Pranic Healing, Trance Healing, Animal Magnetism or Mesmerism, Energy Healing, Traditional Healing Practices, Asian/Eastern Healing techniques and practices, Non-Scientific Healing, Alternative Medicine Practices and Techniques (not science based).
37. Pyramid power and similar types of practices.
38. Amulets & talismans – anting-anting, lucky charms.
39. Heavy metal music, death metal music, obscene, sexually explicit, violent or disturbing music.
40. Satanic PC games, demonic role playing games, games involving elementals and demons such as Dungeons and Dragons, spell craft, etc.; extremely violent or depicts sexual themes not in accord with Church teachings.
41. Secret oaths to pagan gods as part of initiation ceremony into organization, fraternities, sororities, and other organization which practice these ceremonies.
42. Pacts with Satan, ghosts, elementals, nature spirits, other deities, and pagan gods.
43. Transcendental Meditation or other Eastern Meditation techniques.
44. Esotericism.
45. Freemasonry and other secret societies and their organizations – sororities, fraternities.
46. Involvement in cults, group sex/orgies.
47. Rosicrucian, Scientology, Theosophy, Kaballah.
48. Edgar Cayce’s teachings and readings.
49. False mysticism, consulting angels, angel hosting.
50. Core energy or manipulation of energies.
51. False apparitions.
52. Syncretism – mixing beliefs of other religions.
53. Non-catholic worship, worship at pagan shrines.
54. Engaging in martial arts philosophies and teachings.

2. RENEWAL

After having renounced the abovementioned practices, we need to renew our commitment to the Lord and strive to live a life of grace. Depending on how deep is your involvement in these occult practices, some people might face struggles and challenges along the way, but it is important to always remember that everything starts with your personal decision to turn away from evil and return to God. Like the prodigal son in the Gospel, our motives for returning back to God may not be that perfect but nevertheless God will still accept us and restore us back to our dignity as his beloved sons and daughters.

Renewal of one's faith means renewing one's baptismal promises, embracing our Catholic faith, beliefs, and practices like visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary and novenas, reading the Scripture and the lives of saints, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, mortifications, fasting and abstinence especially during Lent, growing in virtues, doing acts of piety, etc.

3. RECEPTION

Reception pertains to receiving the sacraments worthily, particularly the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession and the Holy Eucharist. I cannot emphasize enough how important the Sacraments are in helping us live a life of grace. The Sacraments strengthen us spiritually, giving us the means to grow in holiness and virtue. There are great guides on how to make a good confession online. Make it a point to confess at least once a month and make it always a good one. The important thing to note here is that you must not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist if you are conscious of unconfessed grave sins. You must have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance FIRST before receiving Holy Communion. This does not mean though that since you are guilty of some particular grave sin and have no immediate access to the sacrament of Confession that you will omit going to Mass altogether. No! Not attending Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation without sufficient excuse is itself a mortal sin. If you have committed a mortal sin and have no means to confess it at the moment, you must still attend the Holy Mass; just do not receive Holy Communion. In its place, spiritually unite yourself to our Lord and ask for the grace to overcome your weaknesses. It is lamentable nowadays to see people approach Holy Communion without sufficiently examining themselves if they are worthy to receive Him, i.e., in a state of grace. Only those who are in the state of grace CAN receive Holy Communion and please do not receive communion in the hand. Show Jesus the utmost respect and reverence He rightfully deserves. Always receive Him on the tongue and with the proper interior disposition. Realize Who it is you are receiving - the King of Heaven, the Son of God, Redeemer of the world, the Holy of Holies.

4. RECITATION

Recitation means the set of prayers that one should recite every single day. From this point onward, prayer must become an important activity in your day-to-day life. These prayers may include prayers to the Blessed Trinity, Protection/Cleansing prayer, Marian prayers (rosary, etc.), Prayers to the Saints, and Angelic Prayers like the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer. I want to share some of these prayers that were recommended to me to pray every single day.



Prayer for Protection

Lord Jesus, I ask You to protect my family (mention by name) from sickness, from all harm and from accidents. If any of us has been subjected to any curses, hexes or spells, I declare these curses, hexes or spells null and void in the Name of Jesus Christ. If any evil spirits have been sent against us, I decommission you in the Name of Jesus Christ and I send you to Jesus to deal with as He will. Then, Lord, I ask You to send Your holy angels to guard and protect all of us. Amen.

-oOo-


August Queen of Angels

On the 13th of January 1863, a soul accustomed to receiving favors from the Virgin Mary was suddenly struck by a ray of divine light. She believed that she saw demons, throwing themselves upon the earth, causing ruins and incredible massacres. At the same time the Holy Virgin appeared, saying that demons had indeed broken loose in the world and the time had come to invoke her as Queen of Angels and to ask her to send legions of angels  to combat and annihilate the powers of hell.  The soul addressed the Virgin with the following words: "O my Mother, you who are so good, could you not send your angels without us having to ask you?" "No," the Virgin replied, "prayer is a condition established by God Himself to obtain graces." "Then, Mother," said the soul, "would you like to teach us how we should pray to you?" And the Most Holy Virgin dictated this prayer to her: "O august Queen..."


O august Queen and Our Lady of Angels,
who received from God the power and mission
of crushing the head of Satan,
we humbly beg you to send us heavenly legions,
with St. Michael the Archangel as head
so that under your orders
they may chase the demons,
combat them everywhere,
repress their boldness, 
and drive them back into the abyss.

"Who is like God?"
O good and tender Mother,
you shall always be our love and our hope.
O Divine Mother,
send your Holy Angels to defend us,
and to drive away from us the cruel enemy.
Holy Angels and Archangels,
defend us and guard us.
Amen.

-oOo-


Prayer to St. Michael
(This powerful prayer should be prayed frequently and from the heart. St. Michael the Archangel has great power against the fallen angels for He defended the honor of God and defeated Lucifer when he revolted against the Most High.)


Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protector against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

5. RECONCILIATION

Last but not the least is reconciliation or forgiveness - towards our brethren and with oneself. Fr. Quintela during the talk succinctly reminded us that forgiveness is a "Gospel mandate", that to forgive seventy times seven is a direct command from Christ Himself and not merely a suggestion. As difficult as it may seem it makes perfect sense. We sinners offend God on a daily basis but God in His great mercy almost always forgives us, and so we ought to extend the same thing to others. It's interesting to note that forgiving is one of the spiritual acts of mercy. When we forgive, we perform an act of mercy towards others that in turn benefit us spiritually in that forgiveness liberates us from hatred, bitterness, and all the negative emotions associated with holding grudges against others. 

-oOo-

Lastly, I highly encourage everyone to grab a copy of the books of Fr. Jocis Syquia, director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, whose photo appears above. The books are entitled Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult Second Edition and Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines Volume Two. These books are a treasure when it comes to this topic and who else is more qualified to write on these matters than the chief exorcist of Manila himself. You can buy these books in all St. Paul's Bookstores in major shopping malls nationwide. To give you a sneak peek on what is inside each book, here are the table of contents:


Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult

Introduction

1. The Church and the Devil

2. The Parapsychological Dimension

3. Catholicism and Philippine Folk Religiosity

4. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 1

5. The Secrets of the New Age Movement Notebook 2

6. Foundations

7. Ministering to Those under Extraordinary Demonic Assault

8. Confrontation between God and the Devil

9. The Catholic in the Midst of Love and War

10. The Scars of Battle

11. The Defensive Armor and Offensive Weapons

12. The Exorcist

13. Haunted Houses: Notebook 1

14. Haunted Houses: Notebook 2

Conclusion: Only Jesus and Always Jesus

Appendix A: More on Philippine Folk Religiosity

Appendix B: Personal Spiritual Warfare

Appendix C: A Concise Handbook on Exorcism and Deliverance

Appendix D: A Pastoral Approach to Infested Homes

Appendix E: How to Handle an Emergency Case of Grave Oppression and Possession

Appendix F: Rules from the Roman Ritual of Exorcism

Endnotes

-oOo-


Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines Volume Two

Introduction

Part I: Mama Mary

Chapter I: Our Mother

Chapter II: Mama Mary and the War for Souls

Chapter III: Stories of Mama Mary

Chapter IV: Stories of the Rosary

Part II: The Saints

Chapter V: The Great Battle of the Church Begins

Chapter VI: The Saints of the Early Church and the Devil - Paganism/Animism

Chapter VII: The Saints of the Early Church and the Devil - Extraordinary Attack

Chapter VIII: More Stories from the Lives of the Saints

Chapter IX: Spiritual Warfare Notebook 1 - Spiritual Combat

Chapter X: Spiritual Warfare Notebook 2 - The Spiritual Knight

Part III: Angels and Demons

Chapter XI: A Short Treatise on the Angels

Chapter XII: Demonology 1

Chapter XIII: Demonology 2

Chapter XIV: True Stories from the Vatican and Italian Exorcists

Chapter XV: From the Mouths of Demons

Conclusion: Heaven

Appendix A: Is There Such a Thing as "Wandering Souls"?

Appendix B: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Occult

Appendix C: An Exorcist Speaks about the Final Battle and Its Aftermath

Appendix D: Interview with Fr. Gabriele Amorth

Appendix E: Manual of Prayers

I. Marian Prayers
II. Angel Prayers
III. Prayer to the Saints

Recommended Reading and Resources

-oOo-



About Fr. Jocis Syquia

FR. JOSE FRANCISCO 'JOCIS' SYQUIA hails from a wealthy family. The second to the eldest son of the late ambassador Enrique Syquia and his wife, Leticia, he and his four brothers grew up in North Forbes Park, Makati City.

After graduating from college in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Fr. Jocis entered the seminary in 1989 and completed his training from both San Carlos Major Seminary in Makati City and the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sacred Theology from the UST Ecclesiastical Faculties and a Licentiate in Spiritual Theology from the Angelicum in Rome. He finished both courses with magna cum laude honors. He also has a Master's degree in Psychology from the UST Graduate School.

Fr. Jocis is the Head of the Commission on Extraordinary Phenomena for the Archdiocese of Manila. He is the Director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, an exorcist of Manila for ten years now, and a member of the International Association of Exorcists based in Rome. He completed the Vatican Course on Exorcism and Deliverance at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University. He is the author of the bestselling book Exorcism - Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult (Shepherd's Voice Publications) and Exorcist - A Spiritual Journey, the first of the three volumes published by ST PAULS. He is also a full-time formator, spiritual director, and professor of spirituality and psychology at the San Carlos Major Seminary.

-oOo-

Conclusion

There is a spiritual warfare going on around us - good versus evil - and we are caught up in this battle whether we are aware of it or not. There is a battle raging on for souls. On one hand God with all the angels and saints cheer us and encourage us to fight the good fight, to do good and be faithful to the commandments and the Gospel and on the other side is Satan with all his fallen angels trying their best to tempt and seduce us to disobey God and commit sins. In the middle of this tug of war is us. We are the booty. In the end, we are all going to end up in either heaven or hell and our final lot in eternity will be determined by our own free choice. I do hope and pray that we will pick the right choice no matter how difficult it may seem and that choice is to obey and love God.

I hope you find this blog post helpful. Do you have personal issues you want to consult regarding demonic possessions and paranormal activities? You can send an e-mail to the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism at amoe.request@yahoo.com. Just state your case in your e-mail and wait for their reply. Once they have reviewed your case, the exorcism team will reply to you to schedule you for a personal interview.


Credits: Protection Prayer and Prayer to St. Michael taken from the book Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult; August Queen of Angels taken from Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines Volume Two 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

OUT: A Forum on Understanding Identity and Homosexuality



I am inviting everyone who might be interested to attend this forum on homosexuality sponsored by Bagong Pagasa, a Christian support group like Courage for persons struggling with same sex attractions. Learn, ask questions, and gain valuable insights on this important issue.


Greetings from Bagong Pag-asa!

We would like to invite you to our upcoming forum entitled “Out: A Forum on Understanding Sexual Identity and Homosexuality”. This will be on November 14, 2015 and will be held from 2-5 p.m. at The Heritage Center, 28th Floor, Units 2806-2808, Raffles Corporate Centre, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Brgy. San Antonio, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Forum topics covered will be: ”What Is Homosexuality?”, “Why do we reach out to homosexuals?”, and “How do we reach out to homosexuals?”. The speakers will be Howard Hervey, current Director of New Hope Ministries USA and Rev. Bayani Esguerra, Board Chairman of Bagong Pag-asa. There will be a registration Fee of P200.00 which includes snacks. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required to confirm since slots are limited.

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn from speakers from New Hope USA. Please help us reach out to others who might be interested by promoting the forum in your network or by liking and sharing our FB page: http://bagongpagasa.org.ph/.

For reservations and inquiries, please contact 886-4441; 0927-5788373 or email info@bagongpagasa.org.ph.

Thank you and God bless!

Regards,

John Zulueta
Executive Director

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Real Love Revolution 2015


Discover the true meaning of love at Real Love Revolution 2015!

Real Love Revolution is a chastity conference aimed to inform and inspire people on the value of purity in real, genuine love. Over 31,000 individuals have witnessed this life-changing experience for the past three years.

Speakers



Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd experienced a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 and afterward committed himself to inviting others others to know Jesus Christ and the Church Christ founded. As a missionary, Matt proclaims the Gospel to thousands of teens and young adults. He is a Catholic apologist and speaker, a loving husband and father of four. He lives in North Georgia. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, studying philosophy, going out on date nights with his beautiful wife and wrestling with his kids on bed (still undefeated).



Sarah Swafford

Sarah Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries. She speaks to people of all ages on various topics such as emotional virtue, relationships, modesty of intentions, and interior confidence. Sarah shares her message at school assemblies, retreats, rallies, and conferences across the country and is the author of Emotional Virtue: A Guide to Drama-Free Relationships. She has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock, EWTN Live, is co-host of the show, “At the Heart of Relationships,” and has been featured in the National Catholic Register. She is a contributor to Chosen, Ascension Press’ confirmation program and YDisciple’s True Beauty; she has also contributed videos for Women Made New. Sarah is a proud team member of Chastity Project and speaks at Steubenville Youth Conferences around the United States and in Canada. Sarah is a loving wife to Dr. Andrew Swafford and their four children.


-oOo-

Date & Venue:

November 7, 2015, Saturday, at the Ynares Sports Complex, Shaw Boulevard, Pasig City.

Sessions:

9 a.m. to 12 noon; 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ticket Prices:

P600 (Patron), P450 (Gold), P350 (Silver), P250 (Bronze)


Contact:

E-mail: catalyst@uap.asia  

Cellphone: 0915-267-8526 c/o Emma Tamayo


Friday, October 9, 2015

The Proof of Identity


Another personal testimony from the President Emeritus of Courage Philippines , Bro. Rollie.


by: Rolando delos Reyes II

All my life I have been trying to prove myself before people. I believe it is more than my homosexual issues, though I also believe that it started there – the moment I began to question why my feelings and attractions are different from my biological sex, that was when I began to question my very identity, the question of who I am, and a huge gaping hole filled my heart.


The Origins in My Family

“Wala kang kamukha sa pamilya mo” [You look like your famiy] commented one of my friends when I introduced my family to her. The comment seems harmless, yet it has cut skin deep. I was born with a cleft palate, and looking at the faces of my immediate family members, I began to question whether I was really part of their clan. I was comforted knowing that on both sides of my father and mother, I had relatives also with a cleft palate. Yet it did not remove my insecurities, since there were cousins and uncles of mine who would tease me about it. Coupled with this, there were times my father was not there to defend me – like when he had to go abroad to work, or when he chose to join a doomsday cult in Palawan who believed the second coming is at hand. Though he eventually came back, during those times, my mother would seek comfort in me as the eldest son, sometimes crying with words like “iniwan tayo ni Papa mo” [Papa left us with you]. So I developed a strong bond with her, even if at times I felt that avoiding things to be lost or broken is more important than me. I noticed that I got noticed when I was "a good boy" and followed her rules. Yet I would have mixed feelings of joy and disgust when she would tell our relatives “etong anak ko laging maaasahan” [my son is always reliable]. With my father, there is a longing to be close as to a stranger; with my mother there is a longing, yet fear, to be detached –The thought of being "a good boy" is born.


Teachers and My Superiors

Growing up, most of my teachers were women, and I held them all in high regard. The good boy in me was primed up by the affirmations I got when I helped them carry their books or do some errands. But there were two incidents when I was falsely accused by them – one was about cheating during examinations, and the other was about stealing money from the Mass collection. Indignant about the seeming injustice that I felt, I vowed that I would be the extreme of what they accused me of – as my mother would put it “ang pinakamasama mong gagawin ay yung magsinungaling”[the worst thing is to just lie]. And so I excelled in both my academics and my conduct grades, and made sure none of my teachers would have anything against me – the thought of being a "perfect performer" is born.

This performance orientation continued throughout my schooling and even when I was already working. So it felt like a dagger in my heart when my rector in the seminary asked me to leave, and in college, I would rather drop my subject than fail it. When I started working in a corporation, I allowed myself to be cursed and shouted by my clients, even if the problem was beyond my control. And there were times that a phone ringing or the approaching tapping sound of my boss’ heeled shoes was enough to make me anxious and afraid of seemingly impending bad news –a thought that I am a big mistake is born.


Where I Belong

I never had a best friend. More accurately, I never had a best friend who would always be there for me. Having had my early education in an all-boys school, most of my classmates and school mates would tease and bully me because of my harelip and my effeminate ways, excluding me during play time, hitting me or playing pranks on me or berating me with foul words until I cried in public. Once in a while there would be this one boy, who would come and make friends with me, but it would only last for that school year, and then he would transfer school or section and he would have his new set of friends. In high school I would be close to a group of effeminate boys like me, yet even though I enjoy their company, there was a thug in my heart that wanted to m'ake friends with the manly kind – but I felt they won’t understand. Even when I came to this Catholic community, I knew they would not understand. But there were two men who dared to try to understand. They included me in their accountability, and slowly I realized that I was also a man. However, when they started to court, and date, and eventually married – I distinctly remembered how I embraced one of them on the eve of his wedding and told him “iiwanan nyo rin pala ako”[leave me as I shovel]. I completely resigned myself to that idea that I shall live and die alone. And so I started preparing for it – getting memorial and pension plans, purchasing a vault in a columbarium, and scribbling my last will and testament – the thought that " I am alone forever" is born.


Even in the State of Sin

“Tutal, eto na ang pananaw sa akin ng lahat, magpapakabakla na lang ako”[after all, here is the point of me, I am just homosexual] – this was my rebellious stand after being subjected to multiple life experiences of rejection. And so I lived the homosexual life to its full bloom – I engaged in romantic and sexual relationships, even if I knew these were fleeting, I joined my friends when they cruised at night or when they would go on a weekend to dress in “drag” behind closed doors, and I had numerous anonymous sexual encounters in movie and bath houses and massage parlours. And the irony of it is that even in the LGBT scene, there exists rejection – that only the beautiful, the toned and muscular, the witty, or the sexually adventurous was accepted. So I survived the gay scene collecting juicy stories of my latest escapades without regard to decency and morality. One night after another juicy encounter, I remarked to a friend “hanggang kalian tayo maggaganito?” – and the silence led me to rethink of my hedonistic behaviour. Coming to terms with my sexual immorality, I was confronted with deep shame that seems irrevocable – I am a boil in the body of Christ, and a cobweb in the house of God – the thought of a "shame-based self" is born.


Myself in Shambles

Like the prodigal son, I began my long journey back to the Father. Healing retreats, prayer partners, books of restoration by Andrew Comiskey, Leanne Payne and John Eldredge, inspiring videos such as The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church and Desire of Everlasting Hills, and personal testimonies from personalities Ansel Beluso, Marwill Llasos and Vins Santiago enabled me to start this journey to change. I joined Catholic communities and became active in support groups that would enable me to face the realities that I have so longed to escape. I began to stop the engine of my sexual and relational addiction, and I am overwhelmed at what I find inside. Coated in layers of shame and self-condemning guilt, I face jets of deep hurts and trauma, bitter roots of judgments and inner vows, and nightmares of my past encounters. There are times that I seemingly repeat my sinful past, and in those times I allowed myself to be used and abused physically and financially. There are times that I presume an upsurge of grace, when I am invited to talk or give witness to an assembly, and in those times I became arrogant like the Pharisees of old that I forget that I am still a sinner and not an ordained saint.

My accountability group noticed my schizophrenic self, and they came and prayed with me. What came out were two false selves that I am trying to reconcile – the image of the forever victim of broken past, and the image of a Messianic future. What they asked me afterwards devastated me – they asked me to lay down both images. Like a bewildered child, I cried out “Sino na ako pag nawala ang mga ito?”[How will I lose them?] They assured me of their prayers, saying that they would rather deal with someone who does not know who he is, than someone who lives a lie through false selves.


The Equation of Identity

A mentor once told me about this equation: Desire + Design = Destiny. The desire is everything that we feel and want and need. The design is everything that God has made us to be. And the combination of what we do with desire and design spells our destiny – of who we would become. Which, between desire and design, is easier to tinker with? Which would have lasting effect when changed? We need to realign our desires, to rediscover our design, in order to rebuild our destiny.

This involves a long, difficult and painful process – likened to peeling an onion, layer upon layer upon layer – tears are unavoidable as raw emotions that was long unrecognized surface. Lenin rightly said “A lie said over and over again becomes the truth”. The lies that I have believed in have to go, in order to unmask my true self. And even as God reveals the truth about who am I, grace is needed for me to trust and believe it. In my long healing journey, God has made known that I am forgiven, I am His beloved, I am not a mistake, I am not just a man, but His knight placed in front of His army – yet even if in my head I appreciate it, in my heart I doubt it. He has brought me back to those traumatic moments of my life and let me see how He was actively present in all of these, yet I still fail to trust Him. My constant prayer is: Lord, help me in my unbelief.

This is why I attribute homosexuality as not only a psycho-emotional and developmental issue, but a spiritual one as well. This is my warning to young people led to believe that being gay is okay. The devil does not want us to know who we are, because as St. Ireneaus said “The glory of God is man fully alive”. He wants us to remain blind to the greatness of our identity in Christ. Yet God desires that we see our worth beyond what we do, and what we have, but in what He has made us to be.

All my life, God has been trying to prove Himself to me. Jesus, help me to trust in You!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

For Boys Only: The Man Talk


Oh man, how I wish I can attend this gathering on a Friday afternoon, but for those who can I encourage you to be there. Main speaker is Matt Fradd, who is a well-known and in-demand international chastity speaker. For guys only, no ladies allowed. :)

ATTENTION GENTLEMEN!

We are inviting you to join us in an ALL-BOYS chastity talk with highly sought-after international speaker and Catholic apologist, Matt Fradd. Find out how true manhood is expressed in becoming who God meant you to be, and discover the FIVE RULES you must BREAK if you want to fulfill your deepest desires and follow God's commands! grin emoticon

This will be held on November 6, 2015 (Friday) from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at St. Mary's College Auditorium, #37 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Barangay Paligsahan, Quezon City.

Tickets are now available and are priced at P 300.00 each. Limited seats only, so secure your ticket now by calling/texting us at 0922-827-6662 OR e-mail us at all4life.life4all@gmail.com. You can also send as a direct message on Facebook.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon! 

(Source: Taken from the Youth for Life - Y4L Facebook Page)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pananalig Reco for the Last, the Least and the Lowly



30th LAYFORCE ANNIVERSARY GIFT TO THE LAITY

PANANALIG RECO FOR THE LAST, THE LEAST AND THE LOWLY

THEME: KAPWA KO, KASAMA KO SA PAGSUNOD KAY KRISTO


PANANALIG RECO is offered for our brothers and sisters who have not experienced a recollection. This is a beautiful opportunity for them to experience the love and mercy of God. It will be a whole day event at LAYFORCE and be nourished in mind, body and spirit. Maximum number of participants per batch would be 100 persons.

Please pre-register at the Layforce Office ahead of time. Layforce is located at San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex, EDSA Guadalupe, Makati City. Contact numbers: 895-8855 local 300-301, 896-0607. E-mail us at slrlayforce_2008@yahoo.com. Admission is FREE!


-oOo-

Saturday Schedules of Pananalig Reco


September 19
Awareness to Evangelize and Educate the Young 
Fr. Richard James Babao, Mr. Julius Babao and Mrs. Tintin Bersola-Babao


October 17
Inner Transformation: Pre-Requisite to Social Transformation
His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Mr. Arnold Baldemor


November 21
Key for Building a Just Society Amidst the Challenges of Today
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, D.D.


December 12
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Fr. Gerard Reyes


Come and be blessed every third Saturday!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On The Dignity and Vocation of Homosexual Persons


This has just been out, a month before the upcoming Synod. The local bishops have finally spoken on the topic of homosexuality through a pastoral letter and I urge everyone especially those who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community to reflect deeply on this letter. After reading this, I hope that we come to realize that homosexual persons have dignity and vocation from God, that homosexual attractions and urges do not define who we really are and so discover in the process the basis of our true identity - which is that of a beloved child of God - unique and precious in His eyes so as to die for us on the cross in order to save us from our sinfulness.


A Pastoral Response to the Acceptance of Homosexual Lifestyle And Legalization of Homosexual Unions


The Nature of Marriage in the Divine Plan

THE creation narratives at the beginning of Sacred Scripture reveal that God made human beings in His image and likeness. He created them male and female, equal in dignity but not identical nor interchangeable.

He made one explicitly for the other – “It is not good that the man should be alone” (RSV, Gen. 2:18)1 – equal as persons, not alike but complementary. So that in relating to each other, as male and female, one would complete the other as two halves coming together to be whole.

This complementarity between man and woman, as St. Pope John Paul II has pointed out, is observed and affirmed at the biological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels. But it is most manifest primarily in and through the union of two complementary bodies, male and female.

“The body, which through its own masculinity or femininity right from the beginning helps both (man and woman) to find themselves in communion of persons, becomes, in a particular way, the constituent element of their union, when they become husband and wife.”2

Simply put, human beings, created by God as either male or female, are meant to complement each other in a union of the two intended from their creation. And human sexuality, characterized as distinctly masculine or feminine, is ordered by nature towards that union, of one specifically with the other.

Having created man and woman, Scripture continues, God instituted marriage as the form of life in which the complementarity of man and woman would be fulfilled and perfected. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

And as it is ordered or directed to the union of man and woman, human sexuality is also ordered towards the procreation and education of children. It is in and through the conjugal union that God has willed to give man and woman a share in His work of creation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28).

In the Creator’s plan we see, therefore, that sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage. In other words, marriage by its very nature and intention is unitive and procreative.

Marriage is also the form of life best suited for the flourishing of children. As St. Thomas Aquinas explained, human children need, not only nourishment for their bodies, but also education for their souls. This they acquire best, according to St. Thomas, when they have both parents – father and mother, male and female – as their teachers and role models.3

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”4

In sum, the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the institution established by God for the foundation of the family: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”5

In other words, God created human beings as male and female, complementary and specifically for each other, and ordered or directed towards union and procreation that are intended to be fulfilled and perfected in marriage.


The Nature of Homosexuality in the Created Order

Created either male or female, and by their masculine or feminine sexuality thus directed towards union with the other who complements them, men and women are naturally drawn and relate to each other in this order.

There are some men and women, however, often through no fault of their own, who find themselves sexually attracted to individuals of the same sex.6

A comprehensive explanation for same-sex attraction or homosexual tendencies and inclinations remains elusive to this day, but research undertaken within various branches of science and medicine at various levels indicate that male and female homosexuality, though different in character, have both biological and environmental causes.

Sexual attraction towards the same sex is not a sin. But it is, in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered – in the sense that it is not ordered towards the union of male and female in a relationship of natural complementarity.

Homosexual acts or practices that may arise from such attraction, although they may proceed from and be motivated by genuine affection between two persons of the same sex, are similarly not ordered to the union of the two persons and to the procreation of children.

Because they are not unitive and procreative – the distinct qualities of a complementary union of man and woman in marriage – homosexual acts or practices are “contrary to the natural law”7. Hence, they are, from the perspective of natural law, gravely disordered and considered “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.8

The Catholic Church acknowledges that the number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies could be more than we think and that this inclination “constitutes for most of them, a trial.”9

The Catholic Church looks at her children who have deep seated homosexual attraction with motherly compassion and paternal love, even as she reminds them that in cultures that have lost sight of the richness and diversity of friendships that enhance the human condition, those who struggle with homosexuality are called to witness to the life-giving nature of virtue-based friendships not ordered to sexual acts.

Those who find themselves sexually attracted to others of the same sex are called to develop chaste friendships with both men and women.

The Church certainly recognizes that like all growth in virtue, this challenge is a difficult one that will require a robust supernatural life that is radically open to the grace and mercy of God. Frequent recourse to the sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist is a necessary condition for growth in holiness.


The Social Reality of Homosexual Unions

Over the past few years, in an increasing number of countries, including traditionally Catholic countries, homosexual unions have been granted legal recognition equal to that of marriage.

In our understanding of God’s creation of man and woman in complementarity and in His establishment of marriage, however, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family.10 A homosexual union is not and can never be a marriage as properly understood and so-called.

In response to this emerging social reality and for the guidance of the faithful, therefore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instructs:

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.11

Concretely, this means that Catholics cannot participate in any way or even attend religious or legal ceremonies that celebrate and legitimize homosexual unions. Understandably, this will be a particularly heavy cross for families that have been touched by homosexuality. The Church reaches out with compassion to these families whose loved ones have entered into such unions.

In countries where homosexual unions have not been legalized – a vast majority of countries worldwide, including the Philippines – Catholics are called to give witness to the whole moral truth about human sexuality, which is contradicted “both by approval of homosexual acts and the unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.”12

Moreover, Catholics are called to resist all attempts to normalize homosexual behavior and homosexual unions in their culture.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also recommends the following actions that may be effective in societies that may begin to manifest an inclination to legalize homosexual unions:

• Unmasking the way in which such tolerance [of homosexual unions] might be exploited or used in the service of ideology;
• Stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions;
• Reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defenses and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon.13

Catholics are called to oppose all gravely unjust laws that contravene both divine law and natural law – including all laws that legalize homosexual unions – because these unjust laws pervert and undermine the common good.

They are at the same time called, perhaps even more so in societies that legally recognize homosexual unions, to be charitable to every single homosexual person they know.

In particular, families with members who struggle with homosexuality are called to love them unconditionally, thereby outlasting all their other same-sex loves. This love, however, must be a love in truth that avoids praising, consenting to, or defending the so-called “homosexual lifestyle.”

Finally, given their unique vocation, Catholic politicians are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions in a particularly vigorous way. When legislation in favor of this recognition is first proposed, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. “To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.” 14

And, in countries where legislation in favor of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic lawmaker must try to obtain at least the partial repeal of the unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.15


Arguments Against the Legalization of Homosexual Unions

Marriage is a social institution that has been granted privileges and benefits by the state because it is an institution of the natural law that contributes to the common good in a way that no other relationship can, i.e., the procreation and education of children.

Marriage binds a man and a woman together for life so that the offspring of their union would have the experience and benefit of the complementary male and female presence in their total development.

Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not have the basic biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family. They are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race16, and thus it would be an injustice to grant them legal recognition along with the same benefits and privileges accorded to marriage.

Neither can this injustice be mitigated by allowing homosexual couples to either adopt children or use artificial reproductive technologies to engender them. Such actions would intentionally deprive these children of the experience of fatherhood or of motherhood that they would need to develop and flourish, not only as human persons, but as persons living in a gendered society where socialization involves the learning of gendered social norms.

This too would be a grave injustice, especially in light of the principle, “recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.”17

It would likewise be unjust if homosexual unions were granted privileges and benefits identical to those of marriages because this act would redefine marriage, making it “an institution devoid of essential reference to factors [that are necessarily] linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children.”18


Responding to Arguments for the Legalization of Homosexual Unions

In any debate that runs current to a proposal to legalize homosexual unions, four major arguments have been and will continue to be advanced.

The following enumeration and discussion is presented for the understanding and enlightenment of Catholics seeking appropriate responses to such arguments.

1. To deny homosexual unions the legal status of marriage is to unjustly discriminate against homosexual persons who simply wish to express their love and commitment to their same-sex partners as heterosexual spouses do.

The Catholic response: Distinguishing between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits to specific individuals or groups of individuals is immoral only when it is contrary to justice. Marriage is more than just the mutual affirmation one’s love and commitment to a beloved. This is why the state regulates and licenses marriage in a way that it does not regulate other types of friendship, which to some degree, all involve the mutual affirmation of love and commitment between and among friends – because only marriage can naturally and directly contribute children and a stable environment for the raising of those children, to the common good.

Denying homosexual unions the social and legal status of marriage simply affirms that these unions, as well as other non-marital unions similar to them, are not equivalent to marriage because they cannot give society what marriages can give. This is not opposed to justice. On the contrary, justice demands it.19

2. Homosexual unions should be legally recognized because individuals, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, should have the right to do whatever they want to, if doing so does not hurt or impinge upon the freedom of others.

The Catholic response: As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explains, it is one thing for individual persons to freely engage in their private activities, and another very different thing for them to demand that the state sanction these activities, especially when they would harm the common good.

This would be the case if homosexual unions were legally recognized.20

Rightly respecting individual autonomy does not mean that society has to do everything that an autonomous individual demands that it do.

3. Homosexual unions should be legally recognized because they are occasions for virtue, and as such, are good for society. There are many instances where same-sex couples have clearly grown in virtue, for example, the virtues of patience, forgiveness, and generosity, in and through their efforts to build a life together.

The Catholic response: It may be true that homosexual unions, in certain cases, may be occasions for the growth of imperfect natural virtue. However, this alone would not be a reason for granting them the legal status of marriage, because they still do not and cannot contribute to the common good in the same way that marriages do.

Moreover, the Catholic Church has the obligation to remind same-sex couples that natural virtue is insufficient for salvation and for the eternal beatitude to which everyone is called. Only the supernatural virtues are salvific.

4. Marriage as a social institution has evolved and changed numerous times over the course of human history to accommodate the needs of a particular society and culture. Thus, marriage should evolve once more to accommodate our contemporary notions of human sexuality that recognize the fluidity not only of gender identities but also of sexual orientations.

The Catholic response: The truth about marriage, i.e., that it is a social institution ordered towards the life-long union of a man and a woman and the procreation and education of their children, is attainable by human reason.

However, given fallen human nature, especially given the interior disarray of our carnal desires that obscures our intellect, it is a truth that is often hard to grasp, and only after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors.

Not surprisingly, therefore, there has been and will continue to be throughout history, much confusion about the nature of marriage. Nonetheless, error is not a reason to abandon truth.


A Pastoral Response to the Legalization of Homosexual Unions

In societies that have legalized homosexual unions and in societies that are inclined to grant homosexual unions legal status, the Catholic Church is called, like her Lord did in his own time, to preach the good and saving news of marriage, by turning once again to God’s plan “in the beginning,” especially as it has been taught in the papal magisterium of Pope St. John Paul II in his Theology of the Body.

To the Catholic people and to other Christian believers, the Catholic Church is called to renew her efforts to catechize the faithful about the true nature of creation and marriage. This is especially urgent for our young people who may be led into error and doubt by those social movements that want to normalize homosexuality and to legalize homosexual unions.

For the Filipino people, we the Catholic bishops will be publishing a short catechism that specifically responds in simple language to the most common questions and objections raised by critics of the Church’s teaching on marriage and homosexual unions. Notably, however, we also acknowledge that the confusion surrounding the true nature of marriage cannot be driven out of the culture without the penance, prayer, and fasting of God’s holy people (cf. Mk. 9:29).

To families with members who struggle with homosexuality and who are tempted to ostracize their sons and daughters, the Catholic Church is called to preach mercy as her Lord did, without forgetting that the mercy of Jesus is always accompanied by his challenge to the woman caught in adultery that “from now on, do not sin again” (Jn. 8:11).

For the Filipino people, we the Catholic bishops consider addressing the familial shame that is experienced by Filipino families touched by homosexuality. It is a shame that needs to be redeemed in Christ through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God.

Finally, and most importantly, to homosexual individuals who are tempted either to pride or to despair, the Catholic Church is called to preach the power of grace through prayer and Holy Communion, and the mercy of Jesus Christ through the sacrament of penance.

It is Jesus Christ, and he alone, who can heal every broken human heart that yearns for unconditional love and authentic friendship. It is Jesus Christ, and he alone, who faithfully accompanies the homosexual person from grace unto glory.



From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, August 28, 2015

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines


Endnotes:
_______________________________________
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1605.
2 Pope John Paul II, “Marriage, One and Indissoluble in the First Chapters of Genesis,” General Audience, November 21, 1979, Vatican City.
3 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles III-II.122.8.
4 Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 48 §1. (cf. CCC, §1603)
5 Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1055 § 1; cf. Gaudium et spes, 48 § 1.
6 In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that 1.6% of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, and that 0.7% consider themselves bisexual. For details, see Ward et al., “Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013,” National Health Statistics Reports Number 77, July 15, 2014.
7 Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357.
8 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, June 3, 2003,” §4.
9 Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2358.
10 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, June 3, 2003,” §4.
11 Ibid, §5.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid., §10.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid., §7.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid., §8.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Courage Participates in Congress on Family


On July 25, Courage was invited to participate in the Congress on Family organized by the Marriage Encounter Foundation of the Philippines (MEFP). The MEFP is a national umbrella organization of family and life ministries. They organized this congress to gather the reflections and views of the laity on the key points from the Final Relatio for the upcoming Synod on the Family in Vatican in October.

One of the seven points of reflection is “Pastoral Attention Towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies”. This was the section our Spiritual Director, Fr. Daniel Healy, was invited to speak on. His talk started on a reflection on the Woman Caught in Adultery from the Gospel according to John. It reflects on how Jesus treats sinfulness and sin. Jesus’ words are: “Is there no one left to condemn you?”“No one, sir” she answered. “Well then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and sin no more.” (Jn 8: 10-11) These inspired words are to be our guide in providing pastoral attention towards person with homosexual tendencies.




From this, Fr. Daniel further expounded on the topic and clarified three basic aspects of the homosexual tendency: person, inclination, and acts. On person, the Christian believes that every human being is born in the image and likeness of God, homosexual persons included, and they are therefore to be loved. On inclination, the Church does not consider this as sinful in itself but it predisposes a person toward what is not truly good for him or her. The term used by the Church is “objective disorder” as it is a burden, a weakness, a share in the cross of Christ. What one must do on this is to have the discipline and to grow in chastity and other virtues. On homosexual acts, the Church has always been consistent on this: “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered…under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC: 2357). Since it is intrinsically disordered or in other words, a sin, this is where the Church makes judgment on. As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery…”Go, and sin no more.” No sin is permissible and so the pastoral care for this is to lead persons who have committed homosexual acts to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

After Fr. Daniel, one of the Courage brothers gave his testimony on his struggles and redemption. Several questions and suggestions were then mentioned by the audience including a massive education program, setting up help desks at a parish level, and formation of married couples on parenting since our Courage brother has testified that the homosexual tendency has its roots in the family.

The genuine concern that the participants showed after the talk are the seeds that God has planted in everyone’s hearts. We can just hope that God will continue to finish the work He has started. It was truly a grace from God for Courage to have participated in this very important pre-meeting on the Synod on the Family and to speak about pastoral attention for persons with homosexual tendencies. This is God’s work after all and we are mere instruments. Praise be to God!



Joseph Anthony of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Invited to Courageous Love





Courage International is proud to announce the release of "Invited to Courageous Love", a five-part series on the Catholic Church and Homosexuality. These videos present a unique perspective on the lives of Catholics who experience same-sex attractions and the peace and joy they have found by embracing the Gospel call to charity and fellowship.


Each 30-minute episode will include testimony from Courage members and interviews with professionals in the fields of pastoral care, philosophy and theology, and the medical and social sciences. Topics include:

1. "The Good News About Chaste Love" --- Courage members tell their stories about living with same-sex attraction, hearing and embracing God's call to chastity, and finding a spiritual home in the Catholic Church.

2. "Sex and Sexuality in the Divine Design" --- Theologians and philosophers discuss the plan for sex and sexuality that is visible in the way human beings are created, and is revealed in the Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of the Church.

3. "Insights from the Medical and Social Sciences" --- Experts in psychology, medicine and pastoral care examine important questions about the origins of same-sex attraction, and the emotional and physical health issues often faced by people in homosexual relationships.

4. "Homosexuality and the Family" --- Parents, spouses and loved ones of people who experience same-sex attractions talk about the challenge of balancing healthy family relationships, concern for their children, and the demands of the life of Faith.

5. "Providing Authentic Pastoral Care" --- Bishops and priests speak from experience about accompanying men and women with same-sex attraction along the way of holiness, and helping them to find their vocations in the Church and in service to others.

"Invited to Courageous Love" will be released as a 5-DVD set, complete with a Study Guide for individuals or groups, on September 1, 2015.

It is sure to become an important resource for dioceses, parishes, schools and anyone wishing to know more about the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, and the lives of people who are faithfully living them out.


Source:  Courage International

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Healing the Child Within


Forwarded invitation by Bro. Alfie of Living Waters Philippines. For inquiries, kindly contact him at 0917-8922257. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Courage Orientation Seminar


The poster above says it all. If you are struggling with same-sex attractions and searching for answers you have come to the right place. Contact Bro. Edwin at (0916) 313-7249 or e-mail him at edwin.courageous@gmail.com for more info. This event will be on August 15, 2015, Saturday, coinciding with the Feast of our Lady's Assumption.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Disagree But It's Not Hate



I encourage everyone to fight and stand up for the culture of life. We cannot afford to just sit and watch; we need to get involved. To start, you can like the following Facebook pages to receive up-to-date news feeds on pro-life issues including same-sex marriage.

1. Filipinos for Life

2. No to Gay 'Marriage'

3. No to Same-Sex 'Marriage' in the Philippines

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sodomy - A Sin that Cries to Heaven


I once heard a certain pastor of a gay church here in the Philippines said on a national TV debate that often quoted argument that Sodom and Gomorrah were punished because of the sin of inhospitality. Seriously? Fire and brimstone punishment for being inhospitable? Sodomy is so grave that it is one of the sins that cries to heaven. It is a sin against nature and an abomination in the eyes of God. Persist in this sin and you will be lost forever. Repentance is the only way out and like Lot and his daughters never ever look back.


And the Lord said: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is multiplied, and their sin is become exceedingly grievous. I will go down and see whether they have done according to the cry that is come to me: or whether it be not so, that I may know. – Gen. 18:20-21

The “Sin of Sodom” is described as “carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.”1 Given modernity’s substitution of God and Nature with the will of the individual as an autonomous moral universe, sodomy – more specifically active homosexuality, not orientation – has become part of the new post-Christian norm. Neither Divine Law nor Natural Law form an external guide for the modern man; thus, the only boundary of autonomous individual is the autonomy of another. The boundary for what is and is not moral appears to be consent. Consequently, moral dialogue has been flattened to mere platitudes, e.g., this isn’t hurting anyone, it’s my body and my choice, love is love. Many often comment on the modern West’s apparent lack of morality, but few comment on the fact the West has lost the vocabulary to even discuss on morality.2

A few distinctions. First, the issue of same-sex marriage is not a religious issue, it is a rational and philosophical one. Considerations of marriage as a natural institution, the moral import of natural law, and the harmony between unity and procreation in sex are all within the purview of the natural virtues and reason; however, as geology and astronomy may both tell us the Earth is round, so too can the two sciences of theology and philosophy tell us the same thing.3 For example, no one holds that the commandment thou shall not murder was unknown before God revealed it on Mt. Sinai. It was revelation confirming reason, a demonstration of the greater truth that grace perfects nature.

The discussion for this list is less about same-sex marriage and more about a proper interpretation of Scripture. It is a conversation about those who do see Sacred Scripture as a moral authority, but attempt to harmonize their modernist views on sexuality with the Holy Bible. Typically, this leads to “new” interpretations of Scriptures on homosexuality. These interpretations are often weak and out of context, but since they serve the end that people want people follow them. A tenuous intellectual argument will always serve as long as it achieves the end people desire, especially if that end is wrapped in autonomy and sexual gratification.


On the Interpretation of Hospitality Violations

Those who argue that Sodom and Gomorrah should be understood outside any homosexual context often submit that the divine judgment of those cities was due to violations of Ancient Near East hospitality laws. In The Sin of Sodom & Gomorrah is not about Hospitality, the good Msgr. Pope offers a strong rebuttal. In part:

First there is a text from Ezekiel:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

Now this is the text used most often by those who deny any homosexual context in the sin of Sodom. And, to be fair, it does add a dimension to the outcry God hears. There are clearly additional sins at work in the outcry: pride, excess or greed, and indifference to the poor and needy. But there are also mentioned here unspecified “abominations.” The Hebrew word is תּוֹעֵבָ֖ה (tō·w·‘ê·ḇāh) which refers to any number of things God considers especially detestable, such as worshiping idols, immolating children, wrongful marriage and also homosexual acts. For example, Leviticus 18:22 uses the word in this context: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.4

But of itself, this text from Ezekiel does remind us that widespread homosexuality is not the only sin of Sodom. And while the abomination mentioned here may not be specified exactly, there is another Scriptural text that does specify things more clearly for us. It is from the Letter of Jude:

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. (Jude 7-8)

And thus it is specified that the central sin of Sodom involved “sexual immorality (ἐκπορνεύσασαι) and perversion (ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας – literally having departed to strange or different flesh).” And this would comport with the description of widespread homosexual practice in Sodom wherein the practitioners of this sin are described in Genesis 19 as including, “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old.”

Hence we see that, while we should avoid seeing the sin of Sodom as only widespread homosexual acts (for what city has only one sin?), we cannot avoid that the Scriptures do teach that homosexual acts are central to the sins of Sodom which cry to heaven for vengeance, and for which God saw fit to bring a fiery end.

Genesis 19 speaks plainly of the sin, Ezekiel 16 broadens the description but retains the word “abomination,” and Jude 7 clearly attests to sexual perversion as being the central sin with which Sodom and Gomorrah were connected.

One of the takeaways from the good monsignor’s commentary is that sexual perversion is not the only sin of which Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty. Many allow themselves to be confused by arguments that attempt to replace the primary sin (sexual perversion in a homosexual context) with the secondary sins.5 And while the discussion here is not necessarily why homosexuality is a sin that cries to heaven, it should serve to clarify that it is impossible to read the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative outside a homosexual context.


[Source: www.stpeterslist.com]

Footnotes:

1Douay Catholic Catechism of 1649, Q. 928 – Thank you to Taylor Marshal for posting this excerpt on his blog. Marshall makes the point that America has failed “four for four” on these sins that cry out to heaven.

2. Moral Vocabulary: When he was Archbishop of Denver, His Excellency Chaput gave a talk that incorporated the problem of the lost moral vocabulary. Repentance & Renewal, 2010.

3. Theology as a Science: For an introduction to understanding Sacred Doctrine as the Queen of the Sciences and how she orders those sciences, see Queen of the Sciences and Queen of the Sciences II.

4. SPL Note on Leviticus & Homosexuality: When Lev. 18:22 is cited as an undeniable condemnation of homosexuality in Scripture, it is often met with certain sophist rebuttals, e.g., Leviticus also outlaws shaving, tattoos, and eating pork. First note that these statements are an assertion, not an argument. The underlying argument that is needed on both sides is how one decides what is still valid law and what is not. In short, as Catholics we know that the OT is perfected in the NT and the NT is foreshadowed in the OT; thus, we see in Scripture Christ’s intent to perfect the law, not abolish it. Certain laws, however, demand a change in order to be perfected. For example, the OT law of circumcision was perfected in the Sacrament of Baptism. The Levitical laws on purity are a subject we see both St. Peter and St. Paul address. Homosexuality, on the other hand, was restated as a sin by St. Paul. In reverse, one could always ask those who use this argument against Leviticus what their hermeneutic for understanding the OT and NT is. It will, inevitably, be their own autonomous will. For more see Catholic Answers on the subject. 

5. Further Commentary on the Hospitality View: In addition to Msgr. Pope’s article, Catholic Answers addresses it in their treatment of homosexuality in general and Fr. Longenecker comments on it in his article The Sin of SodomIn related studies, the good Msgr. Pope has written about the wrath of God and several other articles on homosexuality (Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality, the “Lost Generation of the Church,” and a Pastor’s Attempt to Teaching the Bible on Homosexuality). Catholicism holds that the laws of the State are drawn from the laws of nature, and the laws of nature are distinct from the divine laws in Scripture. To understanding the relationship of laws and the context in which Catholicism advocates for the legal defense of natural marriage, see Think like a Catholic – 7 Questions on the Four Laws. A collection of Catholic documents on sexuality and the pastoral care of homosexually oriented person is found at 5 Catholic Documents on Family, Sex, and Homosexuality. Those who still question the traditional interpretation of the Church on homosexuality may reference Early Church: 12 Quotes on Homosexuality & Other Sexual Sins