Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God's Healing In His Time

Another powerful sharing of God's healing love from 'Piologs', an Ichthus Community brother.

I almost didn’t make it to this training for financial reasons, unable to decide whether I’ll be spending wisely on this. But with the encouragement of a friend, I agreed to attend the event. Also, I wanted to encounter the Lord in a powerful way and understand why I had been acting out again even after the 25-week Living Waters program. I was living a double life as an elder member of my Singles for Christ community. Secretly I was addicted to porn, masturbation and casual encounters at spas. I wanted to escape; I quit my job and found it difficult to look for a new one. I know I needed help and with a heavy heart I sought the Lord’s intervention. He didn’t disappoint.

Days before I went to the retreat, my mom had an emotional breakdown. She went home drunk from a family event and started crying and scolding my dad - a stroke survivor – and how all of us demanded so much from her and what would happen to us if she died (she’s so emotional after seeing her sister whose health is degrading from cancer). I thought to myself how this was so unacceptable, how she continued to reveal her insecurity and what would my siblings think and get from this. During the first session of the retreat about mother wounding I recalled this recent experience and it validated my lack of sense of being. Mama was so young when she conceived me before they got married. I sense a lot of hostility from both sides of the family even before I was born. She was so na├»ve she didn’t even know how to breastfeed me. I always saw her insecure and absentminded with her glassy-eyed stares. It must have been because of her worries about her relationship with papa who was not ready for a married life and was busy with his friends, work and other 'extra-curricular' activities. I brought this to my small group and it made me feel the anger and how I blamed my mother for all this but was redirected to offer this feeling to the Lord.

The following session was about father wounding and I remembered how Papa was so absent in my younger years and how busy he was reliving his singlehood. During the ministry session, we were showered with affirmation from the men of the Living Waters team. I remember getting the message “I’m proud of you” thrice, “pinag-mamalaki kita” whispered to me at the end as if to drive His message I desperately needed to hear! I broke down and thought to myself this is what I sought for the longest time now. I remember weeks ago I had argument about my father about me not appearing busy or being busy for the wrong reasons. I participated actively in my SFC community and was out of the house most of the time. I defended myself and told him, "You don’t even know what I’m up to!" While he was walking away, he told me ‘despite that, I love you’. Instantaneously my response was a defensive, "Yeah sure, it’s just not obvious." I felt guilty rejecting him and I thought this must be how strong my defensive detachment was to any of his affirmations: any form of love reaching out to me. This must be how I had been rejecting God’s love. I brought this to my small group and acknowledged my mistake in rejecting God’s love. I felt my palms for the first time truly opening up ready to receive His love. My small group leader affirmed and told me that God had already placed a solid structure in me, “a real maturity and spiritual wisdom” that just needed an in-filling of God’s love. But still I wondered, "Why am I like this?" It is as though the cup of my heart had a lid unable to receive God’s love."

The next session brought me to my memories of abuses. One by one, episode after episode, my abuses came to me and I felt how real the pain was. I was shaking and unable to contain my anger. Then I was gently asked by my small group leader to reveal and specify the most hurtful experiences. I remembered a time when I argued with my Mama about buying something and she called me ‘bakling’ and I defended myself and got mad at her. She told Papa what happened and he sided with her and scolded me and called me "bastos." I felt so alone and defeated. I remember the many beatings and humiliations I got from my Papa. One time, I argued with him and he didn’t like how I defended myself from him and he hit me with a monoblock chair in my forehead and told me he wanted to kill me. I ran away and was called back to realize my godfather visited us and I acted as if nothing happened. I remember one time they told me that papa used to lock me in the bedroom as he watched porn and I didn’t know why he did so. I remember walking in the same compound and seeing my relatives watching porn and how terrified I was. I remember being traumatized by my papa accidentally shooting our roof while my uncle tried to take a gun away from him when he shouted threats of shooting a neighbor he had a spat with. I remember the time while doing my chore when he showed me a gun and tried to teach me how to use it and I told him, "I don’t need it." He told me, “Wala ka!” He also called me "shit," scolding me for something I forgot to do. These experiences made me vulnerable to physical beatings, humiliations from both sides of the family. It made my self-esteem dive down so that I got further bullied outside of home, in elementary and high school. I felt so unwanted. I got exhausted with all this and just cried out to the Lord, "I’m tired!" I started grieving that the people that were supposed to protect me were my ultimate attackers. I grieved that my voice was always shut down and not valued. I grieved for the loss of a secure and happy childhood that could have made me a different person. I got stuck in this vengeful spell. I was thinking, "Could it be that I’m just a difficult kid?" I felt like I was abnormal as a kid, but I was comforted by my small group leader that these were not right and these were real violations. I realized this must be the reason why I had been rejecting my Papa. I made a vow that, one day, I’d be so self-assured, I would not get any form of love from him. I’d reject anything coming from him, and he’d feel humiliated. Well, it didn't happen, and I grew clingy and emotionally dependent on 'friends.' I realized this was how I had been treating God as well: how I would justify my sinful spending and told myself I deserved to be satisfied. I would get my satisfaction and no one had to give me any. I’d get it myself. I confessed it before my small group and how I realized the gravity of my offenses.

During the night session, I came to the forgiveness session with a heaviness in my chest. We were asked to write down the names of our abusers and surrender them to the pool of ‘blood’ at the foot of the cross. As I dropped my paper with names of Papa, Mama, my relatives and classmates, I got fixated on the pool. I felt my eyes burn with anger. I was invited to look at the cross and just surrender everything to God, no questions asked. I felt God telling me, "Give it to Me, NOW!" After the session was over, I went to the chapel and cried out how difficult forgiving was. I gazed at the altar and saw the image of Mama Mary holding the kid Jesus. I thought to myself, this was what I needed; this was what I had been longing for. I asked the Father to hold me, to lift me up, to take care of me and keep me safe. I longed to be held in my father’s arms. I brought this to my small group and was affirmed how the Father was reaching out to ‘parent’ me now. And I opened myself and received God’s love and tried to respond to His embrace. During the afternoon session on restoring masculinity, a representative of our Father asked for forgiveness, for the many hurts and humiliations he caused, for being absent and rejecting. Finally I said to myself, "Yes I forgive!" I felt the love of God rush through my body. I felt His justice and His mercy overcome me and I received it all.

During our last small group session, my small group leader told me he felt like a rebirth took place in me. And that he was confident that deep change had filled in me that I would never go back to my old ways. He made me stand and he continued, “You have enough now to stand and fight. I see you with a sword in your hands and you plunge it into the earth, to say, 'Enough! This is where I stand, this is where I fight, this is what I choose and I will live for, here is where I will stay.'” So my five days in Living Waters Leadership Training ended full of hope. A brother asked me, why only now? I told him I don’t know, but who can argue with God and His ways.

I feel that the Lord is asking me to step up and use this experience to reach the broken. Last Sunday I testified in my SFC community with all these experiences and called the broken to admit the pain and seek healing from God. I feel liberated and reconciled. I am still in awe of how the Lord has worked and is working. I ask for your prayers as I aim to share this experience with my family, my parents. I would like to bring this encounter into a completion and really solidify the grounds I’m standing. Thank you for your time, and I pray for your protection.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekly News (Fourth Week of November 2011)

1. CBCP to Launch National AIDS Sunday

THOUGH the incidence of HIV infection and AIDS in the Philippines remains at a relatively low level next to Thailand and African nations where figures ballooned following massive condom use campaigns, there are still Filipinos who live with the disease and who need support and compassion. [Read More]

2. Pontiff Reports That Africa Has a Freshness of Hope

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI dedicated today's general audience to a review of his weekend trip to Benin, reporting that he found in Africa a "freshness of hope." [Read More]

3. Health Risks in 'Reproductive Health': New Studies on the Pill

More Research on What Women Are Not Being Told

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Approximately 100 million women worldwide use some version of "the Pill," or combined oral contraceptives. In the developed world, the use of some form of contraceptive is nearly universal, with surgical sterilization and oral contraception the most popular methods.[1] As the United States and other Western powers continue to spend billions of dollars on the "reproductive health" of women in the developing world, the numbers of users continue to rise. [Read More]

4. Tremendous Benefit for the Philippines

In a cooperative venture, the Tim Tebow Foundation and CURE International will be opening a new children's hospital in the Philippines. [Read More]

5. Steve Jobs Was Glad He Didn’t Become a Victim of Abortion

A new biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs indicates the businesses visionary was glad he did not become a victim of abortion. [Read More]

6. Thanksgiving: A Call to Pray Before Feasting

The Thanksgiving tradition began with our early Americans, the English colonists--known as Pilgrims--who were celebrating days of thanks for the success of their first harvest. This was all part of their religion. These were days of mostly prayer, not just days of feasting. [Read More]

7. ‘We Were Deceived’ on New York Gay ‘Marriage’ Vote: Archbishop Dolan

NEW YORK, NY, November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the aftermath of the legalization of gay “marriage” in New York state, some commentators had wondered why, despite their leadership role in the fight against the law, the state’s Catholic bishops’ efforts had ultimately seemed so strangely half-hearted, given the high stakes. [Read More]

8. Homosexual Activists ‘Increasingly Aggressive’: Family Research Council

WASHINGTON, DC, November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual activists have becoming “increasingly aggressive” in attacking their opponents and in shutting down any debate, but despite their efforts “there are legitimate grounds for debate on the origin, nature, and consequences of homosexuality,” argues a new analysis from the Family Research Council. [Read More]

9. Pamela Anderson Playing the Virgin Mary Says It All

Pamela Anderson, the silicon enhanced sex tape star and Playboy centerfold, will be playing the Virgin Mary in a sketch comedy show that will appear on the Comedy Network and in Canada. [Read More]

10. Baby Saved From Abortion After Parents Watch ‘180’

November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the pro-life film 180 continues to attract an ever growing viewership, its creator Ray Comfort has announced that the video is doing more than just changing people’s minds on abortion: it is saving people’s lives. [Read More]

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Cross Million Volunteer Run

Forwarded invitation.

Join millions of Red Cross volunteers as they run for humanity to celebrate the International Year of Volunteers on December 4, 2011, at SM Mall of Asia!

All registered participants shall receive an MVR Registration Kit:

* MVR Registration Form
* MVR Race Bib
* MVR Whistle
* MVR T-Shirt
* MVR Race Map
* MVR Raffle Stub
* Red Cross 143 IID with Disaster Leader's Guide
* Red Cross Membership with one year Accidental Benefits

And can avail of the following Red Cross Trainings for FREE:

* Disaster Management Course
* Psychological Support Program
* Accident Prevention
* HIV-AIDS Prevention and Education
* Substance Abuse Prevention Education
* Home Nursing Course
* Leadership Training
* International Humanitarian Law
* Others

For more details, check out the following:

Philippine Red Cross Quezon City Chapter
Quezon City Hall Compound, Diliman, QC

Landline: 920.3672/433.2152/355.3184
Email: quezoncity@redcross.org.ph
Website: http://run.redcross.org.ph/register.php

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Boyhood Games and Cruel Torments

This is a guest post from Bro. A as he narrates his not so pleasant childhood experiences and the resulting emotional pain and trauma that he went through growing up. Thanks bro for this extensive tell-all narrative. I know how it feels to carry this terrible pain of rejection and loneliness all by yourself at a very vulnerable stage of one's life. I am beginning to realize that all these have a purpose and meaning.

Ah, childhood games. To most men, the topic is sweetly nostalgic, but to me, it is tinged with much pain. I can't touch on the subject and not expose myself anew to some of the most hurtful rejections in my youth. To be traumatized by near-death at birth and to feel rejected by one's own father should be more than enough for anyone, but to be rejected by one's own peers! Now, that's far too unbearable. I don't know how I survived it all. It must only be by God's grace that I did. Then again, maybe I haven't yet, for why do I still recall the past and not miss shedding a tear, if not of pained remembering, then of regret from time to time.

I remember the old games for what I didn't play because I didn't fit in. I felt and believed I didn't fit in simply because that's how people around me reacted. Other than I wasn't very much interested in most of the games, I also presumed I was inferior at them had I tried, and if found, would only be shamed or get embarrassed.

Dirty games

Among the earliest games I watched from the sidelines involved some marbles, coins or softdrink caps, and rubber bands as playthings. I remember how these games were played on the bare ground, often on sandy soil, with at least two players, often more. These games had someone, the “it,” striking these things on the ground and scoring out of a hit. The truth is I never learned what exactly the rules were because I never tried these games. Each game struck me as dirty, and besides, I never felt I belonged, and since I assumed I'd no sooner be exposed for being unfit than if I tried, I felt threatened. This pattern was repeated in almost every other game of my childhood that was exclusive to boys.

I can't remember the first taunt uttered against my person, but I must have been shamed too much, for I’d wince each time such a similar shaming incident happened. I can easily recall, for example, that female neighbor named G- who called out to me from her room window, “Bakla, bakla!” (Gay/Faggot!) for no other reason than making the mistake of showing myself to her line of sight. I am especially not fond of G- because of this backstory that someone from my family called her a klutz or a clumsy person and she allegedly cursed in response this way: “Sana yung magiging anak nyo ganun din!” (“May your future child be a clumsy bastard too!”) and the curse seems to have fallen on me. This little story was relayed to me as a joke in which everybody who heard it tittered, and now that I recall it, there's nothing funny about it at all, for it turns out my being a klutz and being taunted for it plus the silent torment I have painstakingly endured throughout the decades were a kind of a curse. I felt I was, and sometimes still feel am, accursed! I’ve always wondered then how I could counter this evil spell in my life, if it was indeed an evil spell or hex.

I also remember another female guest (most probably a boarder) who would embarrass me to my face at about four years old whenever it was just the two of us in the living room. One time I was playing alone with my toys by a passageway, and I remember how she shamed me by telling me in a very bossy way that I was blocking her way. It made me feel like I was a worthless mass blocking her existence. It made me feel ashamed of strangers or at least people who were not members of my family, so that during parties at home when people I didn’t know were invited, I tended to face the wall and scratch it self-consciously, rather than mix with strangers and risk their ire or disapproval.

Safe games for softies

Of course the taunt from my fellow boys early on hurt even more. My own brother, the one who came after me, used to tease me by calling me “bakla” whenever he didn't get something he wanted from me or whenever I pissed him off. I also caught my cousin D- making fun of me that way. One time, in a Practical Arts class in which he was my classmate, he suggested I was effeminate within everyone’s earshot by gesticulating with his hands a sissy boy’s overly soft or limp-wristed mannerism.

Nevertheless, I do not consider myself a desperate case, for I remembered at least having played wooden and plastic toy guns, toy trucks and toy soldiers too, and enjoyed them. But I drew the line at slingshots, which scared me, and that made a difference. I thought they were too dangerous for me, and I didn't have the heart to kill beautiful wild birds with it or accidentally blind someone or break the glass window pane. I felt I was too nervous to be mercilessly tough like the other boys.

I also played with spiders, which the other boys kept in matchboxes, for spider fights, which were often exciting, but I was more interested in collecting the spiders for private pleasure, observing their behavior like a museum curator or zookeeper would.

There also were those interludes of mercy, however, in which games were not restricted to boys. There were the “agawan base,” “siato,” “Pepsi 7-Up,” and other ‘coed’ games. Yet even in these games, I could hear the meaner of the girls bitch aloud about me being a "di tiyak" (meaning “of uncertain gender,” like certain Tagalog pronouns we learned in school) or "alanganin" (“unsure”) by gender. When I got friendly with some of the girls, however, like a few of my female cousins, I felt at home with such girls' games as jackstone, Chinese garter (although I stopped at level 2, not being able to jump higher than that), hula hoop, limbo dance, etc. I think I even tried hopscotch out of curiosity, though to be fair, I found it boring, like riding a carousel.

Later, I took to games that were so safe and thus thoroughly enjoyable to me. It was my female cousin D- who introduced me to pickup sticks, Snakes and Ladders, and Scrabble, which I enjoyed better than most kids because I was quite good at words. Most board and card games, I found, were gender-neutral games that spared me the usual scene in which I would be ridiculed or embarrassed for being so inept; they were instead an opportunity for me to show off, to make up for my many insecurities. These games include backgammon, Monopoly, Millionaires' Game, Trivial Pursuit, etc. (I noticed, however, that Games of the General, which I played with B-, was a board game that girls never played with us.) The Trivial Pursuit-type of games was especially my favorite because I could compensate more fully by showing off what's inside my brain despite lacking in brawn and maleness.

I tried my hand on playing cards too, but because I was bad at math, I stayed away from them, or I’d show another source of insecurity on top of the existing ones.

Exclusive boys’ games

When I approached my teens, the games became more and more exclusive to boys. When the yoyo craze popularized by Coke hit town, I joined the fad with delight, but I felt too inept to do any of the tricks a lot of boys could easily do. I felt somewhat inadequate and inferior, even for such a kid’s stuff. It further reinforced my feeling so small.

Well, there were the trump cards too, which was quite a different matter. When trump cards were all the rage among the boys, I easily fit in and enjoyed the game because, although it involved the very manly subject of cars and locomotives, it also required dealing with nerdy details (horsepower, speed in kph, distance traveled, etc.) in which the nerdy me felt quite at home, never mind my allergy for numbers.

The rest, however, were little utter tragedies, especially the native game of sipa and ball games. Not only did I NOT enjoy sipa (which involved hitting a shuttlecock-looking spur with one’s foot) because I found it boring, I also found it too hard for my uncoordinated body. I didn't know how to score just one point even if I tried. Worse, I felt too ashamed, or too proud, to admit I didn't know, so I was sure to stay away each time the boys grouped themselves for these games.

The greatest horror of all among the ball games was basketball. (Volleyball was a cinch, but it was also the favorite of girls and gays – too embarrassing to try and enjoy visibly.) I dreaded each time a classmate would suggest that we played basketball in an oven-hot court somewhere. I'd invent all sorts of alibis just so I wouldn't ever face the danger of possible ridicule or the exposition of the dark secret that this boy, believe it or not, didn't know how to play ball when it was practically a national sport. (The pervasive assumption was, no hot-blooded Filipino boy doesn’t know how to play basketball.) Such a discovery would be nothing short of making me feel like a handicapped or what oldies would hurtfully call inutil (Spanish for "useless"). Predictably, I resisted the slightest opportunity to learn because I was too proud and afraid to admit I didn’t know and didn’t like it in the first place. School intramurals or sport-fests were, therefore, always dreadful events for me, giving me a phobia for unduly exposure of secret weakness (which, laughably enough, everybody knew anyway).

Solo games

I enjoyed playing solo games more, maybe because being a loner was free from the risk of possible taunts from peers. Aside from collecting various spiders, I especially enjoyed mixing the various chemicals and medicines I could find around the house. Being at play in my own private laboratory was terrifying, for I could surely hear a thing or two from my mother, or worse. I simply loved experimenting, but even this innocent fondness, I would soon found, would be put down as a nerdy preference. It merely underscored the feeling I was abnormal.

In high contrast, I fondly recall the imported expensive toys that Uncle Z-, my aunt's seaman husband, sent us his nephews back then. One day, when I was about 7 years old, he gave me and my younger brother several toys we never realized were high-end until we lost all of them to wear and tear and maybe even theft. We got a battery-operated motorized toy boat and one toy filled with water and colorful objects that swirled and made funny moves when you pressed a button, etc. The most memorable is the horse-racing track that winded and dipped this way and that, with metallic horses and jockeys bobbing up and down along a hard plastic ‘paved’ road lined with plastic pine trees. While playing solo was satisfying, it did nothing to nurture my need for social interaction and peer approval.

Only the town fairs or amusement parks have no such unpleasant memories associated, or haven’t they? Like any other child, I loved each single moment spent riding the Ferris wheel, caterpillar, and horror train, as well as throwing darts and hoops, watching magicians make magic tricks, being horrified at the most pitiful human oddities, and being beguiled by flying trapeze artists, acrobats, and smart trained animals, while I munched on popcorn, tugged a bite at tough elephant ear cookies, or pawed my pink cotton candy. I also loved zoos for the same largely solitary happiness I felt. But the clincher is I was always accompanied by my grandmother or aunt during these fun jaunts – surrogate mothers who were strong-willed women. (For some reason, my own mother, far too gentle by comparison, was also unavailable, always busy with homemaking.)

It was quite different when it came to the town plaza, where there was a wide children's park which had those concrete and iron slides I was too afraid to try because I found them too high and I had acrophobia (fear of heights). My fear increased exponentially whenever there was a kid my age who I thought was watching. Woe to me especially if it was another boy who happened to be a bully in school and a town gossip.

Other male pursuits that were normally considered fun in the oncoming years likewise didn't agree with me: body building/workout, exercise, marathon runs, hiking, driving a car, camping... I saw exercise as a fruitless thing that I'd rather wash the dishes or sweep, wax, and scrub the floor. Riding a bike and swimming were especially painful because I had -- still have -- a perforated eardrum so I lacked the sense of balance required. Because of this nuisance handicap, I never learned how to swim right, too, and especially to roller-skate, unlike my cousin D- who looked effortless at it. I looked on with secret envy at anyone else who could, secretly wishing I could do those too just to prove I was normal and thus likeable.

Other torments

Probably I never dared try because the curse was deeply embedded, or so I thought. One would think I could easily eat pain for breakfast, but the truth is I never lost the fear of being so maligned despite my long personal history of being insulted, taunted, and put down. The fear never waned, and so I have always been a ball of nerve. It’s quite easy for me to recall the rest one by one: In one required boy scouting incident, a fellow scout I didn't know called me “bakla” for no reason. In grade school, another boy told me the same in a random fashion as he approached me while walking down the street towards my direction. In my grandmother's barrio, some children derided me openly with the hated B word. A distant aunt, T-, once laughingly called me "Girlie" when I made the mistake of riding a motorcycle the way a girl would have mounted one: seated sideways with my legs daintily pushed together, like a dainty princess would, instead of sitting my with face to the front and with my legs in a macho wide-V position just like the driver starting the motor did. At my boyhood friend D-'s house, two brothers openly laughed at me and another effeminate friend, G-, we were with at the time, just because we impressed the boys as being too soft. (The two nasty jerks happened to be good-looking, so the reaction doubly felt rejecting of G- and me.)

During Christmas, the youth group in our neighborhood often organized house-to-house caroling, which I treated as another game. I can't forget how my next-door neighbor, M- (a girl), referred to me then as a "di tiyak" (or “alanganin,” unsure) very audibly behind my back, perhaps due to the way I sang or acted. It was quite a torture to sing one happy Christmas tune after another with much ironic bitterness toward someone.

At home, I was called other nasty things: “negro” (“nigger,” for I was dark-skinned), “alagain” (“the weak one”), “iyakin” (“crybaby”), “pasosyal” (“trying-hard social climber,” because I pined for housework and had a strange taste for fine things), etc. By this time, my world was closing in on itself, with me hiding deep in my own shell like a nautilus, living in a world of fantasy where everything was as I dreamed and desired and pined for, completely divorced from ugly reality. I began to hallucinate that I was a pretty boy, a spoiled-brat mestizo, who's so confident about himself, who could do whatever he wanted, say whatever he wanted and yet was still loved for it, with wealthy, well-educated and well-bred mom and dad, and an older brother who was fiercely a loyal mentor to me. Unsurprisingly, it was during these times that I secretly discovered playing with myself, a game I found to be literally exhilarating, much unlike all the games I knew. I was 11 years old by this time.

Being on the wrong team

High school naturally wouldn't be an exception. I gravitated towards those considered as weaklings, the non-jocks, the social rejects: J- the stringbean-thin guy (my childhood best friend who was a neighbor), B- the younger (by a year or months) unassertive one, R- the fat one who was always called Baboy or Mr. Piggie, J- the smartest among us but also the smallest in height, D- the hick from a far-flung barrio. It seemed a shame just to be associated with them, but what could this boy do? It scared, even terrified, me to be intimates with the others, especially those popular with the girls and the teachers, as I felt too intimidated and probably afraid of their impending rejection, even though I must have secretly craved their approval, affirmation, and acceptance.

There were rare instances when somebody was too honest or frank as to blurt out what the rest most probably thought of me. There was our one-time class president J-, who said audibly and in a disappointed tone, "Ay, bakla!" when she heard me chortle to a joke with probably a girlish "Ahihihi" instead of a baritone “Ho-ho-ho-har-har-har.” J2- never stopped teasing me about my not having a girlfriend yet “after all these years”; I wished she could have more diplomatically asked, “Are you gay or what?” and I would probably have answered honestly. I also once heard J-'s mother telling my mother, "Having J- as a son feels like having 10 children. Lucky you, your son seems a homo." I can still remember how my mother and another mother conversing with her at the time suddenly turned mum, totally shocked at the remark. Another classmate, N-, once made a pun on my name that inserted the most hated B word in it, and I remember not being amused at how very much audible it was and how it trivialized my secret hurt too much.

These people helped me form my self-identity in a wrong way, but even with such an acquisition of a false self through an increment of years, I couldn't fully accept it. I longed to be one of the boys no matter how much I didn't fit in. I knew I vehemently didn’t like what I had become. I, therefore, treasured whatever friendship from ‘straights’ I managed to squeeze in between without an effort, especially the friendships offered by P- (he copied from my assignment papers, that’s why), E- (he was also very needy that he was friendly to all), and M- (he was said to be a drug addict everybody avoided, and he was courting me to be his private algebra and trigonometry tutor). I especially relished the friendship of G-, whom I secretly admired and considered my fiercest rival intellectually, but I strongly suspected to admire me as well, judging by the special way he treated me, a fellow fierce rival-friend.

Miscellaneous torments

The homosexual pain seemed constant and never-ending throughout my life. I also once caught an uncle who lived down our street who, upon visiting our house one night, blurted out that he thought I was gay – in the very presence of my father, who surprisingly didn’t run amok. Without this uncle knowing, I overheard his remark, and I cringed at how hurtful it was because it was said behind my back and therefore rang even more hurtfully true than the rest.

In college, at a disco-for-a-cause held in a plush hotel, a male stranger in fashionable hair and getup walked up to me and whispered the magic B curse to my ears, as though I still needed to be informed about it after all those years. In the university campus, I overheard a bitchy girl dismiss me as "bading" (gayspeak for “bakla”) even without me doing anything so much as to wait in a long queue for a theater play to start. I felt like my mere presence was an affront to her and other people, and I hated that lady with my guts, particularly since she looked hideous to me herself that I bet no one would ever dare ask her out on a date.


I can go on and on with the places and personalities that remind me of hurt in the past. My officemates A-, J- and M- once confronted me by popping the question in my face, but I denied the truth, which makes me feel guilty and sad up to this day, sometimes. How dare they, when they were three compared to one? I thought. I would have admitted my open secret had the question been popped up in confidence and with unmistakable charity. When we held games like Truth or Consequence, I naturally chose Consequence without fail because I’d rather not be aggravated by the truth. I also remember my officemate M- who, one drunken night, accused me of being gay after I refused to join him going to a prostitution den in his expressed desire to become my ninong or godfather to my devirginization (ostensibly with the paid services a willing woman). (Technically, I was no longer a virgin as a friendly neighboring gay guy molested me at around age 5, awaking my sexuality so very early on.) There was also F- who made fun of me in front of so many other officemates when he jokingly threatened to box me with his fists and I jokingly tried to box him too but was only met with an awkward try, a shocking revelation of my inability to box like a real guy, which of course he noticed with a public reportage, as though with a megaphone.

These days, I have old men for neighbors, policemen types, alpha males whom I didn’t have natural affinity to. My brother, who drinks beer with them sometimes, confided to me in a roundabout way how the men once questioned him for my curious sexuality. These men are my father's age, and it surprised me why they even cared. I ignore them most of the time for they are not my type, so perhaps that’s the reason -- they are resentful of me for appearing to be such a snob and thus are driven to be suspicious of who I am. I can't blame them, though. In case I do drink beer, I only drink with D-, my naughty college student-friend and his equally naughty friend M-. I enjoy their company more for obvious reasons. With them, it's like repairing for lost time, recovering a lost boyhood, and undoing the bad memories of the past.

Letting go

I figure that the only way to let go of this endless nightmare is forgiveness, a once-and-for-all forgiveness and an ever-continuing one. I owe it to myself to give myself such a favor. Forgiveness especially for my father whom I have long blamed for not giving me the love I needed so as to feel secure as a human being and as a boy and a man. I need to forgive him for memories of hitting my butt as a baby when I did something wrong, for embarrassing me in front of people with angry humiliating remarks, for forcing me to swim in the beach by pushing my head underwater (in a tight embrace, though) until I gasped for breath and, when I panicked, for calling me “peyote” (pejorative term for “cowardly sissy”), and for failing to shower me with manly affection in my formative days up to my pubescent period, the time I needed fatherly direction and inspiration the most.

All of them, my tormentors, without exception, were just being good people, in a way. They were all just being honest, maybe too rudely frank, but honest just the same, although they were right only up to a certain extent: that's merely how they interpreted me. Maybe it just means people are simply xenophobic, naturally afraid of what is strange, abnormal, irregular.

I also need to especially forgive myself and continue forgiving me, for feeling different, for feeling left out in the little boys' world and the many manly ways I didn't acquire. I deserve the right to commit such blunders for I am but an imperfect, fallible human being -- just like the rest. I forgive myself for constantly envying countless boys and men for the most trivial of traits that attracted me as being boyish and manly, then sexualizing and eroticizing my envies, and thus sapping my precious energy.

I have to admit and accept the fact that I was being too proud, too. I couldn't countenance the truth that society had a problem with not so much me as my effeminacy. I was wrong that couldn't accept myself; I wrongly hated myself so much because they all seemed to hate me as much.

Wrong sense of validation

I had a serious fault here, most assuredly. I was mistaken in that I based my sense of validation on mere human beings. I was so insecure that I cared too much about what others said about how or what I should be. Ironically, I am myself guilty of exacting the same standards, looking down on people not to my liking. I was also as bitchy and as critical as the worst of the lot. And I am most critical and unforgiving of myself.

Do what they say and think matter to me now? Well, I'm still wary of them reappearing in the strangers I meet today and the persons I have yet to meet tomorrow, still scared of what they might think of me, of how lowly they might regard me. I am afraid they'd reject me and see me as nothing.

I know that's such a loser thing to do. It never occurred to me before that what they think doesn't matter, because, at my core, I am not what other people think I am; I am what I wish to be: to be who I am as God intended, a man! It never occurred to me that I should not fear -- why be afraid when people will always judge me anyway, thinking of me as that anyway, no matter what I do? Worst of all, it never dawned on me that they all do think that way anyway, but so what? I don't need their validation, much as I craved for it. It never occurred to me that only God's validation matters. As Mother Teresa famously said, "It's never between you and them. It's always between you and God." My challenge now is what Mother Teresa added at the end of that quote: “Love them anyway.”

Search for meaning

What does all my suffering mean? Was it really a curse? Was it all a punishment to make me humble because I was so proud? I don’t know. Maybe.

I am not Jesus, the Messiah, the savior of the world, but if my painful wound, my heavy cross, can ever be used as a merit to win the good of others in this ongoing battle in the universe between good and evil, I have no serious objections.

I just want to be happy and contented and at peace in the here and now and be saved in the hereafter. I realize these are what God desires of me, too, because he is good and just and, most of all, loving, unlike all the cruel men and women I’ve encountered in life. God is a sweet lover, I have found, and I just have to trust in his unconditional love no matter what. Perhaps I just have to put all my hopes in that one thought and I will be fine. Let all the remaining arrows come and I shall not be moved and as distraught as before.

Tired of living a lie without letup, I figure it's good to try living a life without resentments and regrets. Instead of constantly regretting the past that is gone in the hope of repairing a future that’s far beyond my grasp, what I can do concretely right now is work on all the things I had missed out, day by day, little by little, as God would allow. I will do those NOT because I need to repair the past so I can have bliss for a future, but because living a half-full life is now past, because I want to live out my true self this time -- to the full.

What is my true self? I hereby declare my true self to be that blank canvas I was born with as a child: open to anything, trusting, anticipating the love and acceptance of the universe.

With this new identity, my core identity all along, I can see plainly that I am not what they had told me I was. There's probably no harm now in trying my hand again at all the good childhood stuff I had missed, and who cares if I blow it and bungle again? I wouldn't be less of a person because I know that I am loved by God anyway.

I could also use some humor to laugh at my own faults. I can't be too serious about this, for life can be such an enjoyable game to be played, with the winners and losers shouting hurrahs for the win and conceding defeat for the loss, but after the game, there's nothing much about winning and losing, for it's just a game, after all. It’s the playing that counts; what's important is I played the game instead of being just a mere spectator in life, confined to the sidelines.


Maybe this prayer of perfect contrition I have received as a text message called The Miracle Prayer is most apt as an ending for long-time same-sex attraction sufferers like me, a kind of an antidote to the 'curse':


“Lord Jesus, I come before you, just as I am. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. In your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I give you my entire self. I invite you into my life. Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Heal me. Change me. Strengthen me. (Close your eyes and allow God to speak to you. Listen and you will be surprised of the miracles in your heart.)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekly News (Third Week of November 2011)

1. Vatican Takes Legal Action Against Clothing Company Over Pope Ad

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2011 / 12:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican will take legal action against Italian clothing company Benetton to prevent the circulation of an ad featuring Pope Benedict XVI kissing a Muslim imam. [Read More]

2. Filipino Bishops Join Asian Social Media Networking Meet

FILIPINO Catholic bishops are taking part in a meeting in Taiwan this week on how to harness social communication for their pastoral ministry. [Read More]

3. Transgender = Protected Class

Though Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) is expected to sign into law a bill that grants special rights to transgendered people, one pro-family group is pleased that public restrooms won't be required to accommodate their gender confusion. [Read More]

4. How Many Boy Victims of Penn State Homosexual Predator Jerry Sandusky Will End Up Thinking They are ‘Gay’? [Read More]

5. Scientist: Human Life Begins at Conception, Fertilization

When one considers the ethics of manipulation, the question of whether we ought to, or whether we may manipulate an organism or entity depends on the answer to the first and most fundamental question: What is it? [Read More]

6. The Pornographic Pandemic - We Are Awash in Porn

November 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a conversation with a priest in my diocese, I shared my spiritual director’s report that every other confession he hears from men involves the sin of pornography. The pastor’s response was shocking: “Oh, it’s much worse than that!” Since then, this sad reality has been confirmed by many others: The sin of pornography is overwhelming Catholic men. [Read More]

7. Parents Beware: ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ Features Disturbing Treatment of Abortion

November 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Parents with children who are thinking of watching the latest Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Part I, should be aware that it features disturbing discussions about abortion that carry ambiguous, if not openly anti-life messages, according to a professor at a Canadian college. [Read More]

8. Judge: Prop. 8 Supporters Can Defend Law in Court

Ruling reached Nov. 17: 'Neither the governor, the attorney general, nor any other executive or legislative official has the authority to veto or invalidate an initiative measure that has been approved by the voters.' [Read More]

9. The State of Catholic Youth Today

The young Church is hungry for the truth. After World Youth Day, they head to National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. [Read More]

10. A Second Chance for Marriage

Tips on How to Reduce Divorce

ROME, NOV. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The destructive consequences of marriage breakdowns are well-known. A recent report published by the Institute for American Values provided some suggestions on how to reduce this heavy toll. [Read More]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Blessed and the Cursed (Part 2)


It would be fearful to think that someone might have suffered the loss of his soul because of our negligence. In the allegory of the last judgment this aspect of human behavior – negligence – is given extraordinary emphasis. Since it may afflict not only priests and all those in authority but also all Christians, we should all consider seriously the possibility of our being at fault in this matter. Through Baptism we have been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus, anything that we do or fail to do for anyone, we do or fail to do for Christ. The Communion of Saints unites us to one another in such a way that we become dependent on one another, to the extent that all the good and evil deeds we perform have repercussions far beyond our own little personal sphere. They affect as well the entire Body with its Head. And evil is always an omission, because it is the absence of good where it ought to be present. All evil actions, all sins, are founded on an omission and established upon it. When someone is deprived of nourishment, he begins to weaken so as to become useless for any type of work. He becomes incapable of sustaining himself. And the deprivation may even cause his death. Similarly, the root of all sin is the omission of prayer and sacrifice, of the study of revealed truth, of the reception of the sacraments, and of the elementary precautions against any danger. These omissions may transform a Christian into a misfit for salvation.

Salvation, eternal blessedness, is not due to man by the mere fact of his having been born. It is not due to a Christian simply because he has been baptized. With immeasurable pride, modern man (or, at least, some of our contemporaries) is spearheading an extensive movement towards secularization. They are attempting to organize the world to the exclusion of God the Creator, pretending that God does not exist or that he has had to submit himself – or conform himself – to modern man’s decisions concerning this world and the life to come. Such a monstrous pride seems to convince modern man that he has no need of God and that he does not need to be redeemed. The same pride seems to have convinced him also that his salvation (if he has not yet succeeded in eliminating this concept from his mind) is the product of his own hands and that it will be attained by virtue of rules and conditions that he himself will establish.

Naturally, such an idea is as grossly erroneous as it is monstrously false. And besides, it is ridiculous. It is Christ who has established the conditions for our salvation. He has made it known to us that the kingdom of heaven must be taken by storm. Violence is needed if we are to remove the obstacles that prevent us from attaining salvation. And it is pitiful to the extent of being pathetic to see how hard men try to deceive themselves into thinking that they will get to heaven by taking a road that leads to a different place together.

We should never have succumbed to the voices of those who hypocritically clamored for the adaptation of the Gospel message to the modern world “in order to save the Gospel,” in order to save what could be saved without displeasing the world too much. But through a multitude of negligences and omissions we have failed to resist such voices, and our failure has been the cause of incalculable harm inflicted upon Christ in the person of so many members who have been robbed of their faith, whose hope has been crushed, and whose hearts have been drained of all capacity for love. An unbearable emptiness has crept into their life and is now devoid of all meaning. This is what we have done in Christ; his members are hungry without the Bread of Life, naked without the clothing of grace, vagrant since they no longer perceive the Church as their home where they can seek the refuge God promised them. Their minds are diseased with the infection of a myriad viruses. Their wills are ailing, attacked by a thousand spiritual bacteria. They are prisoners of their own impulses, of their instincts, passions, errors, and lies. We are easily moved to compassion for those who are physically miserable, yet it is the spiritually miserable who deserve the deeper compassion from us. Those who are affected by spiritual misery need more help than those who are simply physically unfit. Their disease is the more grave.

God is love. All his commandments can be reduced to only two: love for God and love for our neighbor. Simplifying matters even further, God’s commandments can be reduced to one great commandment: to love God above all things, since if we love God we necessarily have to love our fellowman. Nor must we love them in any manner whatsoever, but precisely in the way God loves them, and in the way God wants us to love them. Thus, our greatest omission and the worst of all possible omissions is the lack of love for God. The cursed ones in the parable were reviled because they did not love God and did not, as a consequence love their fellowman either, those who with us are all made in the image and likeness of God. Love for our fellowman is, therefore, an expression of a more profound and radical love, our love for God, precisely because all men without exception have been made in his image and likeness. And real love, with human warmth and a compassionate heart, cannot exist if our fellowmen are deprived of their personal dimension by being transformed into insignificant parts of the collectivity, or into items in a computerized file, or into mere names or even numbers in a list of individuals who are scheduled to receive some form of “care” from the State.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him…” It will actually happen one day, and we shall all be there to see it. And we don’t know for certain whether he shall place us at his right hand or at his left, whether we shall hear him call us “blessed of my Father” or “you cursed.” No one can ever know this. No one can ever be sure of his own salvation.

We do not know for sure how many of us have actually managed to live up to the standards set by the “blessed” in this parable we are now considering. Very few, I think. We are surrounded by friends, colleagues, companions at work, and I am far from confident that we have always (or at least sometimes) had the necessary courage to warn them (if the situation called for it) of the peril they were allowing themselves to be exposed to while listening to erroneous teaching, reading pernicious books, watching sexually provocative shows, or nourishing dangerously harmful relationships. I wonder whether we have spoken to them, or whether we have simply and with comfortable indifference shrugged our shoulders thinking, “every man for himself.” I don’t doubt that our passive attitude, our negligence, our culpable silence, our toleration of evil without denouncing it or protesting against it has contributed (through there is no means of knowing to what extent) to the spread of evil, like a gangrene that spreads throughout the body. The more defenseless members of the Mystical Body of Christ have indubitably been harmed by our negligence. Many of them find themselves bruised and broken, reeling on the brink of disaster, and perhaps (may God forbid that this should happen to us) of a disaster that is already terminal. It is possible to reach this point of no return while we are still on earth: it can become so difficult to recover lost ground that it is almost impossible to do so.

Our timidity, our cowardice, our egoism, our lack of concern for our fellowman has led us to keep our lips shut tight when we should have spoken out, or has paralyzed our limbs when we should have moved them to action. By these omissions, we have harmed our fellowman by failing to do good or by failing to prevent an evil act being done. Here on earth no man can know in advance whether God will judge these (omissions simply as a matter of weakness, or as culpable complicity, or as actual cooperation with evil. Let us not forget there are omissions that are grievously serious.)

As you might expect, I have no idea to what extent this aspect of our moral responsibility is to the forefront in the conscience of each man. But in any case, I think it is beneficial for us never to lose sight of it. It is vitally important because in the final analysis the cause of anyone’s eternal damnation is simply an omission: the failure to love God. And one of its manifestations is indifference towards our neighbor.

In summary: it is God’s desire that we freely choose our eternal destiny. That final decision is completely in our hands. Each man will receive that which he has freely chosen, quite inevitably and naturally, so long as he truly loves what he has chosen and manifests his love with deeds, for deeds are love. God has prepared the kingdom for us. But do we want it? I fervently hope we are humble enough to ask God for the grace that will move us to say “yes” and to accept all the consequences of such a commitment!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Blessed and the Cursed (Part 1)

As the liturgical year draws to a close, we are once more reminded by the Sunday readings about the four last things, one of which is the Last Judgment. This reflection is taken from the book The Afterlife by Fr. Federico Suarez and it will do us tremendous good if we can spend some time to really think about this rather very unpleasant topic at a deeper level.

After recording the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents (both having to do with the “four last things”), St. Matthew brings chapter 25 of his Gospel to a conclusion with an allegory narrated by Jesus on the last judgment, the event that will take place at the end of time.

“But when the Son of Man shall come to his majesty, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory; and before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you covered me; sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the just will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and feed thee; or thirsty, and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and take thee in, or naked, and clothe thee? Or when did we see thee sick, or in prison, and come to thee?’ And answering the king will say to them, ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left hand, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Amen I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me.’ And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life.” (Mt 25:31-46).

This is the end of the world, the last judgment that will precede the resurrection of the body. It is the final, the definitive judgment. Note that, in this passage of the Gospel, Jesus, the Son of Man, is no longer the passive Victim, who has been treated by men, by all of us sinners, as ruthlessly as we liked throughout the centuries. On the way to Calvary he carried all our sins: blasphemies and idolatries, fornications and adulteries, profanities and acts of sacrilege, lies and falsehoods, calumnies and defamations, homicides, thefts and envies, rancors and hatreds of all kinds – he bore them all. All the evil deeds of men, all our sordid transgressions, he carried on his shoulders. The weight was so heavy, so crushing, that his sweat became as drops of blood.

Now, in this allegory, he appears in his glory as a judge, to pronounce a sentence against which there will be no appeal. He became man and came into the world not that he might judge it, but that the world may be saved through him (Jn 3:17). He came into his own and his own did not receive him. But to those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God (Jn 1:11-12). And those who believe will not be judged. But “he who does not believe is already judged because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Jn 3:18)

It is further worth noting that in this text of the Gospel Jesus does not say any more: “The kingdom of heaven is likened to…” He does not need to use such an expression now since he is not narrating a parable (which is usually meant to demonstrate some aspect of the kingdom by analogy). Parables facilitated the understanding of truths that would not have been understood by the majority of people if they had been told them directly. This time Our Lord uses another mode of expression altogether. He says: When the Son of Man comes in his glory…” This time he is announcing in advance an event that will take place at the end of time when the world comes to an end. Then Jesus as judge will bring about the final separation that has already been envisaged in the parables of the kingdom of heaven. What is now during our mortal life mixed and mingled within the Church and within the world will then, at the end of the world, be differentiated and separated, the wheat from the weeds, the grain from the chaff, the good fish from the bad fish that are thrown away. This concluding allegory, therefore, tells us that what was alluded to in the parables concerning the Church militant will then be accomplished at the end of the world.

In one of his homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew (Hom. 72), St. John Chrysostom turns the spotlight on certain aspects of the allegory of the final judgment. These are undoubtedly very significant aspects. For example, while Jesus, addressing those whom he had placed on his right hand, calls them: “blessed of my Father,” he does not call those whom he had placed on his left “the cursed of my Father” but simply “the cursed.” And this is truly how it ought to be, because it is not the Father who reviles them, who rejects them as objects of malediction. They are reviled by their own works, because through these same works, they have manifested their decision to turn their backs on the Father’s blessings. And here is another significant aspect: Jesus speaks of “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” and of “the eternal [i.e. endless] fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” He is telling us that what has been prepared for us since the creation of the world is the kingdom, since we were destined to share with God’s glory: the eternal fire was never originally meant for us but for the devil and his angels. So if a man enters into the eternal fire he does so in spite of God who has prepared for him nothing less than a happiness without end.

The kingdom or everlasting fire, heaven or hell, salvation or damnation: apart from these two polar options in opposition to each other, there is no alternative. All men will in the end necessarily find themselves in one place or the other: this is the eternal destiny of all men, of each man without exception. Here there is no room for another way, for compromise and negotiation, for a third and intermediate stage. There is no “center” equidistant from both states, just as there is nothing between life and death. This is certainly something worth thinking about slowly and seriously. It is a circumstance of man’s life that has perhaps not been sufficiently emphasized.

In fact we are struck by the reason given in this allegory for the consigning to perdition of the condemned ones, of “the accursed.” St. John Chrysostom draws attention to the importance God seems to give to mercy and almsgiving, since those who have been merciful and compassionate towards their neighbors in their needs and afflictions are recompensed with eternal glory, while those who, on the contrary, have been egoists and have never been concerned about their neighbors are deprived of that reward. Besides, Jesus identifies himself with our neighbors to such effect that whatever we do to them or fail to do for them we likewise do to Jesus or fail to do for him. St. John Chrysostom goes on to say that this may perhaps explain why Jesus speaks allegorically of sheep and goats, making reference as he does so to the sheep’s usefulness for man and the goat’s comparative uselessness.

Be it as it may, this allegory indicates that the cause of man’s damnation is not positive evil manifested or expressed in the transgression of the precepts of God’s law, of that law which was given to us so that it might serve as the path towards salvation, as an indicator of the route we ought to follow. In this solemn moment of the last judgment, there is no mention of homicide and fornication, of idolatry and injustice, of theft and drunkenness, of avarice and pride, of lies and violence. Of course, the fact that these and other sins are not explicitly mentioned does not mean in the least that in the end they do not have any decisive bearing on our final destiny, whether it be salvation or damnation. St. Paul (and we here remind ourselves that the entire New Testament is the inspired word of God) already touched upon this question and left it clearly settled: “Those who do such things will not possess the kingdom of God.” That is flat.

But now in this allegory it is the omission above all that are highlighted as the reason for man’s perdition: they did not feed him or give him anything to drink, they did not offer him a dwelling place, they did not clothe him or visit him. As St. John Chrysostom emphasizes, they did not practice charity and mercy towards their neighbors. In other words, they failed to love Jesus. There is absolutely no doubt at all about this.

But let us avoid narrowing the horizon to only one type of mercy, that which moves us to help our neighbors in their necessities and afflictions. Such acts of mercy done out of love for God, or as an expression of our love for God, may possibly solve all the problems concerning our own salvation. God may want to reward us for these acts of service by helping us in the end, liquidating because of them all our debts towards him. But it does not do us any good at all – in fact it is a great danger to our salvation – to think that because we have some good qualities, “all the evil that we carry within us will be excused or forgotten simply because of those good qualities.” At least theoretically it is possible to practice the works of mercy and omit those of justice: we could have compassion towards our neighbors in their material necessities and be completely unconcerned about the welfare of their souls; I could be compassionate towards one man and despotic towards an entire nation.

I think those who have been vested with authority are greatly exposed to this danger. Of course, I refer to all those cases in which authority is given to men to exercise for the good of those who are subject to their jurisdiction. Their official task is to care for those subject to them and to guide them in such a way that they avoid falling into evil ways. Thus, if they omit doing something that out of love for others their office obliges them to do, then that omission will be equivalent to allowing evil or ham to befall some of their fellowmen. There is a passage from the prophet Ezekiel that illustrates this matter very clearly. It highlights the tremendous obligations we incur through our sins of omission. Even if the words of the prophet are addressed directly and specifically to those who have been appointed watchmen over others (this is the word used in the biblical text), it would nevertheless do us a great deal of good to take them into consideration. Thus, God tells the prophet Ezekiel:

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,” and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you will have saved your life. Again if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you will have saved his life.” (Ez 3:16-21)

This case illustrates how an omission could bring with it very serious consequences. It is a very serious fault to fail to admonish, to fail to inform our neighbor about the dangers he faces, to keep silent, and, keeping silent, to allow him to ruin his life and lose it for all eternity. It is such a serious fault that we shall answer for it with our own soul. Obviously, those who have been vested with authority must, like the watchman, be alive to imminent dangers and warn those who are under their jurisdiction. They obviously have a greater responsibility to do this, which is more than just an act of mercy. It is also an obligation in justice. And in reference to this point, there is one attitude that should be particularly watched for and feared. It is known by the name of permissiveness. It has today been adopted by many in the name of a false idea of freedom. And I think we priests especially have reasons to fear for our souls if we consider the panorama that can be observed all around us. Perhaps we have not spoken out as we should have done. Perhaps with the well-intentioned idea of making religion more attractive, with the intention of winning over the world of today and ecumenically attracting those who have wandered far away, we may have played down or even suppressed certain essential truths that could have “disturbed” their sensibilities. Perhaps the fear of ourselves being abandoned and left alone may have led some of us to become too indulgent – so indulgent that merely the thought of admonishing someone and warning him of his evil ways may have come to seem a pastoral error. And, once again, we may have kept silent. Today it is not at all difficult to perceive the confusion with which so many Christian consciences are struggling. We may be held directly responsible for all this confusion because we may not have spoken out when we ought to have done so. And such a silence is more than just an omission. It is being transformed into complicity with the error (and perhaps even with the sin), since we have not only failed to keep it from spreading but have also encouraged its diffusion through our permissive attitude.

(...to be continued)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Catchfire Rally

Forwarded invitation.

On November 20, 2011, various religious communities, institutions, parishes and individuals will participate in the first-ever CATCHFIRE Rally, which is spearheaded by the Pathways Ministries of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community (LNP). With the theme,“One King. One People. One Mission.”, this major inspirational event will be held at the Philsports Arena (ULTRA) from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m

CATCHFIRE is a major gathering in recent years of various religious groups, which includes, aside from LNP, other trans-parochial communities like Couples for Christ (CFC), Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), FAMILIA, Tahanan ng Panginoon, and singles/youth communities like Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) and Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, among many others.

According to Bobby Quitain, CATCHFIRE spokesperson, “CATCHFIRE in one word is INSPIRATION. On 11.20.2011, we, Filipino Catholics, together with other Christians, will come together to be re-charged in our faith, to be rekindled in our desire to stand up for the Gospel values, and to be reinforced in our resolve to bring the Gospel to other people.”

CATCHFIRE will kick-off with a grand motorcade, which will start from three (3) different points in Metro Manila – the Ligaya Center in Taguig City, the Servants of the Word House in Quezon City, and the East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) in Ateneo Campus, Quezon City.

CATCHFIRE will open with a Eucharistic Celebration on the occasion of Christ the King Sunday, followed by an exciting afternoon of praise and worship, inspirational talks and personal sharings for the rally proper. At the end of rally, the leaders of the various communities, individual guests representing the public, private and youth sector, and the rally participants will be prayed over for hope, inspiration and courage.

Tickets for this major inspirational event are for FREE. Religious groups and individuals, especially those who are actively serving in their parish or community, are highly encouraged to pre-register for their free tickets.

For more information and free ticket registration, log on to www.catchfirerally.com. You may also check out facebook.com/catchfirerally and follow at twitter.com/catchfire2011 for updates.

Contact Person:
Erika Delgado, CATCHFIRE Media-Head
Telephone number: 0917-8202676
Email address: eanievas@gmail.com

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly News (Second Week of November 2011)

1. Free Enterprise and the Catholic Church

The Morality of Business and Work

ROME, NOV. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The recent note from the Vatican on financial markets, along with the outbreak of protests in many cities against what is seen as the failures of capitalism, has once more brought up the question of what it is exactly that the Catholic Church teaches about economic issues. [Read More]

2. Don’t Gamble on Pacquiao Fight, Say Bishops

TWO Roman Catholic bishops called on congressmen who will watch Manny Pacquiao’s bout with Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas not gamble money away – regardless of whether it’s their own or taxpayers’. [Read More]

3. ‘Gay Marriage’ Activists Using Issue to Impose Their Worldview, UK Writer Warns

London, England, Nov 10, 2011 / 01:04 am (CNA).- Homosexual rights advocates in the U.K. have “hegemonic ambitions” and are using the push for “gay marriage” to impose their worldview on everyone else, Alan Craig charged in a controversial column for an Anglican newspaper. [Read More]

4. Pro-aborts, Homosexual Activists Have Same Goal

A pro-family advocate finds it odd that a group of homosexual activists has admitted to working to help defeat Mississippi's personhood amendment on Tuesday. [Read More]

5. Study: Patients in “Vegetative State” Often Misdiagnosed

A study published today in the British medical journal The Lancet found patients are often misdiagnosed as in a “vegetative state” when they are not. The study has ramifications for patients like Terri Schiavo who are abandoned by doctors or family members as supposedly “too far gone.” [Read More]

6. NY Archbishop Dolan Defends His Flock From the Wolves

Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), an ostensible Catholic who resides with his live-in girlfriend Sandra Lee, succeeded in legalizing homosexual “marriage” in that state in June, the archbishop of New York, Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, recently decreed that not one trace of Catholic property – including “liturgical books or other items” -- can be used, however even tangentially to in any way support, recognize, or facilitate such “marriages.” [Read More]

7. Nike, Microsoft, Google Support Striking Down Defense of Marriage Act

BOSTON, November 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A lawsuit seeking to nullify a U.S. law that protects marriage as between a man and a woman on the federal level has received the support of some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country. [Read More]

8. ‘Glee’ Displays Gay Teen Sex in Prime-Time

November 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week’s episode of Fox Television’s prime-time musical comedy show “Glee” featured two teenage couples, one heterosexual and one homosexual, engaging in sex for the first time. [Read More]

9. Youth Told to Lessen Internet Use

A PRIEST urged young people to nurture their interpersonal relationship instead of spending time being glued to computers and the Internet. [Read More]

10. Pope: Unemployment Is Threat to People's Dignity and Why People Need Sunday

VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI has called attention to the problem of unemployment as a threat to the dignity of individuals and families, in a message to the bishops’ conference of Ecuador. [Read More]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lust Won't Last

I got this during my trip somewhere in the northern part of the Philippines. I hope our LGBT friends will get to read this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kerygma Conference 2011 Streams and Speakers

(Kerygma Conference 2011 list of streams and speakers courtesy of Ms. Tess Atienza of Shepherd's Voice Publication)

Leadership Stream
"Real Glory"

Life Leadership
Act on God's Calling to Lead

Speaker: Pio Espanol
Co-Founder and Servant Leader Light of Jesus Family, District Feast Builder Rizal

Leadership in Full
Experience God's Glory as a Human Being Fully Alive
Speaker: Anthony Pangilinan
Management Trainer and Motivational Speaker

Bring Christ To Your Workplace and Daily Life
Speaker: Jon Escoto
President and CEO, LeadLife Inc., Dean Light of Jesus School of Leadership, Feast Builder Sta. Rosa and Binan

The Soul Leader
Learn the Characteristics of a True Leader
Speaker: Alvin Barcelona
Kerygma Preacher and Feast Builder Marilao, School Owner and President, TV/Radio Host and Concert Performer

The Power of a Leader
Receive Anointing for the Mission
Speaker: Bo Sanchez
Best-Selling Author and Motivational Speaker, Founder Light of Jesus Family.