Sunday, December 28, 2014

Courage Philippines' Open Letter to Pope Francis

Pope Francis is perceived by many as 'radical and unpredictable'. The LGBT community praises him for being more 'open and unconventional' unlike his predecessors. Somehow they are caught in a wishful thinking that someday they will witness the Church approve of same-sex marriage in the name of 'mercy and compassion'. Admittedly, Pope Francis has made statements in the past that have created much confusion including his famous tagline "Who am I to judge?". We hope and pray that the Holy Father will clarify his stand on gay issues in an unambiguous manner and uphold the Church's teachings on human sexuality.

27 December 2014

His Holiness, Pope Francis PP.
Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano

Your Holiness:

We are members of the local chapter of the Courage Apostolate here in the Philippines. We are a spiritual support group of persons with same sex attractions that desires to live a chaste life in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

We eagerly anticipate your visit here in our country just a few days from now. It is sad to note that being the prominent Catholic nation in Asia, we have fallen victims to the dictate of developed countries and a culture that is anti-Catholic and anti-Christian. Our government was coerced by Obama to pass the contraceptive bill (a.k.a. Reproductive Health) into a law, and still pushing other anti-life and anti-family bills such as the divorce and anti-discrimination bills. Our popular mass media floods our film, television, print and digital means of communication with pornographic images that glamorize marital infidelity, teenage sex, and homosexual lifestyles – raising celebrities that set bad examples to our young people. There are communists, feminists, and gay advocates in all walks of society promoting promiscuity and gay rights, coupled with many gay churches led by the Metropolitan Community Church that conduct same-sex marriages and ordains gay pastors (Order of St. Aeldred) garbed in Catholic vestments sowing confusion among the faithful.

As if outside forces aren’t enough, even within the ranks of the Catholic Church are growing dissenters of the faith especially on the teachings on family and life – such as Catholics for RH, and some renowned Jesuits (whose moral theologian is openly for condom usage and same sex marriage and adoption) and La Salle brothers and some religious orders handling schools and holding seminars, gay pride marches and supporting student organizations that promote the LGBT agenda. These groups deride, label and oppose our apostolate, even quoting you as saying “Who am I to judge?” without including your qualifier as “following God’s will”.

We earnestly beg you, dear Holy Father, to speak clearly to our people about the sanctity of life and of the sacrament of marriage between one man and one woman. Please give us words of encouragement to us who are struggling to remain chaste and follow God’s will for us as men and women designed after the Imago Dei. There are moments that we fall into despair, when these voices ring louder than God’s voice, and we think that our struggles to be holy are in vain when even members of the Catholic Church are pushing us to give up the fight and just embrace the gay identity. Please let us know we are doing the right thing – to realign our desires, to rediscover our design and rebuild our destiny – despite of every secular call to just let it go and let it “out”.

Thank you so much and hoping for your kind response. See you soon! We are praying for you!

Respectfully your son in Christ,

Rolando C. delos Reyes II
Courage Philippines

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Same Sex 'Marriage' Is A Grave Sin

More than a couple of days ago, news broke out of a popular 'lesbian' singer/former child star's 'marriage' to a stage actress in the US. This is a sad reflection on how our society is becoming corrupted by evil and nobody seems to be speaking out against it because nowadays we are supposed to be 'welcoming and tolerant' of such things. Well, not if you ask our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord has deep compassion for sinners but he will never ever condone sin.

In a private revelation to a visionary (Maria), he speaks openly about the issue of same-sex marriage. Please note that this is a private revelation and everyone should practice caution and due diligence. Personally, after reading this and finding it not to be contradictory in anyway to the Scriptures or the Church's teaching on homosexuality, I deemed it worthy to be shared to everyone who is searching for truth. In posting this we are not in any way passing judgment on anyone as only the Lord has the right to judge a human person, but instead we are just upholding the Church's teaching on this topic. This message was given on March 16, 2012.

My dearly beloved daughter, the pain and suffering of My poor followers, who have to watch, helplessly, as new laws, contrary to My Teachings, are reaching unprecedented levels in the world.

Not only do you have to witness sin, children, you then have to watch as sin is presented to you, where you are forced to accept it as being humane.

I refer to one sin in particular, same sex marriage, which is presented as a natural right.

You are then expected to accept this abomination, as it is set before My Father’s Throne in a church.

It is not enough for these people to condone same sex marriage in the eyes of the law, they then want to force God the Father to give them His blessing. He could never do this, because it is a grave sin in His Eyes.

How dare these people think it is acceptable to parade this abominable act in My Father’s churches?

Children, I love every soul.

I love sinners.

I detest their sin, but love the sinner.

Same sex sexual acts are not acceptable in My Father’s Eyes.

Pray for these souls because I love them, but cannot give them the Graces they desire.

They must know, that no matter how much they try to condone same sex marriages, they are not entitled to participate in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.

A Sacrament must come from God. The Rules for receiving Sacraments must stem from My Father’s Teachings.

You cannot force My Father, God the Most High, to give His blessing, or access to, His Holy Sacraments, unless they are respected in the way they are meant to be.

Sin is now presented in the world as a good thing.

As I have said before the world is back to front.

Good is presented as evil and those people who try to live by the Laws of God the Father, are sneered at.

Evil, no matter how you dress it up, cannot be turned into an act of goodness, in the Eyes of My Father.

My Father will punish those who continue to flaunt their sins before Him.

Heed this warning, for your sins, which are carried out when you refuse to obey God, will not and cannot be forgiven.

This is because you refuse to accept sin for what it is.

Your Saviour

Jesus Christ


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Year of the Poor

As the Year of the Laity draws to a close, we welcome the Year of the Poor at the beginning of a new liturgical year, a time in which we also celebrate the Advent Season. While the theme is obviously focused on the materially poor and the marginalized in our society, let us also not neglect to give attention to the 'spiritually poor'. This should not be confused with being poor in spirit, which is one of the eight Beatitudes. We can say that someone is spiritually poor when he does not have God in his life and is deprived/unconcerned about the things of God. The corporal works of mercy must be practiced alongside the spiritual works of mercy because man has both material and spiritual needs.

Year of the Poor Logo Explained

CRUCIFIX:  The Crucified Lord, the center of all our engagement with, in, for and to the poor, gazing into us. On His Cross, Jesus is always with us… stripped of His clothes, His dignity, His possessions, His power, His strength. By the poverty, Jesus saved us. He is fully with the unwashed, the oppressed, the scorned, the powerless, the miserable and the outcast. Jesus is calling us to SEE everyone as His beloveds… to look at each other the way He gazes into us.

The Man Colored in Red:   Red symbolizes “Blood” – sacrifice of Christ to give Life… of Redemption. We are reminded that our strength and passion must always be towards “Life Giving… sharing of Love”

The Man colored in Red is lower than the Man colored in Blue, signifies the last, least and the lost – the poor. Though in poverty, the poor has same dignity with the Man coloured in Blue and also has the capacity to share Life and Love… (“No one is so poor that he cannot give…”)

The Man Colored in Blue:  Blue symbolizes “Royalty”, of riches and Service to God and godly living. It also signifies “Light” – Hope. We are reminded that God in His Royalty gives us the perfect model of Service. And all of us are called to Serve God through our neighbours. We must be the Light to others.

The Man Coloured in Blue is higher (elevated) than of the Man colored in Red, represents those who are well-off, the powerful. Yet in their abundance the rich are reminded that all what they have are coming from God and they are commanded to share and to be generous… an act of gratefulness to the giver of graces - God. The “rich” are being challenged to share their gifts especially to the “poor”. (“the more you have, the more is expected from you.”)

Man colored in Red and Blue “LOOKING UP TO JESUS” that forms a heart symbolizes people’s compassion to follow Jesus and the commitment to be in solidarity with all to DO JUSTICE AND LOVE KINDNESS (Micah 6:8). Justice as the “right relationships… restoration of what is due to all, not only of the majority… It challenges us to be in correct relationship with God and our neighbour. “Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God.


CBCP Pastoral Message on the Year of the Poor

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter… (Lk 22:61)


Love and Compassion, Forgiveness and Challenge

CBCP Message

Opening of the Year of the Poor 2015

When you gaze into the eyes of the Crucified Lord, and he gazes into yours, you encounter the love of the Resurrected Lord. Many prefer not to look. Many recoil at looking into the eyes of a man in deadly pain. Many balk at having to respond to love. But these are not the eyes of a defeated man, condemned for criminal insurrection. They are the eyes of an unlikely King, who in dealing death its death blow, still looks into our eyes with challenge. In his love is his call to the Kingdom of his Father, his Kingdom of justice, compassion, peace and life to the full.

In the sign of this crucified Lord, now resurrected, we your Pastors, invite you to the celebration of the Year of the Poor. Behold Jesus, poor. No image of Jesus, poor, surpasses this one. Jesus hangs from his Cross stripped of his clothes, his dignity, his possessions, his power, his strength. He is fully one with the unwashed, the oppressed, the scorned, the powerless, the miserable, the outcast. In the Year of the Poor, look into the eyes of the crucified Lord. There is no experience richer.

You who are poor…

In those eyes, you who are poor, feel his suffering-with-you. From his Cross, he walks with you through crowded alleys, stumbles on mud, recoils at the stench of unmoved sewerage. He bows to enter your makeshift home hobbled together from salvaged materials; it is for your family, but you share it perforce with rats and cockroaches, an oven in the hot season, a waterfall when rainy.

On his Cross, he is with you - God with you. He has taken on your nakedness, your vulnerability, your hunger, your illness, your shame. You once thought you could escape the hardship of your rural beginnings. But your suffering only increased. Here, you cannot find the camote to chase the hunger from your belly; you cannot find the herbs to stop your baby's vomiting and diarrhea; you cannot find money even to keep your single bulb burning. Here, though amidst thousands, neighbors are distant.

You were once grateful for the backbreaking work you finally found; your work continues to break your back, and bend you. But your debts just continue to grow. The clothes and shoes you bought last year to send your children to school are already worn out. In your home you have an altar. Mary is there. The Nazareno is there. So is the Sto. Niño. You pray. But you tremble when you hear the shouts of the demolition crews approaching. You cry out for mercy. You look into the eyes of your crucified King.

Looking into his eyes, you feel his gaze into your soul. You do not understand. Why the love for you, but a poor man? Why the energy from the Cross to convince you: you are loved? Why the persisting message like a mantra in the sign of the Cross: "I have come to bring life, and bring life to the full," and, "Blessed are you who are poor.... Blessed are you who hunger now... Blessed are you when men hate you..."

Why his silent acceptance of abuse, hatred, rejection, oppression and death in rejection of yours? Why his abiding identification with you, as he calls on his disciples to act in your aid? "Whatever you do for this poor person, that you do for me. ... Whatever you do not do for this poor person, that you do not do for me?" Why, on your behalf, to any who follow him, his mandate to works of mercy? "Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty. Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless. Visit the sick. Ransom the captive. Bury the dead." For the answers to these questions… look into his eyes, and search within.

You who are weary…

In the Year of the Poor, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, we your Pastors invite you, as Jesus himself did: come to Jesus. "Come to me," Jesus said, "and I will give you rest.” Life has not reduced you to penury, but life has not lifted you to wealth. To you also Jesus has said, "I have come to give life, and to give it to the full."

Thinking of your families, your spouses, your children, the relatives who run to you for help in their unending need, you work long hours, you work overtime, you even take on second and third jobs, just to make ends meet. Often ends don't meet; demands exhaust you; your taskmasters overstress you; worries distress you.

But you labor on in love. Thinking of the smiles on your children's faces and the promises you have made your spouse to provide adequately, you work on, hoping your sacrifice will bring the full life that Jesus brings. Whenever you can, whenever you remember, you pray. You ask him to help. You ask his mother for help. He does help. She does come to your aid. You know that. Now, coming to Jesus hanging from his Cross, look into his eyes as he looks into yours with love.

You who are rich…

“I have come to bring life,” he said, “life to the full.” Some of you, sadly, are unmoved by this. You do not believe this. You do not believe Jesus brings anything. You say you do, but you don't.

For you, the fullness of life is the good life: your doing. It is not gifted, but taken. It is not brought to you as a blessing from above, but seized as a result of pushing and shoving from below. It is not selfless, but selfish. It is fueled by pride, scheming ambition, the exhilaration of power, the taste of blood. For this you work harder than hard, you push yourselves to the limit, you even push beyond the limit. To achieve “the sweet life,” to outdo your ambitions, to over satiate your sycophants, to make them applaud without end, you abuse your bodies, you break the law, you violate your conscience; you ravage Creation. Your social life is your needy ego. You manipulate people, exploit their skills; take advantage of their weaknesses; pay them poorly. What is rightly theirs, you steal; what rightly belongs to society, you conceal. What is there for all, you horde for yourself. For you, there is no common good, only your good!

You build your first house, then your second houses; you provide for your family, then for your second families. You fill your lives with deceit, hypocrisy, and misery, and so glory in your "good life.” You take great satisfaction in that you are not like the rest of the rabble. You have no need for prayer; you have no need for God.

In this Year of the Poor, we your Pastors invite you, step back from the rat race, the pressure, the din. Step back, and look into the eyes of the King.

His gaze penetrates through your eyes to your heart. It is the same gaze of compassion as his gaze into the eyes of the poor. But it is a gaze altered by your own arrogance and cynicism. It is a gaze marked by concern. You may not wish to hear his message, but he says it again for you: "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe when society speaks well of you, for your fathers did the same to false prophets."

He doesn't thunder this from loudspeakers, nor embarrass you with this in the media, for you are well-respected and honorable persons. He says it simply in his gaze, knowing fully you can reject it, as you have rejected it before.

But in the Year of the Poor, where so many poor are poor because of your decisions, he also reminds you that over concern with your humungous investments, your corporate takeovers, your capture of political power and your fine reputations to the detriment or negligence of the poor may have serious consequences. "Whatever you have done or not done to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, that you have done or not done to me." For not feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, succoring the sick, sheltering the stranger, visiting the imprisoned, the Lord, the Just Judge, may say to you, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire..." for I was poor, and you did not care.

If you have trouble believing this, look into his eyes gazing at you from the Cross.

Behold Jesus poor…

If that gaze, filled will love, brings you to confusion, shame and repentance in this Year of the Poor, then consider its urgent challenge for you:

With God's grace, turn away from your haughtiness, your pride, your selfishness, your idolatry of money, your all-consuming fascination with power. In love, work to build the Kingdom of God on earth!

In the Philippines, this means, urgently: stop the corruption.

Stop the misuse of the People's funds. Stop the wanton destruction of the environment. Fight the poverty of the poor. Build vibrant companies that use our resources to create wealth for our people, but distribute that wealth equitably. Build an economy that responds to the unconscionable poverty of the fishermen, the tillers of the soil, the urban laborers. Build an economy that is open to the world, but whose benefits do not exclude the poor. Provide jobs.

Provide education that respects all our people as human beings and children of God, not just cogs in a global production machine. But provide education relevant to the fight against dehumanizing poverty: basic education to all, and higher education to all who desire it. Build a society of dialogue in our diversity, and especially for our poor, build a society of peace. No more war, for the greatest victims of war are the poor!

Behold Jesus, hope of the poor…

If that gaze, filled with love, brings you in poverty to consolation, encouragement and peace, take heart in Jesus' love. He strengthens you, encourages you, and calls the Christian community to help you progress from destitution to the fullness of life.

But help the community in helping yourselves. Should you have no work, look for work. Should you have work, work well. Cultivate a personal sense of industry, self-respect and social responsibility. As the economy allows, continue to provide well for your family in love: nutritious food, adequate clothing, medical care, good education, wholesome recreation. Strive for conditions of work that are humane and just. Continue to contribute to the welfare of your neighbors, your barangay, your municipality, your city, your nation. Always be helpful. Vote as the common good demands. Together with your spouse, lead your children to the love and respect the Lord through our Catholic communion. Be active in your parish and in your basic ecclesiastical community. Love, as you are loved by God. Share courageously of your faith in love! You are not just receivers of the Gospel. You are its bearers!

Shepherds looking into the eyes of the Good Shepherd…

Finally, in the year of the poor, we your pastors, and with us, all priests and religious, look with you into the eyes of the crucified Lord. How often it is that we have look into those tortured eyes and failed to notice their twinkle! We have seen only embarrassing defeat, jaded suffering and obvious dying, but failed to notice the light that pierces the gloom in our hearts.

In the void that loneliness and isolation brought by our distance from Crucified, we can be misled to fill the gaping abyss with new phones and ipads. We can cover the gaping vacuum with another luxury car or designer jeans or more fashionable shoes more than our shoe racks can contain; with a vacation out of the country or another gadget for the bedroom. We can hold on to the whisky bottle and hope that the bottled spirit will exorcise the spirit of boredom in us. It can also be filled up by working like a horse to impress the people, to create a fans’ club and move you up higher to a better assignment. It can also increase our interest in bank savings, the stock market and the accumulation of more properties. Church funds and personal funds are deliberately mixed up. The parish crawls in financial difficulties while we sprint and jump with financial security. Our easy and comfortable lifestyles can make us numb to the peril of worldliness. It can make us at ease with ecclesiastical vanities.

How often have we reduced his living eyes to painted plastic on a wall, and deprived ourselves of feeling what those eyes twinkling in passion convey: that we are noticed, appreciated, valued, and sent forth. In so doing, we have cheated ourselves of the only treasure in our calling: the felt certainty from the Cross that we are each individually and totally loved.

We have exchanged this prize, this pearl of great price , for the compulsive conservation of conceptual castles, for the anxious pettiness of rules and regulations, for the obsessive preservation of a pecking order, for the selfish defense of private space, for the eccentric collection of quaint things, as well as for the lifelong preparation for our retirement.

Or, we have exchanged this self-emptied Messiah for self-established messiahs on distinguished thrones, ourselves rejecting the folly of the Cross, preferring the authority of feared prelates or the renown of pious celebrity or the fashionable cynicism of the insecure. For these recognized spiritual professionals, there is really no need for prayer, no need for prophets, and certainly no need for the unlettered and unwashed, for all ultimately is about themselves.

Look at Jesus…

In this year of the poor, we too are being asked in silence to peer into the eyes of the crucified Lord, not plastic, nor wooden, nor closed, but open for me, confusing me, disturbing me, returning me to an original inspiration, healing me, raising me up, making me whole and surprising me anew with unaccustomed joy. In those twinkling eyes, we consider the quiet invitation to be actually poor, one with him, stripped of his clothes, his dignity, his possessions, his power, his strength, one with the unwashed, the oppressed, the scorned, the powerless, the miserable, the outcaste. Of course, we can say no. We can repeat the valid, reasonable excuses. But we can also say yes.

In this Year of the Poor, may our neediness be turned to sanctity, and may our arrogance be turned to service. In all, may the love of the Crucified Lord triumph as he gazes into our hearts and we dare to look into his.

Amen. Amen.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 30, 2014, First Sunday of Advent

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President

Saturday, November 22, 2014

'I'm Attracted to Men, But I Love God More'

This is a brief personal testimony of Jovi Atanacio, a member of the support group After Call. Like Courage, their group also shares with our goal to live chaste lives in union with Christ in the midst of our SSA struggle, but unlike us they are not anonymous. Once again, this testimonial proves that it is possible for people struggling with same-sex attraction to live a life not dictated by one's sexual desires and urges.

Jovi Atanacio testifies that it is possible to be a faithful son of the Church and to be a person with same-sex attraction (SSA), sharing how ultimately, the faith shows homosexuals how to truly love.

“This is my cross …I may be attracted to males … but I love God more,” he said, noting how God through the Church invites all to true love.

While admitting to SSA, having been a former moderator for an After Call community of people with SSA, Atanacio has decided to remain celibate, and agrees with the Catholic position on people with same sex attraction that invites all to love, including homosexuals.

“I am free … I made the decision myself to follow and conform to God’s will and what the Church teaches … I forego of the worldly lifestyle,” he declared, confessing how years back, he was sexually promiscuous with various “casual hook ups”.

Homosexuals called to love

Atanacio bemoaned pro-LGBT rights camps often gloss over the fact that the Church has consistently enjoined everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, to love.

“As surprising as it may sound, the Church today does not forbid people who experience same-sex attractions to love one another,” shared Atanacio.

He attests that the Church seems to be the only institution that stresses love for members of the LGBT community.

“We are made to love and be loved … And our lives mean nothing if we don’t experience it,” he added.

Atanacio, one of the many actively engaged in the promotion of the devotion to Lipa’s Mary, Mediatrix of All-Grace, thinks the LGBT sector is asking too much when it expects the Church to change its stance on homosexuality.

“The LGBT wants the Church to just let them be … or allow them and not call the [homosexual] acts sinful …which will never be acceptable,” he noted.

“They keep on trumpeting pride in being gays … But they’re quick to blame others when HIV cases run high, supposedly because they’re too embarrassed to buy condoms,” he added.

True love

According to him, while many members of the same sex desire union with their romantic partners because of love, Atanacio believes true love desires more than just physical and emotional union.

“It wishes the good of the other. It wishes the good of the other person, encouraging him or her to embrace the virtue of chastity,” he explained.

He clarified, however, that chastity does not mean turning one’s back on love, pointing out it is but a profound and courageous expression of that same love.

Single and chaste, Atanacio, who also maintains the Facebook group “Wanted: Filipino Saints”, underscored the need to grow in the understanding of what love really means.

“If two members of the same sex profess love for each other, they will strive to do what is best for one other. They will encourage one another to identify themselves as beloved children of God who happen to experience same-sex attractions, rather than people who are defined by their sexual urges and happen to believe in God,” he explained, citing a Chastity Project article.

[Source: CBCP News. Published with permission from Mr. Jovi Atanacio.]

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cardinal Burke on Homosexuality

At the height of the controversial Relatio on last month's Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Cardinal Raymond Burke was one of the few who stood out in defense of the Church's teachings on homosexuality when others sought to undermine the issue. It's unfortunate that some of those who ought to speak up in defense of the truth chose to play it safe and remained silent. I'm posting here an excerpt of an interview conducted by BuzzFeed News pertaining to that topic. What a shame that he was demoted from his position as head of the Vatican's highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, and given a non-curial and largely ceremonial assignment as patron of the sovereign military order of Malta. In support of Cardinal Burke, an article was published a couple of weeks ago by a former gay activist detailing how the good cardinal, who he once despised for his 'traditional' views on homosexuality, has become instrumental in his conversion to the Catholic faith.

BuzzFeedNews: I did a story a while back reporting on a conversation that sources relayed to me between an LGBT activist and Cardinal Müller. In that conversation, the activist apparently asked Müller about the possibility of the Church possibly accepting some forms of civil unions, based on some of the comments that the pope had made and some of the positions he was understood to have taken while he was the president of the bishops conference of Argentina. Müller reportedly responded that [that decision] wasn’t up to the Pope, it was up to “us,” referring to the curia. In that thinking about how these kinds of church teachings are made, can you explain to an outsider what the relationship is between this kind of conversation and the pope’s personal thinking?

Cardinal Burke: Well I suppose the simplest way to put it is that all of us who serve the church are at the service of the truth: the truth that Christ teaches us in the church. And the Pope more than anyone else, as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth. And so the cardinal is quite correct that the pope is not free to change the Church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other truth of the faith. On the contrary, his work is to teach these truths and to insist on the discipline which reflects the truths in practice.

BFN: It sounds like there’s a tension, what we’re seeing play out in this [Synod]. It sounds like you’re saying there are some people who deliberately want to change teaching. Like the people who are supportive of some of the positions that were articulated in the Relatio are saying that they’re trying to balance the pastoral need [for actual behavior and PRACTICE] to find space for people who are living outside [contrary to] what the Church [doctrine] teaches is the appropriate lifestyle, to find a way pastorally [in ACTUAL PRACTICE] to incorporate them into the [Catholic] Community and to bring them more in line.

You’ve used very strong words about homosexuality; in a recent interview you say again that homosexual acts are always wrong and evil. Is there any middle ground [compromises or loosening up], any way to make space for LGBT people inside the Church while also adhering to church teaching?

CB: Well the Church doesn’t exclude anyone who’s of good will, even if the person is suffering from same-sex attraction or even acting on that attraction. But at the same time out of her love for the person who’s involved in sinful acts, she calls the person to conversion, in a loving way, but obviously, like a father or mother in a family, in a firm way for the person’s own good.

There never can be in the Catholic Church a difference between doctrine and practice. In other words, you can’t have a doctrine that teaches one thing and a practice which does something differently. If people don’t accept the church’s teaching on these matters than they’re not thinking with the Church and they need to examine themselves on that and correct their thinking or leave the Church if they absolutely can’t accept what the Church teaches. They’re certainly not free to change the teaching of the Church to suit their own ideas.

BFN: But as I read the Relatio — and again I’m reading this as a layperson — it seems like what they’re saying is [trying to establish] a welcoming tone. While not changing the teaching, they’re also trying to not make the primary point of contact be a fight over these lifestyle choices. While holding up that the ideal remains matrimony, they’re not going to be pushed out and harassed by virtue of not being in that arrangement.

CB: The point is that for the Church, moral teaching is never a matter of ideals. They’re understood to be real commands that we’re meant to put into practice. All of us are sinners and we have to undergo a daily conversion to live according to the moral truth, but it remains for us always compelling. It’s not just an ideal that we hold out there, that, “It would be nice if it were this way, but I can’t do it.” No, we’re called to conform ourselves to those truths.

That’s the difficulty with the Relatio, which is [a] not well expressed, and [b] does not have a good foundation neither in the sacred scriptures nor in the Church’s perennial teachings, and [c] also uses language which can be very confusing.

One of the confusions is that it confuses the person with the sinful acts. In other words, it tries to say that if the Church teaches that these acts are sinful that somehow they are turning on the people and driving them away from the Church. Well, if the individuals involved are sincere and want to live the truth of moral law, the Church is always ready to help. Even if someone sins repeatedly, the Church always stands ready to help them begin again. But the truth of the moral law remains and it is compelling. It’s for now, it’s for me, it’s not something out there, some ideal out there that would be nice to realize but it doesn’t compel me.

[Source:  Buzz Feed. For the full transcript of the interview, click here.]

[*Note:  I did some underscoring for emphasis.]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Position Paper of Courage Philippines on Anti-Discrimination Bill

I have published a similar but longer version of this post in the past and so now I am posting a shorter version. There seems to be a push towards enacting anti-discrimination bills not just on the national but local level as well. I hope that they will be guided by our position regarding the said issue.

1. Classification of individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under these bills is unreasonable.

• Provision/Section

Section 3 – Definition of Terms

a. “Sexual Orientation” refers to the direction of emotional sexual attraction or conduct. This can be towards people of the same sex (homosexual orientation) or towards people of both sexes (bisexual orientation) or towards people of the opposite sex (heterosexual orientation).

b. “Gender Identity” refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manners of clothing, inclinations and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions. A person may have a male or female identity with the physiological characteristics of the opposite sex.

• Reason for Opposing this Provision/Section

Anti-Discrimination bills on SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) were authored to address anti-discriminatory practices. However, by doing so it unjustly favors a group of individuals unreasonably classified over the rest despite basic natural gender similarities. We then see that these bills are gravely in violation of the constitutional guaranty of equal protection. The Equal Protection clause states “that no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and in like circumstances” (Tolentino v. Board of Accountancy) .

However, classification of persons must follow all of the following criteria (People v. Cayat) :

1. It must rest on substantial distinctions.
2. It must be germane to the purpose of the law.
3. It must not be limited to existing conditions only.
4. It must apply equally to all members of the same class.

There has to be what is called substantial distinction, as contrary to superficial difference. This is the reason why we could distinctively classify men from women (difference in reproductive roles), minors from adults (difference in age of consent), citizens from aliens (difference in nationality) etc. This distinction can be described with relative permanency in the characteristics of the distinction being made. However when a person uses colors for vehicles or emotions and/or lifestyles for persons, they convey superficial differences in as much as these differences can change relatively in time – there exists no permanency in the distinctions being established.

It is important, therefore, to understand that sexual orientation is such a superficial difference since the attraction of a person to the same sex varies in degrees, and there are recorded cases of persons with diminished same-sex attractions, if not totally transformed into heterosexuals. So to classify individuals according to their sexual orientation (homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals) is unreasonable.

The same argument can be applied in classifying persons based on gender identity. There are persons who may have in some aspects of his or her character an identity of the opposite sex, yet still retain some aspects of his or her character identifiable with the same sex. There are cases of persons who may at some point of their life decide that their identity is of the opposite sex, even to the point of undergoing sex change, yet reverted back to identifying themselves with their original gender. So it is also unreasonable to classify individuals based on their gender identity.

Anti-Discrimination bills on SOGI violate the equal protection clause as it is an established principle of constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not violated by a legislation based on unreasonable classification

2. Anti-Discrimination bills on SOGI are redundant of existing laws recognized in the Philippines.

• Provision/Section

Section 2 – Declaration of Policy
It is the policy of this state to work actively for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that offends the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights and the State obligations under human rights instruments acceded to by the Republic of the Philippines, particularly those discriminatory practices as defined herein shall be proscribed and penalized.

• Reason for Opposing this Provision/Section

There are sufficient laws recognized in the Philippines : civil, administrative, criminal and political, that can be invoked for the protection of the rights of anyone – including persons with same-sex attractions.

a. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1 and 7)
b. The 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article II - Section 11, Section 15, Section 18, Section 26, Article IX-B (Civil Service Commission) - Section 2 (2), Article XII (Labor) - Section 3, Article XII (Health) - Section 11, Article XIV (Education) - Section 1, Article XVI (Military Service) - Section 4 )
c. The Labor Code of the Philippines (Article 3 and 6)
d. The Civil Code of the Philippines (Article 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 32) – covering Section 4, paragraphs (a) to (i)
e. The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Section 3 (e)) – covers the public sector applications of Section 4, paragraphs a to g
f. Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA No. 6713) - Section 4 (c)
g. The Revised Penal Code (Article 287 on Unjust Vexation sufficiently covers Section 4, paragraphs a, f, g and h. Articles 282-287 on Threats and Coercion and Articles 353-362 on Libel and Slander and Article 364 on Intriguing Against Honor sufficiently cover Section 4 (h))
h. The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 (RA No. 7877) - Section 2

These established laws sufficiently cover the entire length and breadth of Anti-Discrimination bills on SOGI’s concerns.

3. There is an imminent danger of abuse of “perceived discrimination” under these bills.

• Provision/Section

Section 3 – Definition of Terms

c. “Discrimination” shall be understood to imply any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference which is based on any ground such as sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether actual or perceived, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by all persons of an equal footing of all rights and freedoms.

• Reason for Opposing this Provision/Section

Categorizing a discriminatory act as perceived is something relative – to the person being accused, to the person accusing and to the circumstances and other persons that surround the act itself. Therefore, defining “discrimination” with this phrase allows the law to be manipulated by scheming individuals, to which the law does not define protection over their possible victims. A scheming individual may or may not be a homosexual. Upon slight provocation, this individual may just simply sue anyone through this bill whom he or she feels is discriminating him or her. He or she may use this bill to sue anyone whom he or she pleases – convinced that he or she was discriminated against. Individuals, who may perceive by mere suspicion that he or she is being discriminated against, can also use this bill to his or her advantage.

Also, because gender identity is defined in terms of the individual’s inclinations or behavior, it is shortchanging the legitimacy of the behavior action being done. By virtue of this definition, a person may use the bill to incriminate individuals or institutions, even if his or her behavior is illegitimate – such as talking or laughing boisterously in places of worship, or making sexual advances to a person he or she is attracted to.

The following are some scenarios that may occur following the approval and implementation of this bill:

a. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the Philippines will be apprehended if they will not admit individuals with active homosexual orientation as scout masters (Section 4 (b))
b. The parishes of the Catholic Church, despite of its moral stand on homosexual activities under the right to religious freedom, will be apprehended if they will not recognize gay militant organizations that would like to enter as parish-based organizations (Section 4(d))
c. Hospitals and clinics may be apprehended if they are not able to prioritize homosexual persons in admission to their facilities (Section 4(e))
d. Establishments, despite of their right to draw policies of dress code and conduct in their premises, will be apprehended if they will deny entrance to a homosexual person who exhibits dress code and/or behavior contrary to the policies of the establishment (Section 4(g))
e. Judges and/or church officials will be apprehended for not granting marriage licenses to homosexual couples (Section 4(h))
f. The responsibility of parents over their minor children under the Family Code of the Philippines will be undermined (Section 4 (i))
g. Law enforcers who arrest persons caught in illicit behavior (such as sexual activity in a public place) will be apprehended for harassment (Section 4 (j))

The provision on Section 4 (k) on other analogous circumstances present a dangerous and vague concept, which can be used by ill-meaning individuals who wants to pursue their own selfish interests. Individuals with perversions, such as pedophiles and sadomasochists, can also use this provision to justify their actions and behavior as something in relation to their gender identity and sexual orientation.

4. This bill may supersede existing criminal laws.

• Provision/Section

Section 8 – Repealing Clause

All laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations o; parts thereof inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

• Reason for Opposing this Provision/Section

Because of this clause, it is not unlikely that it will undermine and consider useless the other criminal laws that are “inconsistent” with the provisions laid in the bill. It means it will supersede any law that is working contrary to the needs of homosexual persons.

For example, this bill may undermine the anti-harassment laws by allowing persons with homosexual inclinations and behavior to pursue other persons by making sexual advances to them, as it is warranted by their gender identity to do it because of their sexual orientation.

Prepared by:

COURAGE Philippines
09285066974 / 09178427434

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Lord is my Shepherd - A Personal Testimony

This is a personal testimonial of a fellow Courage brother, 'St. Pope', who has since returned to his hometown province of Antique. 

"The Lord pursues me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever!"

This is how I would describe my journey with the Lord. He always pursues me to return to Him and remain in his love.

In my early years as a child, I was raised by three significant women in my life - my mother and my two aunts. My father is a seafarer and I only met him when I was already five years old when he returned home. However, on his return, I never felt any affection towards him as a father. He was a stranger to me. Although he stayed with us for quite some time, our father and son relationship was not developed. He remained a stranger to me whom I fear for he never smiles.

I grew up in an environment of a family who are mostly devout Catholic and are active in parish and church activities. Their influences draw me to grow in faith to God by being involved in the works of our parish.

At school, I am also excelling as a student. Every end of the school year, it becomes a common practice already for me to go up on stage together with my aunt to receive an award.

I was a good boy. I always wanted to be a good boy. I asked myself, “And for what reason that I wanted to be a good boy?” I thought because it is the right thing to do. But then again, this question revealed a painful truth for what really motivates me to be a good boy. Deep inside me, I wanted this image to stand out to cover up the humiliation that I was experiencing from my peers and to older people who noticed my effeminate behavior. They labeled me with names and made fun of it. They call me ‘bakla’ or ‘bading’. I just could not accept that and I kept on convincing them that I was not what they are calling me. I was hurt not only because of humiliation in public that I was experiencing but because I know for a fact that there is a truth on what they are telling me. I end up convincing myself that there is no truth to what I heard from them. At a very young age, I could not also understand why people looked at gay kids with mockery. I did not want to be mocked; therefore, I do not want to be gay. The other sad truth is I could not open up to my family what I was going through out of shame and fear of rejection from them. I fear that they will not love me anymore.

Yet God is good. When I was in high school, he placed me in an institution where I could grow more in my faith to him. I studied in a Catholic school. There are still people who noticed my effeminate behavior and teased me and mocked me with dreadful names. However, this time, I attempted to become the man just like my peers. I observed, learned and imitated their language and behavior. What moved me for doing this is my longing for acceptance, that sense of belonging to other boys. I was grateful then that God provided me a group of friends where I felt I was accepted and belonged.

When I was in college, God again provided me with a group of friends who accepted and loved me. It was like as if God is telling me that I don’t need to be good at something in order for me to be accepted by other people or for Him to love me. I did not realize it at that time.

Ironically, I was attracted to one of my male friends. The attraction was too strong that I became emotionally dependent to him. My day was not complete if I could not see or talk to him. I did not confess what I was feeling for him and took advantage of our friendship in order to be with him always. But then again, God knows what I was going through. After graduation, our situations forced us to separate ways and we seldom see each other then. After sometime, the attraction faded and what remained is authentic friendship with him. I was eventually able to confess to him my homosexual issues and he accepted me for who I am. We are good friends until now.

My first job at work was in a dominantly male industry – a metal fabrication company where out of around 50 employees in the plant, there were only two females at work. God wanted me to interact and develop more friendship with men.

It was also during that time that I happened to read the book of Rick Warren entitled, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Reading it, God revealed to me this truth - being attracted to the same sex or having an effeminate behavior doesn’t make a person bad. It is the choices that he makes that would determine if his actions are good or bad based on what his Christian faith tells him. This was a liberating truth for me and I finally learned to accept my homosexual issues.

God was never tired of pursuing me. Even when I was working, he sends friends, relatives or colleagues at work who will invite me to prayer meetings and rallies of different Catholic communities like Love Flock, Elim and El Shaddai. While I was busy attending such prayer meetings, I was also living a gay lifestyle discreetly. I have been involved into series of flings and one night interactions with the same sex. I was living a double identity.

God still remained faithful that as He saw me at a loss in handling my homosexual issues, he led me to this Catholic support group called Courage, who caters for men and women struggling with same sex attractions and wanted to be right with God. My healing journey began after I joined this group. Finally, I do not feel alone anymore in my struggles. I have other people who understand really what I was going through and could relate to me. I started to understand myself and God just continuously revealed a lot of truth about his design to me as a man and how I could realign my desires to His will for me.

I have undergone more healing from wounds of the past that led to the development of my homosexual behavior and attractions when I attended the programs of Living Waters. It was a healing program for emotionally and sexually abused persons. I experienced cleansing from my sins and felt renewed.

In God’s perfect timing, He also provided me a community where I can develop and nurture genuine friendship and relationship with real men of God. It was a Catholic movement of single young professionals who wanted to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I became a part of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Catholic movement. Healing continued to take place as I grew in my relationship with my fellow brothers and even with sisters. Only then also I realize that I never really knew how to treat women with care and respect. The brothers, through their example, taught me how.

I thought I was already okay. I was wrong. The pressures at work, internet pornography and desires for flesh cause me to take for granted my prayer life and my commitments to my support group and community. Life suddenly becomes overwhelming and I could not take hold of it anymore.

Seeing my situation, God called me to retreat for a while. I resigned from work, left the life at Metro Manila, and went home in my hometown province of Antique. For almost one year, I was not employed. I focused myself in serving our parish youth ministry and in developing our backyard into a vegetable garden. While serving God through the youth ministry, my journey to manhood continued to develop when I became a gardener of our own backyard and front yard. I engage myself to manly activities that I have never done before like building garden boxes, digging and tilling soil, making posts for trellis of beans and ampalaya and many other carpentry works. I enjoyed doing that. It affirms my manhood. I enjoyed being a man. I appreciate the good of the masculine as designed by God.

At present, I serve the parish as a speaker in our weekly Bible study that we have established. God provided me another work to sustain me in my daily needs here in our province, away from the temptations of the metro but very near to my family. I have also re-established a quality prayer life with the Lord.

My journey with the Lord still continues as I strive to live as a good witness of His love for me. There are still issues in my life that cause me to sin and need cleansing and purification.

God has pursued me all through these years of my life and He never failed to show his great love and mercy to me. I may still have battles that need to be won and I believe that with God on my side, there is nothing but victory.

To God be the glory and honor for all that He has done and will do in my life.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Purgatory and the Saints

Based on numerous accounts of mystical experiences on purgatory as shown in the lives of some particular saints, we can glean from them the importance of understanding what Purgatory is and why we should offer prayers and good works for the suffering souls languishing there. Praying for the dead is a spiritual act of mercy. Helping these poor souls now will surely redound to our favor when it's our time to depart this life and face the judgment seat of God.

When I look at God, I see no gate to Paradise, and yet because God is all mercy he who wills enters there. God stands before us with open arms to receive us into His glory. But well I see the divine essence to be of such purity, greater far than can be imagined, that the soul in which there is even the least note of imperfection would rather cast itself into a thousand Hells than find itself thus stained in the presence of the Divine Majesty. Therefore the soul, understanding that Purgatory has been ordained to take away those stains, casts itself therein, and seems to itself to have found great mercy in that it can rid itself there of the impediment which is the stain of sin.

No tongue can tell nor explain, no mind understand, the grievousness of Purgatory. But I, though I see that there is in Purgatory as much pain as in Hell, yet see the soul which has the least stain of imperfection accepting Purgatory, as I have said, as though it were a mercy, and holding its pains of no account as compared with the least stain which hinders a soul in its love. I seem to see that the pain which souls in Purgatory endure because of whatever in them displeases God, that is what they have willfully done against His so great goodness, is greater than any other pain they feel in Purgatory. And this is because, being in grace, they see the truth and the grievousness of the hindrance which stays them from drawing near to God.

-- St. Catherine of Genoa, Treatise on Purgatory Chapter VIII

I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all. My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God. I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her "The Star of the Sea." She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. [I heard an interior voice] which said, "My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it." Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.

- St. Faustina Kowalska (Diary 20)
Saint John Massias, known as the "Helper of the Poor Souls", offered three rosaries every night for the souls in Purgatory, praying for them on his knees despite bodily fatigue. Saint John also sprinkled holy water on the ground several times a day for their relief. He also offered hundreds of short ejaculations("sudden short exclamations, especially brief pious utterances or prayers") as he went around his regular work, applying the merit of these little prayers to the Holy Souls. Not a day passed that St. John didn't unite himself with the priest at the altar begging the Heavenly Father to grant all the souls eternal rest through the merits of Christ's death on Calvary.

The Holy Souls often appeared to him begging his powerful intercession, "Give us prayers", they cried with one voice. "Oh brother John, you are the friend of the poor and sick! Be our friend too! Help make us worthy to be with God and His Blessed ones."

- St. John Massias by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, page 89, 1972, Tan Books, Rockford IL,

Father Stanislaus’s three mystical experiences of the sufferings in Purgatory have been well documented.

First, in 1675 when he was in the Ukraine as the army chaplain during the war against the Turks -- he received a vision of deceased soldiers asking for his intercession before the Lord. Upon his return to the Korabiew Forest he called his companions to pray, make acts of contrition, and perform works of mercy for the intention of the deceased, especially victims of war.

The next incident took place at the Karski’s courtyard, after he had already initiated the communal life in the Korabiew community. Fr. Papczyński had a vision of Purgatory during the meal that followed the Holy Mass. In the presence of many people, he fell into ecstasy (eyewitnesses corroborated this during the Informative Process), after which, deeply shaken, he immediately returned to the monastery. He said to his confrères, surprised by his unexpected return: “I beg you, brothers, pray for the souls in Purgatory, because they suffer unbearable tortures.” After this he remained for several days in his cell, fervently praying and fasting for the deceased.

Finally, the third experience of the mystery of Purgatory was granted Fr. Papczyński at the shrine of Our Lady in Studzianna, in 1676, where he made a pilgrimage with the goal of begging for the personal grace of good health. While he stayed there at the monastery of the St. Philip’s Fathers his health worsened. There was fear that he might die. Precisely then -- being in ecstasy -- he was transported to Purgatory. He saw there the Mother of God praying for him, that he would receive a healing in order that he could further assist the dead. At the end of the vision, he quickly recovered strength and in the Studzianna Church he delivered a long sermon to the faithful on the need to assist the departed brothers and sisters. Finally, on February 11 of that same year, he accepted as one of the goals of his Order, that assistance be provided “with utmost diligence, piety, and zeal” for the Poor Souls in Purgatory, especially soldiers and victims of epidemics.

- Blessed Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczyński

Padre Pio told this story to Padre Anastasio. “One evening, while I was alone in choir to pray, I heard the rustle of a suit and I saw a young monk that stirred next to the high altar. It seemed that the young monk was dusting the candelabra and straightening the flower vases. I thought he was Padre Leone rearranging the altar, and, since it was supper time, I went to him and I told him: “Padre Leone, go to dine, this is not the time to dust and to straighten the altar”. But a voice, that was not Father Leone’s answered me”: “I am not Padre Leone”, “And who are you?“, I asked him. “I am a brother of yours that made the noviciate here. I was ordered to clean the altar during the year of the noviciate. Unfortunately many times I didn’t reverence Jesus while passing in front of the altar, thus causing the Holy Sacrament that was preserved in the Tabernacle to be disrespected. For this serious carelessness, I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me.” I believed to be generous to that suffering soul, so I exclaimed: “You will be in Paradise tomorrow morning, when I will celebrate Holy Mass”. That soul cried: “Cruel!” Then he wept and disappeared. That complaint produced in me a wound to the heart that I have felt and I will feel my whole life. In fact I would have been able to immediately send that soul to Heaven but I condemned him to remain another night in the flames of Purgatory.”

- St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint Gertrude had a deep empathy for the Church Suffering, the Holy Souls in Purgatory. At every Holy Communion she beseeched Jesus for His mercy to be bestowed on them. During one Holy Communion she experienced the descent into Purgatory with Our Lord. She heard Him say: "At Holy Communion I will permit thee to draw forth all to whom the fragrance of thy prayers penetrates." After Holy Communion Our Lord customarily delivered more Souls than she had dared to ask for.

One time when Gertrude was praying with great fervor for the Holy Souls, she asked Our Lord how many souls His mercy would release, He answered: "My love urges Me to release the Poor Souls. If a beneficent king leaves his guilty friend in prison for justice's sake, he awaits with longing for one of his nobles to plead for the prisoner and to offer something for his release. Then the king joyfully, sets him free. Similarly, I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the Poor Souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price. By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from Purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer!"

Our Savior taught Gertrude for whom she should most ardently pray for. On the day when the community commemorated in common the death of their parents, Gertrude saw the happy souls ascend the darkness of Purgatory like sparks from a flame. She asked Our Lord if all these were relatives. He answered: "I am thy nearest relative, thy father and thy mother. Therefore, My special friends are thy nearest relatives, and these are among those whom I have liberated."

Gertrude was asked by someone, that when she offered to God all the gratuitous gifts with which He had favored her, to request that she might have a share in their merit. "As she prayed thus, she perceived this person standing before the Lord, Who was seated on His throne of glory, and held in His hand a robe magnificently adorned, which He presented to her, but still without clothing her in it. The Saint, being surprised at this, said to Him: 'When I made a similar offering to Thee, a few days since, Thou didst at once take the Soul of the poor woman for whom I prayed to the joys of Paradise; and why, most loving Lord, dost Thou not now clothe this person with the robe which thou hast shown her, and which she so ardently desires, through the merits of the graces Thou hast bestowed on me, though so un worthy of them?' Our Lord answered: 'When anything is offered to Me for the faithful departed, I immediately use it for them, according to My natural inclination to show mercy and pardon, either for the remission of their sins for their consolation, or for the increase of their eternal felicity, according to the condition of those for whom the offering is made.'

The Prayer of St. Gertrude, below, is one of the most famous of the prayers for souls in Purgatory. St. Gertrude the Great was a Benedictine nun and mystic who lived in the 13th century. According to tradition, our Lord promised her that 1000 souls would be released from purgatory each time it is said devoutly.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

- St. Gertrude the Great

Reproaches which the souls in Purgatory make to people in the world.

And so that blessed soul, seeing the aforesaid things by the divine light, said: "I would fain send up a cry so loud that it would put fear in all men on the earth. I would say to them: 'Wretches, why do you let yourselves be thus blinded by the world, you whose need is so great and grievous, as you will know at the moment of death, and who make no provision for it whatsoever?'

"You have all taken shelter beneath hope in God's mercy, which is, you say, very great, but you see not that this great goodness of God will judge you for having gone against the will of so good a Lord. His goodness should constrain you to do all His will, not give you hope in ill-doing, for His justice cannot fail but in one way or another must needs be fully satisfied.

"Cease to hug yourselves, saying: 'I will confess my sins and then receive plenary indulgence, and at that moment I shall be purged of all my sins and thus shall be saved.' Think of the confession and the contrition needed for that plenary indulgence, so hardly come by that, if you knew, you would tremble in great fear, more sure you would never win it than that you ever could."

- Treatise on Purgatory Chapter XV

Thursday, October 23, 2014

March of Saints 2014

If you're looking for a Christ-centered alternative to Halloween, please consider attending The March of Saints 2014 on Friday, October 31. The Eucharistic Celebration will be presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Bernardino C. Cortez, DD, Auxilary Bishop of Manila at 3 p.m., Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila to be followed by the March of Saints.

Forwarded invitation.

Dear PWHS members and friends,

The PRAYER WARRIORS OF THE HOLY SOULS - will be having the MARCH OF SAINTS on Friday, October 31, 2014 from the Manila Cathedral to Fort Santiago.

We would like to extend this invitation to your family and friends to witness this first-ever alternative to Halloween activity in the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila, Immaculate Conception Cathedral-Basilica (Manila Cathedral).

Kindly forward this ad and share it with your family members and friends, most especially to those who are in Manila on the said date. Please confirm your attendance for the pre-registration thru this email address ( or any of these PWHS contact numbers: (02) 531-0391 / 532-2831 loc 100&101 or hotline text messaging 0918-9290603.

Other dioceses/provinces will also be having the March of Saints in their respective parishes as endorsed by their Bishops. If you happen to know parishes that will be having this activity anytime this October and November, kindly inform us the name of the parish, parish priest and its contact number as we gather data of those who celebrated the March of Saints.

Thank you and may God bless us in all our endeavors.


Chita G. Monfort
Executive Director

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Responding to the Pirola Argument

The media is abuzz once again regarding a couple who gave a rather controversial advice in the ongoing Synod for the Family in Vatican. I am only going to tackle here what they said about the topic of homosexuality. If you wish to read the whole text of their speech, you can find it here. The following text is an excerpt from Ron and Mavis Pirola, co-directors of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council.

"As the Instrumentum Laboris suggests, the domestic church has much to offer the wider Church in its evangelizing role. For example, the Church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time.

Take homosexuality as an example. Friends of ours were planning their Christmas family gathering when their gay son said he wanted to bring his partner home too. They fully believed in the Church’s teachings and they knew their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family. Their response could be summed up in three words, ‘He is our son’.

What a model of evangelization for parishes as they respond to similar situations in their neighbourhood! It is a practical example of what the Instrumentum Laboris says concerning the Church’s teaching role and its main mission to let the world know of God’s love."

After reading this part I said to myself, "Here we go again!" There are other controversial topics raised in the Synod for the Family but we will just limit ourselves on the topic of homosexuality. Fortunately, a sacred servant of God faithful to the Magisterium of the Church in the person of His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, has responded to the issue with pastoral sensitivity and clarity. Below is the full transcript of this exclusive interview conducted by

LifeSiteNews: How should Catholic parents deal with a difficult situation like this:

When planning a Christmas family gathering with grandchildren present, parents are asked by their son, who is in a homosexual relationship, if he can come and bring with him his homosexual partner?

Applying these principles, how should parishes deal with open homosexual couples who approach to receive Holy Communion and who seek leadership roles within the parish?

Cardinal Burke: This is a very delicate question, and it's made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda. But one has to approach this in a very calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner. If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?

We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.

And so, families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.

And we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy. And so it's important to stay [as] close as one can. But, that particular form of relationship should not be imposed upon family members, and especially upon impressionable children. And I urge parents or grandparents — whoever it may be — to be very, very prudent in this matter and not to scandalize their children or grandchildren.

There's so much in our society today which is giving the message that any form of sexual relationship, if it somehow pleases you — or you’re attracted to it — is alright, is correct. And we don't want our children to get that impression, by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.

It certainly is a source of great suffering, but striving to do what is right and good always involves suffering. And in this case, it surely will. But that suffering will indeed be redemptive in the end.

LifeSiteNews: Applying these principles, how should parishes deal with open homosexual couples who approach to receive Holy Communion or who seek leadership roles within the parish?

Cardinal Burke: Now with regard to parishes, the situation is very similar because the parish is — I believe it was Saint John Paul II who once said — a ‘family of families.’ And so, if you have a parish member who is living in public sin in a homosexual relationship, well, the priest should try to stay close to that individual — or to both the individuals if they’re Catholic — and try to help them to leave the sinful relationship and to begin to lead a chaste life. The pastor [should] encourage them also to pray and to participate in Sunday Mass and other appropriate ways of trying to overcome grave sin in their lives.

Those people [who] are living in that way certainly cannot have any leadership role in the parish, because it would give the impression to parishioners that the way they are living is perfectly alright. Because, [when] we lead in a parish, in a certain way, we are giving witness to a coherent Catholic life. And people who are not coherent with their Catholic faith aren’t given leadership roles. They are not asked, for instance, to be a lector at the Holy Mass — or [to] assume some other leadership position — until they have rectified their situation and gone through a conversion of life and then are ready to give such leadership.

On the one hand, it certainly gives scandal to parishioners with regard to a very essential part of our life, our sexuality, [and] what it means. On the other hand, it's not good for the two people involved in the disordered relationship because it also gives them the idea that the Church somehow approves of what they're doing.


Cardinal Burke has nailed it on the head. True compassion is always grounded firmly on truth; otherwise, it is really just a 'misguided' form of compassion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly makes the distinction on homosexual acts, homosexual inclination, and the homosexual person. The Catechism describes homosexual acts as "acts of grave depravity and intrinsically disordered". These acts are against the natural law and under no circumstances can they be approved. On the other hand, the Catechism describes homosexual inclination as "objectively disordered" meaning they are not sinful in and of itself and that they constitute for people struggling with it a trial, a cross. Furthermore, the Catechism acknowledges that there are many men and women who are struggling with same-sex attraction and that they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

In a separate interview with Aleteia, Rev. Fr. Paul Check, Executive Director of Courage International, offers this piece of advice full of pastoral wisdom:

We can never be more pastoral than Jesus. Good God that He is, He knows well the weaknesses to which we are prone, especially in matters relating to love and affection. But He also sees the dignity in every human heart, because He placed it there. And He sees the potential for great nobility in each heart, too, because He knows the transforming power of His grace. The Communion of Saints bears witness to the goodness of God at work in the humble and trusting human heart.

“Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived,” writes the Pope Emeritus in his last encyclical. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.” God is both Agápe and Lógos, Pope Benedict reminds us.

To love people with same-sex attractions is to love them for their God-given and Christ-redeemed dignity. They are not less than any of the Father’s children. Like everyone, they deserve more than sentimentality. They deserve compassion … compassion founded on the truth of their humanity.


In light of the ongoing confusion in the Synod, let us recite this Prayer to Uphold the Holy Word of God

O Dear Lord, my beloved Jesus Christ,

Hold me.

Protect me.

Keep me in the Light of Your Face, as my persecution intensifies, when my only sin is to uphold the Truth, the Holy Word of God.

Help me to find the courage to serve you faithfully at all times.

Give me Your Courage and Your Strength, as I fight to defend Your Teachings against fierce opposition.

Never desert me, Jesus, in my time of need and provide me with everything I need to continue to serve You,
through the provision of the Holy Sacraments and Your Precious Body and Blood, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Bless me Jesus.

Walk with me.

Rest in me.

Stay with me.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The 15 Promises of the Rosary Explained

It's the Rosary Month once again and I encourage everyone to rediscover the spiritual treasures attached to propagating and praying the Holy Rosary. Below is a brief explanation of each of the 15 Promises of the Rosary. I hope and pray that all of us will continue to say this excellent prayer even beyond October because the world needs our prayer. I would like to enjoin everyone to offer rosaries especially for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Besides the indulgences attached to the Rosary, Our Lady revealed to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche additional benefits for those who devoutly pray the Rosary. Our Lady’s promises are shown in blue text. Note that the Rosary is the prayer (non-liturgical) with the most published Magisterial/Papal documents expounding its excellence. Vatican II’s summary on Our Lady is contained in Lumen Gentium, chapter VIII.

1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.

Signal graces are those special and unique graces which help sanctify us in our state in life. St. Louis de Montfort states emphatically that the best and fastest way to union with Our Lord is via Our Lady [True Devotion to Mary the book, chapter 4].

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

Our Lady is our Advocate and the channel of all God’s grace to us. Our Lady is promising that She will watch especially over those who pray the Rosary. (See Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII – Our Lady #62.) [A great more detail is available on this topic in True Devotion to Mary, chapter 4, by St. Louis de Montfort.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.

This promise, along with the next, is simply the reminder on how fervent prayer will help us all grow in holiness by avoiding sin, especially a prayer with the excellence of the Rosary. An increase in holiness necessarily requires a reduction in sin, vice and doctrinal errors (heresies). If only the modernists could be convinced to pray the Rosary! (See Lumen Gentium, chapter V – The Call to Holiness #42.) St. Louis de Montfort states, “Mary alone crushed all heresies, as we are told by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary)…” [True Devotion to Mary #167].

4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

This promise, along with the previous ones, is the promise of help to live in virtue. Becoming holy is not only avoiding sin, but also growing in virtue. (See Lumen Gentium, chapter V – The Call to Holiness #42.)

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

Since Our Lady is our Mother and Advocate, She always assists those who call on Her implicitly by praying the Rosary. The Church reminds us of this in the Memorare prayer, “…never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided…”

6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

This promise highlights the magnitude of graces that the Rosary brings to whoever prays it. One will draw down God’s mercy rather than His justice and will have a final chance to repent (see promise #7). One will not be conquered by misfortune means that Our Lady will obtain for the person sufficient graces to handle said misfortune (i.e., carry the crosses allowed by God) without falling into despair. As Sacred Scripture tells us, “For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30)

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

This promise highlights the benefits of obtaining the most possible graces at the hour of death via the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Extreme Unction Anointing of the Sick). Being properly disposed while receiving these sacraments near death ensures one’s salvation (although perhaps with a detour through purgatory) since a final repentance is possible.

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

Our Lady highlights the great quantity of graces which can be obtained through praying the Rosary. These graces assist us during life and at the moment of death. The merits of the saints are the gift of God’s rewards to those persons who responded to His grace that they obtained during life, and so Our Lady indicates that She will provide a share of that to us at death. With this promise and #7 above, Our Lady is providing the means for the person to have a very holy death.

9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

Should one require purgatorial cleansing after death, Our Lady will make a special effort to obtain our release from purgatory through Her intercession as Advocate.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.

This promise is a logical consequence of promises #3 and #4 since anyone who truly lives a holier life on earth will obtain a higher place in Heaven. The closer one is to God while living on earth, the closer that person is to Him also in Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states. “Spiritual progress tends toward ever more union with Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2014)

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

This promise emphasizes Our Lady’s role as our Advocate and Mediatrix of all Graces. Of course, all requests are subject to God’s most perfect will. God will always grant our request if it is beneficial for our soul, and Our Lady will only intercede for us when our request is good for our salvation. (See Lumen Gentium, chapter VIII – Our Lady #62.).

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

If one promotes the praying of the Rosary, Our Lady emphasizes Her Maternal care for us by obtaining many graces (i.e., spiritual necessities) and also material necessities (neither excess nor luxury), all subject to the will of God, of course. Our Mother Queen of Peace Times is dedicated to the propagation of the most Holy Rosary. Everyone who contributes time, money and prayers is included in this promise by Our Holy Mother.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

Since Our Lady is our Advocate, She brings us additional assistance during our life and at our death from all the saints in Heaven (the Communion of Saints). (See paragraphs 954 through 959 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my only Son Jesus Christ.

Since the Rosary is a most excellent prayer focused on Jesus and His life and activities in salvation history, it brings us closer to Our Lord and Our Lady. Doctrinally, our Lady is our Mother and Jesus is our older brother, besides being our God. (See Lumen Gentium, chapter VIII – Our Lady #62.)

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Predestination in this context means that, by the sign which is present to a person from the action of devoutly praying the Rosary, God has pre-ordained his salvation. Absolute certainty of salvation can only be truly known if God reveals it to a person because, although we are given sufficient grace during life, our salvation
depends upon our response to said grace. (See Summa Theologica, Question 23 for a detailed theological explanation.) Said another way, if God has guaranteed a person’s salvation but has not revealed it to him, God would want that person to pray the Rosary because of all the benefits and graces obtained. Therefore, the person gets a hint by devotion to the Rosary. This is not to say that praying the Rosary guarantees salvation – by no means. In looking at promises #3 and #4 above, praying the Rosary helps one to live a holy life which is itself a great sign that a soul is on the road to salvation. (See also paragraphs 381, 488, 600, and 2782 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) In fact, St. Louis de Montfort says even more strongly that “an infallible and unmistakable sign by which we can distinguish a heretic, a man of false doctrine, an enemy of God, from one of God’s true friends is that the hardened sinners and heretics show nothing but contempt and indifference to Our Lady…” [True Devotion to Mary, #30]

Reminder: These promises mean that, by faithfully and devoutly praying the Rosary, Our Lady will obtain for us the necessary Graces to obtain said promises. It is still up to each individual soul to respond to those graces in order to obtain salvation.

Special Note: The Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important prayer in the life of a Catholic. The Holy Rosary Prayer is very powerful but it is second to the Holy Mass. One should pray and concentrate during Holy Mass on the good news for the day, the words of consecration, Holy Communion; every part of the Mass is so important. One should not pray the Rosary during Holy Mass. Praying the Rosary before or after Holy Mass is most advantageous.

[Side note: I just found out in my back office that this post about the Rosary was my 666th post! What a coincidence! The Rosary is indeed a formidable weapon against the powers of hell. Let us heed our Lady's request at Fatima to pray the rosary every day to obtain world peace, conversion of sinners, and the salvation of souls.]

[Source: Our Mother Queen of Peace Times]