Saturday, December 29, 2007

Solemnizing Marriages, Civilly and Sacramentally

Just recently, the Philippine government through one of its agencies, The National Statistics Office (NSO), directed that Catholic priests will not be issued licenses to solemnize marriages unless they undergo a seminar on marriage laws. Of course, this was resented by some members of the Catholic Church led by His Eminence Cardinal Rosales and His Excellency Angel Lagdameo. (The Diocese of Cubao already took the seminar because of the necessity of solemnizing marriages by some of its priests whose licenses are expiring.) Cardinal Rosales said that the directive seems to regard the priests as stupid. He further said that the Catholic Church had been doing it for the last 2000 years. Solemnizing marriages is a serious act in the Catholic Church. Archbishop Lagdameo, on the other hand , said that marriage laws are included in the seminary course. Priest, before they graduate are well oriented in the solemnization of marriages. Besides, both prelates said that if there are additional laws or instructions, all the government had to do is to send them to the chancery of all dioceses and the Chancellors will take care of communicating them to the priests. Based on the seminars that had already been done, nothing much is really new with regards to the laws the NSO wanted to make Catholic priests should be aware of. Incidentally, a fee of 1,500 to 3,500 pesos will be paid by each priest.
marriage.jpg image by BRISENO_010
This directive is defective and lacks good reason. If there are incidents of violation (which, I believe are rare!), then this is not the way to correct it. To put all priests in one basket would be, as Cardinal Rosales said, to regard "priests as stupid!" There are things that must be clarified here.

As mandated by law, couples must be married civilly. Therefore, no two people could live as husband and wife unless they are married before the law. The usual officer for this are the judges and mayors or other designated government officials. But because religions also require the same to their faithful, and for the convenience of the faithful, the civil marriage is done together with the sacramental marriage (church marriage) in the case of the Catholic Church. That is why, priests are also required to get a license to solemnize marriage civilly.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, she requires Christian couples to be "sacramentally married". Couples are bonded not by law but by their consent and the grace of God. Essentially, civil marriage is not a requirement. As far as salvation is concerned, civil marriage is not a marriage. In fact, it can be a source of legitimacy for sin for some. As long as one is sacramentally free to marry, then sacramental marriage can be made.

So, the real situation is that the Catholic Church is accommodating the law in order not to subject the faithful to legal consequences. Now comes this situation of a directive of not being given a license to marry because of not having undergone a seminar? A lot of repercussions may happen because of this.

But first, I would like to assert that if there is a marriage that is strictly guided and supervised, it is the one by the Catholic Church. In the Catholic marriage, the couple is required to undergo a "canonical investigation" where they are interviewed and examined not only of their freedom to marry but also their capacity to marry. They are required to have marriage counseling by model couples, and they are required to have basic and important sacraments. Some even require them to undergo discovery weekends in order to further challenge their decision and also have a taste of togetherness even in a laboratory setting.

On the other hand, the same could not be said of the civil marriages being conducted by civilian solemnizing officers, (and maybe including some supposed "pastors" of some sects or religions). That is understandable because their concern is more of what is legal and not much on the viability or sacramentality of marriage. Some "pastors" of other religions who are also given licenses are wanting in fully dispensing the spiritual aspect of marriage. Many are doubtful as to the authenticity of their sect or group. I will not be far from the truth if they only have a number of members and all are more into solemnizing marriages civilly and according to their"faith". The names of these sects, interestingly, make use of a mixture of words associated with the Catholic Faith in order to make it appear for those being married that they are being married "sacramentally"too!

The more important question is, "What if the government insists?". What are the options for the Catholic Church? One is, like the Diocese of Cubao, let the priests undergo the seminar and pay the fee. Another is not to undergo a seminar and not acquire a license. Priests will just ask the couples to have civil marriage first, then apply for sacramental marriage in Church. Or one priest will just undergo a seminar and let him sign the marriage licenses of those married in the Catholic Church. Only, in this case, the couples are made to undergo so much process which, before, can all be done in the sacramental marriage.

Abangan ag susunod na kabanata!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Swiss Guards

If you will, go to the St. Peter's Basilica, you will see some guards who are usually tall, with good body built and wearing a costume-like uniform. They are the Swiss guards. They are truly Swiss! It is interesting that the Vatican has Swiss Guards to have the responsibility of protecting the pope. The story was that there was a time when the Vatican was under siege from German soldiers. The pope decided to hire some soldiers who will defend the state. The Swiss soldiers agreed to do the job. They were able to resist the attack and they gained the respect of the pope by their bravery, loyalty, skill, and even readiness to offer their lives in defense of the state. Since then, owing to what they had done, the Vatican had been hiring the services of these trained men to protect the pope.
The Vatican is however not independent of the carabinieri (The Italian Police Force) of the Italian government. Any crime or police matters are turned over to the Italian police. While the protection of the pope is the primary responsibility of the Swiss guards, the government police assist and facilitate all police matters in and out of he Vatican.
In order to have a regular supply of guards, the Swiss government recruits and accepts applications of their citizen to be trained and become full pledge Swiss guards. Incidentally, all Swiss guards must be Catholics!
I find this strange and unique but not unreasonable. Tradition and experience really count a lot spcially in matters of extreme importance as the protection of the pope, the recognized leader of the Catholic Church. The professionalism involved in the set up is really something to be admired. But essentially, it is about trust and faith to both fellow human being and God.

The Cause Of The Small Island States

There is a group of member nations in the United Nations that are very much concerned about the rise of sea water due to climate change. They are referred to as the Small Island States (SIS). Some of them are; Mauritius, Maldives, Guam, Fiji, Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Bahamas, Haiti and many more. Scientific findings in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel For Climate Change (FAR IPCC) categorically stated that if the world will increase its temperature by two degrees centigrade, sea water level is expected to rise about one meter without accounting for the melted ice in the arctic regions. Even by that water rise alone, many of these small islands will be partly or totally underwater. Migration for the people in these islands will therefore be an option and consequently a problem. That is why, presently they are lobbying and negotiating very hard to convince the leading industrialized nations (G8- USA, Japan, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Canada), those capable of financing at the same time the main contributors of carbon emissions in the atmosphere which was proven to have caused global warming, to finalized talks on the adaptation fund which will be the source of funds to create adaptation projects for these nations. What these and other nations fear is the delay in the finalization of the talks on these. The urgency of the matter can not be taken for granted. There is a great need for urgency to approve the plan, provide the funds, and begin implementation. Further dilly dallying on the matter may be too late. Once water had reclaimed the vulnerable island, either it will need great amount of funds or that there is nothing more that can be done.

It is really interesting that in spite of this reality, there are countries who can still afford to delay or concentrate on some minor things. In the Climate Conference I attended in Bali, Indonesia, too much details and vested political and economic interests dominated the negotiations. Always, the political and economic agenda were the basis of decisions. Maybe they feel they will not be directly affected and therefore are very safe against this crisis or they are very confident they have the capacity to adapt to it. This maybe true, initially, but in the long run(actually it is already short!), the situation will soon catch up with them. Many scientists agree that climate change will have an effect on water level. As to its magnitude and how it will affect the islands, they could not absolutely determine the extent. It may be manageable (hopefully), but they could not say with certainty that it would not be greatly devastating. With the environment, nobody really knows!

As many had advocated, preparation and prevention is still the best option. We can not take for granted what will be. To expect the worst would be the best attitude. To prepare to the most would be the best defense. Anything less is just risking without basis.

Let us pray that all of us, especially those who have the power and resources would begin to see the whole picture. Nobody can do this alone. Everybody should be part of the solution. There is no Plan B, only Plan A. Act now and regret not later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Whose Statement Really Matters?

This morning was the high-level meeting of the UNFCCC. No less than the heads of state of Singapore, Palau, Indonesia, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, and the bigwigs of the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the UNFCCC President, and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and the high ranking ministers of member parties were present. The bigwigs gave their statements one by one with some drawing applauses depending on the strength of the statement and to whom they are directed. After their speeches, they all went out and the meeting of the CoP continued with the statements of the UN agencies. By that time, many of the members of the press and member countries had already gone out.
I felt that was unfortunate. I felt that was not right. I believe, the more important statements are what are to come; the statements of the member parties. They were the ones who had gone through the meetings, negotiations, drafting of resolutions, revisions, and everything. But, those who are suppose to listen left. And those left behind seem not that interested except for the statements of some deemed to be crucial members like the United States, China, Pakistan, South Africa, and Argentina. Listening to the statements would let you in the situations, problems, concerns, aches and dreams of their people. This, I believe, is the key towards having the best appreciation of the actual situation the world is in. This will better lead us to concrete and relevant solutions. This is the only way how we will be able to act not only from our mind and stomach but more importantly from the heart. This is what is mostly lacking in the present event that is happening.
This reminds me of how we relate and communicate with God. With Him, in prayer, His words are the most important. Our words do not matter as much. But what happens is that we are so busy with speaking our words than hearing God's Word. Our words would really amount to nothing without God while Gods Word is very effective even without us.
So, whose Word really matters?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


No, this is not about a gun, a car, an appliance, or any equipment. This is about an experience I had in the conference I am attending, about our tendency to have an automatic attitude. Every beginning of the conference, we go to a window where we can get the documents we will be using for the day. Together with those documents is the Daily Programme which will guide each participant regarding the order for the day.
This particular morning, I approached the window and asked for some particular documents. The conference staff went to get the documents I requested. While waiting, my mind began to wander thinking about my expectations for the day. Suddenly, a staff appeared before me and dumped two inches thick of documents in front of me. I automatically picked them up and proceeded to the Plenary area of the conference. Wanting to know the order of the day, I flipped through the pages of the top document which is the Daily Programme. After reading it, I said I would read ahead the documents for discussion for that morning. So, I got the next document, but it was also a Daily Program. I looked at the next, and the next, and the next, up to the bottom of the heap of documents. All of them were copies of the Daily Programme! I felt embarrassed. I picked the wrong set of documents. I can just imagine the surprise of the staff seeing all those programs disappearing swiftly. And I can imagine the panic I had done for the people who were in dire need of the Daily Programme! Slowly I picked the heap of documents and went back to the window for distribution of documents and humbly told the staff about the mistake. They heaved a sigh of relief knowing that the documents were back because people, as I had suspected, were already lining up and waiting impatiently for it. I learned my lesson. Do not act automatically.
Stop, look, read, and examine. At least it just happened with the conference documents. I wonder if I suddenly and automatically took something critically important or crucial? While there are many things in life that are routine or automatic, there will always be something that is new and different. There lies the beauty of life; novelty!

The Filipino Barong Makes Me Proud

In attending all the conferences of the United Nations, I wore the Filipino barong. I brought many of them primarily because it is very comfortable, light, not bulky, and formal. I never expected that it will be so popular for the foreign delegates here in the conference. I notice that wherever I pass, the barong would always make people stop for a while and look at the barong or it will make heads turn just to have one more look at it. Everyday, at least twice, I will be approached and ask what dress I am wearing or for them to confirm if it is the Filipino national dress. It made me proud. I realized now what "power dressing" means. Yes, most of the time, the man makes the dress. But the dress can also make the man! The barong definitely makes a Filipino man! I am proud of it. We must be proud to wear it.

Manila Is Still Good!

In the hotel where I am presently billeted, a family (with two daughters) from Singapore arrived to book a room for their stay in Bali. At breakfast, they were staring at me. So, I approached to meet them. After the introduction, the father said that they originally wanted to go to Manila. However, they were not able to get a booking (peak season this time of the year?) and so they settled for Bali. I inquired why they wanted to go to Manila. They had learned from the net and were told by many friends that this time is the best to visit Manila; best weather (cold but not chilly), lots of Christmas decorations (the family is Catholic), streets are flooded with lights (as shown by the many pictures they had seen), on display in malls are lots of things to buy, the mood and atmosphere is one of anticipation of something great to come,Christmas songs are played all day, the city is colorful. I was happy to know their interest in Manila. I told them, if they need help, I can assist them with information on places to go, eat, relax, and shop! They asked me when I will be back to Manila. I said on the fifteenth. They asked if they will not be a burden to me. I said it will be my pleasure. I was too happy to know that after all, Manila is a tourist haven. In spite of all the troubles and bad publicities being given to our country particularly in Manila, the center of government, entertainment, business etc., people from other countries still like and love it. As a local band song described it, "Manila, Manila. I keep coming back to Manila. Simply no place like Manila. Manila I' coming home!" To many pinoys, Manila is really home. Manila is not only a tagalog city as many locals think. It is the melting pot of the Philippines. Any place in the Philippines will find their native in Manila. I believe, Manila is a representative of the Philippines. Mabuhay Manila!

Monday, December 10, 2007

God Gave Us All Creation

In one of the side events today, one of the panelists in a side event regarding the effect of climate change to the children, commented that he heard many are saying that we inherited the earth from our fathers. He said that it is more proper to say that we borrowed it from our children. He is of course stressing the future rather than the past. While he recognizes the past, he is advocating that we must care for the earth because there will come a time when we will have to return/turnover it to our children. If we are to be responsible "borrowers", we must return the the earth in its optimum condition.

Lots of insight in that statement. But there is a deeper truth than that. One that is not only persuasive but imperative. All creation, not only the earth, was given to us by God. Unless we are able to recognize this truth and act and think base on this belief, then our solutions and discussions on the issue will be piecemeal or just at the tip of the ice berg. The soonest we arrive to the recognition and appreciation of this truth, the soonest we will arrive at a solution.

Genesis points us to our responsibility on creation. God appointed us, as the supreme creature, to manage all creation. Stewardship is what is expected of us by God. He meant to give us all creation not only to help us survive life on earth but for us to use it not for any reason but salvation alone. Any use of creation without regard to salvation is a violation of the mandate given to us by God. Creation is for salvation. Creation is for eternal life. Even our lives are not just destined for this earth. Our destiny is with God. From God we came, to God we will return. Hopefully!

Humbled By Humility

I was on my way out of the conference area when I saw one of the foreign delegates who I met earlier in the conference. We exchanged experiences of the past days especially about the negotiations. Then I ask him if I could have a picture with him for memories sake. He quickly obliged. So, I looked for someone who could take our pictures. Fortunately, I saw this unassuming man in the traditional Filipino dress, "barong". His face looked familiar but I could not particularly say where I had seen him. So I greeted him, "mabuhay". He responded in the same way. So, I made the request if he could take a picture of me and my foreign delegate friend. He humbly and gladly obliged. So he took our picture and said goodbye to my foreign friend delegate. I took the opportunity of knowing our "photographer". He showed me his I.D. and I could not believe what I saw. I know him. He was one of the high ranking military official in our country. Now a civilian, he is based in Indonesia. I was very embarrassed and I asked for an apology. He assured me that it is alright and I have nothing to worry. Then we talked about ourselves and what we are doing. He invited me to attend in the meeting of the Filipino delegation. I said I will attend. Then we bid each other goodbye, and he asked for my blessing! Very humble indeed! After that encounter, I felt humbled by his humility!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More Carbon

Still on the carbon trading being pushed by the UN as a Clean Defense Mechanism in order to combat climate change. It just dawned on me that if planting of trees will be the project used, what is the guarantee? In the first place, trees take a lot of time to grow. If a carbon credit will be awarded to a country for some trees planted, is it not true that the benefits are already being enjoyed while the offsetting tool is still not available? There must be something wrong here. What if the trees planted did not all grow? What if a calamity comes and destroyed everything? Paying it will not solve the problem. It is the absorption of the carbon at a certain time that is important. Also, there will come a time when the plating of trees could not anymore cope with the carbon emissions, so that no matter how much money a needy country can offer a host country, there are just none available.
This even make this carbon trading very questionable. There maybe other ways to carbon trade, but the bottom line is that at most, it can only neutralize but not reduce. As long as there are people who are not willing to enter a change of lifestyle, one that is environment friendly, carbon emission will continue to rise and the warming of the earth is certain to increase. The painful truth is that even if we are not sure that carbon emission is the cause, the quest to its reduction is still not serious. It is still taken for granted, much worse, taken advantage. Very sad indeed for the next generation.
It seems that our last resort is prayer. Let us appeal to our God that we will be delivered from this catastrophe. Let us plead to Him that in spite of our ways, we have hope. There are still good people whom He should regard. He knows us very well. We are His creatures. We came from Him and therefore, we know Him well and His ways.
God bless us!

Friday, December 7, 2007

God Loves Through The IC

Tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We believe that Mary, when conceived by her mother, St. Anne, was already freed from original sin. Mary was born without original sin. It is not hard to believe because from her, the Son of God, Jesus, would be born. She was the Immaculate Conception because of Jesus, the Son of God. God decided that the second person of the Trinity would humble Himself to become one like us. It was God's gesture of His love for humanity that the Incarnation happened.
The Immaculate Conception is therefore an expression of the respect of God to His Creation. Creation was worthy of His Sons' Incarnation. In the light of the event that is happening now in Bali and in how we are treating God's creation, are we fulfilling the dignity that God had bestowed on us? Are we giving the same respect and importance to it? If we observe our ways, we are far from it. Abortion is prevalent. Drugs are making people addictive and forces him to degrade himself and others. Wars bring destruction to all creation human or not, guilty or ignorant. Sickness, caused by mans promiscuity, abuse, greed and others are prevalent. Calamities caused by human abuse of nature happen in almost every part of this world. The world God gave is only one. It is the only one we've got. We have to take care of it. "We are the world and we are the children", as the song goes.
Let the feast of the Immaculate Conception make us look at ourselves and what we had contributed, should have contributed, not contributed and should not have contributed to this world. Time to account and be responsible. Time to change and be humble to accept our mistakes. Time to care and love our world the way God loved us!
Happy feast Of God's Respect to Creation!

The Irony In Bali

We are all aware of the important event that is happening in Bali, Indonesia. The United Nation Framework on Climate Change is staging its CoP 13 meeting hoping to finalize its decisions on the implementation of the 1997 ratified Kyoto Protocol. Beginning next year, each signatory country would make actions that will help them fulfill their target percentage of emission to the atmosphere. Climate Change and Global Warming had given a loud alarm to all concerned that it had started its devastation and is need of a prompt and radical response if it is to be delayed, halted or reversed. Anything that would reduce carbon emission is welcome and should be sought. The basic element of this crisis is the use of fossil fuel. There are other sources of heat-adding gases, but fossil fuel contributes the largest share. We know that the use of fossil fuel (oil, gasoline, gas etc.) had been the source of almost all activities in the modern world. Other sources of energy (wind, sun, geothermal, biomass, etc.) had taken a minor role if not completely neglected. The question is: If the members of the UN are really serious about this, then they must live and operate by example. Are they?

The conference is presently being held in a first class hotel in Nusa Dua. All rooms are fully air conditioned. All conference rooms, including the make shift meeting rooms are air-conditioned. Delegates are being brought from different parts of the Nusa Dua area to the Kuta area using air conditioned tourist and shuttle buses. Water dispensers are available in significant areas using plastic containers and disposable paper cups. The documents are produced using first class white papers. Many find their way in the trash can. Of course, the restrooms are to be used too. Gallons of water are wasted for every flush of the toilet, washing of hands, and paper towels to dry the hands.In order to supply the electrical equipments like LCD's, cameras, and (thousands) of computers, sockets are available around the convention area especially in the conference rooms and working areas. During the day, i notice that the lights in almost all rooms and open spaces are on! And they are not the energy saving lights but powerful spot lights. The NGO's and IGO's who are supposed to be examples of energy saving are also guilty by wasting so much paper(most of which are high quality) in their program and ad materials. The BICC-Westin or is it the UN (?), placed a plastic garbage bin in strategic places in order to encourage segregation. But, examining the bins will reveal that many are not following it. It gives one the idea that the delegates are the wrong people for this convention. Another effort was the availability of bikes for free use for those who would prefer to go around from meeting place to other events using the two-wheeled vehicle. But other than that, there seems to be none anymore. So, can anyone make a computation of the amount of carbon that will be emitted more or less by the conference which, according to estimate is being attended by about 12,000 people?

We live what we teach. We practice what we advocate. This seems to be lost in the busy atmosphere of the conference. It seemed as if, nothing is final yet and therefore there are no obligations. It seemed that the rules and commitment had not been made and therefore, we may not begin yet. The President, who is the Minister of Environment of Indonesia reasoned that the carbon emission of the whole conference will be offset by the planting of 4,500 hectares of trees in different parts of Indonesia. It is an example of the carbon trading principle. By a certain calculation, the amount of carbon that will be absorbed by those trees are more than enough to cover for the carbon that will be emitted by the conference. That announcement brought some hands uniting in praise. It at least made a lot less guilty.

It would have been more to the point if the conference was held in a cool but not air conditioned place. I am sure, there are places in Bali or other part of Indonesia that can fulfill that requirement. It could have been planned that activities had been finalized and participants were given a kit so that less papers were used. It would have been better if the traditional clay jars were used to supply water. It could have been better if only used rooms were lighted and other places were given just enough light to work on. I mean, there are very good thinkers and strategists in the UN body who could have thought of ways in order to stage the conference successfully in terms of policy results at the same time giving a good example on how to do things the concerned way. As a result, we missed the point in the conference. We sent the wrong signal to the members. Or was it the signal that the UN really wants to show? That this is about neutralization or trading and not really reduction?

An author of a book made a very good observation regarding the advocacy on climate change and global warming. He said that the first violators of the environment and the last to do something about concretely are the advocates themselves!

Well, maybe not absolutely, but he has a point. And it was proven in no less than the very advocacy of all advocacies, the Bali Conference!

God Or Fuel?

Am smiling while writing this reflection. If the choice between food and fuel is a no brainer, this one should have never been asked at all. But, in my opinion, it is a question that must be asked while attending the Bali UN Conference on Climate Change. In all of the discussions, I have not heard of God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, or any deity being mentioned or referred to at all! Strange! God seems to be left out, neglected or ignored in the conference. I can not understand why a meeting on Climate Change and Global Warming which is a concern on Creation, which is definitely attributed to the Creator who is God (in whatever name He may be regarded), could go on and arrive at a decision when the belief in God has no say.
Because as I see it, the bottom line of the issue is regard for God who is the author of creation. If we are to talk about the care of creation and its use, God is the best source of enlightenment! For a believer, any believer for that matter, his belief in his creator determines his life and his relationship to other creatures. The basis in the meetings should include, if not shift to moral grounds rather than economic and political. If we believe that creation is a gift from our creator and the gift has a responsibility (stewardship), then the "road map" for a good response to the issue of climate change and global warming would be well founded and clear. Once vested interest and micro-thinking comes in, what we can have is a mere "piecemeal" or "tip of the ice berg" solution.
It is about God, stupid!

Food Or Fuel?

Can you imagine a time when you will be asked or forced to make a choice between having food or fuel? Well, it will be good if you will be asked at all! The present trend in the response to the reduction of carbon emissions through the use of fuels obtained from crops with high prospective fuel content has been gaining a lot of ground especially among developed nations. The sprint for reduction and mitigation of carbon emissions had started. By 2008, signatories of the Kyoto Protocol which had assigned percentage carbon reductions, need to comply or else they will face legal consequences before the United Nations.
Among the ways in which carbon emissions will be reduced is the shift and/or introduction of bio-fuel, a gas produced from crops. It is known to have very low carbon emission after combustion. However, the question now lies in the amount of crops needed to produce the fuel. This will involve vast amount of land, cropping effect on the land due to the intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and other chemical additives, farming methods such as crop rotation and fallowing, effect on the community because of the chemical use to the crops and land, and local food products which may compete with the bio-fuel crop. There is also the question of where will we get the land? As was pointed out previously, there is a possibility of reducing the land use for food crop in favor of bio-fuel crop. There is the possibility of using even declared heritage or national park lands. Proponents of this method say that there are vast unused lands all over the world. If people would not take advantage of these lands for food purposes, we might as well use them for bio-fuel. This seems to hold water.Yes, these lands maybe used but not with abandon. There are affects, as mentioned above which must be avoided. Otherwise, the land, and we are talking about millions of hectares, may be left useless after a certain time. Desertification is also a possibility that must not be left out. Extreme care and strict supervision should be made. This means that we are not really against the production and use of bio-fuel. Anything that this world could offer to make life easier and comfortable is welcome. But when it begins to destroy especially on the long term basis, it should be abandoned and not even given a chance.

Here comes in the issue of food security. This is very much evident in the case of developing countries who are already experiencing difficulties even to make both end meet. The entrance of bio-fuel threatens extremely their condition and therefore makes the situation more volatile and delicate. If and when the viability of planting bio-fuel crops had been established, the food security of those affected should be addressed. They could not be left hungry or dying for the sake of the production of fuel.

It is really unfortunate that the choice would even come up. It should be an easy choice. But given the circumstances, some countries seem to make it possible and see it as not immoral at all. When the issue becomes solely economical, these things are either set aside or lightly considered. The good news is that we may not face that situation for we are still coping well at present. But the future is not guaranteed. It maybe a choice we would leave for the next generation. Wow! What a heritage of this generation to the next! Am not proud! I hope you too!

Mammon In Carbon?

In order to respond to the mandate of the Kyoto Protocol for countries to reduce or make a cap on their carbon emissions, the idea of carbon trading came up. The principle is that a country who can not (this is very subjective) reduce their carbon emission may ask another country who has reduced its carbon emission to share it. They can do this either by joining their carbon emission requirements and production. The seeking country can also fund a program approved by the UN through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in order to take the credit and be allowed to exceed knowing that it was offset by the CDM funding they had done. In the process, they feel less guilty because they know that even if they are exceeding, they had made actions to offset it. The most common and attractive way used here is to plant trees in thousands of hectares of land.

This is seen by many as a lot of bull! There are many questions to it. How do we measure how much carbon was emitted and how much carbon was taken in by the trees? It does not adhere to the purpose of reduction but merely neutralization (which is still doubtful). It lacks force and sincerity in the sense that there is no real move to change the way of life but merely pay for it. (And in the long run, what is money anyway? It can not save us if nature is devastated!). How sure are we that it can not be a source of corruption through unfounded and inaccurate data? The land use will be threatened; food for carbon credit? preserved areas for carbon? In other words, there is no guarantee and more importantly, not a solution for its aim is merely to neutralize and not to reduce. It is back to "business as usual" and not a "change in way of life". It is back to the original threat of extinction and not to the knowledge that it had been delayed, stopped or reversed.

The bad news is that it is becoming to be the road being taken by the Bali Conference thanks to the G8 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Russia). Along the "road", those who will be abused, misused and confused are the rest of the world.

God help us!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Reduce Or Spare Use, And Not Confuse

Finally, the United Nations came to the conclusion that Global Warming and Climate Change are caused by human activity primarily the emission of CO2 in the atmosphere. This truth will bring about a catasthropic consequence to the whole world if we will not act immediately. The time clock of destruction had been ticking and humankind might not just be able to address it in time. The questions is; is it still manageable or inevitable? There are different opinions to it but what is certain is that it will happen but as to the degree, no one knows. It can be a simple weather change or swift destruction. The range is to wide that it is better to focus our effort in bracing for it as much as we can and doing something to stop if not reverse it.

The present conference had decided on four building blocks to address it; adaptation, mitigation, technology, and financing. These pave the way for the emergence of lots of ways to address CC; carbon trading, carbon capture, reducing emission by deforestation and degradation etc. What is happening is that methods are being placed to cure the crisis but not to prevent them. The nature of the problem necessitates both a curative and preventive approach. Reduction and Mitigation will help, but Reduction is still the best if not the total eradication of the emission.

The Kyoto Protocol had assigned a certain limit of carbon emission of every country per time.However, it also provided the possibility of maintaining their regular emission if they will trade their carbon emission with the carbon capacity of another nation. They could either have a joint capacity or they will credit it to them in exchange for whatever the country gaining carbon credit prefers. As it is, it does not solve the proble, but only found a way to continuosly emit carbonwith others trying to neutralize it. I believe this missed the idea or underestimates the point in the CC issue.The truth is, we have too much carbon and therefore, we stop adding to it and be relentless in reducing it. We all have to sacrifice for our welfare and, especially the next generation. There is not other way. No carbon is the only way!

Either They Do Not Know Or They Know And Just Do not Care!

Attending the present United Nation Framework Conference On Climate Change may be an enviable experience but it can be frustrating and discontentment. As a delegate of the Holy See, which is an observer state of the UN, I had been witnessed to the proceedings of the UN regarding Global Warming and Climate Change. After four days, one can not help but be hopeful that those who will be around the negotiating table will put the protection and care of the present and especially the next generation as foremost and non-negotiable. This is because, there is a tendency to use and base the discussions of the solutions of this critical issue on economics and politics. This is a time to set aside personal concerns but focus on the survival of the world against humanity. As one delegate had mentioned, up to when will the issue be evaluated? Why are some delaying tactics and unnecessary things are being thrown in the issue? The issue is simple, the world could not anymore tolerate an increase in temperature higher than 2 degrees centigrade. Some even thinks it is less than two degrees. And, the clock is ticking quickly very near to it. Meantime, so much time, effort, and money are being spent in seemingly unnecessary things. Some developing countries seem to be not so keen on solving it. I really hope we will finally act decisively on this matter after this conference. Another round of talks would just veer us away from the task at hand. Sometimes it makes me think; Do they rally know what is happening? Or they just do not care? Or maybe, I do not know everything? God help us!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Discipline, When Are We Going To Have It?

We know what is right and what is wrong. Why are we doing the wrong and neglect the right? We know what will be good and what will be bad and yet we set aside the good and attend to the bad. Lots of things had been done in order to address it, but no success. Lately, I heard a government official trying to accommodate those who are violating by adjusting to their behavior. This is not a bad approach, but in the end, it is still about discipline. If it comes to a point when the new accommodating scheme is not effective anymore, another accommodation will be offered. Up to when will the accommodation be? So, it boils down to discipline.
Discipline will tell the difference and will remove all obstacles. Discipline saves a lot of time, effort, and even money. We all know it. We all agree to it. But why is it not being done? Most probably it is because we expect the other to start first. The problem with this thinking is that everybody expects everybody. Therefore, discipline will never get off its foot. But, if we decide to start with ourself, change will happen right there instantly. So, the best is really to admit to oneself that discipline will only take into effect if we begin with ourselves. So, let us begin with our selves. I will begin.....

Another Advent

Another Advent had come. It means another Christmas being anticipated. In our lifetime, so many advents and Christmasses had already come. In those advents and Christmasses, how many had been really a coming of the Lord in out lives? How many times had we vowed to renew our lives and make Jesus as our King? When that day comes, judgment day, will He find us in the right disposition? Let us be glad that we have another advent to celebrate. Let us be glad that we are given another opportunity to prepare. We will be very very glad if we will take advantage of the opportunity! Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord. Open your hearts, hear His words, and follow His will!

The Road To Bali

The title is actually the description for the upcoming United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change that will be held in Bali, Indonesia, beginning tomorrow up ti the 14th of December. The conference will seek to make a final decision on what the 180 countries strong United Nation would do regarding the impending warming of the globe that will lead to many disasters not mentioning the extinction of the present generation.
I have my own road to Bali experience. As early as October, I had been trying to find an accreditation to attend the conference because I believe in the critical importance of the conference. I was actually granted accreditation by the Maryknoll Fathers but I encountered a problem on flight and lodging accommodations. About two weeks before the conference, I decided not to go anymore. But, three days before, I received a call from the secretary of the Nuncio here in the Philippines telling me that I had been designated as part of the delegation of the Holy See in the conference and that I was to coordinate with the Nunciature in Indonesia. The Nunciature in Indonesia, Msgr. Andrew and His Excellency Leopoldo Girelli, informed me that they will take care of the flight from Jakarta to Bali and back together with the accommodation. So, to Bali, I have to go!
It was a learning experience. I saw it as the hand of God leading me in His own way. I hope and pray that my presence in the conference as the representative of the Catholic Church will propagate God's intentions and will regarding this beautiful world that He had created!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Now Or Never? On Seizing Opportunities

As the priest-coordinator of the Ecology Desk of the Archdiocese of Manila, I became very much involved in knowing and assessing the condition of the environment not only in Metro Manila but also in other parts of the world. The issue of climate change and global warming was not particular to any nation but to every nation. It was a concern of all. My position and interest helped me discover that the world was already approaching its tipping point for an ecological disaster. Global warming had already taken place and had been greatly affecting world climate.

Moved by the urgency of the situation, my staff together with some concerned persons planned and held a climate change conference for the archdiocese. The conference was attended mainly by representatives from parishes in Manila and some from other parts of the country especially those that were affected. It was a successful conference in the sense that the participants vowed to create an ecological ministry in their own places to propagate the advocacy. It was nice to know that many are concerned and ready to act to address the situation. This led me to strive to learn more about the issue. Through surfing in the net, I discovered that there had already been so many conferences and meetings about it. Practically, the whole world is already at it. One important conference coming is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which will be held in Bali, Indonesia on December 3 to 14. Upon knowing it, I decided that I should go. To make the long story short, I was able to get an accreditation from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who are official observers of the UN.

Unfortunately, because of the importance of the event, the flights and accommodations in Bali suddenly became difficult. About ten thousand delegates were expected to attend.. I tried so hard to get my flight and accommodations set, but in vain. It was discernment time for me. There might not be another chance like this. At the same time, I was faced with a lot of things as pastor of a parish that was preparing for the Advent and Christmas season. In view of these significant situations, I decided not to go. Was it a case of not seizing the opportunity? Maybe. Might be. I will never know.

Early this morning, I was watching a movie entitled, "Shadows In The Sun". It was the story of a young writer from London sent by his editor to encourage a literary titan to write again. The literary titan kept on rejecting his invitations but the young writer would not give up. At one point, he was challenged by the literary titan that he would write again and sign a contract if the young writer will kiss his ass! The young writer was taken aback by the challenge. He declined it. He was chided by the literary titan that it was an opportunity missed. Less than a second of "shame" could have ended his difficulty. On second thought, the young writer finally agreed. The literary titan however told him that he already had his chance and the offer had expired! It was a case of missed opportunity. The other part of the movie also dealt with the issue. It gives a lesson on the importance of the "now" and the courage to seize it.

But, I am glad that there was one opportunity in my life that I did not miss. That was when God called me to become one of His priests. It was not an easy decision, but He guided me and inspired me to say "Yes". It was very similar to the invitation to Mary to become the mother of God. It was a case when you just have to trust God in spite of the difficult challenges given by the situation. Opportunities missed are opportunities lost. How we wish we could seize every opportunity. But our limitations as human beings always challenges our determination and faith. We just hope we will have the will to make decisions, whether missing or seizing, based on our faith in God. In that way, all decisions will be worthy, responsible, and definite. I am glad, I did not miss this one on my vocation.
(Note: As it happened, I was still able to the Conference. Whereas at this time things were not falling into place, three days before the event, everything fell into place.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It Is The Dash That Counts!

Notice the dash that is placed in between dates? For example, 1867 - 1905, may mean born in 1867 and died in 1905. The symbol in between is the "dash". What about the dash? Well, it is actually the most important thing in reality. Yes, we mark the day when one is born into the world. We also mark the day when one leaves the world. But the dash says everything about what happened in between. It is the symbol of how the person had lived his life since he was born and until he died. Interesting, but it seems to be the most unnoticed thing in the picture. Yet, it is what really counts in a person's life. So, the next time you see these dates, think about the dash, because it will help you appreciate the two dates sandwiching it!
Or better, reflect on the meaning of your own dash when your epitaph is finally made.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We Are Near Our End.

The penultimate week of the Church liturgical year reads the Gospel about the end time. In spite of the clear statement from the Lord Jesus that neither He nor the angels know when that day would be, except the Father, many had tried, seriously, as a hobby, or to take advantage, of the situation. Since time immemorial, there had already been about 220 known predictions as to when it will happen. Lately, most of the predictions had been more specific. But all of the predictions were proven wrong. Otherwise, we will not be all here anymore.

In the Gospels and even in all Scriptures, the Lord insists on preparation. To ask when judgment day will happen is a wrong question. We can only surmise that God preferred it that way because of our tendency to procrastinate things. Also, because of the chaos that will happen when the time is near. But most of all, it is because He wanted that we love Him always.

Judgment Day, End Time, End of the World, however it is called or referred to, is a fact and a truth. It is certain to happen. But as to when and how, we do not know. They are not the right questions. What is important is we know it is coming and we are prepared for it. There is no substitute for a well prepared life. In fact, the most prepared life is the best and perfectly lived life! We must be obessessed with our relationship with God and not when it will end. So that when it comes, we can welcome it with full anticipation.

But there is a clear and present danger in the world today. The threat of global warming and climate change is now here. There are now meetings being spearheaded by the United Nations in order to mitigate and adapt to the new situation brought about by this environmental crisis. If leading countries will not cooperate and respond, we might just beat God to the destruction of this world, the only one we got!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

God Will Not Forsake

Recently, I came to know about the sad news of a most probable "pregnancy in futility" of a friend. Twenty-two weeks in her pregnancy, she came to know that the child in her womb was not developing its organs and there was an absence of water in the body. Series of tests and consultations and second opinions brought the news that the baby only lives while inside the body of its mother's womb. Once born, it would die. Should she still bear carrying the baby through its birth or "therapeutically" abort it? It was a difficult case. It was also a moral case. I communicated to the couple that what is inside her womb is already a human being. Therefore, anything done to it would be considered abortion, even if it as "therapeutic". Besides, if it is forcefully and brutally taken out, there is nothing therapeutic about it. Rather it was a case of euthanasia, which, based on our faith, is immoral and gravely sinful. Lately, I came to know that the couple had been led to a decision to go on with the pregnancy and let God decide on the fate of the baby.
Human knowledge maybe considered great and had reached many heights. But compared to the foolishness of God, it is nothing. Yes, we must be guided by our knowledge. They are God given. But there must always be room for God. God is always here with us. That is why He named His Son "Emmanuel" meaning "God with us.". That is why He gave His only Son that we may gain eternal life. Jesus died when we were still sinners. It provides the truth that we are not really worthy of His death. But because God so love the world, even His Son, He is willing to give.
Therefore, in moments of longing for His presence specially in difficult situations, never never entertain the thought that God had forsaken us. In fact, He is more present. We just have to recognize His abiding presence.
God bless you my couple-friend. Do not ever forget that God is always with us. And in moments like what you have, He never forsakes. Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sad, Sad, Sad

I was listening to the senate probe on the wiretapping issue when the testimony of a certain Mr. Remo struck me. He shared that he was one of those who arranged for the press conference of Atty. Samuel Ong. Just to give a brief background, Atty. Ong was in possession of a tape recording of the conversation of Pres. Arroyo with then Comelec Commissioner Garciliano. The tape was regarded as a devastating and solid evidence to prove that Pres. Arroyo cheated in the last elections. Before the press conference, the "group" (Atty. Ong, Sgt. Doble etc. inc. Mr. Remo) found refuge in Bahay-Pari which is a building the San Carlos Seminary Pastoral Formation Complex in Guadalupe, Makati City. Bishop Ted Bacani, bishop emeritus of the diocese of Novaliches, was responsible for their stay in the building. Mr. Remo claimed that they were welcomed in the building because food was prepared for them. However, the next day, in spite of the clear and present danger to the lives of would be "whistle blowers" Atty. Samuel Ong and Sgt. Vidal Doble, A Catholic bishop came and told them to get out of the complex. The bishop, according to him even added, "Wala kaming pakialam kung ano man ang mangyari sa inyo!" (We don't care what ever happens to you!") Mr. Remo commented that since then he had stopped going to church and had renounced his Catholic faith. He could not stomach the way the bishop (Church) treated them.
This is really sad. The "man of the cloth" is responsible for the lost of faith and renunciation of a faithful? Very ironic! As far as I am concerned, I would withhold judgment on the bishop or the church. Certainly, the context of the situation matters a lot. What were said and what happened before the statement are very important in order to fully understand the import of the statement. Also, what are the reasons of the church why she would urgently and "harshly" kick out the group at that time?
Unfortunately, Mr. Remo was deeply pained by what he saw and heard. His image of a pastor was shattered to the point that publicly, he renounced his faith. (This has hard consequences for Mr. Remo as far as the Church is concerned.) His statements , according to the laws of the church, subject him to the examination of his membership in the Catholic Church. My sincere hope is that it is temporary. As one senator in that hearing said, the mistake (if it was really one) of one does not speak of the whole. Mr. Remo though had a point when he said that he could not accept a faith that has such kind of pastor.
Faith has a personal dimension. It is voluntary and is decided by the person. The least we could do is to respect the response of Mr. Remo. But we must be reminded that the bishop is not the church even if the bishop acted for the church (without judging, I reiterate, the action of the bishop). Will the faith bring him to the promised destiny? Are the contents of the faith true? Are these truths from the Lord Jesus? If the answers to the questions are in the affirmative, then Mr. Remo has to reconsider his renunciation. What matters is the faith he belongs to and not merely on the mistakes or misbehavior's of the members. Needless to say, the priests, bishops and leaders of the church are not perfect people. This is not to justify the mistakes made but to remind us of the weakness and limitation of the members of the Church. Mr. Remo seems to be staking so much for so little.
In any case, what happened was very saddening.Let us hope that this will not be a standard or pattern for all Catholic Christians. Also, this serves as a reminder to pastors that they should give extreme care in dealing with the faithful. They should take great consideration of the possible misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the faithful. We must be greatful that God is a forgiving God. He is always willing to welcome those who were astray. We must do the same!

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Biofuel, We are Bound To Lose More

No doubt that the use of carbon (fossil) fuel should be diminished if not fully controlled in the future. The world is now in a race to find the best alternative for it. Here, in our country, there are really so many we can choose from or we can all use; e.g. solar energy, wind power, hydroelectric power, bio-gas, etc. The recent one and seemingly very popular is bio-fuel. It makes use of food products like soybean and corn to produce an alternative fuel.

But it is not without a "catch". While it is true that we will be able to produce a good quality and eco-friendly fuel, there are questionable consequences to it. One is that it will need great amounts of biofuel just to produce a few liters of biofuel. Because we need a great amount of raw materials, we need more land allotted for it. There will come a time when food would be given up for fuel!
Another is the use of more land for only one purpose. Include here the use of fertilizers and other chemicals that would destroy the land. The land would really be subjected to too much processes and may be abused to inutility!
Our country had just recently made an agreement with China (and God knows to who else?) allowing them to use some of our lands for bio fuel production. We just hope that extreme precautions and care are placed so that we will not be left holding the bag in the end.
Granted that we will be able to produce much bio fuel from food products. Are the fuels we will be able to produce much much greater than the energy we had used to produce them? Was this studied? What were the results?
In the end, the question is: is it worth it? My certain answer is, "No!"

The Height Of Greediness!

The height of greediness? Sometimes I am doub if greediness really has a height. The fact that it is greediness, it should have no height! It is because to be greedy means never to be satisfied. In any case, a measure of the greed must be established if only to show its seriousness.

The North Arctic, according to the new issue of Time magazine had been determined to have thinned if not melted its ice. A route from North Canada to Asia via the Pacific was previously impassable by ships due to the presence of thick glaciers. But lately, these ice glaciers are not present anymore. This, in spite of the fact that the melting season is not done yet. For those who are worried about global warming and climate change, this new phenomenon of the ice melting considerably is a grave threat and therefore needed attention and urgent response. The ice glaciers must be protected. But the powerful nations have a different idea. Ecological changes and threats are not enough for them to stop going to the Arctic in order to do some explorations for oil or other possible resources. For them, it is an opportunity to acquire and conquer potential riches. Each country had planted their flag or identification thereby sending the message that they are present and should not be disturbed. In a way, they are saying to others to "back off!" This is very alarming and saddening. If more oil will be found there, a double whammy will occur. One, the thinning of the ice will result to a lot of ecological problems. Second, the finding of oil means more carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere. Greed is prevailing over safety. Greed is prevailing over the care for the earth, the only one we've got. People act as if they do not live in this planet! It will be good to see the height to which this greediness would reach its summit! Will I live to see it? He he dreaming huh?

Money For God?

Our title seems like a no brainer. But in reality, it always happen. It is interesting how man had developed since time immemorial. Man had created a powerful instrument in "money". Money represents one's riches, power, capacity etc. Only rivalled by "time", money ranks the highest in most human being's life.

Our regard for money is almost boundless. No, it is not true that it is the root of all evil. It is the love of it or wrong use of it that makes it evil. By itself, money is nothing. When used well, according to the will of our Creator, it can bring us to salvation. But when used badly, it can bring us to damnation.

With money, we can buy different things for comfort like a house, a car, a cellphone, a watch etc. We can use money to get somebody or even marry somebody. With money comes a lot of power, prestige and fame. In order to have more money, weare willing to make sacrifices. We sacrifice our health for money. Ulcers, hyper tensions, worries are worth the money! Professionals are willing to sacrifice their principles for money. Doctors would recommend procedures or medicines that are not necessary for a rich willing patient for greater professional fees. A lawyer is willing to defend or even free a guilty client for a fat legal fee. Government officials are willing to compromise their positions in exchange for money. Consciences are divided in order to accommodate an indecent proposal in exchange for money. Some are willing to kill and be killed for money. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The question of faith is this; for all of these sacrifices and offering of time and person to acquire money, are we willing to do the same for God? Are we willing to sacrifice our lives for love and faith in God? Are we willing to spend time for God the way we spend time to earn more money? Can God be as important as our regard for money? The choice is not really that easy after all.
No, it does not mean that we do not strive to earn money. Nor do we mean that money is evil. As I have said, it is the use of it that matters. The point is; does money serve us or do we serve it? Is it our slave or are we enslaved by it? In the Christian faith, God should have no rival.God is a jealous God. The first commandment is very clear, "You shall have no other God than Me!". God is first, everything comes second. When God is compromised, everything goes wrong! Yes, it should be God, but it must show in our lives. Our way of life must be guided by it. "You can not serve both God and mammon." One has to give way. The choice is ours!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

All Right Sir!

"All Right Sir!", is a cadet salutation that tells a PMAmistah” (classmate) that what a fellow cadet is saying is the absolute truth. The PMA honor code forbids cadets from lying, cheating or stealing, and does not approve of a cadet or an alumnus who tolerates violators. This is a very beautiful "code" especially among men whom we entrust our security. But are they being followed essentially? Who would know? How would we know? I am sure that there are those who submit to it wholeheartedly. But I am worried about those who do not. Twice, the situation had occurred in a public forum in our senate. Twice, "All right Sir!" had been delivered. Both situations involved retired generals who were graduates of the PMA. In the last, the general was reminded that it is between him and God, him and the Filipino people, him and his family, him and the senate, and him and his conscience. I sincerely hope and pray to God that it is really alright, sir! Otherwise, the "code" had been corrupted and abused. Where would that leave the cadets? Where would that leave the Ayer's? It is now in the hands of the Ayer's themselves.


Many today, are very worried about the explosion of population. But, this is really more of a myth than a reality. A city dweller can easily be deceived of its reality because of what he sees and experienced. In the city, one can easily see so many people at different times of day. In the city, one can easily experience the difficulty of obtaining services or goods due to their scarcity or high cost. But that is only in the city. Outside the city, in the outskirts, these are less seen and experienced. The difficulty is more of the availability and obtain ability of these services or goods.

First, I believe that the world will never be small for everybody even without population control. Second, the world is so full of potential that it can sustain any food or other life sustenance's we will need in our lifetime. I believe this because of my faith in God. God is not that stupid that He would allow us to pro-create and not allow provisions for it. Proof to this is the "dumping" method countries and companies are doing.
The method of dumping is the wasting or throwing of goods/foods in order to maintain the supply in the market. There is an economic principle that states, " More supply, less demand. More demand, less supply." In connection with this, "More supply, lower. Less supply, higher cost." That is why if we have more produce, the prevailing price will be lower and it might result to the lost for the producers. The solution there would be to "dump" the excess products, thereby maintaining the scarcity of the supply and making the cost higher. In other words, for the sake of cost, countries and companies are willing to "dump".
This is morally wrong. As the saying goes, "Many are dying hungry in this world!" The painful truth about is that they are dying not because there is no food, but because it is not made available. There are places when there is too much food to the point that they are either given to animals or thrown away. And there are places when there is scarcity of food that they cost very high and people are dying!
Rather, let us dump our greed, Let us dump our lack of concern. Let us dump our selfishness. And let us dump our divisions. We are not only citizens of our country, but more importantly, we are citizens of this world.

What Do We Need To Change?

No doubt, all of us recognize the need to change. Not only is our country is in a really bad condition, but the fate of the faithful is very much wanting. We are wanting in Christian values. We are wanting in discipline. We are wanting in the sense of sin. We are wanting in inspiration. We are wanting in enthusiasm. We are wanting in concern. We can go on and on and we can name as many things as we can. What do we need to change? What would it take us to finally make a serious response to our situation? What should happen in order for us to stop what we are doing and instead respond to the more urgent need for change?
Honestly, I do not want to speculate an answer. For me, we do not have to wait for something to happen. What is happening right now is enough for us to pause and think of ways to act on the concern at hand. Rather than arguing about what or why all of these are happening, we must try to find ways to address them and, beggingly, act on these ways. My fear is that when all of these had mothballed to a great degree, there is nothing more we could do. All we could do is to just stare at the devastation that is slowly coming towards us. Because, nothing can be done, nothing can stop them.
As a believer, my fear is salvific rather than secular in nature. While it is true that the secular and the sacred are very much related and intertwined, the concern on the sacred gives a better perspective and basis for change. The eternal inspires and motivates more than the temporal. Whatever happens to this world maybe hard to reverse. But what happens to my soul, my fate, may still be addressed. The change should therefore begin with the hearts of men more than the hurts of men. There must be a change in men than a change of men.
Let us therefore begin change. And let us begin with ourselves!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Human Beings Or Animals?

Not once had I heard a statement about some people preferring to take care of animals/pets over fellow human beings. They claim that these animals/pets give them joy and less problems. While a fellow human being, whether a friend, relative, or a beggar, would give more complications. On a certain level, it is true. It is because human beings think and have preferences and wants. Many would of course prefer not to be contradicted or challenged. Most animals, especially trained ones would post no problems on its master. A human being is different because he can think, analyze, understand and make decisions on his own. Therefore, it is hard for him to have a master. Human beings usually relate on equal footing and recognizes a master on a limited level.
But the question of the human being as not only body but also a soul can not be neglected or forgotten. It determines the greatest, if not incomparable, difference from animals and other creatures. This is the reason why as far as God is concerned, every human being is precious. No human being is sacrificed or left. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for all! And remember, when He died for all, we were still sinners!
In other words, no matter what, human beings are much much more important over other creatures. The worst human being is better than the best animal or other creatures. Whatever we do for any human beings has relevance on our salvation while to other creatures, the most it will give is relevance to life here on earth.

Man Or Animals?

Not once had I heard a statement about some people preferring animals over fellow human beings. I had seen so many women with dogs or cats giving the best of care to them. I even saw one kissing her pet cat on the lips! I believe these pets are being fed well, given as much comfort as possible, provided with health care and other available ways to better treat them. I am sure many had sen it as a very good gesture. Extending love to animals is really a tribute man.
However, placing this side by side with how many people/men/women are dying of hunger, wanting of health care, working very hard to earn a some money, physically tortured and even killed brutally, and victims of injustice, one would think whether we are truly loving and caring. Why are animals cared and loved more than men and women who are in need? Are animals more important than men? Maybe to some or on some valid grounds. But if we are to look at it in the ultimate and their essences, human beings are way way more important than any animal in the world. Human beings have souls. They are God's greatest creation. Animals were made in the service of men. Men are their masters. Any master is always greater and more important than any servant or, in this case, any animal. You may dress up, clean, groom, and make them fragrant, but they would never never be at par with the status of man. While some men act like animals at times, nevertheless, human beings are still supreme over them
Before God, who do you say is more important, man or animal?

Are You Precious?

We can not help but ask why some people commit suicide? Or why some people look so lowly of themselves. In most cases, the standard is how much money, power, fame, or beauty they possess. The world had set these as the standards for an important and meaningful life. This situation is heartbreaking and depressing for a Christian. In the eyes of the Christian faith, human beings are very precious to God.

1. When God created everything, man was created last. Not because it was an afterthought, but to show his importance. When God created the trees, animals, seas, rivers, mountains, clouds, light etc, He said afterwards that it was good. But after He created man, He said, "Very good!".
2. When man was created, He made man different and above all creation. Man was created in the image and likeness of God. Man was given a soul so that he is in need of salvation. He was given charge of all creation. He became mans partner in the care for creation.
3. A human being is formed by the union of the egg cell from a woman and a sperm from a man. But we know that a woman only produces one egg at a time and the man offers thousands of sperms. As God meant it to be, only one sperm would get to unite with the lone egg cell. The other sperms would die. It is therefore very possible that we would not have been born. But it was God who chose us. We are preferred among others who could have been born instead of us.
4. Much more, even if we sin, God is willing to welcome as back if we repent. He accepted back the adulterous woman. He entrusted to Peter the Church even if Peter denied Him three times. Magdalene, a prostitute became on of His disciples. And Paul,a blasphemer and arrogant Jew who and killed many Christians became an apostle. And many more!

It is easy to make decisions for our life. But we have to be reminded that the life we have received is a gift. It has a purpose. Out of gratitude, the least we could do is to live it in accordance with our Creator. Let us give importance to our lives. Let us give importance to the lives of others.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Divine Justice

Are you suffering right now? Are you undergoing a heavy challenge? Are you feeling pain inspite of trying to be an obedient child of God? Do you cry for justice?

The good news is that justice will happen. The truth of eternal life proves it. We believe that life changes. But it does not end. It is a time to face God. That day would come anytime, anywhere and therefore, we must be prepared for it. Also, we will all have to account for our lives. There, divine justice will prevail. Each of us will be measured and judged not by man or any other standard but by God's. This is our consolation. This is our hope.

Thus, in difficult but spiritually and salvifically necessary situations, we have reasons to endure, sustain, suffer, or even die. The hope that we have drives us to achieve our purpose to the end without being derailed or stopped though not unafraid of pain, suffering, or death. As. St. Paul says, who can separate us from God; poverty? sorrow? oppression?hunger? or death?.Nothing, nothing could and should separate us from Christ. All of these are because we have a God who is just. His Kingdom, in the end, will prevail. And those who persist in their faith will gain eternal life.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Greed Is A Question Of Faith

Why would someone who already has a lot of money would still steal? Why would someone who is already powerful would still assert even to a powerless one? Why would somebody who is already famous would still seek attention? Is it because money, or power, or fame are evil as some would reason out? Does it mean that if there is no more money, power, or fame, their attitude will be gone? I do not think so. Our Lord does not think so either.
What guarantees life are not our possessions. Even if we gain the whole world, life may still be wanting. That is why He advices us to fight all kinds of greed. Greed is in reality an attitude towards something or someone. When we put our life on that something or someone, we are a victim of greed.
Greed can be understood in another perspective. It is noticeable and very probable that one is greedy because of lack of belief in life after death. We tend to grab what we can, when we can and however we can and hold on to it hard under greed. If we see life as only for this earth, then we have a reason to be behaving that way. But if we believe in life after death, everything could be let go. Everything will only serve for the purpose of the next life. We do not rest, eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will die, but we live through all the world for after death, there is a next life. We are not afraid not to have or lose everything in the world, for the ultimate possession is in the next life. If the Lord will allow me, there is one greed that we must have; that is greed for God. Greed for Good. Greed for Love. But the statements are contradictory. Greed is an evil attitude. Its reverse is Contentment. Contentment is full trust in God. Contentment is respect for others. Contentment is being ready to lose the world to gain one's soul.
Therefore, if one believes in God, greed has no place in his heart, rather, love!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rare Opportunity

Those who attended the dedication of our church was given that rare opportunity to kiss the altar.
When the priest approaches the altar, the very first thing he does is kiss the altar. In keeping with an ancient tradition, kissing an object shows a reverence for what or whom it represents. The altar symbolizes Christ; it is also the place where the sacrifice of Calvary takes place anew. So in kissing the altar, the priest greets his friend and Lord, for whom he has given over his life and for whose service he has been ordained. In the same way, each one of those present who kisses the altar regards Jesus as a friend and He is recognize as the source of the nourishment of our soul, the Body and Blood of Christ.
As one comes forward and kiss the altar, it will be good to offer a prayer.

From Construction To Dedication To Salvation

August 1, 2007
Feast of St. Alphonsus Mary De Liguori Parish
40th Year Of Establishment As A Parish
Solemn Blessing And Dedication

Almost three years past since I became pastor of this parish and the burning of our parish church, our community had the following learning faith experiences;

1. THE ACCEPTANCE OF GOD’S WILL – Immediately after the burning of our church, I addressed the community with these words; “What happened should bring us closer together. It is clear that God has allowed this to happen for a greater purpose. It made us see the meaning of life and faith deeper. This is God’s plan for us. It is a time to trust, not to doubt. A time to hope, not to despair. A time to pray, not just talk. A time for generosity and magnanimity with our time, talent and treasure. A time to be humble, not to be proud. A time to heal and not to wound. A time for God’s will to prevail and not ours. “It was not easy to accept. Yet, we trusted God. We had a lot of questions. We ere confused. Our faith is being challenged. But we know that;
The will of God will never take us, Where the grace of God cannot keep us, Where the arms of God cannot support us, Where the riches of God cannot supply our needs, Where the power of God cannot endow us.
Everything happens for a purpose. We may not see the wisdom of it all now, but trust and believe in the Lord that everything is for the best.
2. GOD NEVER FORSAKES; HE SENT US OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL TO COMFORT US AND OUR PATRON ST. ALPHONSUS MARY DE LIGUORI TO GUIDE US - During the Ground-breaking ceremony, almost two years ago, I gave this message; “Gradually, we inched our way towards rebuilding our church under the perfect guidance of God. We profoundly felt the maternal love and supporting hand of Our Lady. We suddenly discovered the beauty and privilege of having a patron like St. Alphonsus, who made his presence felt by giving us constant inspiration and working for the success of all our fund-raising projects.”

Indeed, God made Himself ever-present through these able and reliable representatives. In one instance, during the “SERENADE IN MARCH….AT THE RUINS”, we felt God’s loving care. I wrote the day after; Do you remember?


God, Our Lady, and St. Alphonsus made sure we will make it through the rain!

3. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD; A MIRACLE? You know the story. More than a year after our church got burned, we decided to rebuild equipped with 23 M pesos in donations and funds raised and pure faith! As was expected, the initial fund was rapidly disbursed. While there were still some more donations coming, the expenses were coming faster. We came to a point when we have to find a way to regularly obtain the funds we need to sustain our rebuilding. Thanks to Fr. Steve Zabala and his able parishioners, Husband and wife Mario and Stella Deriquito and Babes De Quiros. They were generous enough to share with us their 848 project which is a fund raising campaign via a pledging system. Thus, our own version, 10-10-25 (To raise 25M in ten months and in ten ways) was born in July 2006, and in September 2006, we began to accept pledges. We hoped to have 25M ten months later on June 30 2007.

You know the rest of the story. We were able to meet our target and more! What was interesting was how it happened. Our community effort and faith were complimented by God’s graciousness and love. For us, they were miracles; meeting the target of raising 25M in a little more than ten months, and our being a church living our communion. Even at this moment, we continue to receive donations from everyone. Indeed, when God gives, it is much much better and greater than what we asked for! Many still could not believe it. But we made it. With God nothing is impossible!

What is left now is our response to this generosity.

4. THANKS BE TO GOD NOW AND FOREVER- Also during the Ground-breaking, I said these words with much hope and faith, “Soon, joy will be in our hearts. Soon, happiness will be on our faces. Soon, peace will be in our minds. Soon, we will have our home with God.”

The “Soon” has now become a “Now!” Now, joy is in our hearts. Now, happiness is on our faces. Now, peace is in our minds. Now we can thank God! No, not only now, but always and forever.

Our deepest gratitude extends to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and our Patron, St. Alphonsus Mary De Liguori; patron of the elderly and handicapped, aspiring lawyers, and for conversion of sinners.

Three things to remember in this Dedication:

1. Christ is always the center of our lives and our prayers.
2. All of these rites are really for our holiness.
3. We who are baptized are also being sent into the world - Just as this church building stands in the midst of other temporal buildings in the heart of this city, so we, as Christians, have to be that witness to Christ in the heart of the world. We have to be reminded of this. We must never forget that a church project is never finished. Even if we have finished the building, our mission as The People Of God continues. Sa awa at kalooban ng Diyos, ang ating pamayanan ay magpapatuloy at magiging daan tungo sa pagtatatag ng Kaharian ng Diyos dito sa lupa.

Maligayang Pista at Araw ng Pagtatalaga!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Work Or Prayer?

I just had a mass this afternoon with those who are working to build our church. I asked them at the beginning of my homily, "Which is better, work or prayer?" I received no answer, but it would be safe to presume that they prefer work. Work produces pay while the result of prayer is hard to quantify. But the workers just heard the Gospel involving Martha and Mary. Mary decided to stay and listen to Jesus while Martha preferred being busy preparing something for Him. Jesus, after hearing Martha's complain about Mary not helping her at all, responded that Mary had chosen the better part. By staying and listening to Him, she chose Jesus, who is the better part.

Jesus was not really despising work per se. In fact, in the Gospel last Sunday about the Good Samaritan, He commanded His listeners to go and DO the same. Doing is at the core of the teaching of Jesus. In fact, if the Word is heard and not done, it has no meaning and effect. Here, Jesus emphasizes the priority of listening, praying or communicating with God. It is from God that we receive guidance. It is from Him that we would know how life must be lived. We can only proceed if we had heard Him. Then, we execute and live what we had heard. Whereas if one will just go and does things without asking or knowing first what to do, it is very probable that the work will have no direction, much more, the worker will finally find no meaning in what he is doing.

I reminded the workers that they do not live to work but they work to live. I was hoping that I could persuade them to believe that there is more than just working. Working, if it is to be meaningful and fruitful, must be in the context of faith. It is very important to spend time with God, the Author of Life and the Lord of Work. Working is connected to faith and life.

So, it is still true that we must work. Doing is important but always in connection with and in the context of ones relation with God. Listening is the better part because one could never go wrong in working after it. Doing without listening and praying may lead to a dead end.

Therefore, it is Prayer and Work. As the saying goes; "Work as if everything depends on us. Pray as if everything depends on God!"