Archive for August, 2013

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Three days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.  I had begun a dialogue with Andrew, the author, which is available in Part 1.

As I continued to pray and reflect on the dialogue, Luke 12:12-13 came to mind “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  To me, it was clearly evident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words that I had penned.  I sense our Father prompting us to encourage each other to take a stand for our faith and not to be afraid of what we ought to say because it will be the Holy Spirit who will speak through us.

1 Peter 3:15  encourages us…  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, “  What good are our words when the person we are in dialogue with is standing back with his/her arms up.   1 Corinthians 13:1  teaches…” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  May God give each of us the grace to speak in love so that others may experience His love.

Part 2 has come to life because Andrew, the author of the article, has responded.  He wrote…

 “I can’t disagree with anything you said, except that in my view, it leads to nowhere, except on an individual basis. It’s like that aphorism ” Change should come from each one of us” which is arguably correct and well-meaning, but it just leads to more of the status quo.

I am not sarcastic when I say this, but this was the same refrain during Marcos’ time, Erap’s time and Gloria’s time! And up to now it is still the same!

I am in the business of “getting things done”. I would like to see tangible, measurable, discrete activities, not just well-intentioned teachings of the hierarchy. And I think my frustration is shared by many.

For instance, are there parallel investigations within the Church on Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, Fr Peter Lavin et al? What has happened to the case of Monsignor Garcia of Cebu who was involved in ivory smuggling? Where are the reports on them and decisive actions taken? Why is there always a reshuffling and a cover-up?

At least Pope Francis has taken steps to signal that in his term, it would be different. Things would move, and it is reasonable to expect it will happen in this lifetime.

PS I appreciate our conversation very much. I have this inkling that you are not just a lay person. :)”

 

To my surprise, I received an additional response from an individual named Edgar Lores.  He wrote…

“Another of my two cents to M’s post.

Psychology has uncovered patterns of behaviour and thought which men rely on to protect ego. These patterns are called “defence mechanisms”. It is interesting to analyse the above post by the mechanisms used:

1. “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?”

1.1. In the defence mechanism of Intellectualisation a “person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way”.

1.2. The intellectualisation here is by use of an analogy. The analogy compares Andrew’s essay as being equivalent to the observance that “a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair” which purportedly leads to the “rational” inference “that all people with black hair are corrupt.”

1.3. The introduction to this analogy states, “I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy”.

1.4. In the first place, Andrew is not making an analogy. An analogy is a comparison. Andrew is not making a comparison. He is presenting a thesis which uses correlations.

1.5. In the second place, Andrew is making a reasoned thesis. He presents 4 correlations to support his thesis. To compare Andrew’s essay to the analogy of “people with black hair” is illogical because @M does not present any correlational reason, a cause-and-effect, between black hair and corruption.

2. “I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.”

2.1. There are two defence mechanisms here: Rationalisation and Denial.

2.2. Rationalisation involves “explaining an unacceptable behaviour or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behaviour”. The rationalisation here is in the observation that people “who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are.” Specifically, the rationalisation is that the explanation for corrupt behaviour is the very nature of people, in “who they are”. This is not an illumination explanation.

2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. The subtlety of the denial here lies in the use of the word “claim”, and the denial is that “people who ‘claim’ to be something” are NOT that something.

2.4. If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).

2.5. It is interesting to note that this schizoid logic allows the Church to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The sinner is the sin, and if I claim to be a Catholic, I am a Catholic.

2.6. One cannot resist the temptation to ask, “When did greed and self-centeredness become ideals?”

3. “You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.”

3.1. No defence mechanism here. At last — at long last! — we have an attempt to present a counter argument against Andrew’s Purgatory reason. @M contends that so called “Catholics” cannot get away with things because “God sees the motives of man”.

3.2. The counter argument does not stand. Andrew does not contend that God is blind. Andrew’s contention is that wayward Catholics think they can get away with things because they believe they can repent at their final hour — (and perhaps repent periodically thru confession?) — and still be a shoo-in candidate for Purgatory.

4. “It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.”

4.1. This is just a repeat and an extension of the second paragraph’s rationalisation and denial.

5. “I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

5.1. This begs the question: What is the core source of corruption? Is it because men are essentially “who they are”? If that is so, there is no hope for the country unless all men are wiped out and the dinosaurs return.

6. “God bless you Andrew!”

6.1. Ah, the usual patronising “adios”. Or is it? Could it be deflection through humor? Or displacement of hostility with civility?”

 

I was floored for a moment, but God’s grace returned and so I wrote…

“Thank you for your interesting reply Edgar and may God’s peace be with you. I’ve never had another analyze what I have written and I am impressed by the effort taken!

By the way, my offering of God’s peace to you is not intended to patronize, but it is a sincere extension of God’s peace.

Scripture says… “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6

You say I am in denial, I know I’m not, but that’s a choice you make. Each of us chooses the manner in which we see the world. You write… “2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. ” Are you insisting that I fail to see the corruption that is and has been going on in the Philippines? I beg to differ. My choice of words may not be to your liking, but I do see and have experienced the effects of the corruption.

I’d like to address your point 2.4 ” If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).” ALL Catholics, who, by the way, are also Christians, are sinners. Romans 3:23 teaches…”for ALL (Christians or not) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, we have been given the grace … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Do note there is a cause and effect relationship here. Man has to do his part…CONFESS OUR SINS. I believe this involves true repentance. True repentance requires “expressing a sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrong doing or sin”. It also requires one to turn his/her back towards sin. Hence, if man does not do his part, God won’t and can’t do his.  Why?  Although it would benefit man, God will not force himself on anyone.  

It is in every human being’s nature to sin. It is for that reason why Jesus came down from Heaven to be the atonement of our sins. He took upon himself all the sins of the world (past, present and future) so that we could be reunited with God the Father. His death would have been the victory of his enemies and the devil, but the Father had sent the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ dead body and in 3 days, he rose again and destroyed death forever for those who believe in Him. God turned what was intended for evil and destruction, into the saving grace for all!

The following link http://openairoutreach.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/does-man-inherit-a-sinful-nature-jesse-morrell/ gives a decent discussion on man’s inherent nature. I would like to stress the following and hence I quote…” Mankind is described as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Bible says that men are “made after the similitude of God” (Jas. 3:9), even after the fall of Adam. That is why when it comes to sin, the Bible says that sin is actually contrary to human nature (Rom. 1:26-27). God wanted mankind to imitate Him in choosing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). God did not design us to live wickedly. Therefore, sin is an abuse and misuse of our created constitution.

God did not intend or plan for us to use our mental, moral, spiritual, or physical abilities for sin. That is why the Bible says that sin is “against nature.” Sinners choose to do “that which is against nature.” Through the freedom of their will, they choose to do what is contrary to their design. It was never God’s intention for man to sin. It was not His plan for mankind to be sinful (Gen. 6:5-6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3). God actually would have preferred a sinless universe that needed no atonement at all (1 Sam. 15:22). Since sin was contrary to God’s plan or intention for mankind, God has made sin contrary to the design of our constitution.

God never intended for us to use our constitution for sin. On the contrary, He wants us to use our members for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, 19; Rom.12:1; 1 Thes. 4:3-4). Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). Our constitution was not designed for sin, but sin is contrary to the intended use of our nature, because God is our designer.”

I hope this provides you with a satisfactory response. God bless you Edgar! Just as with His peace, you can either accept or reject God’s blessings.

p.s. – Andrew, don’t under estimate what God can do. And yes, I am just a lay person and I AM CATHOLIC! E-mail me if you want to dialogue further.”

In truth, I am praying that the dialogue is over.  I enjoyed sharing and teaching, but I’m tired.

May Father God open our spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so we can recognize Him when He speaks.  And may we spend time reading, reflecting and memorizing his living Word so that He can use them to guide us in our daily walk.

God bless,

Melissa – August 29, 2013

p.s. – My apologies. I believe the Catechism would have given a better explanation of original sin. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm)

 

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Two days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.

My attempts to dismiss my anger was futile and so I penned a comment…

“I question your claim that…
“I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.”

I am a practicing Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/37/Personal_Relationship_to_Jesus_According_to_John_Paul_II.html

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/do-you-know-jesus

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/personal-relationship-with-jesus/

God bless you!”

The author replied, “@M.  Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

I’d appreciate your views on the other points.”

I went to bed reflecting on his response and I asked the Father what he thought.  I also asked him not to let me try to figure this out in my dreams, less I wake up fatigued.

Today I penned…  “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians; however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practice. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others.  These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

To this, the author replied…  ”Thanks for taking time to write a thoughtful reply.  I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.”

Later on, I added…  ”Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent reply, I sense there are a few more things to add.

God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others.  Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere; it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

God bless you Andrew!”

I am currently still waiting to see if the author will reply.  In truth, his reply isn’t necessary.  As I read what I had written, I am awed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to fan my feathers.  I am awed over the fact that God is able to use a ditsy individual (me) to write with his great wisdom.  May God, alone, receive all the glory.

As I close, I sense God asking whether we have the courage to defend our faith?  Do we know enough to stand and defend it?  Or, are we merely name claimers, claiming the title of being a Catholic just so we can belong?

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

REFLECTION: The Truest Identity

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

 

 

Yesterday, Msgr. Greg Smith shared a portion of a fellow parishioner’s comments in his homily.  Msgr began…“Today is the day of the Gay Pride Parade.  A parishioner who lives chastely with the same sex attraction wrote me an e-mail early this morning.  With permission, I share these words with you:

“If I am not at Mass today, I want to assure you that I am not at the Parade, despite not being ashamed of who I am.

…The best Parade of Pride is knowing the Beauty of the Trinity,

… and the real “Parade” of our congregation is in procession to the Altar for Holy Communion to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus,

…and my feeling of real “Pride” is knowing I was so blessed to be chosen to hear the words of the Son of God.” (highlights and indentation are mine)

These words have continued to resonate with me today and as I reflect deeper, I begin to see how our wonderful, loving Father has blessed this individual with the ability to see himself / herself so clearly with the very eyes of the Father…  the truest and purest identity of all, as a CHILD OF GOD!

What a POWERFUL, LIVING testimony!

God bless,

Melissa (August 5, 2013)