Thursday, April 27, 2017

For God’s glory, not men’s praises

A PASSAGE from the gospel of St. John can remind us of
what our intention should be in everything that we do. It comes as a
way of reproach. “For they loved human praise more than praise from
God.” (Jn 12,43)
  
            With these words, we are reminded that we should do
everything for the glory of God. All other motives for doing things
should be subordinated to this first and foremost intention and should
be compatible to it. They should flow from it and tend toward it.
  
            Thus, human praise, whether actively sought or simply
earned, is not bad in itself. It just should not undermine our primary
duty to give glory in everything that we do. We have to be wary of the
danger of letting it spoil our ultimate motive.

             This is simply because all our life has no other purpose
than to give glory to God. There can be no other higher purpose. Our
Catechism tells us why in a very direct way: “The world was created
for the glory of God who wished to show forth and communicate his
goodness, truth and beauty. The ultimate end of creation is that God,
in Christ, might be ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15,28) for his glory and for
our happiness.” (Compendium 53)

             It’s important that we are constantly aware of the origins
of the whole creation so we do not forget the fundamental principles
that should shape our mind and heart and govern our whole life.
  
            This is the problem and challenge that we have these days.
We tend to forget or ignore the origins of things and simply allow
ourselves to be carried away by the impulses of the current state of
the world, now mostly intoxicated by our own accomplishments and
achievements.
  
            Nowadays, what drive our intentions and motives are
usually selfish principles: pride, vanity, sheer quest for wealth and
power, popularity, pleasure, and good and healthy animal life.
  
            Nowadays, we need some extraordinary effort to correspond
to God’s unfailing graces to counter this tremendous grip of
self-seeking motives in us. We need to humble ourselves like what
Christ did when he insisted that he washed the feet of his apostles.

             Indeed, some drastic efforts are needed, a kind of
paradigm shift that should start with each person, and continually
reinforced in the families and society in general. We need to explain
why we have to work always for God’s glory and show ways of how to put
this intention into effect. We need to get to the practical aspects of
this concern, and avoid getting stuck in the theoretical level only.
  
            I imagine that one good way to see if we have the right
motive and intention when we do things is to continually ask
ourselves: Does this task I am doing now please God? Is this what God
wants me to do now? Am I doing this task with my best efforts? Am I
consciously following the commandments and duly carrying out the
duties and responsibilities of my current state in life? Etc.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chastity in crisis

THIS is no breaking news, of course. Chastity has long
been in crisis. In fact, it would seem that today the word itself is
disappearing from people’s vocabulary. It’s now an endangered species
crying for urgent protection. As a cultural value, it’s practically in
coma.
  
            News about teenage pregnancy on the rise only confirms
this modern tragedy. With pornography constantly and easily available,
sexual addiction and promiscuity would not come far behind. And the
statistics simply reflects it. And we should not be naïve to think
that the crisis in this area does not bring many other moral
irregularities and anomalies along.
  
            We, of course, should not be indifferent to this
development nor stop at merely lamenting. While the challenge is
overwhelming, we can be sure that the means to combat or at least to
contain this problem are at hand. We just need the will to tackle it
earnestly. Now is not the time to be casual about this.

             An all-out campaign to recover the beauty and truth about
chastity should be made. All levels of society, all aspects of life
should be involved, because even if chastity is not the most important
virtue and value, the problems in it can easily undermine the more
sublime goals we all need to reach.
  
            We have to spread the gospel of chastity and human
sexuality as articulated by the teachings of the Church and given
witness to by thousands of saints and other holy men and women through
the ages.

             Nowadays, thanks be to God, there are serious and massive
efforts to explain the intricacies of human sexuality, especially to
the youth. Of course, we can neither deny that there are also many and
powerful forces that deface this important virtue.
  
            One of these pro-active initiatives is the series of books
entitled, “Values education on human sexuality,” published by Global
Creative Publishing House Corporation.” It’s a textbook series for
students from Grades 5 to 12, with a teachers’ guide.
  
            More on character education rather than on mere sexuality
education, the series is an easy-to-read reference to parents,
teachers and students with the view of educating the youngsters in the
proper understanding and attitude toward human sexuality.
  
            Let’s hope that there can be more similar initiatives. But
what is even more important is that we strengthen the family network
so that the parents are properly empowered to carry out their duties
as the first teachers to their children on human sexuality.

            Of course, we should not neglect the spiritual and
pastoral means. We should teach everyone how to pray and how to make
their spiritual lives vibrant, full of true love and other virtues,
because that is how chastity can be truly lived.
  
            We should teach the youngsters how to deal with their
weaknesses, temptations and sins. This should always be done in a
positive and very human tone. A lot of patience and hope is needed
here, especially when we deal with those who are not yet ready to
change their errant ways.
  
            Let’s also tackle the issue of the pornography literally
glutting the Internet circuit.


Monday, April 24, 2017

God and evil

A USUAL question many people ask is, If God is good, is
goodness himself, if he is truly omnipotent and provident, why is
there evil? It’s definitely a very complex question that is hard to
answer. In fact, the Catechism recognizes this.

             “To this question, as painful and mysterious as it is,”
the Catechism explains, “only the whole of Christian faith can
constitute a response.” (Compendium 57) It hastens to reassure us that
“God is not in any way—directly or indirectly—the cause of evil. He
illuminates the mystery of evil in his Son Jesus Christ who died and
rose in order to vanquish that great moral evil, human sin, which is
at the root of all other evils.”
  
            Then in the next point, it says: “Faith gives us the
certainty that God would not permit evil if he did not cause a good to
come from that very evil. This was realized in a wondrous way by God
in the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from the greatest of
all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he has brought forth the
greatest of all goods (the glorification of Christ and our
redemption). (Compendium 58)
  
            We also know about the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob,
in the Old Testament who was sold by his own brothers out of envy but
who later became a prominent man in Egypt. When that dramatic reunion
between him and his father and brothers took place, the brothers were
very apologetic for what they did to him and expected to be duly
punished.
  
            But Joseph, with utmost magnanimity, the magnanimity of
God, simply told them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it
for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many
lives.” (Gen 50,20) Once again, the divine principle that God knows
how to derive good from evil finds its proof.

             It’s important that when we consider the very many
different forms of evil that can come to us and that we see around, we
should immediately have recourse to our faith and not stay too long in
our merely human estimations that are usually based on our emotions
only, our prejudices, our sciences that cannot fathom the many
mysteries in life, etc.
  
            We should not waste too much time lamenting and
complaining, and worse, drifting towards the loss of faith. We need to
go to our faith as soon as possible, and there find some refuge for
our troubled souls.
  
            But for this to happen, we need to practice some emotional
and intellectual humility, otherwise that faith cannot shed its proper
light, and we would be held captive by our limited ways of
understanding things. We cannot deny the fact that our emotions and
our intellectual pride can easily dominate the way we think and react
to things.
  
            We have to find ways of embedding this attitude in the
people and in our culture itself. We should not be too afraid when
some forms of evil come our way. We just have to ask: “Lord, what do
you want me to learn from these?”