Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Faith and the family

NOW that we are in the Year of Faith, plus the fact that we just had a
synod of bishops focusing on the new evangelization, we need to
realize more deeply the indispensable role the family plays in giving
teeth to these Church aspirations.

We cannot deny that the world is drifting toward godlessness. Right
now, we are witnessing a more aggressive type of secular humanism,
that is, a humanism that excludes God and that only depends on some
human consensus, however it is derived.

Many of our public officials are now espousing their own theories and
ideas, based more on what is practical and popular, rather than on
what our faith teaches us. They believe more in these theories than in
the doctrine of our faith, and sometimes put them—their theories and
the faith—in direct contrast.

Pope Benedict talked recently about practical atheism, the kind that
does not profess it formally or publicly, but is lived just the same,
because people behave as if God does not exist. It’s actually a more
dangerous kind, since it hides its true character and can even go
through the motions of normal spiritual and moral life.

This is what we have to tangle and do battle with. We have to learn
how to grapple with its many manifestations, like relativism,
materialism, commercialism, hedonism, agnosticism, etc.

We have to be familiar with their causes and symptoms, their reasons
and other factors that give some life to them. More importantly, we
have to know the appropriate weapons to use for the combat.

These are mainly the spiritual and supernatural means: prayer,
sacrifice, sacraments, doctrine. But we should never neglect all the
human means we can muster for this purpose, especially the power to
enter into dialogue with everyone in a friendly and cordial way.

Yes, we can expect some meaty discussions and exchanges, but we need
to understand that these should be pursued in the spirit of truth and
charity. We have to be careful with what is called as bitter zeal
which usually springs more from pride and self-righteousness than from
true love for God and care for others.

All of these should be animated by a working piety that definitely
starts and is sustained in the context of the family, before it is
supported by the schools, the parishes and other similar entities.

We need to strengthen the family, and within the family, the
institution of marriage, because it is what keeps the family alive and
healthy. Parents and the other elders in the family should realize
that more than attending to the material needs of the family members,
it is the spiritual and moral needs that should be given priority.

This is the primary duty of the parents, before it becomes a duty of
the teachers, priests, nuns, and other officials and personages
involved in the continuing education of children and people in

Parents therefore have to be properly trained for this grave
responsibility. They have to feel more urgently the need for the
appropriate formation. They need to know the intricacies of
spirituality and morality involved in the different stages of the
growth of the family members.

Parents cannot and should not renege from this. They may delegate some
aspects and functions of this duty, but they over-all are the first
ones responsible. And so, they must try to be experts first of all in
the doctrines of the faith, and know how to apply them to the
different situations, both within and outside the family.

The Year of Faith is precisely a good occasion to deepen the parents’
grounding on the doctrines of our faith and to put them to practice.
We just hope that all the higher entities—parishes, schools, even
government units, etc.—can do all to ensure this continuing formation
of parents and to strengthen family ties and marriage.

For this purpose, there are now many relevant books and other
materials that can help parents in their formation. With the new
technologies, these materials can be more easily accessed.

Besides, there are now a good number of groups that aim to assist
parents to fulfill their duties well. Parents and elders should try to
take advantage of them, organizing their time well so that they can
attend to the appropriate activities. Let’s hope that these groups
sustain their efforts.

Parents and elders should give time and attention to these
possibilities. It’s a worthwhile investment that will certainly bring
good dividends in the future in terms of true spiritual development
for the individual, family and society in general.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making time timeless

IT’S a question of love. It’s a question of how we understand time,
how we manage it, what we think its real objective is.

We all know that time is some kind of measure that gives us an idea of
the past, the present and the future. It gives us an idea of before
and after, so basic in our system that we hardly give it any thought.

Yes, it’s a very demanding and unforgiving element in our life. It
simply ticks away, relentless in its march and flow regardless of what
happens in the world. And what has passed, has passed definitively,
never to return again.

We cannot stop it nor make it run faster, unless we take it in a
figurative way, or unless a lot of value added is given to it. That’s
when we can say we have saved time or have multiplied it.

That’s why many people get nervous when they consider the time element
seriously. They invariably describe it as a most precious resource
that should be used most prudently and most productively.

But put in the context of the over-all purpose of human life that
includes our spiritual and supernatural calling, time acquires even
more tremendous significance that we should know and appreciate.

This is when we know that time is first of all a gift from God,
indispensable because of our human condition. It just did not erupt
into existence on its own.  We have to be clear about this, because
many of us just presume time as given, without making any effort to
know where it came from and where it is supposed to go.

As a divine gift, it springs from the eternity of God and meant to
inhere in it always. It’s not meant to be detached from God’s
eternity, unless in our foolishness we choose to distort reality and
remove time from eternity.

We have to be more aware, in fact, most keenly aware, of this crucial
aspect of our time here on earth. Without getting unduly fuzzy about
it, we should not be casual in our attitude toward it.

In itself, the passage of time has the savor of eternity, to which we
are constantly invited to discover and taste. This is the challenge we
have, and it requires nothing less than broadening our mind, and
grounding ourselves more firmly on our faith, hope and charity.

In short, we are supposed to constantly exercise our faith, hope and
charity to fathom the real and ultimate meaning of time, and to
connect it to the eternity of God.

In this regard, we have to take special care on how we manage our
time, on what we use it for, etc., for on these questions depends our
success or failure to make time timeless, that is, to make it acquire
the character of eternity.

We have to develop the virtue of order therefore, making appropriate
plans and schedules on a daily and weekly basis, etc., not so much for
the purpose of effectiveness and productivity as for showing our love
for God and for working always in tandem with him.

That should be the abiding criterion to use when we start allocating
time for the different things we need to attend to. We have to
constantly ask ourselves, “Is this what God really wants me to do at
this moment, or for this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow, next week,

Other guiding questions can be asked: “How much time should I allot to
this activity? What precautionary measures should I use to keep me
always in contact with God, avoiding being swallowed up by the
dynamics of an activity?”

Related to the virtue of order are other virtues that can be
helpful—the capacity to focus on the objectives with intensity and
perseverance, to anticipate things, to be prudent and flexible as
circumstances can change along the way, to remain calm and cheerful.

We also need to learn how to be patient and optimistic, as well as
resourceful and creative. Most of all, we have to learn how to grow
and glow in charity even in the drudgery of a routinary work, and how
to handle tiredness and the different forms of pressures, physical,
emotional, mental.

Making time timeless can indeed be truly exciting, capable of turning
the prose of every day into heroic verses of love and dedication.
Lastly, we have to find time to rest, and that can only be with Christ
who said:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh
you.” (Mt 11,28)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We need to love

YES, we need to fall in love. We would be harming ourselves if we
don’t. We are made for it, wired and empowered for it. Love is the
purpose of our life, its end-all, its law and our true and ultimate

    That’s because God created us so. As image and likeness of his, we
cannot but reflect the love that constitutes the very essence of God.
“Deus caritas est,” St. John says.

    That’s God’s design for us to which we have to correspond freely.
Love has to be repaid with love. Thus, when Christ was asked what the
greatest commandment was, he immediately responded that it was to love
God with all our might, and that the second greatest was to love our
neighbour, that is, everyone, as oneself.

    Later on, Christ would perfect and summarize these commandments into
a new commandment: to love one another as he has loved us. Christ is
the standard, the law, the power of our love, and not anybody or
anything else—a beautiful girl, and much less, power, fame, wealth. To
Christian believers, we should not look for anything else.

    That’s why there is always some embers of this essence in us, no
matter how inadequately recognized, incompletely developed, thwarted
or misdirected. We always tend to love, to at least pay attention to
others, to need them and do something for them. We cannot be by
ourselves all the time.

    We need to work out this love to its fullness and its purest state.
We cannot be cavalier in our attitude toward it. It’s a serious duty,
in fact, the primary duty. All other duties and responsibilities flow
and derive their ultimate meaning from this.

    Remember that beautiful and stirring warning of St. Paul?

    “If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not
charity, I am become a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

    “And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all
knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove
mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

    “And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I
should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits
me nothing.” (1 Cor 13,1-3)

    In short, we can appear very successful in many aspects and
departments of our life—and they can be no mean feats—but if not
inspired by love, the true love that is derived from God, all these
“successes” are actually failures.

    In fact, this love should not be equated with mere philanthropy and
human altruism, no matter how heroic these gestures may appear. The
love that comes from God goes beyond all these and is and should be
their principle and end.

    We need to be clear about this truth, because many are now the
elements that tend to confuse us about it, if not directly undermine
it. It’s painful to see many people, especially the young, who seem
trapped and locked up in the false, or at least, very reduced,
illusory, albeit sweet, understanding of love.

    That is why we need to pray a lot, focus our attention on the life of
Christ, his words and deeds, and especially his passion, death and
resurrection, because these are where we can get the real ingredients
of the love meant for us.

    This is the real love that can tackle everything, good or bad, big or
small, that we can meet in life. Again, let’s have St. Paul’s
beautiful description:

    “Charity is patient, is kind. Charity envies not, deals not
perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not her own, is
not provoked to anger, thinks no evil. It rejoices not in iniquity,
but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13, 4-7)

    We should not beat around the bush as to what love is and what role
it plays in our life. And toward this end, we have to make continuing
effort to clarify it in public and in private and personal
conversations, going through the endless implications, theoretical and
practical, that it possesses.

    For one, we should prod everyone of us to love others aggressively,
that is, to think well of them, showing affection and understanding,
doing acts of service, even without being asked. We should not wait
for others to prove they deserve our love. We just have to love them,
even before they deserve it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The battle of the heart

ONE episode in the gospel can give us a good lesson on prayer which,
by necessity, will involve some battle of the heart. That’s when
Christ visited the temple area and found it turned into a market

“My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of
thieves,” (Lk 19,46) he cried out. And he proceeded to drive out those
who were selling things.

We all have the natural tendency to pray, although we may not call it
that. The fact that we think, we reason out, we reflect, we hold some
kind of conversation, if not with God or with nature or with the
environment, then with our own selves—all these indicate that we are
going through the motions of praying.

Praying is the natural mode of action of our mind and heart. Our
thoughts, decisions and feelings are never solitary acts. A kind of
communication is involved whenever we think, know, judge, reason, and
especially when we love.

These are the operations involved when we pray. To make them prayer,
we just have to make sure that we bring these operations to their
proper object and to their fullest stature, driven by their true
motives, and not frustrated in their development or, worse, twisted
and corrupted by some spiritual and moral errors.

The latter cases can be likened to those who converted the house of
God from a “house of prayer to a den of thieves.” We cannot help but
pray since we always have to think and reason out. But we would be
misusing or misdirecting our prayer, or we would simply be not
developing our prayer properly if all these operations are not
inspired and directed to God.

At the core of this challenge is the battle of the heart, the very
seat of our freedom where the decision of whom to pray, how to pray,
what to pray, etc. is made. The heart is where we make the fundamental
and existential choices. It’s important that we are aware of the
crucial and strategic role of the heart in this duty of ours.

Many people, perhaps because they are still children or not properly
trained and educated, have little care for their heart, and thus have
a very shallow understanding of prayer. They allow their heart to be
influenced mainly by emotions and other instinctual impulses. Their
mind and heart are not yet firmly grounded on terra firma.

They just content themselves with mouthing some prayer formulas and
going through social conventions about piety. Not much else. They can
say much, but they don’t connect.

In time, they get bored and don’t last in their prayer. They don’t
understand some of the requirements of prayer—faith, sacrifice,
perseverance, humility, etc.—and often find themselves confused,
uninspired, if not storm-tossed by the troubles in life that they
cannot find meaning in.

Others have gone worse, in the sense that they allow their heart to be
dominated by their passions and worldly attachments, practically
selling themselves out to these elements and cutting themselves off
from the very source of the heart’s life, God, who actually dwells
there as our Creator and guiding providence.

We need to deliberately guard our heart and direct it to God. And
given our human condition where we are easily overrun by human
concerns, not to mention our weaknesses and the temptations around, we
really need to have a firm grip on our heart. We should avoid letting
it go and run unguided.

For this we need time to pray and meditate, to immerse our heart in
the presence of God and as much as possible to taste of the sweetness
of God that includes his wisdom, power, mercy, unfailing love for us,

We need to be intimate with him. And this is something that we have to
understand well, because many people are afraid to go intimate with
God. They feel awkward about it. They sometimes think it is unnatural,
inhuman, unmanly. The only intimacy they know is of the sexual kind,
which is a completely reduced if not erroneous understanding of

Our heart is meant to enter into intimate relations, but of the proper
kind, first with God and then with God, following his commandments,
with everybody else. Our heart has to overflow with affections. That’s
what is proper of it. Intimacy is what truly humanizes our heart,
opening it to its divinization in God and in our love for others.

So, let’s ask ourselves, where is our heart? Let’s win it for God! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


IT’S a practice done usually by IT practitioners. They like to tweak
on their gadgets, since many of these items, given the rapidity of the
innovations taking place now, plus the delicateness into which many of
them get, need to be given little adjustments here and there.

But it’s a practice that should also be done on our most important
aspect of life. And that is our spiritual life, our life of relation
with God and others, which we should try to fill with love and all the
goodness that we can put into it.

We should never consider our spiritual life as too private or too
personal as to keep it always away from some public discussion meant
for the good of all. There certainly confidential matters involved,
but there also are many elements that need public ventilation. And one
of them is the art of tweaking.

More than the gadgets, our spiritual life, whose seat is our mind and
heart, is subject to constant multiple factors. It was St. Augustine
who once said that the thoughts and motions that pass through our mind
and heart in an instant can exceed the number of our hair. When I read
that line, I immediately agreed.

Not only do we have to contend with our own ideas, intentions and
plans that just come and go, we also have to cope with the many
challenges, pressures, goals, not to mention, temptations and other
crazy things that can come to mind. We cannot help but really take
care of our spiritual life if only to keep our sanity.

Our usual problem in this department is that many of us seek comfort
and relief through some inadequate if not dangerous means. Some just
ignore the conditions of their mind and heart.

Others resort to artificial means—a tonic drink, a massage,
psychological conditioning, Still others do worse as they indulge in
drugs, sex and other forms of deadly escapism.

Spiritual tweaking can take the form of a daily examination of
conscience, done usually just before going to bed. It’s an effort to
review how our day went, to see if love or something else was the main
motive of our thoughts, words and deeds.

Truth is there will always be some adjustments to be made, usually
small but from time to time big. We need to fine tune the purity of
our intentions, for example, or we need to polish a particular virtue
that did not work quite well that day.

Or we need to be more guarded against certain weaknesses and bad
tendencies we have, like rash judgment, gossiping, cheating,
sensuality, pride, greed, laziness, etc.

Given our spiritual nature, there is always room for improvement in
our virtues and need for struggle, since our heart will always be an
arena between the forces of good and evil. This will be our lifelong

But all this tweaking is done in the presence of God, confident of his
fatherly care and love for us. And so it is moment that can give us
great peace and reassurance. God always forgives and understands. It
is his delight to do so. We should strengthen this conviction in
ourselves, because this is crucial in our spiritual life.

We should never feel alienated from our father God, no matter how bad
or sinful we may be. It would be good to keep in mind the parable of
the prodigal son whenever we have problems in this area. Whenever we
decide to say sorry, there will be no problem, and besides, we can
cause immense joy in heaven if we return to God, as the gospel tells

So, this kind of spiritual tweaking is not an exercise in obsession.
It is done in the context of love between God and us, between father
and child. If done in this way, we will avoid the pitfalls of
irritation, nervousness, shame, fear and the like. We will also avoid
being too fussy with things and fastidious with people.

On the contrary, we will exude an aura of goodness around. We will
manage to maintain confidence and dominion over our faculties and
powers. We will have good relations with others, as we would become
more simple and humble, more transparent, and therefore, more
approachable and friendly.

We have to cultivate this practice of spiritual tweaking, and work to
make it a living part of our culture. We can be certain that it will
only produce good results in our lives, helping us to be more
charitable with each other, and more important, to be truly holy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Business is a test of love

DOING business can be a test of love. It actually is. Remember that
parable about a nobleman who went off to a distant country to obtain
the kingship for himself and then return? (cfr Lk 19,11-28)

He first called his 10 servants and gave them a gold coin each,
instructing them to trade with it until he returns. The first earned
10 more with the coin given to him. Another earned 5 more. But a third
one simply returned the coin without any earning.

The nobleman was very happy with the first two servants and rewarded
them very generously. But he was mad at the third one. “Why did you
not put my money in a bank,” he asked. “Then on my return I would have
collected it with interest.”

The parable can have many interpretations and applications, but one
lesson we can derive from it is that we have to make use of everything
God has given us: our life, our intelligence and freedom, our rights
and duties, our capacity to work, our talents, charisms and other
natural endowments.

And we have to make use of them as fully as possible, exhausting their
potentials to the furthest extent possible, but doing this always in
accordance to God’s will and designs, and not just ours.

And so, away with idleness, laziness, wasting time, or pursuing
business purely on our own terms, with profit and other forms of
self-interest as the driving force and God’s plans largely if not
completely ignored.

The third servant also had reason why he just kept the coin without
trading with it. “I was afraid of you,” he told his master, “because
you are a demanding man. You take up what you did not lay down, and
you harvest what you did not plant.”

Like this third servant, we too will always have some excuses not to
do what God wants of us, and instead just do our own will. This has to
be avoided at all costs.

Of special interest to us now is the role of business in our life. For
many, business is just a human affair, pursued for completely human
purposes that actually also have their good side.

We have to make sure that this human activity, so important and
common, is done with the proper intentions and means.

Business is indispensable in any society. It generates money,
employment, services, progress and development. It fosters creativity
and productivity as it incites entrepreneurial spirit among people. It
gives able support to our other concerns—even in our intellectual and
spiritual concerns.

It definitely deserves to be promoted and defended. But it has to be
done as an expression of love of God and others. It just cannot be
reduced to a purely economic or technocratic activity. Rather its
technical requirements and goals should be met and pursued as a
function of love of God and others.

Because it is done out of love of God and others, we have to learn to
view business as a form of prayer and offering to God. We have to
learn to do business such that it becomes a living instrument of God’s
abiding providence over us. We need to infuse theology into our
business, our faith and charity inspiring our numbers and

It is this love of God and others that purifies the profit motive of
business and enlarges it to serve the common good and not just a
private interest. It is what considers the welfare of everyone, and
pursues to build a culture of social justice.

It is this love of God and others that leads the players and agents to
think of initiative, strategies and put up entities that fulfill the
real needs of the people, seeing to it that these enjoy a certain
stability and consistency so they can serve the people for as long as

It is this love of God and others that encourages an increasingly
participative character of business so as to effect greater solidarity
in the pursuit of the common good. It discourages elitist or
exclusivistic attitudes, as well as monopolies and other unfair and
subtle forms of exploitation.

It is this love of God and others that shows a certain special
sensitivity for the weak and disadvantaged. It puts life into the much
vaunted Church slogan of preferential option for the poor. It also
does business that is respectful of the ecology.

We need to examine ourselves regularly, from the personal level up to
the global, to see if our business would pass the test of love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Divine madness

LOVE, if it truly is love, cannot help but appear to us, with our very
limited way of knowing things, as a kind of madness. How can it not be
so when love by its very nature always goes beyond what we think
should be the limit of things?

Love always gives itself without measure. That’s its essence. It
leaves measure and calculation behind. It just gives and gives
non-stop, not only 24/7 but from all eternity and through all eternity
as well.

Consider the following. God created the universe without any necessity
on his part. He just did it out of pure goodness, wishing to share
what he has with other beings. This is the very essence of
gratuitousness, the core of love.

Then he created us in his image and likeness, and therefore running
the risk of being freely rejected by us, his creatures, which was what
took place and continues to take place up to now.

But in spite of that, God continues to love us, willing to undertake a
very complicated plan of salvation, sending his own Son to us, since
it is only God, not us even in our best efforts, who can save us.

For this, the Son had to become man, assuming not only human nature,
but also the consequences of man’s sin and woundedness without ever
committing any trace of sin. Then he died to our sin, his death
delivering death to our sins. With his resurrection, we are given a
way to conquer our own sins as long as we also die with him.

That death on the cross is the supreme act of love of God for us.
“Greater love than this no man has, that a man lays down his life for
his friends.” (Jn 15,13) That death is nothing other than the
expression of pure love that shows its best in mercy, a mercy that
goes all the way and given as often as necessary.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man, is the perfect and only
mediator between God and us, since he is precisely both God and man,
the meeting point between divinity and humanity and the very
reconciliation between the two.

With Christ, God does not only give us some gifts, very precious as
they are—our intelligence and free will, our talents and other
endowments—but also has given us his own self.

To save us and recover our original dignity as children of God, Christ
preached about God, his Father, and about ourselves, thus showing us
the truth that redeems us, the truth the can bring us to our ultimate
destination. He extricates us from merely worldly knowledge that while
helpful can keep us from God.

While Christ lived in history, in the past, he continues to be with us
in his Church, in his word contained in the gospel and the doctrine of
our faith, in the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Holy
Eucharist. He makes himself a contemporary of everyone.

He wants to be with us in the most intimate and constant way. “Behold,
I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (Mt
28,20) He does not leave us only with a symbol or a memento of
himself. He, who is in heaven, also is truly and substantially also on
earth with us.

These and more are clear proofs of the extreme kind of love God has
for us, a love that we can consider, given our human limitations, as
divine madness.

But let’s also realize more deeply that since we are image and
likeness of God, since we are children of his by adoption, we ought to
reflect and live this divine madness ourselves.

It’s a goal that obviously is overwhelming. It’s truly over the top.
But with God’s grace, with our faith and trust in him and with our
best effort even if it can still be made better always, we can do it
(possumus!). It’s God’s will which cannot be frustrated no matter what
obstacles it meets. We just have to try our best to correspond to it.

In short, we too are called to this madness of love, to this total and
unending self-giving that actually satisfies our deepest longing and
extricates us from the limitations and woundedness of our human
condition here on earth.

We need to familiarize ourselves with this goal, because many of us
still do not know, much less, appreciate and effectively pursue this
goal. We need to educate ourselves in this most sublime truth about

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eternal words

 “HEAVEN and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mk 13,31)

    With these words that came from the lips of Christ, we now know where
we can get hold of eternity while still here on earth. It’s in
believing his words, no matter how mysterious and too fantastic they
may sound to us.

    We need to echo that response of St. Peter who, when asked if the
apostles would also go away from Christ when he talked about himself
as the bread of life, said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words
of eternal life.” (Jn 6,68)

    Let’s convince ourselves more deeply and more consistently that it is
in God’s words, and now in ours, no matter how brilliant and
reasonable they may sound, that we can arrive at what truly is
important to us—our eternal heavenly bliss, and not just some worldly

    Our tendency is to supplant God’s words with our own, as if our own
words can just spring to us without springing first of all from God,
the origin of words and everything connected to them—our
communications, our education, our knowledge, etc. We distort that
basic reality by thinking we can just use words fully by our own

    In fact, we call the second person of the Blessed Trinity not only as
the Son of God, but also the very word of God, the Divine Word,
because he is the entirety of God’s self-knowledge and the pattern of
the whole creation, his work “ad extra,” outside of himself.

    He is the very standard of truth, goodness, beauty, justice, and all
virtues and values by which we measure ourselves. And yet we can
corrupt that reality by practically making ourselves as the norm and
measure of these virtues and values.

    God’s words enable us to understand everything in the best way. The
Letter the Hebrews says so: “The word of God is living and effectual,
and more piercing than any two-edged sword; and reaching unto the
division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

    That God is the origin and goal of truth, goodness, etc. is a
fundamental truth that is often taken for granted now. And so, right
at the very foundation of our daily activity and communications, we
already have a big gap, like a congenital defect, that likely will
become worse as we go on with our daily routine that unavoidably uses

    This is the condition that will increasingly alienate us from God,
keeping us in some kind of cocoon, making us increasingly oblivious to
God’s words and will. Things can be so bad that we can consider God’s
words not only as irrelevant and out of touch with what we call
reality, but also hostile to our very own humanity, our own freedom.

    This is what we see around. That is why instead of communication, we
often have miscommunication; instead of information, misinformation;
instead of charitable conversations, we have gossips, calumnies and

    The many forms of modern and powerful modern information technologies
have also increased our confusion and temptations and sin. They are
like the modern Tower of Babel, throwing us into so many different
languages and mind-frames that we now don’t understand and care for
one another.

    In fact, these days we can frequently witness explosions of rage in
the discussions of what we call hot button issues. Verbal abuse has
become an epidemic, clearly showing that our use of words has been
detached from God whose essence is charity.

    Right now, many people are accusing others in indulging what they
call as mere talking points. They refer to the clever use of words and
rhetoric to make them appear knowledgeable and competent, if not to
deceive others, twisting facts and data, etc.
    They know how to be politically correct, which means that they only
use worldly criteria, or social and political norms, not the criteria
from God or from our faith, in their use of words.

    In normal times, there is nothing wrong with being politically
correct because that attitude usually reflects deeper religious
values. But these days, things have become so bad that to be
politically correct is almost synonymous to being foxy and sly, and
being so is not anymore a negative trait. It’s has become today’s

    We have to return to the eternal words of God. We need to go back to
the gospel, to the doctrine of our faith, and live it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Graduation in November

BECAUSE of the changes brought about by the mandated K+12 program, our
Grade 7 students now find themselves part of high school without
graduating from grade school. And so, we have to have a graduation in

The parents would not allow their children to be high schoolers
without formally shedding off their grade schooler status. And they
find March of next year, the usual graduation month, too far. So I
find myself presiding over a Baccalaureate Mass in somber November.

Graduation, of course, is a happy occasion. It marks a transition, the
end of one phase and the beginning of another. It means some
achievement, some attainment, and a looking forward to new challenges
as the process of education and formation goes on.

I like to think that the students are slowly but steadily building up
their foundation for the future. They are into a process at once
tedious and exciting, as they learn new things and new lessons, while
revisiting and re-appreciating old past lessons as they receive the
tradition of the previous generations.

Students have to study. Teachers have to prepare their classes well
and also act as parent surrogates as they provide whatever help and
support students who are also children need in school. Parents, of
course, do everything, even trying to grab heaven here on earth, to
assure the proper development of their children.

I just hope that this triad of parents, teachers and students, and
that of the home, the school and the individual manage to work in
synergy, guided and propelled by God’s grace to which everyone has to
correspond as best as he could.

Education and formation actually never ends for us. Even in our old
age, we need it, and in fact, more so. That’s because we tend to
resist new knowledge the more knowledge we accumulate. And we are
actually poised, due to our spiritual faculties and supernatural
destination, to know an infinity of things.

Education and formation goes in stages and in cycles, reflecting the
rhythm of life itself. It can not help but set itself fully in the
task of pursuing the ultimate purpose of our life. It cannot and it
should not be arrested in some levels, saying enough to what may
already be gained so far.

So it cannot be detained at the academic or scholastic level alone
where the sciences, the arts, some skills and technologies are
learned. It has to engage us in all our needs as persons and children
of God. And that means everything, all our needs that simply grow and
grow. It’s a dynamic set of needs, not static.

It has to carry out what St. Peter once said: “And you, employing all
care, minister in your faith, virtue; and in virtue, knowledge; and in
knowledge, abstinence; and in abstinence, patience; and in patience,
godliness; and in godliness, love of brotherhood; and in love of
brotherhood, charity.” (2 Pt 1,5-7)

We simply have to go on. And we have to realize that education and
formation goes far beyond the school or academic setting. It involves
the home, the church, the social and cultural environment, and even
the economy and our legal and political systems.

In fact, every field of human endeavor should have a clear educational
and formative animating spirit. Let’s hope that all of us realize this
truth more deeply and act in accordance to it.

Insofar as the academic setting is concerned, it has to be pointed out
that all the subjects taught there have to be properly grounded and
oriented toward the original source and the ultimate goal of
knowledge, who is God.

It would be a disaster if we just get entangled in the merely
intellectual and technical aspects of the subjects. We would open
ourselves to the possibility of misusing and even exploiting them.
That’s because we would be pursuing and using them according to our
purposes, and not the will of God who created them.

We need to realize that all these subjects—the sciences and arts, the
skills and technologies—ultimately come from God and belong to God.
Ours is simply to discover them and make use of them, including making
some inventions, but always in accordance to God’s plan and

The very nature of these subjects can only reflect the wisdom, the
goodness and the love of God for us. If their nature is properly
respected and used, these subjects can only lead us to God, and can
involve us in the dynamics of love, the essence of God of whom we are
the image and likeness.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Big and beyond

WHILE we need to be properly engaged with our daily routine of work,
usually the ordinary little duties attached to our profession and the
other conditions of our life, we should remember that we have to aim
also at the real big thing which is our holiness that requires going
beyond the prosaic of the here and now.

We need to make this reminder because many of us are falling into
complacency and confusion, lost in the flow of daily events and unable
to connect to the ultimate goal we all are meant to reach.

In fact, many now think we just have to live from moment to moment,
from day to day, denying any importance to any concern for the future
and much less to eternity. Eternal life holds no meaning to many of
us. There’s nothing after death. Everything is transitory. Nothing
remains forever.

The inquisitiveness of that rich young man who asked Christ, “What
good must I do to have eternal life?” is all but gone in the mind and
heart of modern man. We seem contented and thrilled only with what we
have at hand—the new technologies, fashions, etc.—that appear to
capture our dreams and fantasies.

This time-and-earth-bound mentality is actually dramatized abundantly
in the gospel. There’s that parable, for example, of a man who in
trying to insure his temporal security decided to build larger barns
to store his possessions, and said to himself: “Soul, you have much
goods laid up for many years. Take your rest, eat, drink and make
merry.” (Lk 12,19)

The lesson Christ wanted to impart from this parable is the following:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things
(the earthly, temporal and material things we need) shall be added
unto you.” (12,31)

Christ wants us to make “bags which do not grow old, a treasure in
heaven that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth
corrupts.” (12,33)

We have to get out of this time-and-earth-bound outlook, and enter
into an exciting adventure that God offers us in his providence, in
his abiding governance of his whole creation, in his continuing
intervention in our life. It’s an adventure that cruises through time
and space but also transcends them to bring us to eternal life and

We just cannot make our life the way we want it to be. We have to live
it with God. In fact, only with God would we be able to live our life
to the full. Without him, we would be out on a limb, prone to all
sorts of danger and harm, inside and outside us.

What this means is that we need to fall in love to be able to connect
the material with the spiritual, the temporal with the eternal, the
human with the divine. But we have to love with the love of God who is
the author, essence, means and end of love.  We have to be forewarned
of the many fake forms of love we tend to get tricked into.

With this love of God, we can link the small ordinary events of our
life to the big and beyond of our earthly life. And this love of God
is none other than obeying God’s commandments. Christ himself said so:
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Jn 14,15)

This indication was precisely reinforced in that episode of the rich
young man. Christ told him that to enter into eternal life, he has to
follow the commandments. And when the young man said he was doing all
the commandments, then Christ told him to sell all he had and to come,
follow Christ.

We cannot exaggerate this need to follow Christ as closely as possible
even to the point of leaving behind everything that we have (relictis
omnibus). Following Christ would always involve a continuing process
of self-denial. It’s a denial that would leave us increasingly empty
of ourselves to fill ourselves more and more with Christ.

This is the love of God that would enable us to properly immerse
ourselves in our earthly condition and to transcend it as well to
bring us to our ultimate destination. This is the love that makes the
little things of our day big and acquire an eternal value.

God does not want us to get out of this world. He put us here, in the
first place. But he wants us to live our life here properly, that is,
with love that usually is manifested by offering everything to God and
serving others.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Building and defending joy

THAT’S what we all long and yearn. We want to be happy. Glee and bliss
are the unspoken ultimate goal we want to attain. But how should we do
it? That’s the problem.

Especially now when we are bombarded with all sorts of trials,
challenges, pressures, we end up harassed, losing joy and peace easily
and for extended periods, reacting to things with tension and
irritation, and often plunging into despair and depression.

In reaction to this predicament, many people resort to deceptive
quick-fixes and other forms of escapism—alcohol, drugs, sex, isolation
or wild lifestyle—not knowing they are just poising themselves for an
uglier crash.

We need to clarify some basic issues here, since we seem to be in the
middle of a thickening confusion and drifting to a kind of hell on
earth. Mental cases are piling up, some studies report, indicating
many people do not anymore know how to cope with their situation.

Dysfunctionality now characterizes not only many individuals but also
families, collective systems and societies. This is the big challenge
we have today and we just have to grapple with it, no matter what it

We are made and wired for joy. Our problem is that we often ground our
sense of joy wrongly. Instead of hitching it on the genuine origin of
joy who is God, we attach it to something else.

We can say that the crisis of joy and peace in the world reflects the
deeper crisis involving faith. Many people have lost their sense of
God, their faith nothing more than what bodily pleasure and forms of
worldly fulfillment can give.

There are those who restrict their sense of joy in the emotional level
alone, or in physical or mental health, or in money, power and fame.
It’s a very unrealistic sense of joy that cannot cope with the
realities of life.

It’s a sense of joy that definitely cannot explain the meaning and
derive any good from the unavoidable suffering we can face in life,
the possible misfortunes and the sure death that will come.

And when some success or good fortune comes, then that wrongly-based
sense of joy would not know either how to handle such situation. It
tends to get spoiled and easily fall for vanity and pride. It would
just get more complicated.

We need to shout to the four winds that joy can only come from God,
from loving him, following his will and commandments, and entering
into such an ever-growing intimate relationship with him that we could
clearly and promptly see his abiding interventions in our life.

This is a truth that has to be released from our man-made prison of
ignorance, biases and malice. We need to break down the modern walls
of secularism, materialism and relativism that detach us from God and
have simply hardened our self-centeredness.

The joy that is rooted on our faith in God springs from our conviction
that God is our Creator and Father, the source of all good things,
including the essential mercy that we all need since we cannot help
but fall into sin and some trouble.

God never fails us. And nothing is impossible with him. Besides, even
in our wretched condition as sinners, God continues to love us not
only sentimentally, but also most thoroughly by assuming our own
sinfulness without committing sin, and converting our wounded
condition into a means for our perfection and salvation.

This is a truth that we need to process and assimilate well, because
this contains the very germ of the reason why we can afford to be
happy even in the midst of our most grievous predicament.

God, in Christ and now in the Church, only asks us to have faith which
is also what we are made for. We are not simply meant to think and
reason out, much less to feel only.

Whether we like it or not, aware of it or not, we always fall into
some mode of faith, because the reality of things simply demand us to
believe more than just to use our reason.

There are things that we accept not so much because we understand them
as because we simply like to accept them on the basis of our trust in
those who present them to us.

If we have trust in God and not just in some worldly or human
authority, then we open ourselves to an abiding sense of joy and
peace, confidence and security that can only come from an infinite God
who loves us no end.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The world we love-hate

IN biblical literature, the world can elicit two opposing reactions.
One is hating it or at least be cautious of it, as in, “What shall it
profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and suffer the loss of his
soul?” (Mk 8,36)

Church Fathers have enlarged that line as typified by some words of
St. Ignatius of Antioch: “No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this
world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to
power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of
us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one
desire. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this

The other reaction is loving it, because God himself loves it, as in,
“For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that
whosoever believes in him, may not perish, but may have life
everlasting.” (Jn 3,16)

I am sure that after stirring our mind a bit, we can see that both
reactions can be made compatible if we consider the contexts in which
they are mentioned. We have to hate the world insofar as it has
absorbed our own sinfulness and has become a source of temptation and
sin itself.

But we also have to love it because in the first place it is also a
creation of God like ourselves, and therefore is good, at least in its
original state until we have corrupted it. The world is also where God
has placed us to work out our free choice of whether we want to be
God’s image and likeness and children as he wants us to be, or not.

It’s important that we don’t get confused and lost in this very
nuanced attitude we ought to have toward the world. We have to outgrow
the simplistic all-or-nothing mindset that forces us to choose whether
we are for the world or against it.

That mentality has produced a distorted culture that divides people
into either worldly or other-worldly, without making the effort to
relate this world and the ‘other world.’

We need to love the world the way God loves it. We just have to learn
to purify it because of the anomalies it has acquired due to our sins.
But we need to understand that the world has an inherent objective
relation to God and to us that we need to discover, appreciate and

This is still a point hardly known and understood by many of us. The
common attitude is that one is simply on his own as to what to make
out of the world. While it’s true that we can discover some natural
laws governing the world, we fail to see how these laws come from God
and are supposed to be oriented toward God.

And so we feel quite free, in a licentious way, to do with it in any
way that suits our purposes, but hardly connecting it with God’s plans
and providence. This is the mentality that is quite embedded in us but
which we have to reform drastically, since it does not conform to how
we in our relation with the world should be.

We need to learn to see God in the world and to act the way God wants
us to act in the world. Otherwise, we would just be at the mercy of
the blind forces of the world, and vulnerable to the maneuverings of
the more clever and powerful people around.

We have to start by reminding ourselves that everything that we see,
touch, handle, and use comes from God. The very least thing that we
can do is to thank God for all these things, and then try to discern
what God wants us to do with them.

We can always presume that God has something grand for us to do every
day. He is love himself. His ways, his plans, his interventions in our
life are of love. And love is always about being generous, heroic,
making big things even out of small things.

This is something we need to be clear and be strongly convinced about.
Otherwise, we would think our life is just a matter of coasting along
and waiting for something big, in human terms, to happen.

If we have the right understanding of the world, we can always make
beautiful music out of the humdrum routine of our daily life, for we
would know how to discover God who is love there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beware of the inertia

IT’S a term in physics. Inertia refers to “the tendency of a body at
rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in
motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.”

While etymologically it derives from the Latin word “iners,” meaning
idleness, it can also refer to motion that refuses to stop or change
course against good reason.

It’s a term that can be applied also to an anomalous spiritual
situation when we get stuck either into laziness or mindless,
automatic activism or workaholism that goes nowhere, and we seem to
resist any change in course.

Sad to say, this anomaly appears to be quite widespread these days,
with many people either just being idle or quite busy but more in the
mechanical sense. We don’t have to look far to validate this

“Tambay” is precisely our local argot to refer to the large mass of
people, even young people, who are simply standing by, doing nothing
and just waiting for things to happen. We still have a lot of them

At the other extreme, we can have our version of yuppies and other
busy bodies who seem to be abuzz with action, but not knowing exactly
where they are going. We also have a good number of them around.

We need to be more aware of this predicament if only to know how to
solve it. It’s a problem that is first personal but is now fast
becoming social. But its worst impact is nothing less than on our
eternal destiny. And so, we just have to tackle it more seriously.

Obviously, we need moments of rest and action. But we just have to
remind ourselves that since we are not purely material beings subject
to physical laws, we ought to know when to rest and to move, what
reasons and goals we ought to achieve through them. In short, there’s
a heavy moral dimension to this aspect of our life.

We just cannot rest or move without any plan or purpose, other than
what we may immediately feel like doing. We simply cannot determine
these moments by merely physical or emotional condition. It’s not even
enough to depend mainly if not solely on social or cultural
expectations, though they obviously have to be factored in.

What would obviously help here is the habit of making daily, weekly,
monthly and so on plans that give us a general picture of how those
time frames would be spent. I wonder how many people of us make this a
serious habit.

I still see a lot of people without daily plans. There are even some
who are averse and hostile to the idea of making plans. It’s so very
Stone Age kind of thinking to consider plans as necessarily
restricting one’s freedom. They need to live in the 21st century.

But having plans is not enough. Plans give us generic indications.
They need to be refined, modified, enhanced, etc., as we grapple with
the concrete circumstances we meet along the way. This is where we
have to contend with our tendency to either the inertia of rest or the
inertia of motion.

To succeed, we need to develop a certain sensitivity that would
effectively and intimately connect us not only to our best ideas, but
most importantly to God, since in the end it is to him that we are
supposed to offer everything that we are and that we do. It is with
him that we are supposed to live always.

In short, we need to know how to go in sync with God’s abiding
providence with us. And that’s the reason why we need to learn how to
pray, how to contemplate, how to read signs of the times, both the
remote and the immediate, etc.

We also need to learn how to be flexible, which would require that we
free ourselves from certain attachments that would desensitize us to
the promptings from God.

To be sure, God has a grand plan for each one of us, a plan full of
value even if the elements involved may be considered as small and
insignificant in human and worldly terms.

But it’s a plan that can only be driven by love, that all-consuming
passion that constitutes the essence of God and ours too, since we
made in God’s image and likeness.

The challenge we have is how to discover that plan and live it, going
beyond the inertia of a merely human, worldly and usually wounded

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Apostolate is for all

    BEFORE it gets frozen and confined in what may be called as a
religious asylum, we have to strongly affirm and remind everyone that
the duty to do apostolate belongs to everyone of us.

    It’s not meant only for priests and nuns. It’s for all of us and most
especially the lay faithful, since they form the majority in the
Church and since they are spread out in all corners of the world—from
the basic social unity which is the family to the most global levels.

    Vatican II spells it out very clearly. “The Christian vocation is by
its very nature a vocation to the apostolate.” (Apostolicam
actuositatem, 2) So, anyone who wants to be truly consistent to his
Christian identity and calling should realize ever deeply that he is
called to help others get closer to God. This is what apostolate is
all about.

    This duty actually springs first of all from our nature. We are not
only individual persons. We are also a social being. Our sociability
is not an optional feature. It is part of our essence, violating which
would be equivalent to violating our very own nature.

    We can never live alone. We need to be with others. And more, we need
to care for one another. We have to be responsible for one another.
And while this caring and loving starts with the most immediate
material human needs like food, clothing, etc., it has to go all the
way to the spiritual and more important needs of ours.

    That’s why we need to practice affection, compassion, understanding,
patience and mercy on everyone. We have to understand though that all
these can only take place if they spring and tend towards God, “the
source of all good things” for us.

    Forget it if we believe we are capable of doing these duties merely
on our own will power. We can give some semblance of their fulfilment,
but if not anchored on God, the mask will just fall off sooner or

    We have to be more aware of this duty. We need to talk about it more
freely and more often. In the first place, because it has its complex
and dynamic side that should be dominated. Besides, it has to contend
with a world culture that is quite averse and even hostile to it.

    There is so much self-seeking around, and many people are practically
shackled by all sorts of human bondage—ranging from dependence on
sensual and worldly things, to psychological obsessions and
addictions—that hamper them in their duty to serve others, to give
themselves to others, in short, to love, the very essence of

    Any appearance to care for others is often driven by some ulterior,
selfish motives. We don’t seem to graduate from that level, and in
fact, we look like we are sinking more deeply into more self-interest
than concern for the common good.

    To be effective in the apostolate, each one of us has to immerse
himself in the love of God. We cannot give that love if in the first
place we don’t have it. And so we have to understand that apostolate
can only be a working venture if there is also an earnest abiding
effort to achieve personal holiness.

    We have to constantly examine ourselves if we truly are driven by
love of God. If we notice that such love is missing or is not that
strong, then we really need to do things to keep the flame alive.
That’s the reason why we need to be hot, spiritually and morally, not
lukewarm or, worse, cold in this department.

    We have to take care of our spiritual life, because that would be the
engine that transforms the fuel of God’s love into an energy for our
apostolate, with the view of igniting others in such love too.

    Of course, this personal apostolate has to be developed in true
friendship and confidence. It has to go beyond formalisms and generic
actions. We should be able to enter into some intimate communion of
mind and heart, otherwise, it would not prosper.

    This means that we should be willing to spend or to “waste” time with
others, eager to understand them and able to motivate them to pursue
the most important goal of life, which is to love God and others the
way God loves us through Christ.

    We should be willing to go beyond our personal preferences to be able
to be all things to all men, as St. Paul once said, which is
indispensable if we are to reach everyone for God.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Connecting time and eternity

THIS is what we need to learn to do. We have to overcome our
narrow-mindedness or blindness, because no matter how much we ignore
it, we cannot deny the fact that the full dimensions of our life go
beyond the temporal, the material and natural. We are also meant for
the eternal, spiritual and supernatural.

    The fact that we can think and reason out, wish and desire, choose or
not, love or not, are clear indications that we are not meant only for
the here and now, the tangible and the worldly. We go beyond them.

    We need to know how to properly handle this fundamental aspect of our
life. We have to overcome the bias that considers this truth as being
obsolete, primitive, medieval, out-of-date.

    It’s true that there are things in the past that we need to leave
behind. But it’s equally true there also are things that we need to
keep for they have permanent value to us. We have to be very
discerning. We cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Fact is the modern and contemporary culture has far more grievous
errors and more rotten ways than those of the old days. In fact, we
should be more afraid or more cautious of them than those of the
previous eras.

    Linking time with eternity is first of all a matter of the belief
that there is God and that he is our creator who gives us our very
existence and that he continually, without any gap or break,
intervening in our life.

    We have to be more aware of this truth, and more important, know how
to deal with it. We often take it for granted, or worse, we can think
that our life can just be on our own, completely dependent on what and
how we make it to be.

    Or we can think that we can be with God at some time and can be on
our own at other times. We need to outgrow this mentality, because it
simply does not correspond to reality. Ok, it’s not easy. There’s deep
and vast awkwardness especially in the beginning. But it’s not a
problem that cannot be solved.

    To achieve a constant awareness of God’s presence and intervention in
our life, we need to exert the effort to pray and to reach what is
called a contemplative lifestyle even in the hustle and bustle of the
world. There’s no other way.

    This can be done if there is the will to do it, a will that needs to
be continually renewed and refreshed, and that needs to go through
continuing conversion, looking always for motivations that actually
are endless. There are infinite possibilities for this.

    To achieve this, some saints have associated their own breathing with
the mental effort to call God’s name. Others have come up with all
sorts of human devices to help them to be with God all the time. Each
one of us can think of other means fit for our condition.

    What we should remember is that God always has a marvellous plan for
each one of us. His interventions in our life are never passive or
cold. It’s full of love, of concern, of goodness and wisdom. It will
be very exciting if consuming to intimately cooperate in God’s

    This truth should impel us to know God’s will for us as promptly and
as best as we could and to do our part as actively as we could. God’s
will for us is like the end-all of our life. There could be no better
plan for us. Would we dare to compare and prefer our will over God’s

    And so we just have to help everyone acquire this attitude and get
into the act, starting with our very own selves and then with those
close to us and then the others in an ever-widening ripple that should
cover the whole world eventually.

    Truth is there are a lot of people trapped in their own world and in
their own fantasies. Many of them do not even realize it. Some may,
but do not know how to get out of the predicament.

    We need to face up to this daunting challenge. We have to be prepared
for this, more spiritually and morally than physically.

    But let’s keep the faith in what God himself promised: “Ask of me and
I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your
possession” (Ps 2,8) It’s always a matter of faith, where our faith

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November thoughts

    NOVEMBER may rhyme with somber and, in a certain sense, it truly is,
what with its commemoration of the dead that in our country, thanks be
to God, is still widely celebrated and regarded very seriously, if

    It’s also the month when the liturgical calendar ends with readings
revolving around the end time, thereby casting a pall over it. Indeed,
it’s the month when we are encouraged to consider the so-called Last
Things—death, judgment, hell and, of course, heaven.

    But it actually is a happy month, because it also brings with it the
celebration of solemnity of all saints, and somehow brings to the fore
this truth of faith about our communion of saints—the reality that we
are all united in Christ, those in heaven, those still purifying in
purgatory and those still struggling here on earth.

    We are one people of God, a family with ties more intimate than what
flesh and blood can achieve. And that’s because we are, by God’s will,
children of his, created in his image and likeness. That’s the truth
that applies to each one of us and all of us together.

    November then highlights the need for us to be more aware of our
responsibility for one another. We are a people. We are a family. We
are the Church, the mystical body of Christ, whose members we are,
members who need to be vitally united to him and to one another.

    We have to realize more deeply that we have a great task to preserve
the unity and identity of this family of God. This task falls on
everyone of us though in different ways. And one very important and
indispensable aspect of this task is to carry out a lifelong work of

    Evangelization can be described as the vital transmission of the
lifeblood of truth that comes from God and meant not only to sustain
us but also to lead us to our ultimate perfection and salvation. It’s
truth that brings us not only some worldly benefits, but rather
nothing less than heaven.

    It’s truth that definitely are not simply abstract ideas or mere
intellectual affairs of ours. It’s truth that comes always with
charity, that addresses us in our whole being as body and soul, and as
children of God, and brothers and sisters to one another.

    This truth is nothing other than our faith that gives us the ultimate
meaning of everything in our life. We have to be clear about the fact
that nothing in our life is outside the purview of our faith. It’s
faith that gives us the whole picture of things, the ultimate purpose
of our earthly concerns.

    We should disabuse ourselves from the tendency to think that we can
arrive at the ultimate definition and understanding of things through
our reason alone and our human sciences. Yes, they are necessary, but
always together with faith.

    Let’s always remember what St. John said: “This is the victory that
has overcome the world: our faith.” (1 Jn 5,4) The final victory
cannot be in any other.

    Evangelization therefore can be a very demanding task, because it
frowns upon any attempt to make short-cuts that can achieve a certain
degree of efficiency and convenience, but can sacrifice the demands,
especially the finer demands of charity.

    It demands nothing less than truly internalizing our faith, making it
flesh of our flesh, so to speak, so that everything is viewed and
understood always in terms of our faith and not just of our reasoning,
no matter how brilliantly logical and appealing our reasoning may be.

    But it’s also an easy task, because first of all there’s God’s grace
that is never wanting. And we are already given all the means to make
this evangelization ever new and fresh, ever relevant and effective.
We have the doctrine now well articulated and systematized. We have
the sacraments, etc.

    What is needed is our correspondence that is supposed to be generous
and unstinting. In this regard, it would be good that those who occupy
positions of great influence in our society—our politicians, teachers,
people in media, celebrities, etc.—be well formed in their Christian
faith and give consistent witness to it, not scandal.

    The effort to highlight the original and perennial link between faith
and reason should be made always. The modern mind, immersed in
reasoning, the sciences and technology, needs to see and be convinced
of this connection.

    Those more intellectually gifted should lead the way in doing this—of
course, in all humility, lest they repel instead of attract others.