Sunday, July 31, 2016

What politics needs most

THE immediate answer is to humanize and Christianize it. Politics all
over the world has been at the mercy of man’s baser passions for so
long that it now screams to high heavens for its humanization and

And this can only mean that it is in dire need of charity. It has to
be guided by the requirements of charity, which should not be
considered as some kind of drag or hindrance but rather as the
perfection and fulfillment of politics. It just cannot be left alone,
fully under the power of our passions, brute force and worldly forces.
In fact, it can and should be a massive way of sanctification of the

Politics ought to be pursued always in charity. It cannot be any other
way, since charity is the mother of all virtues and good values. If we
want justice, truth and fairness, charity has them all. If we want
competence, order, discipline, etc., again charity has them. If we
want objectivity, charity has it. And that’s because charity covers
all our needs.

Politics, as a human necessity and as a free act of man, is definitely
subject to the moral law, and as such, should also have a proper
spirituality to animate it. This is a truth of our faith that should
never be lost in our mind, and much less, in our culture. The autonomy
we enjoy in our politics is never to be taken to mean that God has
nothing to do with it.

Politics just cannot be left to the raw forces of our human nature,
which has the capability of detaching itself from its creator and his
law. It just cannot be subject to the law of the jungle. Without God,
politics would be left to our own ideologies, historico-cultural
conditions, our own personal hunches of how things ought to be, etc.

The way politics is practiced today, we need nothing less than a
revolution, a drastic, radical conversion of heart among our political
leaders and the citizenry in general.

We need to redeem politics from being a devil’s game and to recover
its true lofty nature and character based on our innate dignity as
human persons created in the image and likeness of God, and made
children of his.

In many Church teachings, we are reminded that while the technical
formation of politicians does not enter into the mission of the
Church, the Church has the mission of giving “moral judgment also on
things that pertain to the political order, when this is required by
the fundament rights of the person and the salvation of souls…using
only those means that conform to the Gospel and the good of all,
according to the diversity of the times and situations” (Gaudium et
Spes 76)

Commenting on this part of the above-cited Church document, Pope
Emeritus Benedict XVI once said:

“The Church concentrates particularly on educating the disciples of
Christ, so that, increasingly they will be witnesses of his presence
everywhere. It is up to the laity to show concretely in personal and
family life, in social, cultural and political life, that the faith
enables one to read reality in a new and profound way and to transform

He batted for a unity of life, a consistency in peoples’ behavior
based on faith that would go together with hope and charity. In fact,
he added that “Christian hope extends the limited horizon of man and
points him to the true of loftiness of his being, to God, and that
charity in truth is the most effective force to change the world.”

He also said that the “Gospel is the guarantee of liberty and message
of liberation; that the fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine
of the Church, such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity
and solidarity, are very timely and of value for the promotion of new
ways of development at the service of every man and of all men.”

To translate all this wonderful doctrine about politics into reality,
we should realize that all of us who are in different ways involved in
politics should not avoid the cross, but rather look for it and
embrace it. We need to realize that the cross would comprise the
fullness of any political work, and indicate the authenticity of one’s
motives in politics.

Just as the cross is the summit of Christ’s redemptive work, and also
the life of every Christian believer, the cross has to be the crown of
this human affair we call politics. It cannot be any other way.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Caring for our attitude

IT’S unfortunate that the word “attitude” has fallen into
disrepute. Nowadays when you hear that someone has an attitude, it
means he has a bad temper, or has an evil way of looking at things,
etc. It has become a catch-all for everything that can be negative in
a person.

            I am sure it’s one of those sweeping, thoughtless
generalizations that sometimes happen when we seem dominated by a
certain kind of event. It’s a case of branding and stereotyping,
similar to the Colgate of old to refer to toothpaste in general, etc.

            But attitude is something we cannot avoid. It’s part of
our system, of our being persons who think and choose, who certainly
have a sense of how things are and ought to be. It can refer to our
dispositions toward everything in life. It’s the more permanent fruit
of how we correspond to our consciences.

            In fact, we need to see to it that our attitudes are taken
care of. They should be properly cultivated, equipped and oriented.
They should not be just left alone to develop by themselves, driven
mainly by shallow considerations—emotions and passions, fads and
fashions, all sorts of social conditionings, etc.

            In these times with so many challenges, difficulties and
other tricky elements, we have to see to it that our attitudes are
well established. They are precisely those very intimate, internal
principles, the basic expression and language of our heart that need
to be guided and protected.

            It’s our attitude that determines how we behave before
different situations, issues, challenges, etc. It tells us when to be
calm or agitated, patient or impatient, gentle or assertive, etc.

            For Christian believers, the standard, of course, is Jesus
Christ, who said he is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. He is
in fact who and what we ought to be, the very pattern of our humanity,
our source and end, our redeemer.

            Let’s hope that we can be more aware of this need, and
skilled to handle our obligation toward it. We cannot deny the patent
fact that many suffer from serious attitudinal problems, all crying
for help. Objectively, that is, and not quite subjectively, since many
may not realize they have such problems.

            There’s a lot of apathy and indifference towards others.
If not that, then there’s a lot of rash judgments and invasive
critical thoughts towards them. Many just coast along in life,
drifting without a clear sense of purpose. All of these indicate
neglect and malformation in the care of our attitudes.

            With the rise of technological progress, for example, we
can see that while there is marked improvement in the quality of life
for some, there’s also the downside that many misuse or abuse this

            The phenomenon of the social media, like the Facebook and
the Twitter, is a case in point. While these electronic facilities
expedite our communications, the problem now is what to communicate.
Many people do not realize that the rise of technology is also calling
for a rise in our sense of purpose.

            Obviously, if we just keep ourselves at the level of
greeting and communicating trivia, it will not be long before we
deteriorate into gossiping and quarrelling over petty things.

            Or we lapse into being just a passive observer, mainly
wasting time. And what time we can waste just reading the postings
there! Or we simply stop using them, which is quite a waste of
resources given the many golden opportunities these technological
advances can give us.

            We need to have a clearer and higher sense of purpose to
match the quantum leap of advantages these electronic devices provide
us. Otherwise, we end up spoiled by them, confused and swallowed by
their intoxicating properties, and later, enslaved by them. I don’t
think this is just theory. It’s a very likely possibility.

            We need to develop programs to address this urgent and
widespread need. Technology has not only accelerated our pace of life.
It also has increased our challenges, this time, more subtle and yet
no less important and crucial. We have to help one another in
discerning things and equipping ourselves with the proper attitudes.

            This task can actually be pioneered by anyone. But most
likely the best setting would be the families and the schools that are
continually monitoring the developments around.

            Parents and teachers should get together to plot out
relevant strategies, always getting guidance from the Church and other
moral authorities and experts. But the main focus should be the
instilling of the proper attitudes in everyone.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Emptying and filling

IN a certain sense, our earthly life can be described as a
matter of emptying and filling. That is, emptying of our own selves,
our own egos, so we can be filled with God, with love, which is what
is proper to us.

            In whatever we do, let’s see to it that this business of
emptying and filling is the underlying law and principle that is being
followed. Failing in that can only mean failing in our ultimate
purpose in life, no matter how successful we may appear to be in our
work or social and political life, and in the other aspects of life.

            We need to adapt and develop the relevant attitude and
skills so we can turn this ideal into a working lifestyle. We should
not forget that Christ clearly said: ‘If anyone wishes to come after
Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt
16,24) That, in a nutshell, is the biblical basis for this business of
emptying and filling.

            Christ himself, our way, truth and life, lived this
principle perfectly by emptying himself so he can be filled with the
will of his Father.

            St. Paul expressed this fact in this way: “Christ who,
though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a
thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a
servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human
form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on
a cross.” (Phil 2,5-8)

            Christ’s self-emptying cannot be overemphasized. Being the
son of God with whom nothing is impossible, he chose to be born poor
in a manger and led an austere life all throughout. Even in his
impressive moments of preaching and making miracles, he did not want
to be treated as a king or some kind of celebrity.

            He preached about meekness and humility and lived what he
preached. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart,” he said.
(Mt 11,29) In the Last Supper, he shocked his apostles when he began
to wash their feet and insisted on doing so, despite the protestation
of Peter, to give an example for them to follow.

            Then finally he allowed himself to go through his passion
and death on the cross, his supreme act of self-emptying that earned
the greatest gift for us—our own salvation, the return of God into our
lives—God from whom we come and to whom we belong.

            We need to learn how to empty ourselves to fill ourselves
with God and with his love which is the only authentic love that we
can have. And this concern will be a never-ending affair in our whole
lifetime, because our heart will always be an arena of the lifelong
struggle between God and ourselves.

            St. Augustine describes this phenomenon in this way: “Two
cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self,
even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to
the contempt of self.” (City of God, ch. 28)

            We need to be clear about this distinction, and its
implications and ramifications, for many are now the circumstances
that can confuse us in this most delicate and important matter.

            Is the love we are developing in ourselves the love of God
or our self-love? Sometimes the distinction between the two loves can
be tricky because we can often delude ourselves and cover ourselves
with all sorts of rationalizations and justifications.

            Still we can manage to distinguish as long as we closely
monitor the course of our thoughts, desires, words and deeds through
regular examinations of conscience, frequent confessions, never-ending
process of conversion occasioned by a deep sense of humility.

            To be sure, this self-emptying in order to be filled with
God’s love is not a matter of running away from our earthly affairs,
which will always be in need of material resources. It’s rather a
matter of making sure that our earthly and temporal affairs do not
convert into our end and god themselves, but rather as means to
develop our love for God, and with that love, also our love for

            Christ assures us that if we have the proper priorities in
life, everything will just be fine. “Seek first the kingdom of God and
his righteousness,” he said, “and all these things will be given to
you as well.” (Mt 6,33)

            When we empty ourselves of our own ego, we get filled with
God and his love.

The Trinity and the technology

WITH the trend to go increasingly technological that
brings with it the increasingly esoteric jargon, I wonder if we can
also go increasingly theological that brings with it its own load of
increasingly special concepts and language.

            I feel that both aspects of our life deserve our
attention, since they are actually important, relevant and even
crucial. We just have to undertake the appropriate plan of sharing the
intricacies of these fields more widely.

            This current rapid flow of developments is breeding so
many changes in people that it is now said that we are altering our
understanding of what generation is. Today, generation is not anymore
a matter of one’s age, because even in the same age group, there could
be many generations of people.

            Besides, given this technology-determining trend of our
society today, a generation can include very disparate variety of
people in terms of age, background and orientation. Thus, one time I
was amused to see a very techie 80-year-old priest feeling at home
with teeners with spiked hair, and even speaking in jejemon.

            A generation is now any group of people more or less made
homogeneous by the level of technological access and knowledge that
they possess. It’s a phenomenon that has its good aspects, but
definitely also has negative and dangerous tendencies.

            In the first place, we still do not know how this
phenomenon will develop. There are now many things to consider and
learn—the technologies continually pour out new programs--before we
can make any intelligent projection of how things will be.

            Still, we should not forget that even if we are
experiencing a warp-speed kind of changes and developments, we as men
continue to be the same, our human nature has a core that does not

            We need to strengthen that core, or to keep it intact,
since as men we, with our intelligence and freedom, are also capable
of deforming our own nature. So we need to constantly remind ourselves
about basic, indispensable truths about us that we have to promote and

            Among these fundamental truths are that we have been
created by God in his image and likeness and that with his grace we
are made to participate in his very own life.

            We are not meant to live by ourselves alone. The purpose
and meaning of our life lies in God, not in our own selves. And so we
have to see to it that we don’t get detached from God even as we
immerse ourselves in the exhilarating world of our own creativity.

            Since the life of God is Trinitarian, we need to know how
to deal even while here on earth, even while pursuing our exciting
earthly affairs, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This
will guarantee that whatever we do here would redound to our authentic
good, that they are done with God and for God, and not just for

            In fact, our life should somehow reflect the Trinitarian
character of divine life. God, though absolutely simple and one, is
triune. That’s because even though he is one, he is not alone nor

            With his eternal dynamic life of knowing and loving, he
generates within himself an eternal kind of spiral of relationship of
Father, he who knows, the Son, the self-knowledge of God, and the Holy
Spirit, the love between the Father and the Son.

            These are persons who are consubstantial with each other,
that is, each one of them is the fullness of God, and not just a part
of God. They cannot be separated from one another. In the very one
God, there’s one person who knows, another one who is known, and a
third one who is the love. All these acting in eternity, and all at

            For our life to reflect this Trinitarian life, we need to
follow the teaching and example of Christ, the Son of God who became
man who revealed to us this mystery of the Blessed Trinity.

            Like him, we have to do no other than the will of the
Father, and to do it in the Holy Spirit for it to acquire its ultimate
eternal value proper to us. This is how our life and all our
activities and concerns should be developed.

            Perhaps as a guiding formula, we can use the expression:
“By the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.” Such motto would
also give us ideas of how to deal with each person of the Blessed
Trinity, and really live in a Trinitarian way daily, as we ought.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our need for silence and recollection

WE need to realize this human requirement deeply. We need
to have silence and spirit of recollection even as we immerse
ourselves in our human, mundane and temporal affairs, so that we would
not lose the moorings and focus in life that is proper to us as
persons and ultimately as children of God.

            Definitely, our need for silence and recollection is not a
matter of being indifferent and detached from the things of the world.
It’s not a form of escapism. It is not a way of alienating us from the
world and from others. Quite the contrary is true.

            When we properly satisfy this need, our involvement in our
worldly affairs becomes deeper and more realistic. We would be
engaging ourselves in what truly matters in life. We avoid being
carried away by strong blind worldly forces that can be exhilarating
and captivating but can lead us nowhere in the end. We avoid
dispersion and dissipation.

            This realization of our radical need for silence and
recollection is most relevant these days since we are bombarded with
so many things that tend to confuse and blind us, and alienate us from
the source of everything that is true and good. This source is, of
course, God.

            In fact, for Christian believers, the very source and end
of their consciousness should be God. This is simply because the
Christian faith teaches that God is the creator of the whole universe,
including us, and continues to govern us intimately in our hearts.

            We need to be focused always on him for us to be properly
in touch with reality. Straying from him would be to stray from
reality. It would lead us to make our own reality and our own world, a
purely subjective world that can be detached from the objective one.
We would simply be at the mercy of our own estimation of things.

            For Christian believers, reality is not simply the items
that we see or hear or even feel and understand. Reality is a given,
not made by us. It has to be discovered, not invented by us. But it
has to enter deep into our being, since we have a subjective mode of
existence, meaning that we are meant to know and love everything the
way God, the Creator, knows and loves them.

            Since our society today is characterized by a constant and
unstoppable flow of information, we need silence and recollection all
the more not so much as an antidote to the noise around as a necessary
way to be able to integrate things properly.

            Silence and recollection favor the habit of discernment
and reflection. With silence and recollection, we would be in a better
position to listen to and understand ourselves as well as others.
Through silence and recollection, ideas easily come to birth and
acquire depth. We would better know what we want to say, what we
expect from others. We would know how to express ourselves in a more
appropriate way.

            When there is silence and recollection, we can understand
people better, and avoid being simply tied down to our opinions,
preferences and biases. We foster mutual listening, and a deeper human
relationship comes as a consequence. With silence and recollection, a
better communication with others is made possible

            With silence and recollection, we can better distinguish
between what is essential and what simply incidental. They enable us
to discover the links between events that at first sight seem
unconnected. We can better analyze messages and share thoughtful and
relevant opinions. So we need to find a good balance between silence,
words, images and sounds.

            All these would give us some lightness of heart and spirit
and would enable us to get in sync with God’s will and ways, and to
adapt ourselves to any human situation, good or bad. They would give
us a sense of dominion, of self-master over our senses, emotions and

            We need to spread this concern as widely as possible,
since there is now an urgent need for these skills to be learned by
all. Things should begin with the family. We have to inculcate the
proper attitude and teach the proper skills especially to the young
who are now very vulnerable to fall into excesses and addiction, into
dispersion and dissipation, wasting time and effort.

            Parents should be the primary teachers and models for this
purpose. They should realize that children learn things first in the
family before they do in school and in other places.