Sunday, December 31, 2017

Regarding risks

WE know that in this life there are always some risks. We
have to contend with some dangers and threats along the way. They are
actually everywhere, from the physical aspect of our life to the most
subtle levels of the spiritual and the moral.

            We, of course, should try to avoid them. But there also
are situations when these risks are unavoidable and we are somehow
forced to take them. We have to be prepared for these eventualities.

            We have to learn how to detect these risks so we can avoid
them. And we also have to learn how to manage them when they have to
be taken. We need to develop the appropriate skills for this, using
also the appropriate analytical tools.

            The first thing to do is to sharpen our understanding
about what would constitute as risks and dangers, especially in the
area of our spiritual and moral life. We have to be clear about what
would constitute as sins against God, against others and our own
selves, and against the environment, etc.

            Sad to say, many of the people’s sense of sin and
temptation is increasingly distorted these days since what are clearly
against the will and commandments of God are now being legalized and

            We now have legalized abortion and same-sex marriage, for
example, and the frivolous lifestyles complete with sexual perversions
and all kinds of addictions are spreading.

            All kinds of cheating, deception and corruption are
rampant. All these would certainly create a loosening of morals all
over the place, especially affecting the young ones who are most

            It is now quite a challenge to make people develop the
proper sense of sin. This can only happen if there is also the prior
and abiding effort to develop a closer relationship with God. Without
this latter effort, there is no way we can have a good sense of sin,
let alone the ability to know and resist their risks.

            So the real challenge is actually how to make people
develop their spiritual life of love and communion with God. So far,
what we see is a highly formalistic kind of spirituality that hardly
has any substance. There’s a lot of inconsistency and instability in
the spiritual life of many people.

            Regarding risk detection and risk management, what is
immediately needed is the habit of making a regular examination of
conscience so that people can effectively monitor the developments of
their spiritual life. People have to be taught how to do this, always
highlighting both the immediate and long-run benefits of this

            There has to be good system of monitoring the different
events and situations of the day. This may include the practice of
noting down not only mentally but also on paper the significant
features of these events and situations that need to be looked into
more closely.

            People have to be taught how to discern the different
spirits behind every event and situation to see if they are good or
bad and thus to be able to act accordingly. They have to know the root
and sources of the risks and temptations they have to contend with.

            Together with teaching people how to do the examination of
conscience, the practice of how to formulate a good plan of ascetical
struggle should also be taught. The spiritual and supernatural means
should take pride of place, but the concrete human means should also
be made clear.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Caring for the family

I WAS happy to note that last Christmas, there were many
family pictures in the social media that carried their Christmas
greetings to their friends and their respective families. I hope and
pray that this warm family relations are kept and made to develop some

            We can never exaggerate the importance of the family in
our life. And we should be most thankful to God that, at least, in our
country, we can still observe a strong sense of the family that, sad
to say, seems to be disappearing in other parts of the world.

            We should not be complacent, however, with what we are
enjoying at the moment with regard to family life in general. There
are many challenges to face nowadays in this department, and we should
just tackle them and continue to learn lessons and improve the quality
of our family life.

            Let us entrust this concern to the Holy Family of Nazareth
who will surely guide us and keep us properly grounded and rooted as
we flow with the dizzying developments of our times that have serious
implications insofar as family life is concerned.

            First of all, we have to understand that the family
environment can only be a reflection of the love between the parents.
That love between husband and wife, father and mother, should always
grow and develop, getting more and more purified as time goes on and
as more challenges appear.

            With that strong love, the proper attention and affection
to their own children, especially the young ones, would be effectively
nurtured. The parents should realize that the quality of their love
for themselves and for their children increases in proportion to their
self-surrender, their self-denial, their willingness to make

            They have to be wary of the subtle damage that tiredness,
stress and self-absorption can cause. They need to always remember
that the way to happiness is to be generous, giving themselves without
counting the cost and without expecting any return.

            For all this, the parents should see to it that the life
of piety and a culture and tradition of Christian love are always
fostered in the family. Everyone should be encouraged to think of the
others, to serve and not to be served. The parents should think of how
to sustain a plan of Christian formation for the whole family.

            The parents should spend ample time with the children,
getting to know each one of them, and respecting and loving them the
way they are, encouraging them in their strengths and helping them in
their weaknesses.

            There should be established family traditions of being
together on certain parts of the day and on special days and
occasions. Family get-togethers, praying and going to Church together,
for example, can be developed. The parents should be the ones to
initiate family activities that help members get closer to each other
and imbibe good values.

            In particular, parents should give special attention to
the development of virtues like humility, order, hard work,
compassion, patience, good manners, respect for different opinions,
capacity to change and adapt to different persons and circumstances.

            Also, parents should instill a deep sense of
responsibility to their children, as well as strength of character
especially when faced with challenges. Affection should be the abiding
atmosphere in the family. Again the parents should take the initiative
in this department.

            All of this would require the parents to pause and pray,
and study things coming up always with some concrete plans and

Thursday, December 28, 2017


THIS is the law that should govern and characterize our
whole life. We are meant for loving which, in concrete terms, is a
matter of serving others. If that loving is authentic, that is,
inspired by God’s love, then it shown in serving others wholeheartedly
without counting the cost nor expecting any return. It’s completely
done for free.

            This truth about ourselves is amply dramatized in that
lesson Christ gave regarding the unprofitable servant. (cfr Lk
17,7-10) “When you have done all you have been commanded,” Christ
said, “say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what we were
obliged to do.’”

            Loving and serving cannot and should not be quantified in
terms of cost and reward. It is above all these considerations. It’s a
purely spiritual operation that should not be spoiled by giving it
some material and temporal value. It’s where we can approximate, keep
and build up that dignity of being the image and likeness of God and
adopted children of his. It’s how we become God-like.

            As man, we of course have our material and temporal needs.
These should be attended to as well. We are body and soul, material
and spiritual, and both dimensions have their distinctive requirements
that have to be met as best as we could.

            At least, in our earthly life, these two dimensions and
components of our being are inseparable. One cannot be without the
other. Just the same, we should not confuse them. We have to abidingly
acknowledge their difference and learn how to handle this condition

            Of these two components, the spiritual aspect has pride of
place, since as Christ said: “It is the Spirit that gives life. The
flesh counts for nothing.” (Jn 6,63) In other words, our material and
temporal dimension would have no value unless properly inspired by the
Spirit who together with giving us life also inspires us to love, to
give ourselves freely to others.

            Remember what St. Paul said. “If I give all I possess to
the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do
not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13,3) Christ himself said:
“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his
own soul?” (Mk 8,36)

            It’s this Spirit-inspired loving that makes serving and
self-giving an affair where we gain and receive more the more we give
ourselves to others. These are what Christ said in this regard:

            “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure,
pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into
your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Lk 6,38) And, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Mt 10,8)

            This is how God serves and gives himself to us, with
complete gratuitousness. He even goes all the way of still loving and
serving us even if we do not reciprocate his love properly. This is
how we should serve and give ourselves to the others also.

            This will require a deep sense of humility and utter
detachment from earthly things, which does not mean that we have no
need for earthly things. Our need for earthly things will be fully
satisfied if we give ourselves first to God, for as Christ said:

            “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and
all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6,33)