Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hearts Moved by the Immaculate Heart of Mary


This is a personal testimonial of one of our Courage brothers who visited the patients living with HIV/AIDS at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.


On June 13, 2015, on the Memorial Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Courage did one of two outreach activities planned for this year. We visited the ward for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) of San Lazaro Hospital to provide spiritual care for our brethren.

We all gathered at the Bambang LRT station at 8:30 a.m. and proceeded to San Lazaro together from there. We were met by our chaplain, Fr. E who in turn was received by the San Lazaro Chaplain, Fr. H.

We first visited the beautiful chapel inside the hospital grounds. This institution is dedicated to Lazarus, he whom Jesus loved and brought back from the dead. We knew in our hearts that this day will move us substantially and so we offered what was going to happen next to God.




We then gathered at an office by the chapel where our Courage brother L, who works there as counsellor, briefed us on what will happen. We were instructed on how to properly relate with them that will not put them in greater harm, physically and emotionally.

We then went to the ward, which is about a 5 minute walk from the chapel. At the ward, we stayed in a small room while they invited and gathered the patients to the ward lobby. When everyone was set, we sat on a big circle and prayed the rosary together. This was a most meaningful prayer of solidarity where we connected with our PLHA brethren in seeking the help of Jesus the Healer through His most tender and loving Mother. It was solemn, serene, and comforting --- as if the Lady herself was coming to each one of us and taking us all in under her maternal care.

After the rosary, Fr. E proceeded with giving the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to each of the patients who wished to receive it. I was among who followed Fr. E in the anointing and I was witness to how once the priest puts on the chrism on the patient’s forehead, a spiritual change happens. It is as if a heavy burden is taken off from them; their eyes move behind their closed lids and they take in a deep breath of air. Their faces then transform with a certain glow of peace. After the anointing, we gave each one a rosary scapular.

This is a common ward and so not all are Catholics. L warned us that based on his experience, not all patients will welcome receiving the sacraments. Some are even extremely skeptical while others will be too weak. But he observed that on this day, there was an unusually high number of patients who agreed to receive the sacrament and that the patients were very docile. There were a total of 22 patients that day and about 60-70% received the sacrament.

I believe that this is the work of the Blessed Mother. She opened the patients’ hearts to receive her Son, their one true Healer and Savior. And not just them, but our hearts too -- Fr. E’s and Courage members’. Fr. E was at his most pastoral when he joyfully administered the sacraments without fear or hesitation. He embodied what it is to be courageous for the Lord. To see the patients at their condition---so weak, so frail, so fragile, you would be very afraid to approach them for fear of hurting them. But Fr. E did otherwise. He knew Jesus would not be afraid to approach and touch them. And maybe the Blessed Mother made him see too the weak, frail, fragile suffering Christ on the way to the cross on the faces of the patients? Remember, the Blessed Mother saw the suffering Christ on His way to Calvary with her own eyes too and comforted Him despite her sorrow and pain.

We were all for sure changed by this. The post activity debrief said it all: loss of words, overwhelmed, shocked, in tears…deep feelings that linger. Inspired by the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this pierced our hearts and out came love for our PLHA brethren and for God, that moves us to serve them and to obey God’s will.

Joseph Anthony of the Sacred Heart of Jesus



"I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." - Matthew 25:36

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Courage Statement on Supreme Court Decision


For nearly 35 years, Courage International has provided authentic pastoral care to men and women who experience same-sex attraction and who have made a free choice to embrace the call of Jesus Christ to live chastely in harmony with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Some of our members follow this call in loving marriages to a person of the opposite sex, while many others live chaste celibate lives, accepting the many heroic sacrifices that this requires in a spirit of cheerful, generous self-giving. Our members are a daily inspiration to the chaplains who serve them, and to the whole Church.

Mindful of the guidance of Pope Francis, and the priorities set for the Church by the Synod on the Family, Courage remains committed to ministering to this underserved community and, through the EnCourage apostolate, to those who love them. We are daily inspired by their joyful embrace of chastity and of the freedom that it gives them to love authentically, and believe that their compelling stories are a powerful witness to others.

(Source: www.couragerc.org)



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers, Sons and Homosexuality


Fathers, love your sons. Today as we celebrate Father's Day, I want to remind all fathers out there to spend quality time with your sons and build an intimate relationships with them. Many of us men struggling with same-sex attractions have a lot of deep and painful issues with our own fathers and although we do not want to put the blame on them for our personal struggles, I think it is fair to say that many fathers today do not know how to become good fathers. This very short article will reveal to you that missing link in your relationships with your sons that I hope may create a truly lasting and authentic father-son relationship. Happy Father's Day!


A SHARED DELIGHT
by Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.

In my search for the particular quality of father-son bonding that is fundamental to the development of the boy's masculine identity, I have been led to a phenomenon that I call "a shared delight."

I am convinced that the healthy development of masculine identification depends on this phenomenon. This special emotional exchange should be between the boy and his father, although a father figure or grandfather may serve the purpose where no father is available. It is not a single event or one-time occurrence, but should characterize the relationship.

This particular style of emotional attunement is especially important during the critical developmental gender-identity period.

Homosexual men have great difficulty recalling childhood father-son activities that were fun, exciting and enjoyable and included success and achievement for the client-- a shared delight. They typically do not have many positive memories of their fathers coaching them to gain a new skill that involves bodily activity or strength. Indeed, many lament this deprivation.

An example of "a shared delight" is found in writer and social commentator Malcolm Muggeridge's autobiobiography. Malcolm's father was his hero; and as a teenager, Malcolm would travel to his father's office in London. When the young man arrived, he noticed an embodied shift in his father:


"When he saw me, his face always lit up, as it had a way of doing, quite suddenly, thereby completely altering his appearance; transforming him from a rather cavernous, shrunken man into someone boyish and ardent. He would leap agilely off his stool, wave gaily to his colleague... and we would make off together.

"There was always about these excursions an element of being on an illicit spree, which greatly added to their pleasure. They were the most enjoyable episodes in all my childhood."


As we work with men who experience same-sex attractions, we hear that repeated theme--their inability to recall "a shared delight."

Physical interaction between father and son appears essential in making the father feel familiar, non-mysterious, and approachable in the boy's eyes.

So much of what lies behind adult same-sex attraction is that deep, lingering, unsatisfied desire for physical closeness with a man. With internalization of the father's masculinity, there will be no need to sexualize another man.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Prayer to Renew the Sanctity and Beauty of Human Sexuality




The world celebrates Gay Pride on the last week of June (in remembrance of the Stonewall riots). The Church respects and honors the dignity of all human beings including homosexuals. As Christians, we believe that their full dignity is in the identity of being redeemed children of God and that their true freedom lies in obedience to God's will. In this regard, we request an hour of adoration in June to be offered for the realization of this truth and for the above prayer, "Prayer to Renew the Sanctity and Beauty of Human Sexuality", to be said at least once on the last week of June with an act of mortification to be lovingly offered as reparation.

The LGBT community uses the rainbow as their icon. The rainbow of biblical account is God's covenant after the big flood and a continuation of God's deliverance done through Noah's ark for those obedient to His will. The Noah's ark also housed and saved the male and female of every species with which to renew life. This is our contemporary Noah's ark moment when we give glory to God for saving His obedient children and for protecting and upholding the male and female union of every species to renew and sustain life.

Below is a brief explanation of the logo that you see above which was designed by one of our Courage brothers.

a. Male and female icons in place and they are united in Christ and the Divine Mercy watches over them. The rays can actually be seen as like a light from a lighthouse too guiding the ark's navigation.

b. The cross is gold which is the true treasure of the Church.

c. Background is sky blue which is Marian. But the one below is gray which is the flood and the challenges that face the ark.

d. Outer ring is maroon which is the color of Courage. Interestingly enough, this can also be crimson which is what the claws of the dove became when it came back to Noah after checking if there's already dry land.

Please feel free to forward this beautiful prayer to everyone you know. You can download a soft copy of this prayer by right clicking on the image above and click 'Save As' or you can send me an e-mail at couragemanila@yahoo.com if you want to receive the original soft copy. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

That Thing Called Same Sex 'Marriage'




As Ireland finally embraced the legalization of same sex 'marriage', we are again reminded of the very pitiful state of affairs that we find ourselves in in this increasingly secularist and modernist society of ours. The short video above should help enlighten us on why moral issues like same sex 'marriage', divorce, euthanasia, etc., are not a matter of and subject to popular opinion polls and referendums, but are solidly based upon the natural law and God's moral order. As we are also celebrating today the Feast of the Pentecost, let us implore the Holy Spirit to grant us His seven gifts particularly the gifts of wisdom and fear of the Lord to help us do the right thing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Courage Orientation Seminar



This is an open invitation to everyone who is struggling with same-sex attractions. If you feel confused about your struggles (many of us are), lost, alone, or maybe just plain curious and has a lot of questions regarding the issue of homosexuality, this is your opportunity to ask those questions and be rightfully informed about what the Church teaches on this topic and how you can respond to God's call to live a chaste life despite the struggle. Contact Bro. Edwin at 0916-3137249 or e-mail him at edwin.courageous@gmail.com for more info.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How the Divine Mercy Helps Me in My Struggles with Same Sex Attraction



This is a two-part testimony of a fellow Courage brother a.k.a Joseph Anthony of the Sacred Heart on the power of the devotion to the Divine Mercy in his spiritual life. This Sunday, April 12, is the Feast of the Divine Mercy. Please take time to read about the great promise of our Lord on that day here. Take advantage of this feast. Jesus desires to enfold all sinners in His Great Mercy no matter how great our sins are. He only asks that we place our trust in Him completely. Let us all pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy often and perform deeds of mercy everywhere and at all times.


Part 1

In 2006, when I was 33 years old, I was fortunate to have been given a chance to travel to Rome. A tour of the Vatican City was of course included. During that time, St. John Paul II just recently passed away and my friends and I asked to see his tomb. It was at the basement of St. Peter’s Cathedral at that time and so we went. In front of his tomb, I did a typical Filipino custom of “bulong”, that is, mentioning a wish to a dead person to carry it with them to Heaven. My wish to St. John Paul II was for him to take away my homosexuality.

My job then required me to travel a lot. And aside from the business portion of the trips, I try to make it a point to have casual sexual encounters for every foreign destination I get to by going to bath houses, to cruising places or hooking up via the net. This trip to Rome included a trip to Amsterdam, one of the gay capitals of the world. Engaging on a homosexual encounter there would be a sure highlight. But somehow, I did not feel like having a homosexual encounter in this trip. It must have been the grace of the Church via the Vatican that was preventing me.

Fast forward to Dec 2013, when I was 40 years old. In a family reunion during the Christmas holidays, a cousin of mine gave me a prayer booklet on the Divine Mercy. She explains that she has been a recent devotee and would like to spread the devotion to the Divine Mercy. I found it interesting but I just left it in my car to pray it whenever I remember to. I never did.

On Jan 2014, I attended my annual retreat and during Spiritual Direction with the Priest Retreat Master, who I had as retreat master too a year prior and who already knew of my same sex attraction struggles from last year, suggested that maybe I need a support group for my struggles. It was he who introduced me to Courage. At first, I was surprised to find out that there actually is a support group and a Catholic one at that. So after the retreat, I set out to contact Courage and found out more about it through this blogspot. I sent an email and I got a reply after a few days. We exchanged our contact numbers via email and set up a meeting. Our first meet-up was on Valentine’s day, Feb 14. Picture that: two men with same sex attraction meeting up on a Starbucks on Valentine’s day! My old self would have called this a classic EB; but God has a way of renewing things.

Joining Courage made me realize in a substantial way that I am not alone with my struggles. I have a lot of gay friends but all of them seem to not be bothered with pursuing the homosexual lifestyle. I was well adjusted to my condition, i.e., I did not hate it, but an overwhelming feeling that I was not doing God’s will was ever pressing as I have always been prayerful and pious. Courage also increased in me the desire to pray more. The more I know about my condition, the more I realize that there is much more to be done, and the more graces I will need to call upon, so I pray some more. I decided to commit to one hour a week Blessed Sacrament Adoration as part of this deepening prayer life. I have attempted this so many times before but the one hour was just too much for me. This time, I decided to use the Divine Mercy prayer booklet that my cousin gave me as my starting point of the adoration. Suddenly, by God’s grace, since then, one hour was a breeze.

Much more than that, the weekly adorations were blessed with so much revelations and enlightenment. Praying to the Divine Mercy, Jesus said that His Divine Mercy seeks homosexual sinners. I asked how. He answered that He wants to use me. Then He made me look back at all the many homosexual encounters I had in the past. My guess estimate is that I have had sex with about 700 men. I felt much shame and sorrow with how I have defiled all these souls and I am forever connected to them because of my homosexuality. I had a strong urge to make atonements for each of these souls that I have defiled; to heal our vicious relationship. Then the Divine Mercy told me to receive one Eucharist for each of the souls that I have defiled as atonement. It was then I understood how he wants to use my weakness for His glory. I am forever connected to each of these souls because of my homosexual acts with them and Jesus wants to use all these connections to reach them too and heal all of us. Jesus’ words: “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12: 9) became flesh for me.

I have been a regular mass goer for some years now (Sunday and weekdays). So this instruction in my mind was doable. Still, it was two years’ worth! But I said yes. A few days later, while reflecting on May as the month of Mary I was made to realize that I was actually skipping Saturday in my daily mass. (Please note that the exchanges with the Divine Mercy summarized above was a series of weekly adorations and did not necessarily occur on one session. As is typical with a dialogue with the Lord, it is not time bound as we understand time to be.). I found this silly especially because Saturday is a special day dedicated to the Blessed Mother. So, starting that month, I decided to also hear mass on Saturdays as proof of my devotion to the Blessed Mother. Since then, by God’s grace, I have been a daily communicant. It is very interesting to see this interplay between Jesus and His Mother Mary. And how when Jesus asks you to do something, He also sends the means to do it, in this case, His beloved Mother. This made real for me: “for my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11: 30)

Being a daily communicant was a most powerful grace. I consider that a major turning point in my redemption. Graces, mercies, understanding, consolation, and deepening of virtues came successively since then. Whereas I would often lose in my same sex struggles before, I was winning more and more frequently now because of the Eucharist. What I would like to point out though is that some days / weeks prior to becoming a daily communicant, towards the end of April that year, St. John Paul II was canonized together with St. John XXIII, during Divine Mercy Sunday. I read some more on St. John Paul II and found out that he was a Divine Mercy advocate. He has heard my “bulong” 7 years prior and sought the Divine Mercy to help me. It is also during his visit on World Youth Day 1995 that he emphasizes: “Do not be afraid.” Which is courage actually phrased differently that is quoted on the Courage shirt. Divine Mercy, I trust in You.


Part 2

One of the activities that Courage does, and which I enjoy, is doing mission work with some kids in Antipolo through the Missionaries of Charity. These kids come from poor neighborhoods which the Missionaries of Charity sisters regularly visit. They saw that these kids, mostly teenagers, are already manifesting homosexual behavior…they were boys wearing make-up and blouses and acted flamboyantly. They will gather them once a month at the Missionaries of Charity house in Antipolo and will invite Courage members to meet with them. We are now giving them catechism classes and more importantly, developing friendships with them.

Then, on another occasion, the Missionaries of Charity house in Tayuman invited us to give a talk on homosexuality there too. During this activity, some of us were discussing and wondering in amazement how come the Missionaries of Charity has been helping us tremendously in our apostolate. Their dedication to this apostolate was a mystery to us.

(Witnessing or apostolate is the fifth goal of Courage. As I am being slowly enlightened, it is an integral part of our healing.)

Some weeks after that discussion re the generous help given by the Missionaries of Charity, while surfing Facebook, I chanced upon a video posted by the Marian Fathers of the US on a lecture on the Divine Mercy. It was about an hour long but since I had this growing devotion to the Divine Mercy, I wanted to know more. The priest speaker was talking how the devotion to the Divine Mercy can be summarized in the acronym FINCH --- feast, image, novena, chaplet, and hour. Then he proceeded explaining each. When he got to “image”, he explained its background and how it is printed in their office by themselves to manage the cost. Then he shares that part of the proceeds of the sale of the image goes to the funding of their seminary. He goes on saying that a tenth of the images printed are sent as donation to the poor through the Missionaries of Charity. When it got to this part, I cried uncontrollably. I cried because I suddenly felt the weight of the seriousness of His intent that He wants His Divine Mercy to reach homosexual sinners. I cried because this was the answer to the mystery on why the Missionaries of Charity are helping us in our apostolate. The Marian Fathers are doing a charitable thing to the Missionaries of Charity in the US. Somewhere miles away, in another part of the globe, the Missionaries of Charity in turn are helping us reach homosexual sinners so that all of them will experience and encounter His Divine Mercy.

We do our best to be faithful with our monthly commitment to visit the kids of Antipolo. Since then, by God’s grace, He has been showing to us His hand of Mercy transforming them. The heavy make-up has been replaced with face powder; the blouses with regular shirts. Sure, the flamboyance is still there, but their sharing sessions and their Gospel and teaching reflections are showing a deepening of faith that surprises us including the Missionaries of Charity sisters.

This month, the schedule we have with them is on Apr 12, the Divine Mercy Sunday. The plan is to talk to them about the devotion to the Divine Mercy. Of course, there is nothing else that would be appropriate to teach the kids that day; this is expected. But, judging from the providential turn of events, it looks like we are in for something wonderfully unexpected. Divine Mercy, we trust in You.


"Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a judge for them, but the Merciful Savior. At that last hour, a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except My mercy. Happy is the soul that during its lifetime immersed itself in the Fountain of Mercy, because justice will have no hold over it." (Diary, 1075)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Position Paper Against the Divorce Bill & Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage



Every time a survey comes out claiming that the majority of Filipinos favor divorce (or any anti-life issues for that matter), you can expect a bunch of lawmakers throwing their support behind the survey, as if life issues like divorce, euthanasia, abortion, reproductive health, and same-sex marriage are just a matter of popular opinion and public perception. A maleficent/malevolent lady senator recently expressed her support behind the divorce bill, saying that the absence of such law in this country is not something we should be proud of. Well I guess the feeling is mutual. I certainly am not proud of you and the likes of you who introduce immoral laws in this country like the RH law. Shame on you.


Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)


Divorce

One senator of the Republic was recently quoted as saying that the fact that the Philippines is the only country without a divorce law is not something we should necessarily be proud of. To that, I hasten to add: Neither is it something for which we should be apologetic!

That all countries of the world save ours have it is no compelling reason to have it. Ours is the only Constitution in the world that includes the non-juridical word “love”. That is no reason to expunge it from our fundamental law!

The reasons thus far advanced for a divorce law fail to convince! Divorce, its advocates argue, is a solution to failed, if not oppressive and dehumanizing unions. The terms are powerful, but they invite visceral, rather than rational reactions.

A failed marriage is not an argument for divorce. It is rather proof of the necessity that only mature people enter into it. It proves the wisdom of the judiciousness of the Church in its conduct of pre-Cana and canonical inquiries. It proves the woeful inadequacy of the present system under Philippine law that makes the issuance by the civil registrar of a marriage license and attendance at a government-delivered seminar on family planning the sufficient conditions for marriage!

If indeed a spouse proves not only to be overbearing but oppressive and cruel, there are sufficient provisions in the Family Code, specifically those that provide for the legal separation of the spouses, and, in some cases, even annulment of voidable marriages. There are furthermore the salutary provisions of Republic Act No. 9262, the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children act for the protection of women and their children.

If, on the other hand, one spouse finds the other – or himself or herself – psychologically incapable of fulfilling the obligations of marriage, the much-abused Art. 36 of the Family Code on psychological incapacity, ironically patterned after a similar canonical provision, is available.

In other words, the supposed suffering that a spouse must bear owing to a failed marriage is more imagined than real, and comes only upon one who does not make use of the remedies already available under existing law.

So, why then would one want divorce if legal separation, annulment and declarations of nullity are juridical options already available? The answer is simple: Divorce allows an already married person to have another go at it, despite failing at the first.

While one can reasonably test-drive a car and replace it with a better one should the test-drive prove unsatisfactory, it is plainly dehumanizing to both spouses to allow for a test-run, through a first marriage, and then grant the possibility of a replacement of spouses should the test fail. It is ironic that those most vocal in their support for divorce also hold themselves out as champions of human rights – and there can be no violation of human rights more egregious than to treat human persons the same way that you treat vehicles and appliances!

Divorce is a deterrent to working on differences. Marriage is and ought to be a work in progress. There is no such thing except in the limp imagination of mediocre, starry-eyed writers of romance novels as “a couple meant for each other” or a man and a woman who are a “perfect match”. Matches are worked out on earth, not pre-fabricated in heaven! When the expedient of divorce is readily available, a couple will be less likely to work on differences, dialogue and reasonably work out solutions because there is a quick fix to “incompatibilities”. While the blending of different tempers, attitudes and perspective should be enriching, although a challenge of harmonize, a token effort at ‘making the marriage work’ is all that can be expected when the possibility of ending the union by divorce is offered by the State!

Logically, divorce puts its advocates in the dilemma of choosing between making of marriage a mockery and being arbitrary. A divorce law will either grant divorce on any ground – in which case marriage becomes a mockery – or on some grounds. But if it is granted on some grounds, irreconcilable differences, for example, who is to say that a person is more greatly challenged by irreconcilable differences than by the snoring of a spouse at night? Setting forth grounds for divorce is always tricky business, if not downright whimsical, because it assumes that one is in a position to grade degrees of misery or difficulty, and to say of some that they are worthy of the ‘relief’ of divorce while others are not. But how does one construct a hierarchy of miseries?

Divorce victimizes children. The separation of parents is already traumatic on the children who must choose between mother and father when custodial rights are judicially resolved. Visitation rights are a poor substitute for living with one’s parents. Divorce however compounds the trauma by allowing a total stranger to the children to enter into their lives – the new spouse.

Society should be able to count on some promises as irrevocable. The promise of a physician to serve life and not to destroy it, the promise of a public official to serve and defend the Constitution, the promise of spouses to be faithful to each other, the promise of a priest to mirror to the world the care of the Good Shepherd – all these are promises that society has a right to rely on and that those who so promise have no right to renege on. If you cannot keep the promise, do not make it all. Do not claim its privileges while refusing to own up to its demands!


Decriminalizing Adultery and Concubinage?

The State sends a signal to the public and educates its citizens by the incentives it offers as well as the matters it penalizes. By penalizing offensive conduct, the State signals its ideal of social cohesion and of living together. Article II of the Constitution reads:

“Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution.”

Adultery and concubinage have been in our penal code for not only decades but centuries now. Striking them off the catalogue of crimes – will this not send the message to Philippine society that now, sexual liaisons and dalliances with persons other than with one’s spouse are now allowed? How can such a legislative proposal “protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution”? While it is true that Article II is a set of non-self-executory principles and policies, the provisions give direction to legislation and shape jurisprudence. Otherwise they would have no place in the Constitution at all.

Under our VAWC law – passed as domestic legislation in response to international covenants, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as the Covenant on the Rights of the Child among them – we consider violence not only physical but psychological cruelty. What can be more cruel for a spouse than to have the other sexually engaged with another and entering into intimate liaisons with another? How can it serve legal coherence for us to de-criminalize under one title what we consider criminal cruelty and violence under another?

What can be done though is to eliminate the discriminatory distinction between adultery and concubinage, for it has long been observed that limiting the applicability of adultery provisions only to women is in fact discriminatory. Concubinage – the crime for which a husband with extra-marital affairs can be charged – is more difficult to prove because its elements are “cohabitation with another under scandalous circumstances” while all it takes to commit adultery is one act of sexual intercourse with a man other than one’s husband! It is this asymmetry that should be rectified.

We have taken tremendous strides in the direction of protecting women and children. The proposal to pass a divorce law and to decriminalize adultery and concubinage go in the opposite direction. We should not lend to support to such moral and juridical incoherence!


Let the Word of God guide us.

The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Matthew 10:2-9).

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, March 25, 2015, Solemnity of the Annunciation


+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Titles and Glories of St. Joseph



As we celebrate today the holy feast day of St. Joseph, let us contemplate on the many titles and honors that have been bestowed upon him and may all of us be the more inspired to turn to him in our needs and imitate his excellent virtues. This excerpt was taken from the book Saint Joseph As Seen by Mystics and Historians.


Sacred Scripture is the principal foundation for devotion to Saint Joseph under the various patronages the Church has accorded to him. The slowness of the development of his devotion throughout history is traceable to the predominance of the non-scriptural, false images of him presented by the apocryphal writings. Joseph serves today as a patron and model for all people in general, and for many individual groups in particular. This chapter ends by listing some of the lights in which he may be seen, as grounded directly in Scripture, or as extrapolated from the Scriptural data and suggested for contemporary society.

1) Model disciple, dedicating his whole life to the interests of Jesus. - Joseph is an example of faith, righteousness, trust in God's providence, and prompt obedience to God's call.

2) Patron of the Church. - This title results from a combination of various elements: a) Paul's theology of the Church as an extension of Christ, the mystical body; b) an extension of John's and Luke's type of theology by which Mary, the Mother of Jesus, also in some sense becomes Mother of the Church; c) the Apostles' Creed's doctrine of the "communion of the saints," understood to mean that the deceased and saved continue to pray for their fellow Christians on earth.

As Joseph protected the physical body of the Child Jesus on earth, so does he continue to protect, through his intercessory prayer from Heaven, the mystical body of Christ, the Church. As the Mother of Christ is called Mother of the Church, so also Her husband, the guardian of Christ, is called the Protector of the Church.

3) Patron of Husbands and of the Engaged. - Joseph exhibits the deepest love for his Fiancee and Wife, and the highest respect for women. He in no way seeks to use Mary, but rather to give himself to Her in accord with his God-given vocation. His call to live a virginal relationship with Her does not deter him from immediately and wholeheartedly taking Her as his Wife.

He is an example of true spousal love. For fiances, he is an example of sexual respect during engagement. For the married, who for a good reason must postpone another pregnancy, he is a model of the loving abstinence they must exercise during the fertile times, in order to practice natural family planning, rather than have recourse to artificial contraceptives, which may be easier but which are not in harmony with their commitment in Christ.

His virginal relationship to Mary, however, does not indicate a lack of openness to offspring; Joseph is a model of acceptance of children in marriage, in his quick response to do so when so told by the angel. Mary and Joseph have a unique vocation to virginal marriage, because their love is already blessed with the greatest of offspring, the Son of God, with which no number of other children could ever compare.

4) Patron of Fathers. - Joseph models total self-sacrificing concern to provide for, protect, raise, educate, and be an example to the Child entrusted to him. He shows that authentic fatherhood consists in much more than physical generation. He constantly recognizes the subordination of his role to the primordial Fatherhood of God, always cooperating and never interfering with His designs.

5) Patron of Family Life. - With Jesus and Mary, Joseph is a model of unity, love, and shared faith, showing the priority of family life over one's individual interests, and also the necessity of family life as a basis for learning to form community as Church.

6) Protector of the Unborn and of Pregnant Mothers. - After Mary, no one appreciates life in the womb more than St. Joseph. In faith, he recognized the Baby in Mary's womb as the Incarnate God, and was willing to make any sacrifice to care for that Life, and for the Mother called to bear It. In our age of rampant abortion, Joseph calls us as a society and as individuals to recognize the divine source of life and to always respect and defend it.

7) Model of Workers. - Joseph the Carpenter, who teaches his profession to Jesus, shows the dignity of work, which is measured not by earning power or prestige, but by the love and motivation with which it is done daily.

8) Patron of the Marginalized, Emigrants, Refugees, and Those Discriminated Against. - The father of Jesus experienced all these hardships in the persecution by Herod, and in the attitude of the ruling Judean authorities towards people from Galilee. He shows that one's dignity does not consist in social, political, or economic standing, but in one's inner integrity in being true to one's own calling. God favors and protects the lowly.

9) Model of Humility, the Hidden Life, and the Sanctification of the Ordinary. - Joseph's great sanctity is accompanied by no great words or deeds. The details of his life remain lost to history. Jesus' first 30 years belong to the "hidden life" at Nazareth. Joseph teaches us that holiness need not catch the world's attention. It consists, rather, in being lovingly faithful to the ordinary: family, work, religious observance, the indications of circumstances, and God's revelation.

10) Model of Contemplative Union with Christ. - Besides Joseph's total availability to God's will, his daily life is dedicated to union with Christ. He is known as the "saint of silence," because no word of his has been preserved (except the name "Jesus," which he gave the Child). He is thus a model of the interior life and contemplative prayer.

11) Patron of Apostles. - Joseph's role, in large part, is to prepare Jesus for His life and ministry. All involved in apostolic ministry may learn from him those attitudes and virtues needed to bring Christ to others.

12) Patron of a Happy Death. - Total lack of mention of Joseph during Jesus' public ministry, even when Mary is present, leads to the assumption that he had already died. His acceptance of this death would be consistent with his quiet fulfillment of his role, followed by a gentle fading from the scene so as not to interfere with Jesus' proclamation of His Divine Sonship. His death in the arms of Jesus and Mary is the envy of every true Christian believer.

Joseph's role in the Scriptures will always be important for the life to the Church, because with him we celebrate our earliest origins as a Christian community. His union with Mary and Christ in the Mystery of the Incarnation means that he can never be far from us, Christ's Body.

What contrasts are found in Joseph! He is the patron of celibates and those who are fathers of families; he is likewise the patron of the laity and of contemplatives, and patron of priests as well as businessmen. Over the centuries, Joseph has shown himself to be an advocate of the world's needy.

To the thousands of men deprived of a healthy relationship with their fathers: Go to St. Joseph! To those seeking to overcome a negative father image: seek not further than St. Joseph for a potent cure. To the millions of children in fatherless families: Go to St. Joseph! You will find an earthly father who, like the Heavenly Father, is a father of the fatherless. The Heavenly Father has provided a link to Himself through the fatherhood of St. Joseph over the whole Family of God.