Friday, August 15, 2014

Today, August 15, we celebrate the glorious feast of the Assumption of Mary.

“Open the portals! The Queen is approaching. Lift up, O eternal gates!”

The endless parade of the blessed crowded about the wide-open gates of heaven. There was tense expectancy, such as one finds along a line of march as a parade approaches. A roadway of clouds billowed the pathway from an uncorrupted grave to an incorruptible throne.

At last, borne by angels, the lovely Lady arrives. It is the first Assumpton Day, the Assumption of Mary. The heavenly throng gasps with admiration. The celestial singers burst into song. The angels hurry to and fro to catch a glimpse of her and to tell their companions of her beauty.

Jesus waits at the open entrance, throws His arms about His Mother, leads her triumphantly and happily to the very throne of the heavenly Father, who leans forward and places solemnly and smilingly upon her beauteous head the crown, as the Holy Spirit, heavenly Spouse of the Virgin Mother casts warmth and light upon the welcome newcomer.

Sweet scene of Mary’s bliss! Who can measure her happiness? Who can count the throbs of joy in her heart: joy that now her lonesome life on earth without Jesus is over; joy that now she has Him, never again to lose Him; joy that now she can enjoy His company without the interruptions of earth or sense; joy that now she can help everyone on earth who is devoted to her Son; joy that all the honor and all the praise and all the glory is given to her because of her Son; joy that the very crown she is wearing as the Queen of heaven and earth, is given to her because she is the Mother of Jesus.

Our Lady assumed into Heaven! Entering body and soul into the presence of the Most Blessed and Eternal Trinity! The Assumption of Mary! Her sufferings, great beyond all measure, are nothing now as she finds her reward in the greatness of the Infinite God. What eternal joy in His possession; what peace in being eternally possessed by Him – surely the richest reward for the obedient Handmaid of the Lord.

Our reward is likewise the possession of the same Triune God – our way to Him is likewise along the same royal way as tread so humbly and submissively the feet of our obedient Queen. Her last recorded words in Sacred Scripture, her counsel to the servants at the wedding feast, applies to us with equal and unfailing force: “Do whatever He tells you!” Our obedience to Christ is our way to joy and peace.

Mary’s death was caused by love that consumed her heart; her death was not meant for punishment nor expiation, hence there was no violence nor was it painful, since she was preserved from the dominion given to death by sin. According to an opinion accepted since the Middle Ages, Mary’s death resembled Christ’s, because she accepted it voluntarily out of humble and loving obedience; so, she died of love in the strict sense of the word. Death came to her in the form of the weakening of the body caused by the supernatural might of Dying Love. Her natural vitality was exhausted by love-longing, by the strength of an ecstasy of love and her great love moved God to cease keeping her alive. Mary’s death was a holocaust of love where the sacrifice offered long before at the foot of the Cross in poignant and spiritual anguish was at last completed.

This feast, the Assumption of Mary, was instituted, according to Saint Bernard, in the very time of the apostles.

Ave Maria!

(Reposted from Pro-Life Philippines FB page.
Source: Feasts of Our Lady by Msgr. Arthur Tonne, and The Woman of Orbit)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why A Gay Porn Star Became Catholic And Staying in the Church

No matter how dark or sinful one's past is, there is always hope and redemption in Jesus Christ. This is amazing grace.

by Joseph Sciambra

Although I had been raised marginally Catholic, I never really considered myself a believer. As a child, I was rather innocent and understood nothing. By the time I was in my teens, my parents forced me to be Confirmed. I stood in front of the Bishop, got the blessing and anointing, but didn’t believe for a single second. When I went into the gay world, I thought of my residual Catholicism as something that needed to be overcome. And, like most of my compatriots, who were also former Catholics, because our matriculation in the Faith had been mediocre to downright heretical, it was not that tough to accomplish. That sloughing off of all that I had never really known or understood left me open to all sorts evil influences that seemed to temporarily fill my innate lonely sense of emptiness.

After that, although I never realized it until the end, my entire life became increasingly desperate. While I falsely thought that I was just exploring my new found freedoms and sexuality, I was actually in a perpetual state of restlessness: always exhaustingly alert and questing for the next big opportunity: from an endless parade of guys to gay porn - it never materialized. Wanting something to hold onto, I turned to the occult - and was again left cold and empty. I was deaf, yet God was calling me. Only, because I had become filled with evil and hate, I misinterpreted this beckoning as a plea to further degrade myself. In an instinctive way, I was punishing myself, because I knew that everything was out of control and because I was powerless before my seemingly uncontrollable passions.

When I suddenly realized that my endless experimentation was leading me to a premature death, I knew that I had to quickly make a decision to change or stay where I was and die. At those final minutes, the Lord Jesus Christ made things very clear to this stubborn and willful little speck of dust: He held out His hands, one restrained the demons that had been chasing me for years, the other was palm out and bursting with His precious blood. I didn’t know why, but I reached out for the wounded hand. Instantaneously, the demons were gone. For the next few days, I laid in bed: asking God over and over gain to forgive me. Every gross and disgusting thing I had ever done kept replaying in my head; the bed became like the floor of hell. I had to unburden myself, but I didn’t know where to go.

Unconsciously, I turned to The Bible. Flipping feverishly through the pages; the whole book could have been written in some space alien language; I understood not a single word. Mysteriously, leaping off the onion skin paper was the beautiful scene of St. Mary Magdalene being forgiven and released from the constant torture of seven devils. I needed Jesus; where was He? How could I find Him? Then, two incidents in The New Testament struck me: the Roman Centurion going to Christ, begging Him cure his servant; “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.” and the other Centurion, Cornelius, who told St. Peter: “Four days ago, unto this hour, I was praying in my house, at the ninth hour, and behold a man stood before me in white apparel, and said: Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thy alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.” This all brought back the most vivid memories that I had of Jesus, the VHS tapes of 1950s Biblical epics that my father bought and showed us as kids: especially my favorite, “The Robe,” about a Roman soldier who is the self-declared king of orgies, later crucifies Christ, then begs forgiveness from the man who denied Him three times. I longed to go to Peter.

Then, I could have gone anywhere. For, after a second-rate education in the Faith, and since being away formally for over a decade, my ties to Roman Catholicism were weak at best. But, I remembered the Sacrament of Confession; I probably hadn’t been since being forced to go back in the 8th grade, right before our graduation. Growing up, I had always thought of it as a thoroughly stupid practice: kneeling before some man behind a screen and telling him my sins. I didn’t believe in sin. As far as I was concerned: porn, masturbation, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and even drug use were far from wrong - they had merely been deemed wicked by angry eunuchs who wanted to keep the rest of us from having any fun. Well, all these years later, I realized: I was so wrong. Even though I was emotionally and physically sick, I wanted to crawl back to that little box and confess. I needed my AA moment: to stand up before God and say out loud what I had done and that I was sorry.

Somehow, I tracked down a priest I had met in my late teens, who struck me as particularly pious, and I dropped my sins on him like a ton of rotting garbage. I hated carrying it around and just wanted God to have it. Here, take it, take it - I thought to myself. It felt amazing. The priest was rather unphased and coolly certain - sort of like that image of Jesus I saw on my deathbed. He said, I needed to go back to Mass. Idiotically, I was somewhat surprised. Oh yeah, Mass - I forgot about that, I mused. While the seeming magic of Confession drew me back, the Mass still felt useless and mundane. I hated going to Mass as a boy: whether being marched there by our teachers, or dragged out of bed and pushed out the door on Sunday by my parents - going to church was drag. Blessedly, the same kind priest who heard my Confession invited me to the Latin Mass. Latin, that was the language the nerdy kids studied in high school, I thought. With nothing to loose, I showed up. Now, everything was different from my memories of youth. There was silence, reverence, and humility. I kneeled and could not get back up. I bowed and just stayed there. Jesus was back. He was there. His hands in front of me. His body became the Eucharist; and His blood in the chalice. I quivered and thought I was in front of His throne. When it was time to receive the Lord, I didn’t want to walk to the altar, but would have preferred groveling up the aisle on my stomach. I looked at everyone else proceeding towards the priest; I didn’t want to go. Inexplicably, I rose, and took the host on my tongue.

What had just happened? I thought for sure I would die - as the Lord could only strike someone like me down. But, He didn’t. I lived. I lived. I was alive. Jesus saved me. And, He wanted me. For the first time in my life: I believed in Him. The insolent and gullible little boy who threw it all away got a second chance. I no longer felt alone anymore.

I will never leave the Catholic Church. For, to do so, I would be returning to the same empty existence of despair and desolation that almost cost me the eternity of my soul. Because, only death persistently awaits in my old life; and I choose to live.


About Joseph Sciambra:

Joseph Sciambra was born in 1969, in Northern California, not far from San Francisco. He grew up in a stable and loving home while attending Catholic parochial schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Early on, the dark shadow of pornography would cloud his entire childhood and teenage years. Throughout the 1990s, Joseph lived around the homosexual culture of the Castro District, offering him rare insight into the daily lives and struggles of many gay men. Later, he became an amateur porn actor and escort. In 1999, following a near death experience, Joseph returned to the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Since then he has written extensively concerning the real-life issues of pornography, homosexuality, and the occult. He received his BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Art History and his MA from Sonoma State University.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. - Isaiah 1:18

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Desire of the Everlasting Hills - A Courage Documentary

This hour-long Courage documentary chronicles the lives of three same-sex attracted courageous souls - Dan, Paul, and Rilene. It narrates their journey toward self-understanding, faith, and redemption. I was amazed by the depth of their personal sharings and how through grace their lives have been transformed by Christ and are now serving as inspirations out there to men and women struggling with SSA. Desire of the Everlasting Hills is a very powerful, inspirational, must-see film.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mercy and Confession: 10 Tips on How to Confess Well

In our Courage community, we are blessed to have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a month followed by Mass. We call this monthly gathering our 'Sacrament Sunday'. We are all sinners and we need the mercy of God, which He abundantly pours on us through sincere repentance and confession of our sins. Remember that it is here where our miseries meet the infinite mercy of God so please go to Confession frequently.

by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

In the context of an Ignatian retreat it is always beneficial to prepare oneself to make an excellent Confession. To make a good confession demands prior preparation! The better the prior preparation, the more abundant the graces and the more overflowing the river of peace in your soul! Following are ten short helps to make the best confession in your life!

1. IMPROVEMENT/UPGRADING THE RECEPTION. As Catholics two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make a concerted effort to improve our encounters with Jesus in these Sacraments. In other words we should never take these Sacraments for granted. Also be keenly aware of the concept of dispositive grace. The abundance of graces are received in direct proportion to the disposition of the recipient. On the walls in the sacristies of the Missionaries of Charity is written: “Say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” We can apply the same principle: “Confess as if it were your first, last and only time.”

2. PRAYERS BEFORE. All is grace! A source of abundant grace is the Communion of saints. Why not pray to the holy Confessors to help you to make a good confession. The following are a few: The Cure of Ars (Saint John Marie Vianney), St. John Bosco, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Saint Leopold Mandic, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Francis Regis, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Anthony Claret, and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. “Get a little help from your friends (the saints)….”Pray to them to help you to confess well—that each confession you make is better than your prior confession!

3. PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE. Have a good examination of conscience booklet. Find a quiet and contemplative place to examine your conscience. Utilize the crucifix and Divine Mercy image to elicit sorrow and trust. Written! Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional! Also, pray for your confessor— to his guardian angel—before you enter the confessional!

4. SELF-KNOWLEDGE. One of the classical steps to make a good confession is contrition but also firm purpose of amendment. This entails rewinding the film of your life and seeing the various falls into sin. But also to capture what were the preceding causes that led to the sin. Maybe it is a person that jeopardizes your spiritual life. Who knows maybe it is a recurring situation at work or family? Maybe it is your physical state of weariness? Still more, maybe it is some improper use of the electronics media and lack of prudence? You will notice often a pattern that is established that leads to the slippery path and collapse. For this reason the faithful observance of one’s DAILY EXAMEN can prove a valuable tool to know oneself and even supply for the necessary knowledge to avoid the near occasion of sin.

5. BIBLICAL PASSAGES TO PREPARE. The Church highly recommends the use of Sacred Scripture as a means to prepare us for a better reception of the Sacraments. Two excellent passages I would recommend: Lk. 15 and Psalm 51. Lk. 15 presents the Parables of God’s Mercy, and the greatest is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By praying Psalm 51 you have one of the best “Act of Contritions” ever composed, by none other than King David after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and killing an innocent man. Praying with the Word of God adds extra power to one’s prayer!

6. FREQUENT CONFESSION. The saints highly recommend frequent confession as a most efficacious means of growing in sanctifying grace. Confession either restores sanctifying grace or it augments it. Of course this presupposes a thorough preparation!

7. SACRAMENTAL GRACE. Each sacrament communicates grace. However every sacrament communicates a specific grace pertinent to that specific sacrament. For example, the specific sacramental grace communicated in the Eucharist or Holy Communion is that of NOURISHMENT. It is the Bread of life for the journey on the way to eternal life. The Sacramental grace of Confession is different. It is HEALING! Jesus came to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Furthermore, He came as Divine Physician. Time and time again in the Gospels we see Jesus healing. The blind, deaf, deaf-mute, lepers, paralytics, even the dead, were healed and brought back to life by Jesus. Even now within the context of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, Jesus heals us. The Sacraments of healing are the Sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the Sick.

8. QUALITIES OF A GOOD CONFESSION. In the Diary of Saint Faustina the most important qualities of a good confession are highlighted in # 113: 1) complete sincerity and openness; 2) humility; 3) obedience. Adhering to these qualities one cannot go wrong! Reminder! We want to strive to make better Communions and Confessions until the end of our lives!

9. AVOID DISCOURAGEMENT. Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some bad habits have possibly clung to us for decades. Many have a “Micro-wave” spirituality—namely instant holiness! It does not work that way! Change is often tedious, laborious and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin. Of course a key message from the Diary is that the worse thing possible is to fail to trust in God’s infinite mercy! As St. Paul reminds us, “Where sin abounds God’s mercy abounds all the more.”

10. MARY AND MERCY. Never forget to invite Mary to be present in your remote preparation for Confession, your immediate preparation for Confession. Even ask Mary to enter with you into the Confessional so that you make the best confession in your life. Blessed Pope John Paul II called the Marian sanctuaries—Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe—“Spiritual clinics”. How true! Lines of penitents await to meet the merciful Jesus in the confessional in these Marian Sanctuaries. Among the many beautiful titles of Mary are the following: “Mother of Mercy, Mother of Good Counsel, Health of the sick.” Behind many powerful conversions is of course the grace of God but also the maternal intercession of Mary!

“When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.  Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity." 

(Our Lord Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary 1602)

About Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Fr. Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

(Credits:  The Catholic Church FB page, Bro. E)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pagyakap sa Buhay: Breaking Free From the Spirit of Death

Forwarded invitation

"Pag-yakap sa Buhay" is a full-day healing conference on breaking free from shame, self-hatred and other manifestations of the spirit of death.

Shame and self-hatred comprise a polluted seedbed of destructive thoughts. The journey to freedom from these twin enemies begin in experiencing Jesus who promised us a full and abundant life (John 10:10).

This conference is for people who are wrestling with despair, hopelessness, hurt, anxiety, fears, grief and life-altering conditions such as sickness and disability. But most of all, it is for all of us who are seeking a meaningful and purposeful life.

Date:  August 23, 2014, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Venue:  Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall, Meralco Compound (Gate 2), Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Cost:  Php 950.00 (Metro Manila), Php 750.00 (Provincial). Lunch and Dinner included.


Keynote Speaker:  Jonathan Hunter

A sought-after speaker and prolific author, Jonathan Hunter is the Founder and Director of Embracing Life Ministries. He has spoken throughout the U.S. and around the world about the liberating and transforming power of the Cross to free humanity from the spirit of death and its effects. He has appeared in numerous features both in print and broadcast media and has been a guest lecturer in universities, seminaries and churches.

Jonathan has brought his experience of living with AIDS and his ministry to those living with life-altering conditions in compiling a healing resource for the various programs of Embracing Life Ministries.


To Register:

1. Via Bank Deposit

Account Name: "Agos ng Buhay (Living Waters Phils) Inc."
BPI Current Account: 3201-036568
BDO Savings Account: 430207239

Please scan your deposit slip and email it to

2. Via Online Registration

Go to the website:
Click on the "Pag-yakap sa Buhay" Headline.
Follow the instructions to register and pay via credit card or Paypal.

For More Info:

Phone: (02) 571-3904
Mobile: 0908-811-5824 OR 0927-284-5037

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why I Chose Love: Journey of a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

This is the personal reflection of Jake Stanwood (not his real name) about his journey with SSA as a Catholic. I love the way he narrated his story - realistic yet full of hope. This is also in response to those people who think they're left with no choice but to "act out" their desires. I truly believe that this is the path that leads to true happiness - the path of true love. 

“We love you no matter what sexual orientation you choose to live out.” These are the words of a father to me, his 15 year old son, 10 years ago. Um… Awkward? Up until that point my dad had never talked to me about sex, and the topic was never mentioned again. I remember every little detail about the conversation: The sweaty palms, cold freezing office space, and the awkwardness created by the long wooden desk separating us from talking like normal people. How did I respond? I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stared at him with a blank face and ran back into my room crying and thinking about how the heck I ever got into this mess.

“Great….even my parents think I’m gay” “That person at school thinks I’m gay too, maybe it’s because of the way I talk.” “Wait…maybe I should change the way I talk? That will make me look manlier.” “Crap, that person is totally staring at me and thinks I’m gay.” These are just a few of the crazy thoughts that constantly ruminated in my head. Talk about feeling paranoid. It always felt as if I was split in between two worlds. One side was telling me, “Just come out of the closet, hook up with someone, embrace the fact you’re gay!” The other side, (far less appealing) said, “If anyone ever finds out, you’re dead!! Don’t ever talk about this to anyone.”

Praise God, He created a Church that has given me a third option, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to drown me in lust or turn me into a stoic that’s being internally destroyed by his desires. I have chosen the path to Chastity. I have chosen the path toward authentic love and sexual self-control.

Is this easy? NO.

The sexual temptations have always been there for me, and I suppose will always be. I am not afraid to admit that until the day I die I will probably always be attracted to men. However, I don’t think this aspect of my cross has been the greatest struggle. The greatest struggle has been my interior life. Experiencing same sex attraction (SSA) and being Catholic is hard (well, being Catholic is hard). It is a unique/heavy cross to carry, and a very painful one. It comes with its share of anxiety, heartache, tears, and boogers. Us folks, who have SSA, we struggle with a lot. Among those things are body image, father wounds, bouts of depression, feeling less masculine, and a lot of us aren’t good at sports (which makes it harder for us to bond with other men). Growing up I always felt different and uncomfortable around other men, as if I was unworthy to even be called a man. However, I think it’s especially difficult to carry out this chaste lifestyle in the midst of today’s hyper sexual culture.

The culture today has become increasingly pro-gay. Just take a look at shows like Glee, Modern Family, or anything Lady Gaga… this stuff didn’t build up overnight. While this DOMA thing was taking place my Facebook newsfeed exploded with red equal sings. The younger generation has become largely accepting of the gay community. I’m glad that people are starting to become less homophobic and are speaking against gay bullying. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m for gay marriage or I think people should pursue same sex relationships.

It just doesn’t fit human sexuality or natural law. Just because I have an inclination to do something doesn’t mean that I should follow it. When we pursue sexuality outside of the way God designed for it to be we can find ourselves in messy situations. Hence the high promiscuity, infidelity, and STD rates associated with the gay community. But of course the media will never portray it this way, living a gay lifestyle is portrayed as glamorous and fulfilling. I am not saying that every gay person is living a promiscuous life and is carrying an STD on them. I have many friends who identify as gay who are hard workers and are doing awesome things with their lives. However, I will not deny that amongst the “gay scene” multiple partners and infidelity rates are pretty high. Homosexuality has to be identified more with behavior, than with identity. That’s how the gay movement has progressed so much they’ve turned it into its own culture. The minute we reduce ourselves to our sexual orientation, we lose sight of who we really are.

I’ve chosen to never engage in a sexual relationship with another guy and remain celibate, despite the fact there are times I feel the ache of this desire. This may seem like a total fail in the eyes of the world, but am I really missing out on much? Chastity gives me so much more. It gives me the ability to live out healthy and loving relationships with both men and women. It is giving me the opportunity to bring healing to areas of my masculinity that have been gravely wounded. It respects me for who I am, allows me to appreciate beauty, and recognize the dignity in every person. This has involved a lot of wrestling with God. Many people think wresting with God is a bad thing. FALSE. You can only wrestle with someone who is close to you, so in a way wrestling with these attractions has drawn me closer to God. It is a cross, but with every cross the Lord is always right beside us.

Yes, I realize that I will not always get what I want. I can’t tell you about the hundreds of days I felt I just wanted someone to hold and be intimate with. Sometimes I look at happy couples and wonder if I am missing out! But, I understand that fulfillment goes much deeper than wanting someone around. I find fulfillment by being in relationship with the God who created me to be fulfilled by Him, and in community.

The truth is, I love being Catholic.

The Church loves me. It desires what is best for me, and sometimes this kind of love hurts, because it doesn’t always feel good. However in the long run it guides me to a much more fulfilling life and a more adventurous one. No, the Church is NOT a bigoted institution that hates gays. Quite the opposite. I have never met as many loving and understanding people as I have in the Catholic Church. I am incredibly fortunate! I have many friends in the Church that know about my struggle and are there to support and encourage me along the way. I have a choir of saints and angels who are constantly interceding for me, a mother in heaven that deeply loves me, and a God who bears his very self in the Eucharist each and everyday. If you ask me… I’ve hit the jackpot.


Jake Stanwood (pseudonym) is a writer and speaker who has shared the message of chastity with thousands of people. He graduated from college in 2012 and since then has devoted himself to serving the Church through mission work. This blog originally appeared on “Think Catholic”.

(Additional credits to:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

St. Josemaria Escriva on Purity

Some food for thought on purity from St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, whose feast day we celebrate today.

(H/T to Bro. E)

"It has always made me very sorry to hear some teachers (so many alas!) going on and on about the dangers of impurity. The result, as I have been able to verify in quite a few souls, is the opposite of what was intended, for it's a sticky subject, stickier than tar, and it deforms people's consciences with all kinds of fears and complexes, so that they come to imagine that the obstacles in the way of attaining purity of soul are almost insurmountable. This is not our way. Our approach to holy purity must be healthy and positive, and expressed in modest and clear language.

To discuss purity is really to talk about Love. I have just pointed out to you that I find it helpful in this regard to have recourse to the most holy Humanity of Our Lord, that indescribable marvel where God humbles himself to the point of becoming man, and in doing so does not feel degraded for having taken on flesh like ours, with all its limitations and weaknesses, sin alone excepted. He does all this because he loves us to distraction! He does not in fact lower himself when he empties himself. On the contrary, he raises us up and deifies us in body and soul. The virtue of chastity is simply to say Yes to his Love, with an affection that is clear, ardent and properly ordered.

We must proclaim this loud and clear to the whole world, by our words and by the witness of our lives: 'Let us not poison our hearts as if we were miserable beasts governed by our lower instincts!' A Christian writer once expressed it thus: 'Consider that man's heart is no small thing, for it can embrace so much. Do not measure its greatness by its physical dimensions, but by the power of its thought, whereby it is able to attain the knowledge of so many truths. In the heart it is possible to prepare the way of the Lord, to lay out a straight path where the Word and the Wisdom of God may pass. With your honorable conduct and your irreproachable deeds, prepare the Lord's way, smooth out his path so that the Word of God may act in you without hindrance and give you the knowledge of his mysteries and of his coming.'

Holy Scripture reveals to us that the great work of our sanctification, which is accomplished in a marvelous hidden manner by the Paraclete, takes place in both the soul and the body. 'Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?' cries the Apostle, 'Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? ... Or do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are no longer your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear him in your bodies.'"

St. Josemaria Escriva
"For They Shall See God"
Friends of God, 178

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On Holy Eucharist - The Body and Blood of Christ

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Corpus Christi, a splendid feast that reminds us of the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

The Eucharist according to the Catechism is the source and summit of our Christian life. The Eucharist is the visible and tangible presence of Christ in His One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church. What a great gift this is that we so often take for granted. In our modern and secular age, how many still believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Probably not many and that's sad. If anybody wishes to know how far he has advanced in the spiritual life, he just needs to become aware of how much importance and devotion he has towards the Holy Eucharist. An important realization I had lately is that the crisis of faith in the Church, the crisis of morality in our society, the crisis threatening the family can only be mitigated if we as a people of God will have a genuine renewal of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity and privilege to attend a Latin Mass and to experience for myself for the very first time what the celebration of the Mass looked like in the not so distant past. I must say it left a deep impression on me especially on the way the Latin Mass goers receive Holy Communion - kneeling in front of a communion rail and on the tongue with a deep reverence for Our Lord. I cannot help but compare it to the way we approach Holy Communion during Mass nowadays.

On this solemn feast of Christ's Body and Blood, I just want to encourage my fellow Catholic Christians to accord to this sacrament the highest form of reverence and respect we can muster for isn't it Jesus Christ Himself, our Supreme Eucharistic Lord, whom we receive every time we go to Communion?

Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano is officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a true Eucharistic Miracle that took place in 8th century A.D. in the Church of St. Legontian in Lanciano, Italy as a direct response to a Basilian monk's doubt about the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. The relics were scientifically investigated and found to be real flesh and real blood that are still remarkably preserved more than twelve centuries later.

State of Grace

Every time I see the number of people line up to receive Holy Communion and the number of people who line up in the Confessional I cringe. How many of us sufficiently examine ourselves whether we are in a state of grace or in a state of mortal sin? We are all sinners of course and we often say at Mass that we are not worthy to receive Jesus, but still St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians admonishes us on the importance of examining oneself first in order to receive communion worthily.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor. 11:27-29)

One who is conscious of grave sin ought to have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation first prior to receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. If I know I am conscious of some grave sin, I just make a spiritual communion with Jesus by praying the Anima Christi until such time I am able to go to Confession and receive Him worthily again. Why is this such a big deal? Well, if you're in a state of mortal sin, your soul is comparable to a stinking septic tank filled with poops. What a great insult to our Lord to make Him dwell in such a horrible state of our soul?

Eucharistic Fast

Canon 919 of the Code of Canon Law states, "One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion." This practice dates back to the traditions of the early Christians. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, especially those with regards to the sick and elderly.

Why fast? The fast before receiving Holy Communion creates a physical hunger for the Lord, which should augment our interior disposition to unite ourselves with Him spiritually. In the Old Testament, Moses fasted for 40 days before He received the Ten Commandments. Likewise, Christ Himself fasted for 40 days as a preparation for His public ministry.

Proper Disposition & Modesty

Every time we go to Mass, we should strive to develop the right disposition, appreciation and gratitude of Who it is we are going to receive or we run the risk of attending Mass for the sake of fulfilling our Sunday obligation and just going through the motions.

Do we show outward reverence when receiving Holy Communion? Are we fully aware that what we are receiving is the Lord Himself? Do we spend some quiet time in prayer after Communion to thank God for this immense gift of Himself? Have we fallen to the trap of receiving Holy Communion out of habit?

With regards to modesty inside the Church, I cannot emphasize this enough. In the olden days, Christians attended church wearing their Sunday best, an expression that pertains to the practice of wearing one's best and finest clothing in church on Sundays. This may not sound practical nowadays but at least make an effort to be as presentable and modest in the eyes of God and others. You don't want to be an occasion of sin for your neighbors do you?

Missing Mass on Sundays

One of the seven precepts of the Church is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligations. Canon 1247 of the Code of Canon Law states, "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass. They are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body."

I practically grew up and received full Catholic education from elementary school to college, having been a product of a local parochial school and a prestigious Catholic university in Manila, but would you believe that nobody ever taught me that skipping Mass on Sundays without sufficient reason is a serious sin? This teaching was never ingrained firmly in my consciousness until only by the time I took my faith seriously by the grace of God. That should give you a glimpse of the sad state of our Catholic educational institutions nowadays. 

Communion in the Hands versus Communion on the Tongue

Although both ways are allowed by the Church, I have a personal predilection towards receiving communion on the tongue even before I attended the Latin Mass. For me it is more reverent and less subject to profanation like small particles falling off to the ground and hence being trampled underfoot, the host not being consumed right away, etc.

Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked by Fr. George Rutler, "What do you think is the worst problem in the world today?" she replied without hesitation: "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." I can personally attest to this fact as I have had the privilege of attending Masses with the Missionary of Charity Sisters. They don't have qualms about touching Christ in the guise of the poor and the sick entrusted to their care but they choose, however, not to touch Him in His Real Presence in Holy Communion.

St. Thomas Aquinas has something to say on this matter:

"Out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hand, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency" (Summa Theologica, III, Q. 82, Art. 3).

On this subject matter, I want you to watch a short informative video by Michael Voris, a Catholic apologist.  You'll be surprised to know how the practice of communion in the hand came about and why communion on the tongue has always been the norm in the Universal Church.

On this feast of Corpus Christi, let us strive to live out a Eucharistic way of life with the sole aim of giving glory and honor to God. I firmly believe that these practices will help strengthen our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Holy Communion and the Saints

"With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind." - Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Every morning during meditation, I prepare myself for the whole day's struggle. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory; and so it is. I fear the day when I do not receive Holy Communion. This bread of the Strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me. The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me - it is the Eucharist. - St. Faustina Kowalska

"If someone knows from experience that daily Communion increases fervor without lessening reverence, then let him go every day. But if someone finds that reverence is lessened and devotion not much increased, then let him sometimes abstain, so as to draw near afterwards with better dispositions." - St. Thomas Aquinas

"All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man." - St. John Vianney, Cure d'Ars

"When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence." - St. Francis de Sales

"If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion." - St. Maximilian Kolbe

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. - John 6:53

Sunday, June 15, 2014

12 Quotes Against Sodomy that Everyone Should Know

It's not surprising to note that many of us do have very little knowledge on the topic of sodomy and what the Catholic Church teaches about it. We do know from the Bible that the sin of sodomy is listed as one of the sins that cries to heaven for vengeance (Gn 18:20-21) and yet sadly in our times this is quite rampant and being tolerated. We also read from the Scriptures that for this sin alone God unleashed a terrible punishment against the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Furthermore, sodomy is said to be so heinous and abominable that even the devils themselves are so disgusted at the sight of it. Some of us may find ourselves guilty of committing this terrible sin. Some of us take carnal pleasure in viewing such by way of watching gay pornography.

To help us understand this, I am posting here useful quotes from Saints, Doctors of the Church, Church Fathers, and Ecclesiastical Writers who condemn this vice in their writings. For us to repent of this sin sincerely, we need to understand its grievousness before the eyes of God, Who will refuse not His Mercy for those who are contrite of heart and truly repentant.

1. Athenagoras of Athens (2nd Century)

Athenagoras of Athens was a philosopher who converted to Christianity in the second century. He shows that the pagans, who were totally immoral, did not even refrain from sins against nature:

"But though such is our character (Oh! why should I speak of things unfit to be uttered?), the things said of us are an example of the proverb, 'The harlot reproves the chaste.' For those who have set up a market for fornication and established infamous resorts for the young for every kind of vile pleasure – who do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of ways, so dishonoring the fair workmanship of God."

2. Tertullian (160-225)

Tertullian was a great genius and apologist of the early Church. Unfortunately, after an initial period of fervor, he succumbed to resentment and pride, left the Church and adhered to the Montanist heresy. Because of works written while still in the Church, he is considered an Ecclesiastical Writer and, as such, is commonly quoted by Popes and theologians. His treatise On Modesty is an apology of Christian chastity. He clearly shows the horror the Church has for sins against nature. After condemning adultery, he exclaims:

"But all the other frenzies of passions–impious both toward the bodies and toward the sexes–beyond the laws of nature, we banish not only from the threshold, but from all shelter of the Church, because they are not sins, but monstrosities."

3. Eusebius of Caesarea (260-341)

Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of C├Žsarea in Palestine and the “Father of Church History,” writes in his book, Demonstratio Evangelica:

“[God in the Law given to Moses] having forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men.”

4. Saint Jerome (340-420)

Saint Jerome is both Father and Doctor of the Church. He was also a notable exegete and great polemicist. In his book Against Jovinianus, he explains how a sodomite needs repentance and penance to be saved:

“And Sodom and Gomorrah might have appeased it [God’s wrath], had they been willing to repent, and through the aid of fasting gain for themselves tears of repentance.”

5. Saint John Chrysostom (347-407)

Saint John Chrysostom is considered the greatest of the Greek Fathers and was proclaimed Doctor of the Church. He was Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople, and his revision of the Greek liturgy is used until today. In his sermons about Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he dwells on the gravity of the sin of homosexuality:

"But if thou scoffest at hearing of hell and believest not that fire, remember Sodom. For we have seen, surely we have seen, even in this present life, a semblance of hell. For since many would utterly disbelieve the things to come after the resurrection, hearing now of an unquenchable fire, God brings them to a right mind by things present. For such is the burning of Sodom, and that conflagration!…

"Consider how great is that sin, to have forced hell to appear even before its time!… For that rain was unwonted, for the intercourse was contrary to nature, and it deluged the land, since lust had done so with their souls. Wherefore also the rain was the opposite of the customary rain. Now not only did it fail to stir up the womb of the earth to the production of fruits, but made it even useless for the reception of seed. For such was also the intercourse of the men, making a body of this sort more worthless than the very land of Sodom. And what is there more detestable than a man who hath pandered himself, or what more execrable?

6. Saint Augustine (354-430)

The greatest of the Fathers of the West and one of the great Doctors of the Church, Saint Augustine laid the foundations of Catholic theology. In his celebrated Confessions, he thus condemns homosexuality:

"Those offences which be contrary to nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and punished; such were those of the Sodomites, which should all nations commit, they should all be held guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which hath not so made men that they should in that way abuse one another. For even that fellowship which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature of which He is author is polluted by the perversity of lust."

7. Saint Gregory the Great (540-604)

Pope Saint Gregory I is called “the Great.” He is both Father and Doctor of the Church. He introduced Gregorian chant into the Church. He organized England’s conversion, sending Saint Augustine of Canterbury and many Benedictine monks there.

"Sacred Scripture itself confirms that sulfur evokes the stench of the flesh, as it speaks of the rain of fire and sulfur poured upon Sodom by the Lord. He had decided to punish Sodom for the crimes of the flesh, and the very type of punishment he chose emphasized the shame of that crime. For sulfur stinks, and fire burns. So it was just that Sodomites, burning with perverse desires arising from the flesh like stench, should perish by fire and sulfur so that through this just punishment they would realize the evil they had committed, led by a perverse desire."

8. Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072)

Doctor of the Church, cardinal and a great reformer of the clergy, Saint Peter Damian wrote his famous Book of Gomorrah against the inroads made by homosexuality among the clergy. He describes not only the iniquity of homosexuality, but also its psychological and moral consequences:

"Truly, this vice is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…

"The miserable flesh burns with the heat of lust; the cold mind trembles with the rancor of suspicion; and in the heart of the miserable man chaos boils like Tartarus [Hell]…. In fact, after this most poisonous serpent once sinks its fangs into the unhappy soul, sense is snatched away, memory is borne off, the sharpness of the mind is obscured. It becomes unmindful of God and even forgetful of itself. This plague undermines the foundation of faith, weakens the strength of hope, destroys the bond of charity; it takes away justice, subverts fortitude, banishes temperance, blunts the keenness of prudence.

"And what more should I say since it expels the whole host of the virtues from the chamber of the human heart and introduces every barbarous vice as if the bolts of the doors were pulled out."

9. Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Commenting upon Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (1:26-27), Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, explains why the sin of homosexuality is so grave:

"Given the sin of impiety through which they [the Romans] sinned against the divine nature [by idolatry], the punishment that led them to sin against their own nature followed.... I say, therefore, that since they changed into lies [by idolatry] the truth about God, He brought them to ignominious passions, that is, to sins against nature; not that God led them to evil, but only that he abandoned them to evil....

"If all the sins of the flesh are worthy of condemnation because by them man allows himself to be dominated by that which he has of the animal nature, much more deserving of condemnation are the sins against nature by which man degrades his own animal nature....

"Man can sin against nature in two ways. First, when he sins against his specific rational nature, acting contrary to reason. In this sense, we can say that every sin is a sin against man’s nature, because it is against man’s right reason....

"Secondly, man sins against nature when he goes against his generic nature, that is to say, his animal nature. Now, it is evident that, in accord with natural order, the union of the sexes among animals is ordered towards conception. From this it follows that every sexual intercourse that cannot lead to conception is opposed to man’s animal nature."

10. Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Saint Catherine, a great mystic and Doctor of the Church, lived in troubled times. The Papacy was in exile at Avignon, France. She was instrumental in bringing the Popes back to Rome. Her famous Dialogues are written as if dictated by God Himself:

"But they act in a contrary way, for they come full of impurity to this mystery, and not only of that impurity to which, through the fragility of your weak nature, you are all naturally inclined (although reason, when free will permits, can quiet the rebellion of nature), but these wretches not only do not bridle this fragility, but do worse, committing that accursed sin against nature, and as blind and fools, with the light of their intellect darkened, they do not know the stench and misery in which they are. It is not only that this sin stinks before me, who am the Supreme and Eternal Truth, it does indeed displease me so much and I hold it in such abomination that for it alone I buried five cities by a divine judgment, my divine justice being no longer able to endure it. This sin not only displeases me as I have said, but also the devils whom these wretches have made their masters. Not that the evil displeases them because they like anything good, but because their nature was originally angelic, and their angelic nature causes them to loathe the sight of the actual commission of this enormous sin.

11. Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)

Saint Bernardine of Siena was a famous preacher, celebrated for his doctrine and holiness. Regarding homosexuality, he stated:

"No sin in the world grips the soul as the accursed sodomy; this sin has always been detested by all those who live according to God.… Deviant passion is close to madness; this vice disturbs the intellect, destroys elevation and generosity of soul, brings the mind down from great thoughts to the lowliest, makes the person slothful, irascible, obstinate and obdurate, servile and soft and incapable of anything; furthermore, agitated by an insatiable craving for pleasure, the person follows not reason but frenzy.… They become blind and, when their thoughts should soar to high and great things, they are broken down and reduced to vile and useless and putrid things, which could never make them happy.... Just as people participate in the glory of God in different degrees, so also in hell some suffer more than others. He who lived with this vice of sodomy suffers more than another, for this is the greatest sin."

12. Saint Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

Saint Peter Canisius, Jesuit and Doctor of the Church, is responsible for helping one third of Germany abandon Lutheranism and return to the Church. To Scripture’s condemnation of homosexuality, he added his own:

"As the Sacred Scripture says, the Sodomites were wicked and exceedingly sinful. Saint Peter and Saint Paul condemn this nefarious and depraved sin. In fact, the Scripture denounces this enormous indecency thus: 'The scandal of Sodomites and Gomorrhans has multiplied and their sins have become grave beyond measure.' So the angels said to just Lot, who totally abhorred the depravity of the Sodomites: 'Let us leave this city....' Holy Scripture does not fail to mention the causes that led the Sodomites, and can also lead others, to this most grievous sin. In fact, in Ezechiel we read: 'Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and the poor. And they were lifted up, and committed abominations before me; and I took them away as thou hast seen' (Ezech. 16: 49-50). Those unashamed of violating divine and natural law are slaves of this never sufficiently execrated depravity."

(Note: These quotes are taken from Defending A Higher Law: Why We Must Resist Same-Sex "Marriage" and the Homosexual Movement.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Evangelization Conference

Everybody is invited to attend the First New Evangelization Conference on June 7, 2014 (Saturday) at the SMX MOA Hall 1 from 10 am to 5 pm.

A Catholic Expo will be opened at 10 am to start of the whole day's activities with CBCP President Archbishop Soc Villegas opening the festivities.

Learn more about the call of New Evangelization and choose to be blessed, choose to be empowered, choose to be brave when you attend the sessions in the afternoon that will surely inspire everyone to go out to meet, share and live Christ!

For more information please visit: FB Live Christ, Share Christ page

Admission is for free. Bring your family, friends, your whole organization and your whole parish. Be part of history and the preparation for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines on 2021.

(Source: CBCP for Life)