I am with you always until the end of this world - Jesus (Matthew 28:20).

Preach the Word in season and out of season reproving, rebuking or advising always with patience and providing instructions (2 Timothy 4:2).

Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Luke 1:30).

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. - G. K. Chesterton

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

My reflection on the 22nd Sunday Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14, Sept.2, 2007

Gospel: Luke 14:1,7-14, On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Then he said to the host who invited him, When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind: blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

My reflection:

While dining at the home of one of the leading Pharisees Jesus noticed how those invited were choosing the places of honor at the table, the seats for those who are rich and powerful. Everyone wanted to be seated there! So he said to them. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.” His admonition was a sharp rebuke to those who wanted to be seen as prominent, who wanted to flaunt their power and money, who always want to boast of the things that they do.

From the time of Jesus up to now, nothing has changed; these boastful characters are still prevalent today. Some of these characters are in fact present in the various church ministries, in government, in various charitable organizations. They always want to advertise the many things that they are doing for the church and for the poor. They want to brag to the whole world about the many humanitarian endeavors that they’re doing.

Closely looking at ourselves, oftentimes we also are guilty of trumpeting our knowledge, our accomplishment, our prominence, our supremacy and wealth.

What Jesus is telling us in the gospel is: we should not be overly concerned of the impression that we will get from others. We should not boast, we should just do things silently without selfish or personal motives. That is HUMILITY!

We better ask ourselves, do we have the virtue of HUMILITY?

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Organization of the Roman Catholic Church, as I know it.

The Roman Catholic Church is a Hierarchical religious organization, the present head of the more than one billion Roman Catholics in the whole world is the bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) he is the 265th successor to Saint Peter,“Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:17-19). This passage in the Bible is the basis of the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church.

The church is government in itself, in fact if we will carefully study its organizational structure we can dare say that all of the management functions that we are using right now be it in government or private organizations has its basis in the church. The functions of Leadership, Supervision, Delegation, controlling, Planning and many other organizational principles traces its roots in the church.

The Pope being the Head of the church can be likened to a president of an independent nation. In fact the Vatican where the Pope resides is a Nation and he heads that nation. But unlike a president whose power and influence is confined to limited territory. The Popes sphere of power and influence is not limited in the Vatican. It extends worldwide. When there is a Roman Catholic Parish/Church there extends also the power of the Pope.

The Bishops somewhat functions like the Governors of a civil government because like the governors who heads a certain province or state. The Bishops also heads a certain territory/province or state and it is called Diocese.

The Diocesan Priest territory is called a Parish and the Parish council helps the Priest run the Parish. He is under the guidance and supervision of the Bishop of the diocese. The Parish Priest has similar functions like the Mayors of a City or Municipality.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

7. Anointing of the Sick

In our temporary journey in this world, sickness, can lead to suffering, self-importance, sometimes even hopelessness and revolt against God. It can also make us more mature, helping us determine what is not essential in life such as material things. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.

This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord. (Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15)

Jesus compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of sickness shows that he has come to heal our whole being, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. (Mark 2:17).His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me.(Matthew 25:36) His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of determined efforts to comfort them.

Often Jesus asks the sick to believe (Mark 5:34, 36; 9:23). He makes use of signs to heal, spittle and the laying on of hands, (Mark 7:32-36; 8:22-25) mud and washing, (John 9:6-7). The sick try to touch him, "for power came forth from him and healed them all." (Luke 6:19, Mark 1:41, 3:10, 6:56). And so in the sacraments Christ continues to "touch" us in order to heal us.

The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing, (1st Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30) so as to make present the power of the grace of the risen Lord. However, even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all sickness. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church."(2nd Corinthians 12:9; Col 1:24.)

Only Bishops and Priests are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick. It is their duty to educate Catholics on the benefits of this sacrament. Those who know about this sacrament should encourage the sick to call for a Priest to receive this sacrament. The sick should prepare himself to receive it with good disposition through their bishop or Priest.

In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as Viaticum, Communion in the body and blood of Christ. According to the words of Jesus: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54). The Eucharist is the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father. (John 13:1)

The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:

· The uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole church.
· The strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age.
· The forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Confession.
· The restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul.
· The preparation for passing over to eternal life.

Anointing of the Sick is the last sacrament. To know more about each sacrament I encourage you to read the Catechism of the Church.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

6. The Sacrament of Matrimony/Marriage

St. Paul said: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church." (Ephesians 5:25).

The Bible begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of "the wedding-feast of the Lamb." (Genesis 1:26-27).It says that man and woman were created for one another, "It is not good that the man should be alone." (Genesis 2:18) . The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate" she thus represents God from whom comes our help (Genesis 2:18-25) "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and he marries his wife, and they become one flesh." The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been in the beginning: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Matthew 19:6)
The first miracle of Jesus was during a wedding feast at Cana, (John 2:1-10) The Church gives great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. It is the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thereon marriage will be an effective sign of Christ's presence.

Husband and Wife are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the body of Christ received together.

This is just a very short essay, the responsibility to discover more is within us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

5. The Sacrament of Holy Orders

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles that continues to be exercised in the Church today. It is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: Episcopate (Bishops), Presbyterate (Priests) , and Diaconate (Deacons).The word order is an established civil body, especially a governing body.

Integration into one of these bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordination, a religious and liturgical act which has a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. The word "ordination" is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, priests, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation or delegation. For it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. The laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecrating prayer, constitutes the visible sign of ordination.

The priests are appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Hebrews 5:1; Exodus 29:1-30; Leviticus 8.)

Everything that the priesthood of the Old Testament proclamation finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men." (1st. Timothy 2:5)

Again, this is just a short essay the responsibility to know more is within us.

Monday, August 13, 2007

4. The Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation

During confession, all sins must be recounted or recalled so that there will be complete healing on our soul. Without confession we will be forever be burdened by our conscience, from time to time we will feel the guilt of our sins and we will not be able to achieve peace of mind.

What if during confession we unintentionally forget to confess some of our sins. For so long as we humbly and truthfully submit ourselves to this sacrament, those sins that we forget to confess has been forgiven also. But let us say that we submitted ourselves to this sacrament then, for reasons known only to ourselves we willfully did not confess some of our sins. Those sins are not forgiven.

The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Confession are:
· reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
· reconciliation with the Church;
· remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
· remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
· peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
· an increase of spiritual strength.

One of the many Biblical passages related to this Sacrament is this. "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week," Jesus showed himself to his apostles. "He breathed on them, and said to them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'" (John. 20:19, 22-23).

NB: The Apostles in Jesus time is now represented by Bishops and Priests by virtue of their ordination.

By his humanity Jesus has also lived to administer this Sacrament.

Again, this is a short essay the responsibility to know more is within us.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

3. The Sacrament of Confirmation

Last March 18, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. It was conferred to me by our Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle DD. I remember that he recited this prayer "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit." I said Amen! then he anointed me with chrism oil on my forehead. (see picture, the man whose hand is on my shoulder is our Parish Priest Leonardo R. Bagos, who was also my Godparent during the Confirmation)

Those who are anointed, share more completely with the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled so that their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ. (2nd Corinthians 2:15). By anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit, (Deuteronomy 32:34). A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority. By way of confirmation he now becomes a soldier of Christ. Jesus himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal, (John 6:27). This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ and his Church.

It is evident from this celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. (John 20:22), (Acts 2:1-4).

Every baptized Catholic not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation.

Again, the responsibility to discover more is within us.

Friday, August 10, 2007

2.The Sacrament of Holy Communion

In other countries this is called Sacrament of the Eucharist, here in the Philippines this is known as the Sacrament of Holy Communion because by this Sacrament we unite ourselves with Jesus when we accept his Body in the form of the Consecrated Host.

The center of the Mass are the bread and wine that, by the words of Jesus and by the invocation of the Holy Spirit, it becomes Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do this in his memory. This is what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine… (Luke 22:17-20).

During the second part of the Mass which is called the Liturgy of the Eucharist the Priest Consecrates the bread and wine. By virtue of consecration it now becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.

In the miracle of the loaves/bread, when Jesus said the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves/bread through his disciples to feed the people shows the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. (Matthew 14:13-21) .

Who Can Receive Communion?

The Catholic Church has guidelines on how we should prepare ourselves to receive the Lord’s body during Communion. To receive Communion worthily, you must be in a state of grace, has observed the Eucharistic fast, (not eating anything for at least one hour before the Mass). Not living as husband & wife outside of the Sacrament of Matrimony (Marriage). Has been to confession for at least once a year or you must have been to confession since your last mortal sin. The Bible contains lists of mortal sins ( 1st Corinthians. 6:9–10 and Galatians. 5:19–21). For more information on mortal sin, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Again, what I have presented here is a short essay of the Sacrament of Communion. The responsibility to discover more is within us.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

1.The Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism is the gateway to the other Sacraments, we first have to be baptised before we receive the other sacraments. During Baptism we are freed from the doctrine of Original Sin and we officially become a member of the Church.

All the Old Covenant prophecies has its fulfilment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. (Matthew 3:13).

After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles which is represented now by Deacons, Priests & Bishops. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20).

Anyone who has not received the sacrament of Baptism is eligible to have it provided that the parents are willing to satisfy all the requirements of the church. The same rules applies for an adult who wants to be Baptised.

What I have presented here is a short essay of the Sacrament of Baptism. The responsibility to discover more is within us.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Seven Sacraments of The Roman Catholic Church

There are Seven (7) Sacraments inside the Catholic church, The first is the sacrament of Baptism, second is the sacrament of Communion third is the sacrament of confirmation fourth is the sacrament of the Holy Orders the fifth is the sacrament of Holy Matrimony (Marriage) the sixth is the sacrament of Confession and the seventh is the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

What is the relevance of these sacraments in our life's journey? The sacraments are there to accompany us as we travel in this world, remember that the first sacrament is Baptism and the last sacrament is the anointing of the sick. Baptism is the start of our christian life and the Anointing of the Sick is the end. Majority of those who are being anointed are old and are near to the next life. But strictly speaking the Anointing of the sick is not only given when somebody is old and dying. anybody regardless of age who is gravely sick or set to undergo a major operation is eligible to this sacrament.

In my forthcoming blogs I will be discussing each sacraments and its relevant Biblical verses. I will start with Baptism. I am doing this with the hope of educating those Catholics who are not deeply immersed in their faith so as to avoid their migration to other christian faiths.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Visiting the Sick.

Last Saturday (Aug. 4) We visited my sick auntie (Gilda) in Las Piñas. I left Carmona around 6:30 am and I arrived there 8:00, she was not in there house because she went out with my sister (Grace) to see her Doctor for her check-up.

After 30 mins. they arrived, upon seeing her I immediate went to her to bless her hand and I said "How are you auntie?" she replied, I am OK, but closely looking at her it's undeniable that she has a serious health problem. I was told before that her problem was her liver, it's not working very well that's why she's losing weight and her stomach was unusually bigger. I can't help but pause and admire her courage and strong determination to live and fight her oppressive illness.

We may ask, why is she suffering big time? Is this her punishment from God? This is my opinion based on what I know as an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Holy Communion. She is undergoing these trials for her and for us also, to know that there's a supreme being that governs us all and that is God, in spite of the modern medical technology, in spite of material wealth, there's God who's way above all of these temporal things. Her predicament is not a punishment from God, rather it's God's way of saying come to me, rely on nobody but me and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

After staying with her for more than two hours, We said our goodbyes I kissed her on her cheek and I said take good care of your health always and we will be seeing you again next month and she replied you always Pray for me... then she said, "I always Pray for all of you."

Why do we visit her often? Why do we allocate a portion our precious time with her? To my mind we visit her often because she has helped us become what we are today, in a special way she has also showed her love for us specially during the time when she took care of us. This is actually our special way of saying to her that we remember those days and we are still very grateful for the things that she has done for us all.

Finally, we visit her often because of these Bible verses on Matthew 25:35-40. Read on it.

Friday, August 3, 2007