Wednesday, December 16, 2009
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
POPE BENEDICT XVI
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2010
IF YOU WANT TO CULTIVATE PEACE, PROTECT CREATION
1. At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”, and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen “that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”.
2. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I noted that integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations. I also observed that whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes. On the other hand, seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings. With the Psalmist, we can exclaim with wonder: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which “moves the sun and the other stars”.
3. Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Message for the World Day of Peace to the theme: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. He emphasized our relationship, as God’s creatures, with the universe all around us. “In our day”, he wrote, “there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened … also by a lack of due respect for nature”. He added that “ecological awareness, rather than being downplayed, needs to be helped to develop and mature, and find fitting expression in concrete programmes and initiatives”. Previous Popes had spoken of the relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1971, for example, on the eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI pointed out that “by an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation”. He added that “not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family”.
4. Without entering into the merit of specific technical solutions, the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an “expert in humanity”, to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order. In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an “ecological crisis” and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity”. His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.
5. It should be evident that the ecological crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from other related questions, since it is closely linked to the notion of development itself and our understanding of man in his relationship to others and to the rest of creation. Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications. The ecological health of the planet calls for this, but it is also demanded by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity whose symptoms have for some time been evident in every part of the world. Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed. Only in this way can the current crisis become an opportunity for discernment and new strategic planning.
6. Is it not true that what we call “nature” in a cosmic sense has its origin in “a plan of love and truth”? The world “is not the product of any necessity whatsoever, nor of blind fate or chance… The world proceeds from the free will of God; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, in his intelligence, and in his goodness”. The Book of Genesis, in its very first pages, points to the wise design of the cosmos: it comes forth from God’s mind and finds its culmination in man and woman, made in the image and likeness of the Creator to “fill the earth” and to “have dominion over” it as “stewards” of God himself (cf. Gen 1:28). The harmony between the Creator, mankind and the created world, as described by Sacred Scripture, was disrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, by man and woman, who wanted to take the place of God and refused to acknowledge that they were his creatures. As a result, the work of “exercising dominion” over the earth, “tilling it and keeping it”, was also disrupted, and conflict arose within and between mankind and the rest of creation (cf. Gen 3:17-19). Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as “a heap of scattered refuse”. Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15). Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”. Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it.
7. Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminded us that “God has destined the earth and everything it contains for all peoples and nations”. The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. Yet the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come. It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to the lack of far-sighted official policies or to the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation. To combat this phenomenon, economic activity needs to consider the fact that “every economic decision has a moral consequence”  and thus show increased respect for the environment. When making use of natural resources, we should be concerned for their protection and consider the cost entailed – environmentally and socially – as an essential part of the overall expenses incurred. The international community and national governments are responsible for sending the right signals in order to combat effectively the misuse of the environment. To protect the environment, and to safeguard natural resources and the climate, there is a need to act in accordance with clearly-defined rules, also from the juridical and economic standpoint, while at the same time taking into due account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future generations.
8. A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources. “We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries; for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us, to enlarge the human family. Universal solidarity represents a benefit as well as a duty. This is a responsibility that present generations have towards those of the future, a responsibility that also concerns individual States and the international community”. Natural resources should be used in such a way that immediate benefits do not have a negative impact on living creatures, human and not, present and future; that the protection of private property does not conflict with the universal destination of goods; that human activity does not compromise the fruitfulness of the earth, for the benefit of people now and in the future. In addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and highly industrialized countries: “the international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of non-renewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future”. The ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space. It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries. Yet the less developed countries, and emerging countries in particular, are not exempt from their own responsibilities with regard to creation, for the duty of gradually adopting effective environmental measures and policies is incumbent upon all. This would be accomplished more easily if self-interest played a lesser role in the granting of aid and the sharing of knowledge and cleaner technologies.
9. To be sure, among the basic problems which the international community has to address is that of energy resources and the development of joint and sustainable strategies to satisfy the energy needs of the present and future generations. This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency. At the same time there is a need to encourage research into, and utilization of, forms of energy with lower impact on the environment and “a world-wide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them”. The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth. I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed life-style, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.
10. A sustainable comprehensive management of the environment and the resources of the planet demands that human intelligence be directed to technological and scientific research and its practical applications. The “new solidarity” for which John Paul II called in his Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace  and the “global solidarity” for which I myself appealed in my Message for the 2009 World Day of Peace  are essential attitudes in shaping our efforts to protect creation through a better internationally-coordinated management of the earth’s resources, particularly today, when there is an increasingly clear link between combatting environmental degradation and promoting an integral human development. These two realities are inseparable, since “the integral development of individuals necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of humanity as a whole”. At present there are a number of scientific developments and innovative approaches which promise to provide satisfactory and balanced solutions to the problem of our relationship to the environment. Encouragement needs to be given, for example, to research into effective ways of exploiting the immense potential of solar energy. Similar attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle system, which is of prime importance for life on earth and whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change. Suitable strategies for rural development centred on small farmers and their families should be explored, as well as the implementation of appropriate policies for the management of forests, for waste disposal and for strengthening the linkage between combatting climate change and overcoming poverty. Ambitious national policies are required, together with a necessary international commitment which will offer important benefits especially in the medium and long term. There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all. The ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good. For that matter, as I have stated elsewhere, “technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development; it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology in this sense is a response to God’s command to till and keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God’s creative love”.
11. It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view. We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new life-styles, “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”. Education for peace must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and states. We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests. A special role in raising awareness and in formation belongs to the different groups present in civil society and to the non-governmental organizations which work with determination and generosity for the spread of ecological responsibility, responsibility which should be ever more deeply anchored in respect for “human ecology”. The media also have a responsibility in this regard to offer positive and inspiring models. In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish nationalistic interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples. We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all. Relationships between individuals, social groups and states, like those between human beings and the environment, must be marked by respect and “charity in truth”. In this broader context one can only encourage the efforts of the international community to ensure progressive disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons, whose presence alone threatens the life of the planet and the ongoing integral development of the present generation and of generations yet to come.
12. The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction. The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, “when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits”. Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics. Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others.
Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature. There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation.
13. Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature. There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself.
14. If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation. In the light of divine Revelation and in fidelity to the Church’s Tradition, Christians have their own contribution to make. They contemplate the cosmos and its marvels in light of the creative work of the Father and the redemptive work of Christ, who by his death and resurrection has reconciled with God “all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col 1:20). Christ, crucified and risen, has bestowed his Spirit of holiness upon mankind, to guide the course of history in anticipation of that day when, with the glorious return of the Saviour, there will be “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet 3:13), in which justice and peace will dwell for ever. Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
My new life here in the US has been a boxing match between me and my self. It sounds funny but yes, my greatest enemy is myself - my own temperament, my being indecisive and dependence to some people to suggest decisions for me, my impatience, my ungratefulness to God, etc...
Many times in my life here, I come to HIM for help when I am already at the cross roads or in very rough times and in most cases when my journey seems okay, I seldom thank HIM! I realized that God never used them against me, but I feel the shame/guilt. I usually embraced negativity over things, became impatient and made bad decisions. In turn, I ended up regretting over them.
YET, God in his His unconditional LOVE, never abandoned me. If my mathematical mind is right, God's help/guidance/company... is enormous that I could not count them, because no matter how bad my decisions were, God still makes me feel that I am truly loved by HIM. I wrote you about "When it rains, it pours" but I feel, it should be "When God pours, HE keeps on pouring."
There are many times that I thought I would ran away from the boxing ring we called “life” because I could not raise my hands to give another punch to my opponent and yet when I hear the “ting-ting-ting", I feel God's hands leading me to the seat in my corner to coach me- to breath, relax my muscles, clear up my mind and then FIGHT AGAIN at the sound of the bell. God in HIS most loving voice saying: "I am here and I will be watching you. No matter what, I will be here waiting for you after each round!"
HE continuously pours blessing, no matter what I do, no matter how bad my sins are, it is just that I feel that no matter what I do, HE is always there to give me the blessings I need to survive and in most cases, the blessings are always overflowing. Kahit sa dami ng aking mga “ungrateful moment,” … isang pasalamat lang, bubuhos na kaagad ang mga grasya galing sa KANYA! Nakakahiya nga, pero ganoon nga siguro magmahal ang DIYOS! Walang kupas, walang kondisyon, "walang iwanan" sa lahat ng pakiki-boxing ko sa buhay -- Pilipinas man o Amerika, walang tigil ang buhos ng mga grasya!
Sa Buhay-boksing, may pahinga naman dahil may "ting, ting, ting." Sa lahat ng pakikibaka na nagawa ko na, kitang-kita ko ang Diyos at ang galaw NIYA na misteryoso---paibaiba ang style, pero iisa lang ang pinanggagalingan - PAGMAMAHAL NIYA SA AKIN!
- taken from my homily blogspot: http://willysamson.blogspot.com/
Monday, November 2, 2009
While walking down the street one day a Congressman is tragically hit by a truck and dies.
His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem.
We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'
'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.
'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven.
Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'
'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the Congressman. 'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.
Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.
They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.
Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes.
They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.
Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.
'Now it's time to visit heaven.'
So, 24 hours pass with the Congressman joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'
The Congressman reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'
So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.
He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.
The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the Congressman.
'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time.. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.
The devil looks at him, smiles and says,
'Yesterday we were campaigning. ..
Today you voted!'
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Our prayer is God’s gift to us…and God is continually blessing us with prayers…prayers in so many forms.
Work is God’s gift to us…and we work for several reasons…and perhaps one of the most common reasons is, we work because we need to earn a living…but work could be more than just a living…it could become a form of a prayer…an offering to God.
The story of Cain and Abel makes me wonder, why was God displeased with the offering of Cain when both Cain and Abel offered to God the fruits of their work?…but towards Cain and his offering He showed no pleasure (Gn:4:5). Was it perhaps, because Cain failed to offer it to God as a prayer?
I strive to make my work my prayer to God. If as I work, I am conscious of the Lord, this consciousness allows me to strive to do my best...putting my whole self…heart, body and mind into my work…then I feel I am truly giving myself to God.
There are times, I must admit that, I feel I have to drag myself to do what I must…or I am unsure…or I was not as honest as I should be…and I would feel bad…and ashamed…but it is also during these times that I get to feel Jesus’ love…and I would asked for His forgiveness, or I would asked His guidance or consolation…or His grace to do my best…and then I am able to offer my thanks…and my praise…my sacrificial praise and thanks to God.
At the end of the day…in all sincerity…and in all honesty, I offer to God what transpired during the day…the good moments, the not so good moments…the difficult and the not so difficult…my disappointments…my accomplishments…asking God for forgiveness for my shortcomings…knowing that God has sustained me…and provided me with my daily bread.
Stevan S. Dimaguila
ADZU College Faculty
October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Zamboanga is a really big city in the Philippines- the third largest, with nearly a million people, at the tip of the western peninsula of the island of Mindanao, the second biggest island in the Republic of the Philippines. What a great name, Zamboanga- a name with music and joy in it.
But Zamboanga and Mindanao have a long history of Christian- Muslim tension and conflict. Muslims first came to Mindanao in the late 14th century, says a Muslim Web site on the internet. They resisted the Spanish conquistadors who followed, then America’s occupation, and some conflict has continued into Philippine independence, right up to the present.
I am pleased to report, however, that Zamboanga City today is a place where Christians and Muslims are learning to get along and live peacefully together. And these days, with Christian- Muslim tension and that is certainly something to take notice of and to rejoice in, don’t you agree?
I’ve just been reading about Zamboanga and this new Christian-Muslim dialogue in an article in “St. Anthony Messenger” magazine, the Franciscan monthly, sent to us by one good friend and written by another: Father Jack Wintz, O.F.M., a fine writer, great priest and all-around special person.
Zamboanga, Father Jack wrote, “is sometimes known as the City of Flowers or the City of Romance. But I will always remember it as the ‘Land of Hope for Christian-Muslim Dialogue.’” And that’s the title of his article.
Father Jack once taught in a Franciscan seminary in Manila, the capital, he said, and was eager to get back to the Philippines, so he went last year to get back to the Philippines, so he went last year with a study group sponsored by the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, a lay Catholic organization working with people of all faith traditions to bring about a global community of compassion and service.
“ In 1984,” he wrote, “ a popular dialogue movement was launched in Mindanao to overcome conflicts among Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths. The movement calls itself the Silsilah Dialogue Movement and sees itself as promoting understanding among these groups. Silsilah is an Arabic word meaning ‘chain’ or ‘link’, and suggests the image of people drawing together ( like links in a chain) as one universal family united by a shared vision of dialogue and peace.”
Founded in Zamboanga City by an Italian priest, Father Sebastian D’Ambra, P.I.M.E., with a group of Muslim and Christian friends, Silsilah “ holds seminars and a wide variety of training programs, promotes friendship and interfaith dialogue and provides opportunities for prayer.”
Along the way Father Jack met a number of wonderful Muslim people and their Christian counterparts who are learning to get along. One highlight, he reported, was a big outdoor concert featuring music from various religious and cultural traditions, helping respect and love many wonderful Jewish, Protestant and Buddhist friends, as well as other nice people I couldn’t describe in any religious terms, except that we like them.
I’m sorry to say we haven’t met any Muslims personally yet, although we see more and more of them around, as I expect you do also. One day soon, I expect we’ll get to meet some Muslim people, and we’ll get to like them. It’ll be a pleasure.
Copyright 2009 by James A. Doyle
New York Times
What does E-U-C-H-A-R-I-S-T stand for?
E - Eternal life.
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:54). Jesus gives us everlasting life. Eternal life is a desire in the heart of every person. Every time we eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ Jesus Christ
U - Union with Jesus Christ, Who is our Life.
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (John 6:56). Our union with Jesus is intensified in every reception of the Holy Eucharist by increasing sanctifying grace in us. Mother Teresa of Calcutta explained that in Holy Communion we touch Jesus. St. Vincent de Paul Vin•cent de Paul stated we leave Jesus in prayer to find Jesus in people.
C - Christ Jesus, totally truly present.
Pope John Paul II's call for Perpetual Adoration which brings about tremendous spiritual healing spiritual healing, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20:29). We in our lives accentuate the positive and celebrate this great gift of Jesus' real presence, the gift of real life.
H - Healing.
It is important to come to the Eucharist open to Healing of mind, body, soul and life. The Eucharist can help to nourish and sustain us. It is at Communion when we are closest to Jesus that we can ask for whatever we need.
A - Abandonment.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me" (John 14:1). Jesus abandons Himself, His Life to us on the Cross and again in the Sacred Host. This calls us to great respect for the Eucharist, Jesus Christ, present in our midst, Emmanuel.
R - Reconciliation.
"If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14). Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II has said that the Holy Eucharist restores life, and leads to Reconciliation and Reconciliation leads to the Eucharist.
I - Intimacy.
"Remain in me, as I remain in you" (John 15:4). The Eucharistic Presence of Christ begins at the moment of consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsists. The most personal relationship in our lives is that with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Jesus waits for us to come and share with Him as a friend, our best friend. We should approach Him with the heart of Mary, who was closer to Jesus than anyone else, asking her to show us the way to His Sacred Heart. Pope John Paul II spends hours before the Blessed Sacrament every day. He challenges us to visit regularly. Jesus calls to us: "Will you not spend an hour with Me." Mother Teresa stated that the hours spent before the Blessed Sacrament are some of the most important hours of our lives.
S - Sacrifice.
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37-38). Archbishop Fulton Sheen stated that we should never let our suffering go to waste. We should give it to the Lord so He can take it to the Father and intercede for us, our families, our loved ones and our lives. We should join our lives, our sufferings and joys, with the suffering of Jesus Christ, with the offering of the bread and wine which becomes the body and blood of Christ.
T – Transformation / Thanksgiving
Like St. Paul we are challenged to convert, to put aside what is not of God. We should give God permission to change what needs changing in our lives, and to imitate Mary and do only the Will of God. "Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). All the lepers were healed by Jesus. Only one of the ten came back to thank Jesus. Let us thank Him daily for the Gift of Life by participating in Mass as often as we can.
• Article written by Father James Whalen, the parish priest of Sainte-Marguerite-Marie parish in Cumberland, Ontario.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A prayer / poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero
It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Who kindled the light of truth
In the hearts of all,
You have chosen us for the mission
Of teaching others,
Even as you taught,
And have given to us, this community of educators,
The ministry of celebrating life
And of consecrating the earth.
Give us new hearts:
Open, understanding, committed
To all that is true, good, loveable;
Make us docile—to learn to serve
Even from those we seek to serve.
Infuse in us the spirit of collaboration
To enable us graciously to give
Even as we gratefully receive.
Pour forth your spirit into this,
Your community of educators,
So that the zeal of our personal commitment to YOU,
And the ministry of teaching
Be kindled in our hearts.
Praise and thanks to you Christ Jesus, Teacher
For calling us to be educators,
And for all others who teach in your name. Amen
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realise it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is costly, care for it.
Life is wealth, keep it.
Life is love, enjoy it.
Life is mystery, know it.
Life is a promise, fulfills it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
- Mother Teresa
I am convinced that, unless morally necessary, priests and religious should practice the asceticism of not announcing their personal preferences for political candidates. Particularly not on Facebook.
Like it or not, the moment one is ordained or takes religious vows, one becomes a "public person." As "public persons," clerics and vowed religious speak not just for themselves but for the Church. And since ordination constitutes priests as publicly authorized preachers, priests have to be careful not to seem to confuse particular political choices, within a morally permissible pluralism of options, with the Gospel. Otherwise, one unfairly limits, often without knowing it, the legitimate freedom of the faithful with regard to political choices, and also needlessly jeopardizes the unity in Christ of the Christian community, a unity that transcends parties and which the pastor has particular responsibility for building up.
I think priests and religious have to be more aware of their power, both the official power granted them by the Church in view of their ministry, and the symbolic power that they bear within cultures, particularly cultures in which religion remains a determinative aspect of common life. And they have to be careful and responsible in their use of it, particularly in the way they speak and express themselves in the political realm. Unthinking speech, in which private opinion and public teaching become confused, can only devalue and cheapen the moral authority of the church in the public sphere.
This is an ascetic practice, because it involves some sacrifice: giving up the gratification of expressing personal political preferences, often strongly felt.
But unless those preferences can be justified as morally obliging on the community, or virtually so,I think priests and religious should not give relief to their private feelings on specific political candidates by public expression.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
“We give her back to You, with grateful but breaking hearts"
By Catalino Arevalo, SJ
(Homily at the Funeral Mass for former President Cory Aquino, Manila Cathedral, August 5, 2009)
IF I may, I will first ask pardon for what might be an unseemly introduction. In the last days of President Cory’s illness, when it seemed inevitable that the end would come, the assignment to give this homily was given to me by Kris Aquino. She reminded me that many times and publicly, her mother had said she was asking me to preach at her funeral Mass. Always I told her I was years older, and would go ahead of her, but she would just smile at this. Those who knew Tita Cory knew that when she had made up her mind, she had made up her mind.
What then is my task this morning? I know for certain that if liturgical rules were not what they are, she would have asked Congressman Ted Locsin to be here in my place. No one has it in him to speak as fittingly of Cory Aquino in the manner and measure of tribute she uniquely deserves, no one else as he. Asked in an interview, she said that the address before the two Houses of Congress at Washington she considered perhaps the supreme shining moment of her life. We know who helped her with those words with which she conquered America . These last few days, too, every gifted writer in the press and other media has written on her person and political history, analyzed almost every side of her life and achievement as our own “icon of democracy”. More powerfully even, images of her and of Edsa Uno have filled hour after hour of TV time. Really, what else is left to be said?
SO, Tita Cory, you’ll forgive me if I don’t even try to give a shadow of the great oration that should be given here this morning. Let me instead try to say some things the people who persevered for hours on end in the serried lines at Ortigas or here in Intramuros can (I hope) more easily follow. This is a lowly tribute at one with “the old sneakers and clothes made tighter by age, soaked by water and much worse for wear” of the men, women and children who braved the rain and the sun because they wanted to tell you, even for a brief and hurried moment, how much they love you. You truly “now belong among the immortals”. But these words are for those mortals who with bruised hearts have lost “the mother of a people”. Maybe less elegantly than the seminarian said to me Monday, they would like to say also: “She was the only true queen our people have ever had, and she was queen because we knew she truly held our hearts in the greatness and the gentleness of her own.”
One of my teachers used to tell us that if we really wanted to know and understand a position held, we would have to learn it from someone fully committed to it. Just as only one who genuinely loves a person, really knows him or her also. So to begin with, I turned to three real “experts on Cory”; to ask them where for them the true greatness of Cory Aquino lay. My first source thought it was in her selflessness, seen above all in her love of country—surely above self; yes, even above family. Her self-giving, then, for us; what she had received, all became gift for us. The second, thought it was in her faith her greatness lay, in her total trust in God which was also her greatest strength. And the third said it was in her courage and the unshakable loyalty that went with it. It was a strength others could lean on; it never wavered; it never broke....Cory’s selflessness and self-giving; her faith (the Holy Father just called it “unwavering”); her courage, her strength. May I use this short list to frame what I will say?
O, let me name my experts now, if I may. They were three, all of them women close to her: Maria Elena Aquino Cruz, whom we know as Ballsy, Maria Aurora Aquino Abellada, Pinky to her friends; and Victoria Elisa Aquino Dee, Viel to the family. Kris and Noynoy are the public figures; they can speak for themselves. I hope they will forgive me that I did not ask.
First, then, her generous selflessness. For us this morning what is surely most to the point is her love of country. When her final illness was upon her already, she said—most recently at the Greenmeadows chapel (her last public words, I think)—that she was offering her suffering, first to God, then for our people. I heard that grandson Jiggy asked her why first for country and people, and she said that always the priority line-up was God, our country and our people, and then family. On radio, the other night, the commentator asked an old woman in line why she stood hours in the rain to get into La Salle . “Ito lang ang maibibigay ko po sa kanya, bilang pasasalamat.” “Bakit, ano ba ang ibinigay ni Cory sa inyo?” “Di po ba ang buhay nya? Ang buong sarili nya? At di po ba ang pag-asa? Kaya mahal na mahal po namin siya.” Early on, on TV, they ran many times the clip from a last interview. She says, “I thank God, and then all of you, for making me a Filipino, for making me one of you. I cherish this as one of the truly great gifts I have received.” A few weeks from her death, she could say that; without put-on or the least insincerity. “I thank you, for making me one of you.”
Her selflessness, her self-gift. Pope Benedict likes to say that the God whom Jesus Christ revealed to us, is Father. A Father who is wholly self-gift; the God “whose nature is to give Himself”—to give Himself to us, in His Son. And, the Pope says, that is what is the meaning of Jesus and the life of Jesus, and, by discipleship, what the Christian’s life is meant to be. We Christians, too, we must give ourselves away in the self-giving of love.
“Ang buhay po nya at sarili. Kaya po mahal na mahal namin sya.” In the last days, when finally and reluctantly still she admitted she had much pain, I kept thinking that only a couple of weeks before, for the first time publicly, she said that she was offering it up first of all for us.
Second, her faith
Second, her faith. Pinky says, it was her mother’s greatest strength; it was what was deepest in her. Her faith was her bedrock, and it was, bedrock. Frederick Buechner the ordained minister and novelist likes to say that through his lifetime, he’s had many doubts, even deep doubt, daily doubts. “But I have never really looked down into the deep abyss and seen only nothing. Somehow I have known, that underneath all the shadows and the darkness, there are the everlasting arms.” I think Cory’s faith was like that, not in the multiplicity of doubts (even if, in a life so filled with trial, there surely were doubts too), but in the certainty of the everlasting arms. More than once she told me, “Every time life painted me into a corner, with seemingly no escape, I always turned to Him in trust. I knew He would never abandon us if we trusted in Him. And you know, somehow, He found a way out for us.” And so Pinky says, “Mom was always calm even in the most trying times. She trusted God would always be there for us, She was our source of strength. She made this world seem so much safer and less cruel for us. And now that our source of strength is gone, we have to make our faith something more like hers. But we know in our hearts that in every storm she will watch over us from heaven.”
Devotion to Mary
Within this faith was her devotion to Mary, the place Our Lady of Fatima and the rosary held in her life. All we can say on this, this morning is that Our Lady truly had a special, living presence in her life: Mary was, for Cory, true mother and incomparable friend; as we say in the hymn—vita, dulcedo et spes: life, sweetness and hope. No, Mary was not the center of her faith, but its air, its atmosphere; and the rosary, her lifeline through every trial and crisis. In the long harsh months of her illness, Sister Lucia’s beads almost never left her hands. She was holding them, as last Saturday was dawning and her years of exile were at last done, when we know her Lady “showed unto her, the blessed fruit of her womb.”
Lastly, her courage, her strength. Her children tell us that their father was only able to do what he wanted to do, because her loyalty and her support for his purposes was total, so she practically raised them up as a single parent. Ninoy himself wrote, again and again, that he endured imprisonment and persecution, leaning so much on her courage and love. And after his death, when she could have withdrawn in a way “safely” to her own life with her children at last, she stayed on her feet and fought on in the years that followed, through the snap elections and what went before and after them, through her presidency and the seven coup attempts which tried to bring her down. Even after she had given up her rule, could she not have said “enough”, and we would all have understood? But with not the least desire for position or power again, whenever she thought the spaces of freedom and the true good of our land were threatened, she went back to the streets of struggle again. Once again she led us out of the apathy we so readily fall into; once again she called us out of our comfort zones to the roads of sacrifice.
Purity of heart
Here, even hesitantly, may I add one trait, one virtue, to those her daughters have named? One day Cardinal Stephen Kim of South Korea asked if he might visit her. Through Ballsy, she said yes. It was a day Malacañang was “closed”; they were making up the roster of members of the forthcoming Constitutional Convention. Someone from the palace staff ordered us turned away when we came; it was Ballsy who rescued us. Stephen Kim, hero and saint to his own people—perhaps, along with Cardinal Sin, one the two greatest Asian Catholic prelates of our time—spent some 45 minutes talking with her. When we were on our way back, he said, “I know why the Lord has entrusted her with power, at this most difficult time...It is because she is pure of heart. She has no desire for power; even now it is with reluctance she takes it on. And she has done this only because she wants to do whatever she can for your people.” He said, “She truly moves me by the purity of her spirit. God has given a great gift to your people.”
With this purity of heart, in the scheme of the Christian Gospel, there is joined another reality which really, only the saints understand. It is suffering. How often (it is really often; over and over through the years) she spoke of suffering as part of her life. Much contemporary spirituality speaks of suffering almost as the epitome of all evil. But in fact for all the saints, it is a mystery they themselves do not really understand nor really explain, Yet they accept it quietly, simply as part of their lives in Christ. There is only one painting she ever gave me. Kris said then, when her mom gave it to me, that it was her mom’s favorite. The painting carries 1998 as its date; Cory named it “Crosses and roses.” There are seven crosses for the seven months and seven weeks of her beloved Ninoy’s imprisonment, and for the seven attempted coups during her presidency, and many roses, multicolored roses all around them. At the back of the painting, in her own hand, she wrote a haiku of her own: “Crosses and roses/ make my life more meaningful./ I cannot complain.” Often she spoke of her “quota of suffering.” When she spoke of her last illness, she said: “I thought I had filled up my quota of suffering, but it seems there is no quota. I look at Jesus, who was wholly sinless: how much suffering he had to bear for our sake.” And in her last public talk (it was at Greenmeadows chapel), the first time she spoke of her own pain: “I have not asked for it, but if it is meant to be part of my life still, so be it. I will not complain.” “I try to join it with Jesus’s pain and offering. For what it’s worth, I am offering it up for our people.” Friends here present, I tell you honestly I hesitated before going into this, this morning. But without it, part of the real Cory Aquino would be kept from view. Quite simply, this was integral to the love she bore for her people.
Thanks to her children
AT this point, may I, following the lead Mr. Rapa Lopa has given, just speak a word of thanks to President Cory’s children, who shared so much of her service and her sacrifice. They have almost never had their father and mother for themselves. For so many years, they have been asked to share Ninoy and Cory with all of us. And because of the blood and the spirit their parents have passed on to them, they too gave with generosity and grace the sacrifices we demanded of them. Ballsy and Pinky, Viel and Kris, your husbands and your children, and Senator Noynoy, may we thank you this morning from all our hearts, and may we offer also the gratitude of the hearts of a people now forever in your debt.
I have used up all my time, some of you will say, and I have not even approached the essential: her political life, that she was our nation’s unique icon of democracy, that Cory Aquino who is know throughout the world; was TIME magazine’s 1986’s woman of the year; she who led the ending of the dictatorship that had ruined our nation, the bearer of liberation, of freedom, and of hope for a prostrate people.
So, by your leave, may I add one item, along this line at last. In October 1995, Milano’s Catholic University , conferred on her the doctorate honoris causa in the political sciences (incidentally, only her twenty-third honorary degree). This was only the fifth time this particular one had been given since the university’s inception: the first time to an Asian, the first ever to a woman. She wanted, at the end of her lectio magistralis, to spell out, perhaps for the first time with some explicitness and completeness, her personal political creed. She listed seven basic beliefs which, regarding political life , she said she tried to live by. Then she spoke of one more, “one more I may not omit.” Perhaps the paragraph which followed is worth citing here, even without comment, because it has something to say to our present hour.
(We cite her words now.) “I believe that the vocation of politics must be accepted by those who take up the service of leadership as a vocation in its noblest meaning: it demands all of life. For the life of one who would lead his or her people—in our time as never before—such a life must strive for coherence with the vision aspired to, or else that vision itself and its realization are already betrayed. That vision must itself be present, in some authentic way, in those who seek to realize it: present, in the witness of their example; present, in a purity of heart vis-à-vis the exercise and usages of power; present, in an ultimate fidelity to principle, in a dedication that is ready to count the cost in terms of ‘nothing less than everything.’ It is Cardinal Newman, I believe, who said that in this world, we do good only in the measure that we pay for it in the currency of our own lives. For us Christians, there is always the image of Jesus, and the price his service demanded of him. And for me there has been, as a constant reminder, the sacrifice my husband offered, and the word that it has spoken, to me and my people.” (Cory Aquino, end of citation)
With all this said, I am done. Ma’am, tapos na po ang assignment ko. It has been so hard to do what you asked. But I comfort myself that these so many words really do not matter. What counts in the end is really—what all this week has been; these past few days’ outpouring of our people’s gratitude and love; what will come after all this today; what we will do, in the times ahead, in fidelity to your gift. I received a text last night from a man of some age and with some history behind him. “She made me proud again, to be Filipino.” Maybe that says it all. Cardinal Sin used to put it somewhat differently. “What a gift God has given our people, in giving Cory Aquino to us.” The nobility and courage of your spirit, the generosity of your heart, the grace and graciousness that accompanied you always. They called it “Cory magic”—but it was the truth, and the purity and beauty, clear and radiant within you, that we saw. And the hope that arose from that. And when the crosses came to you and you did not refuse to bear them, more to be one with your Christ and one with your people and their pain. “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God.”
Thank You Father in heaven, for your gift to us of Cory Aquino. Thank You that she passed once this way through our lives with the grace You gave her to share with us. If we give her back to you, we do it with hearts of thanksgiving, but now, oh, with breaking hearts also, because of the greatness and beauty of the gift which she was for us, the likes of which, perhaps, we shall not know again. Salamat po, Tita Cory, mahal na mahal po namin kayo.
Reflections of a Newly Ordained Priest
Returning from Foreign Mission Gabriel Lamug-Nañawa, SJ
I didn't expect to get scarred in Cambodia . When I was missioned to Cambodia during our ordination to the priesthood nearly four years ago, an event which brought both tears of joy and anxiety to my parents, a number of people warned me about landmines and other dangers. Young and eager as I was back then, I didn't think much of their words of warning. Now, three and a half years later, I do find scars on my body, true gifts from Cambodia , and for which I am most grateful to God.
Until recent years, Cambodia had the highest number of landmine accidents in the whole world, averaging around two to three explosions a day, everyday. Within Cambodia , the province with the highest number of landmine accidents is Battambang. That is where we live. Although the number of incidents has fortunately gone down due to demining efforts and greater awareness of the people, our team from the Arrupe Welcome Center would go out to the villages everyday to seek out victims of mines and war, mothers, fathers, children with a disability, finding different ways of helping them.
The scars on my feet and legs remind me of this. We would ride motorbikes to the villages, along unpaved dirt roads that are dusty and slippery during the dry season, and muddy and slippery during the wet. I have fallen off the motorbike several times, into ditches and muddy pot holes, leaving scars that remind me of our team and their dedicated efforts to reach out to those whose very bodies, lives and families have been broken by war.
Once there was a poor man who used to be a Khmer Rouge soldier, a father of six who had lost his left leg to a landmine many years ago. He and his family lived two and half to three and a half hours away depending on how rough the road had become. Although we had been helping his family with land and a simple new house, we would oftentimes arrive at his home and find him drunk with his fellow neighbors. Expressing his willingness to change, we asked another NGO to give the community a workshop on alcoholism and domestic violence. Only days after the seminar, his wife rang us around eleven in the evening to say that he had just fallen from a tractor-drawn cart. He was seriously injured and couldn't move his body from the neck down. He was also drunk.
Since he was nowhere near any medical facility, the Cambodian team together with some foreign volunteers left in the middle of the night to pick him up and take him to the nearest hospital. This for me was simply heroism of body and soul. It was the Good Shepherd at work, God's fearless love reaching out to God's children, despite darkness, despite disappointments. They did reach him on time. He is alive and recovering from a fractured bone in his neck. I am happy to have scars that remind me of this breadth and depth of love.
A longer scar is on my belly. It took three operations within five months in two countries to put it there. It was due to an internal infection which I acquired because of my participation in the Passion play for Holy Week. But more than anything, this scar reminds me of a Buddhist lady who approached me on that Good Friday. She asked me if she could wash my feet. Sensing the purity of her intentions, we sat by a corner in the house. As she was washing my feet, just before the dramatization of Christ's Passion and Death, she started to cry and "confess her sins," telling me of the things she had done that weighed heavily upon her. As she finished she calmly said, "Please take all these with you to the cross." I was deeply moved. This Buddhist lady's intuitive action had touched my own faith and has ever since been a source of grace and inspiration for me. The scar on my belly will forever remind me of people's faith that continuously strive
to find God in different contexts.
Leaving Cambodia has not been easy. They are a simple people, with basic needs and uncomplicated relationships, and as of now still undistracted by the "noise" of consumerism. The people of Battambang, and the staff and students with disabilities of the Arrupe Welcome Center have all been wonderful. Simply to be in their presence was truly a humanizing experience. Those with whom I worked were fantastic, mostly Buddhists, some former Khmer Rouge soldiers and supporters, but many of whom have been my heroes and models for generosity and loving kindness. They have been most edifying, and their ways of doing things and of dealing with other people have unwittingly called me, even challenged me to be a better priest. The daily actions of our Apostolic Prefect, Msgr. Enrique Figaredo SJ, inspire the community around him to be joyful, always looking forward with a positive and loving disposition, always searching for creative ways to help the poor. Putting
this altogether, I dare say that within these years of living and working in Cambodia, I have experienced a sliver, a bit of something of the Kingdom of God.
Hence, having to leave all this behind has etched my third scar. Though not visible, I know it is there, for it reminds me of its existence every time I remember Cambodia .
In the end, our scars remind us of our past wounds. Some wounds we have inflicted on ourselves caused by our own mistakes, some we have received from other people. But at their best, some of our scars are there because we have dared to love, having borne wounds as the cost of reaching out beyond ourselves towards our neighbors in need. Jesus Himself freely received the Cross out of love, His wounded and broken body reminding us of God's fearless love.
I can honestly say that I have seen this love not so much in words but in everyday deeds, lived out and personified by many people I have met. The mere witnessing of this love at work is a grace in itself.
In Cambodia , there is a growing devotion to an image of Christ on the Cross with only one leg. More than just a scar or a wound, Christ is missing a leg. Although some may call it blasphemous, irreverent tampering with a holy image, it remains to be a meaningful icon that speaks to the people of Christ's compassion and fearless love.
In gratitude for the wounds that others have borne for us, may our own scars be out of love for God and for God's people.
Homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
Kick-off Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Province and ADMU
14 June 2009, Manila Cathedral, Intramuros … By José CJ Magadia, SJ
Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus
This homily has two parts. The first part is historical, and reflects on the special celebration for which we are gathered this morning. The second part considers the Church feast that we commemorate this day.
I. First, on the special celebration.
Exactly 150 years ago, on June 14, 1859, a Tuesday morning, ten Jesuits of the Aragon Province disembarked from the frigate Luisita. After months of voyage from Spain, braving often rough seas and sailing through with the uncertainties of nineteenth century travel, the ten missionaries finally end their long journey, setting foot on their destination, led by their Superior, Father José Fernández Cuevas. They entered this walled city of Intramuros, where we are gathered today, were warmly welcomed by the Augustinian friars who were there to meet them, and take them into their villa house, where the Jesuits stayed for a month and a half, while the new mission house was still being built. This special friendship with the Augustinians carried through in those early days in Intramuros, as each year thereafter, a Jesuit would sing the Mass and preach in San Agustín Church on the Feast of St Augustine and an Augustinian would do the same in the San Ignacio Church on the Feast of St Ignatius.
On that very same day, June 14, the Jesuits promptly made the rounds of the city officials, going through the protocol, presenting themselves to the colonial authorities, and informing them of their very specific purpose, “for the missions of Mindanao and Joló.” And the Jesuits subsequently did just that. Beginning with Tamontaca in the delta of the Rio Grande de Mindanao, they set forth to Tetuan and Zamboanga, Manicaán and Davao, Dapitan, Surigao, and Jolo. They climbed mountains and explored rivers, on foot, on horseback, old and young. They set up missions and built up parishes. They opened up mission schools, and administered the sacraments, and taught children their catechism. They wrote the first grammars and compiled the first dictionaries, in Maguindanao, and Tiruray, and Bagobo. And by the end of the 19th century, the Society of Jesus had taken over all the mission posts of Mindanao and Sulu.
But there was a not so minor matter that distracted them from Mindanao. In the 1850s, there was only one primary school in the city – the Escuela Pía on Calle Real, founded in 1800, but of far-from-ideal quality. On August 5, 1859, a group of Manila residents petitioned the Spanish Governor-General for the newly-arrived Jesuits to begin a school. The response from Father Cuevas was “no,” because the Jesuits mission was to be in Mindanao. But the petitioners did not allow themselves to be easily defeated by this refusal. They represented and insisted. So, Father Cuevas met with his men to discuss the matter. In the end, he told them that the answer was still “no,” unless the Governor-General would issue an order in writing. On October 1, 1859, a decree was promulgated transferring the direction of the Escuela Pía to the Jesuits and renaming it the Escuela Municipal. Thus, on December 10, 1859, twenty-three boys came to class on the first day under the new management. By March of 1860, there were already 170 students.
Thus re-commenced in this archipelago the great tradition of Jesuit education. Father Horacio de la Costa describes those early days well. “Classes were held from 8:00 to 11:00 o’clock in the morning and from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, except on Sundays and holy days. On Thursdays, the afternoon class was omitted.” There were no vacations, but during the months of April, May and June, there were no afternoon classes. There was life in that school, with voices chanting the Latin declensions or reciting the rosary or shouting at play. They studied reading, writing and ‘rithmetic; they read history and studied astronomy and discussed religion. They followed Cicero closely, “paraphrased him, imitated him, learnt him by heart, used his speech and idiom in the classroom, in ordinary conversation….”
By 1909, when that school was formally renamed the Ateneo de Manila, it had primary, secondary and tertiary levels well established. And since then, other Ateneos have been built in Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro, in Naga and Davao, along with other schools from the former Chinese delegation, and likewise in many small parishes in Mindanao and Culion – schools driven by the same ideals of excellence, sapientia et eloquentia, of seeking to do more for love of God and neighbor and country. Today, the Ateneo de Manila University has indeed become a much respected institution, led by professors, both Jesuit and lay – made great by its students, the many men and women who have walked its corridors, who have sat in its classrooms, who have brought their Ateneo spirit to worlds beyond the walls of their alma mater, who have offered their lives for causes beyond themselves, who have battled on many a field with their “Halikinus” and their “one big fight” over and over again through the years.
Yes, in all that has happened in the last 150 years, it is good to be grateful, since after all, gratitude is the most basic of prayers, because it is a recognition that all is from God, and that the opportunity to take part in God’s work is a privilege not a right, a gift not an entitlement, that in the end it is the Lord that works through creation and gives it life anew.
Today, as we remember 150 years of continued Jesuit presence in this country, we thank the Lord for the blessing of not a few good men – Jesuits from Cataluña and Valencia and Madrid, from New York and Buffalo and Syracuse, from Italy and Hungary through China, from Ilocos and Pampanga, Cebu and Misamis and Manila. They were scientists at Manila Observatory. They were pioneers and explorers in Mindanao. They were catechists and pastors. They were fantastic teachers and exacting administrators. They were social scientists like Father Frank Lynch, historians like Father de la Costa, martyrs like Father Manuel Peypoch and Father Godofredo Alingal. They were dedicated scholars and energetic preachers. They were in Bukidnon and Ipil, Cebu and Iloilo, Tuguegarao and Vigan. They gave retreats, ministered to prisoners, organized farmers and laborers, composed liturgical music, built churches, wrote poems, worked among lepers, ran seminaries, directed plays. They were priests and brothers, missionaries – gifted, not just with talent, but more so with a sense that the world had to be conquered for God, that there was no aspect of human life that cannot be touched by the healing presence of the Almighty. There was a sense that so much good had to be done, and so little time to do it in. There was an urgency, a drive, a fire that could not be quenched. There was a sense that there was “no reality that was only profane,” that somehow, somewhere, the finger of God would always leave its print. This was the gift of the missionary, for which today, we give special thanks.
II. Now, to the second part – we look to today’s feast.
Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, a fitting feast for the 150th anniversary of the return of the Jesuits to the Philippines. For it is in the Eucharist that the Jesuits and the Ateneo truly find spirit, strength, drive. It is not a coincidence that when Jesuits pronounce their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, it is done before the Body and Blood of the Lord. After the vows are pronounced, the bread is eaten and the blood is drank, and once again, a covenant is sealed, like the covenant of the First Reading.
On the one side of the covenant is the human person who says he will follow God, who says he will obey all his commandments, who says he will sacrifice everything for the sake of his faith. But often, he fails, and he breaks his covenant. Such are the Jesuits, such are Ateneans, indeed, such are all human beings, sinful and unfaithful. Yet, the covenant remains sealed for on the other side is God, who on his part, pledges his unconditional love, despite the weaknesses and imperfections and sinfulness of human beings.
Whenever we recount the history of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, we usually go down a list of the many institutions built, the many works that have grown, the great successes and contributions made. But every now and then, it is good to also take note that in many places, we also came and went, and sometimes with a sense that the mission was not yet quite accomplished. In Mindanao, we gave up our missions in Surigao and Caraga and Ipil. We left Tuguegarao and San Pablo. We sent men to Indonesia and Korea and Thailand, and those experiences did not last too long. Ours is not just a history of building works, but also of moving on. Sometimes we leave when the mission is done, but other times, we leave for other reasons, and there is a feeling that many things are still left hanging. But when we go, we are also confident that something is left behind, something stays, the work is picked up again by others, many of whom are more gifted and bring what we began to far greater heights. And in the end, despite our shortcomings, the work of God gets done. This is because of a presence far stronger.
This is what Eucharist is, a distinct and special presence. It is the fulfillment of a promise of the Lord. I will be with you always to the end of the world. I will linger, long after all are gone.
And this is why the Body and Blood of the Lord are at the heart of any Christian work. When the Lord is received into our human bodies, we are healed, we are empowered, we are given new strength and new spirit. We are impelled by the Eucharist to partake in the work of salvation, and do whatever good is asked of us, even if its fruits are not seen. And as good is accomplished, and community is built, the Church is made stronger, as men and women who are filled with the Lord create a community of the good.
This, then, is what we can offer a broken world, we who continue to look to the Body and Blood of the Lord, and receive him into our hearts. As we move towards the frightening future, in a Philippines that continues to be pained by poverty and inequality and injustice, where Filipinos are left with little choice but to leave the country for lack of a more stable future at home, where we remain bothered by a politics that is so mired in and stained by corruption, where the challenges of a new secularism and materialism have led to new forms of atheism, new philosophies that reject or undermine the transcendent, for whom God has disappeared into the mists – to such a world, we should offer new missionaries, like the missionaries of old, new bearers of the fire, new heralds of the good news, willing to win the weary world for the Kingdom of God, even if at times we seem to fail. Still, we carry on, fired by the Eucharist. We need new missionaries, who are no longer just blackrobed as the Jesuits of old. We need new missionaries who can play with the images of modern media, who can sing the music of our young, who can speak the language of government and politics, who can tap comfortably on keyboards, who can remain unfazed by new technologies and new ideas and new trends. The new missionaries are many of you, our alumni and friends, who share our spirituality, who go forth in businesses and family life and parishes and NGOs and movements, for it is there that you must call special attention to the subtle yet penetrating presence of God.
Finally, we turn to Our Lady once more, our patroness, in her white and blue, she who was the very first to bear the living Eucharist in her body, when she carried the Lord in her womb, who knows what it means to be filled with His Spirit and His love. We turn to Our Lady, and ask her to intercede for us, and to give us the gift of being called to be her son’s missionaries once more, to the world of the 21st century, and in this world to become true apostles, bringing hope and healing and peace.
ATENEO DE ZAMBOANGA
José S. Arcilla, S. J.
3 July 2009
I understand there is a minor controversy on the foundation of Ateneo de Zamboanga. Actually, our calendar dates are the result of an error of the 5th century monk, Dennis the Small, whose calculations on the exact date of Easter led to a mistaken date that our Lord was born between A. D. 4 and 7.
To understand the story of Ateneo de Zamboanga, we must keep in mind two things: the Ignatian ideal, and geography.
The Ignatian ideal for schools for externs he expressed in his instructions to the Jesuits who founded the first Jesuit college in Messina in 1534, that they must teach “letras y doctrina cristiana.” The ideal has not changed, and was later formulated in the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum, the constant guide for all Jesuit schools. Did Ateneo de Zamboang fulfill the Ignatian ideal?
Geography tells us that Zamboanga is at the southwestern tip of Mindanao. “Zamboanga,” or “sambo-ang,” is the stake to which a boat is tied when mooring it. Samboangan, then, means mooring place. But before the Castilians arrived, there is no certain information about the place, except some legends still to be analyzed.
The Lutaos, the “floating people,” were its original inhabitants. Some were slaves, other were free tribute-payers to their Magindanao lords, who controlled the Pulangi and enjoyed power over lower lords who, in turn, had vassals on both coasts of the Zamboanga peninsula until Dapitan.
Compared with stormy Surigao, Zamboanga was described as an “earthly paradise,” the source of the “heavenly fruit,” durian, extremely delicious despite its penetrating smell. A Jesuit wrote that one walking along the streets easily knows wher you can find the fruit. The climate was drier here than in Joló, where, in a Jesuit’s words, “heaven sells rain at a high price.” In January 1640, a destructive eruption destroyed two villages about 10 kilometers from Bwayan. It was so loud that people in Manila (actually only Intramuros) mistook it for an uprising in Cavite, while people in Cavite thought there was fighting in Manila. Volcanic ash hid the sun, leaving Zamboanga in total darkness, forcing people to use candles. Believing the world was coming to an end, they prepared to die. The world did not end, and as soon as they could, people shoveled off the thick ashes that had accumulated on their roofs.
In Sibugay, a Pampango soldier came face to face with an unusually huge white monkey. Because it refused to budge and was blocking his way, the soldier tried to frighten it away. But the animal picked up a stick, reared to its full height, and positioned itself to hurl the stick at the soldier. The two grappled together, but the monkey was much bigger, and the poor Pampango turned around to flee, closely pursued by the animal until the camp. Exhausted, out of breath, and scared out of his wits, the soldier fell sick and died three days later.
The Jesuits brought Christianity first to northeast Mindanao in 1595, but lack of men forced them to discontinue their ministry. The Recollects followed them a few years later. From the start, the Manila colonial government was faced with stubborn Muslim resistance, and they wanted to garrison Magindanao. But a Jesuit missionary suggested that Zamboanga was a better choice because of its strategic position. A naval post at the tip of the peninsula could pick off not only the Sulu vintas flying north before the seasonal habagat, but also the Magindanao fleets rounding Basilan Island. In this way, the colonial government hoped to clear the sea.
In 1634, Fort San José (better known as “Del Pilar”) was inaugurated. Workers had come from various Philippine provinces and in due time their distinct dialects merged with Castilian and became Chabacano, the first hybrid idiom in the world.
By 1655, there were two Jesuit mission centers in Dapitan and Zamboanga. We have no time to detail their history, but we may mention that some Jesuits died for the faith.
One of them was a 36-year old Italian Jesuit, Francesco Palliola, assigned to Ponot. In 1648, a Christian apostate snuffed out his life out of hatred, because he insisted on Mass attendance, in their words, “Always Mass, always Mass.”
Fr. Juan del Campo was a 30-year old from Spain, who had been assigned to Siocon. He had converted some of the Subanen chiefs in the mountains, and persuaded them to dismiss their extra wives and live in permanent communities in the lowlands. But the future lay in the young, and he took in some promising boys from Christian families in Zamboanga to raise them as Christians. Ponot was not too far, where some renegade Christians had poisoned the minds of the Siocon elders. Fr. del Campo, they said, was gathering the boys to enslave them. By coincidence, the Manila government needed men for the polo or obligatory public service and fight against Sumuroy in Samar. In 1650, Imutum led his stalwarts who pounced on the Jesuit building a church in Siocon. A well aimed lance opened a deep gash, but the bleeding priest staggered to the river where the conspirators overtook him as he clambered aboard a patrol boat anchored there. They finished him off, as well as a Spanish corporal and five Pampanga troops with him.
Still the missions expanded, until in 1768, the Spanish Crown expelled the Jesuits from all his dominions. The people behind the move soon regretted their action, and petitions for their recall mounted in Rome. Reestablished all over the world in 1814, the Jesuits returned to the Philippines in 1859, and two years later, they opened their first modern mission in Tamontaka, now part of Cotabato City.
In 1862, the barrio La Malama became the civil town of Tetuán, and two Jesuits left Tamontaka to start the new parish of St. Ignatius. Tetuán had no convento, and Don Balbino Natividad offered his house as the priests’ temporary residence. In one month, the people enthusiastically finished a bamboo and nipa shed and, on New Year of 1863, the Holy Eucharist was celebrated there for the first time.
The new parish was soon buzzing with life. Sermons and, catechetical classes followed a regular schedule, Sunday morning Mass was at 8:00 o’clock, and at 5:30 in the afternoon, the bell rang again for the common recitation of the Rosary, followed by another hour of catechism. The day ended with common prayers and devotions. On weekdays, Mass was offered at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, and the common Rosary was recited after the Angelus at 6:00 o’clock in the evening.
The results were soon apparent. Public morality improved, illicit unions decreased, and more people received the sacraments. As the mission diary records, the. first Lent after the Jesuits arrived, there were mission sermons on Sundays, catechetical lessons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and morning and afternoon daily in the sacristy, examination on the Catechism.
In 1880, a Jesuit wrote from Zamboanga that, if the reception of the sacraments was a “safe index” to public morality, Zamboanga would “not fare too badly. On important feasts, between 150 and 200 went to sacramental confession and received Holy Communion. On All Souls’ Day, about 300, “not only women . .. but also a good number of men.” Two years later in August, a Spanish warship from Joló arrived with troops stricken with cholera. Some recovered, but they had brought a dreaded plague, which, for four months devastated Zamboanga, Tetuán, Mercedes, Ayala, and other places nearby.
In Zamboanga alone, there were days when more than 100 died, and people buried as many as 170. A good number, a missionary wrote, “appeared before God without the help of religion.” At first, the priests stayed up night and day to help the plague-stricken, but exhausted, they, too, were forced to take some rest. People volunteered their help, but fatigued, they collapsed exhausted and many in turn died.
The plague soon ended, and Zamboanga became the most important town in Mindanao. In 1860, the island was divided into six administrative districts under a politico-military Governor. Initially, Cotabato was the seat of the Mindanao government, but in time, Zamboanga expanded and became the capital of Mindanao.
The Bonifacio uprising in Manila in 1896 hardly affected Mindanao. When news of the uprising reached Cotabato, an old man from Zamboanga residing there became furious, calling the rebels ingrates and helpless people without hope.
The Jesuits had intended to remain at their posts, but political uncertainty forced the Jesuit Mission Superior in Manila to recall them. When peace returned, General J. C. Bates, American commander of Mindanao-Joló, forwarded to the Jesuit Superior the petitions from Zamboanga and other Mindanao towns to send the Jesuits back to the towns and missions they had left. The priests, Bates wrote, would guarantee the peace, especially since the Jesuits enjoyed good relations with the Filipinos and the Muslims, and perfectly understood their needs.
All this while there was no talk of opening schools. But by 1906, a new situation challenged the Jesuits. Public schools had opened all over, and volunteer American teachers, not all of them Catholc, doubled as well-financed Protestant proselytizers. Fr Antonio Arnalot wrote about the new problem he faced from the non-sectarian schools. They were, he reported, the cause of religious ignorance and indifference . . . even of contempt for religious issues.”
The people themselves saw the difference, while the Jesuits quickly felt the need to open schools in their parishes. And when they opened parochial schools, these practically emptied the public schools. While hardly 20 children remained in the public school at Ayala, 70 boys and girls were studying at the Catholic school there. A public school in Tumbamor (or Recodo near Ayala where the Muslims repaired their boats) was totally emptied. In Mercedes, the public school pupils transferred to two Catholic schools there, which counted more than 105 boys and girls. At Tetuán, 65 pupils were at the Catholic school two months after it had opened, while the public school had only 12 girls under a Filipino Protestant teacher.
The previous Spanish colonial government had promoted the work of the Church, but the American democratic government, with their tradition of separation of Church and State, was at least indifferent. The American Protestants were actively hostile to the Filipino Catholic priests, and probably because they were fewer numerically, the American Catholics in the Philippines hardly did anything. But against all odds, the Jesuits refused to stop. By 1914 in Ayala, they had reorganized the Hijas de María, which soon formed an Academia de Santa Cecilia to promote liturgical music.
Frank Carpenter, the governor of the newly formed Moro Province, was openly a Protestant and a Mason. But he was friendly to the Jesuits, and assured them of his support. With his official staff, he attended the solemn exequies for the Pope and for the Jesuit Superior General, and even asked permission from the Archbishop of Manila to allow some Muslim sultans and datus to attend the ceremonies. But his friendly attitude was not enough to counter the problem of the youth growing up indifferent to religion, and the Jesuits believed the solution lay in Catholic schools.
Only the public schools could issue the título oficial on completion of studies. In 1916, hoping they themselves would be able to grant this same academic certification, the Jesuits in Zamboanga thought about working to “register or incorporate” their school under the title “Ateneo de Zamboanga.” They also hoped the Jesuit Superior in Manila would assign at least two Jesuit teachers to help them. Then, they could grant primary and intermediate academic certificates, as the public schools. This was how the Ateneo de Zamboanga began.
That year, Bishop Michael J. O’Doherty of Zamboanga wrote to the Mission Superior, Fr. Francisco J. Tena, that he wanted to open a high school “like that of the Ateneo de Manila under the charge of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus.” Initially, there would be only seven elementary grades, and classes would be held at the convento. Financial support would come from a fourth of the parish revenue, donations from Cathlic associations and other sources, and an annual subsidy of P1,000. The diocese would be financially responsible for the school, but academic programs and school discipline would the exclusive concern o the Jesuits. If the Society agreed, the Bishop would grant the necessary license and the land for the building.
The Jesuits accepted the offer, the incorporation papers were drawn up, but there were no funds. Not long after Bishop O’Doherty was reassigned to Manila.
But his plan did not die. In 1928, a group of active Catholics in Zamboanga wrote to the newly named Jesuit Superior, Fr. James Carlin, about a “matter of vital importance, momentous and of utmost importance to the Catholics of this region, and more particularly to the Catholic youth.” Silliman Instittue, a “Protestant institute in the full sense of the word,” had just opened in Dumaguete, and, for lack of a better choice, Catholic families were forced to send their children there. It behooves us, the letter continued, “to counter-check the dangers to which the Catholic youth of Zamboanga is exposed.” At Silliman, the young Catholics, “impregnated with Protestantism,” later spread it around, while the Protestants themselves are “using their best to deviate the Catholic youth.”
Among the signers of the letter, significantly in English, were the leading personalities of the town: S. Mendoza, editor of Voz del Pueblo; José Vicente Mapa, Justice of the Peace; J. M. García, Manager of the local branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands; J. Arquiaga, lawyer and editor of El Fenix; P. S. Rodríguez, director of the Zamboanga General Hospital; J. S. Álvarez, and Pablo Lorenzo, lawyers and farmers. To a man, they recognized that education was of great service to society and formed its personality. They were convinced that a Catholic school in Zamboanga would preserve and transmit the traditional values civil society develops. And they were willing to pay the price.
The Ateneo would need a monthly budget of P155 for teachers’ salaries: 40 for a teacher of Spanish, 35 for a teacher of English, 10 for an assistant teacher.. Where would the money come from? The men’s section of the Acción Católica donated P15, its ladies’ section 10, the Jesuit Mission Superior another 10, a small amount from the yearly tuition fee of P4, the profits from benefit programs, and a share in the stole fees.
Apostolic reasons, then, were at the heart of the beginning of Ateneo de Zamboanga. Parochial schools had preceded it, but for the first time, the Jesuit Catalogus for 1918 lists the Jesuit Francisco X. Ágreda as a teacher at the elementary school of the “diocesan Ateneo de Zamboanga.” Then in 1925, Manuel Mª Sauras was listed as the director of the parochial school, and the following year, Fr. John J. Monahan, took his place. In 1930, a year after coming to the Zamboanga mission, Fr. Thomas Murray became the director of the parochial elementary and high schools. In 1932, he was writing of the “large and busy” parish of Zamboanga and its barrios, and a “full school – kindergarten, seven grades, and a four-year high school. In the middle of 1931, Fr. Henry L. Irwin relieved Fr. Murray as director of the Ateneo.
Classes were held on the third floor of an office building, formerly a movie house the Jesuit Bishop José Close had bought for P8,000. It had five rooms, and a large corridor was converted into a biology and a physics laboratory, a library, an office, and a convertible assembly hall. The elementary school continued at the convento. For games and recreation, the children had to be satisfied with a rather limited yard adjoining the convento.
At the start of each school day, the high school students assembled for prayers and a hymn in the Cathedral close by. On Sunday mornings, they assisted at Holy Mass as a group, and on First Fridays, all the students were obliged to receive Holy Communion. There was no dormitory in town, and many of the lay teachers were not necessarily models of religious behavior, and this proved to be a drag on the religious life of the school. A letter at this time described the school as “make-shift” with limited funds and inadequate personnel.
Suddenly, on visitation of the diocese, Bishop Clos died in Bohol. Fr. José Roma became the temporary diocesan administrator, and Fr. Murray decided to separate the parochial finances from those of the school. In 1932, the first school prospectus was published in Spanish and English.
Ateneo de Zamboanga, the cover announced, was the “school with ideals,” a Catholic school where knowledge was not enough, for it can be used also for evil. More
respect and affection, and achieve what appeared impossible. In other words, schools were an instrument of evangelization.
Frank Carpenter, appointed Governor of the newly created Moro Province, was openly a Protestant and a Mason. But he was friendly to the Jesuits, and, convinced that cooperation with them would promote his policies, he assured them of his support. With his official staff, he attended the solemn exsequies for the Pope and the Jesuit General, and had even asked the Archbishop of Manila’s permission to allow the sultans and datus to attend the ceremonies. But this friendly atmosphere he created was not enough to solve the problem of he youth growing up indifferent to religion, and the Jesuits found the answer through Catholic education and Catholic schools.
By 1916, the children who attended the parochial schools were forced to study at the public schools, which could grant the título oficial after completeion of studies. Hoping that they could themselves grant this academic degree, the Jesuits in Zamboanga worked to “register or incorporate, as we say here, the school under the title “Ateneo de Zamboanga.” They also hoped the Jesuit Superior in Manila would send them at least two teachers. If the plan succeeded, they believed they could grant primary and intermediate academic certificates, as in the public school. Thus was started the Ateneo de Zamboanga.
A school necessarily implies four things: a program of education, teachers, infrastructure (classrooms, books, etc.) and, money. When established, the “Ateneo de Zamboanga” needed a monthly budget of Ph P 155, just to pay the salaries of the teachers: Ph P 40 for a Spanish teacher, 35 for an English teacher, 30 for a Spanish-English teacher, 10 for an assistant teacher, and 40 for five RVM Sisters at Pilar College for 150 girls. Where did the money come from? Ph P 15 from the men’s section of Asociación Católica, 10 from the ladies’ section of the same Asociación Católica, 10 from the Jesuit Mission Superior, a small amount from the yearly tuition of Ph P 4, the net gain from benefit programs, and part of the stole fees.
These details are not unimportant. Before Rome encouraged Catholic lay action, the people of Zamboanga were already aware of their duty in order to carry out a community project. This is all the more impressive, since books, besides paper and pencil, were freely supplied in the public schools. But in 1932, financial problems stood in the way. Few studied at the Jesuit school, Fr. Irwin noted, and these were reluctant to pay “even the inkimu tuition fee.” And the students were not getting the advantages of a true Catholic school should offer, because of the type of teachers the Jesuit school could afford to employ. And yet college tuition fees totaled only P20 each semester, payable in three installments.
Lack of money frustrated the noblest ideals, and for financial reasons only a limited number could be accepted into the Jesuit school. In the time of St. Ignatius, generous friends funded the Jesuit schools, for example, the first Jesuit school for externs in Messina, Italy in 1534. In 1595, Esteban Rodríguez de Figueroa who died trying to conquer Magindanao, funded the first Jesuit school in the Philippines, the Colegio de San José. But there were no families in Zamboanga who made similar bequests, despite their concern for their children’s education. In 1935, the local newspaper, Antorcha, mentioned that some families wanted Spanish to continue at the Jesuit school, for it was the language in the town and at the Asamblea Nacional. And they preferred their boys to have less time for games, “con tal que estudien y a prendan el castellano.”
Despite its problems, the Ateneo expanded. In June 1938, a night school offered classes in commerce and pre-law, for which the government required a library of at least 500 books on commerce. The official Ateneo fortnightly, The Atenean, came off the press on 22 November 1941, announcing a Christmas literary contest, which one of the students Guillermo Macrohon, won. The paper also described the reception of candidates to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary (today, Christian Life Communities), a list of the intramural basketball teams, and, of course, the Grade School and High School honor students. And there was a column, “XYZ,” with an unsigned article, which read in part;
If girls would only spend as much time in thinking as they spend
before the mirror . . . perhaps there would be less failures in the
exam, less embarrassing moment in class, and the teacher could
reasonably be proud of his students.
Under Fr. Eusebio G. Salvador, assigned to the Zamboanga mission in 1937,the pre-war Ateneo expanded, with an enrolment of 230 in the Grade School, and 376 in the High School.
Then war came. Ateneo was ruined. When peace returned, Bishop Luís del Rosario, S. J. asked the Jesuits to revive the Ateneo before the Protestants cornered the market. The Jesuits themselves were still recovering from the war, but in 1946, three Jesuits reopened the Ateneo in Zamboanga: Frs. Salvador, who continued as the Director of the school, Kyran Egan, and Cesar Maravilla. In April a year later, the first post-graduation exercises for 22 students from the High School and 26 from the Grade School. Two years later, in 1948, the first two scholastics were assigned to the Ateneo de Zamboanga: Lucio Codilla, to take care of the Sodality (CLC), and Eduardo Hontiveros, the Sanctuary Society and the Glee Club. Finally, in 1949, Rome separated Ateneo de Zamboanga was separated from the Zamboanga mission, and raised its Jesuit community into a “domus reliogosa,” with Fr. Alfred E. Paguia as its first Rector.
We now witness the rapid growth and expansion of Ateneo de Zamboanga. The Bishop approved co-education at the school, and in 1950, the Bishop expressed his wish for a high school and at least two more Jesuits for the Ateneo. There was need to counter the “bad influence” of certain city schools. But there were no Jesuits to implement plans, although in 1952, a college department opened with more than 160 students. Four years later, 20 graduated with Arts degree.
In 1953, a high school class issued it own mimeographed newsletter, Literary Digest, to encourage the students to discuss and discover “budding writers” for the school organ, The Beacon. It asked the English teachers to submit “top-flight themes every third week of each month” to publish in the Digest.
Meantime, what kind of students and graduates did the school produce? In 1948, a Protestant team, “Youth for Christ,” arrived. Its leader, Dr. Robert Cook from Chicago was advertised as the “Foremost Leader of Youth.” The group organized a rally on 29 February, a Friday night, at Plaza Pershing. About 12 select and properly trained Ateneo students stationed themselves at various vantage points in the crowd. Their questions embarrassed the leader, who failed to answer some of their more pointed questions on the bible. One of the unanswered questions was “How do you know the bible is God’s word?” Dr. Cook hastily gathered up his mike and hurried away in his car. The rally quickly melted, Dr. Cooke was never heard of again.
This year, a film from Hollywood, “The Outlaw,” was banded in Manila, but its sponsors took umbrage and asked for a second judgment by a different group of censors. It was approved provided certain sections of the film were excised. Then, in Zamboanga, an alert Ateneo student spotted an announcement that the film was coming soon. He alerted Fr. Cesar Maravilla, the Moderator of the CLC, who immediately went see Mr. Villacora, the proprietor of the theater
The latter, a good Catholic, had already made arrangements to show “The Outlaw” together with a second box-office film. If he cancelled the first, he stood to lose hundreds of pesos. To his credit, Mr. Villacorta agreed to take the financial loss. He could not afford to make enemies of the Catholics in Zamoanga. Two other movie houses agreed to show the condemned film.
Then, a local newspaper columnist wrote:
Who are these defenders of public morals who attempt to tell
the people what can see and what they cannot see on the silver
screen? The movie is a mere cowboy picture with Jane Russell
thrown in. People who have not seen the picture are condemning
it because of the lurid advertisements.
The students, led by their Ateneo mentors, reacted. They checked, and learned that in Manila the Board of Censors headed by the Solicitor General, not the Legion of Decency, had condemned the film. It was not, the Board declared:
. . . the travesty on marriage that the picture conveys, not the
portrayal of lurid scenes, but . . . the government and civic-
minded organizations are cooperating in the nation-wide for
the diminution, correction and possible elimination of the
current problem known as Juvenile Delinquency. The exhibition
of this picture will counteract and destroy totally this joint effort.
The wave of criminality . . . in this country . . . is a factor that
urges the Board to suppress motion pictures that may inflame
the imagination of the misguided youth and may be misinterpreted
as glorification of forces that seek to make law and its representatives
And the Ateneans mimeographed and distributed copies of the decision, making sure the local news reported received his copy. Magnanimously, the admitted never having seen the film himself, but he had written his article on the suggestion of some friends. Fr. Salvador, Superior of the Zamboanga Mssion District, organized a month’s boycott (18 April-18 May) of the theater which had threatened to show the banned film. Result? The file was not shown, a triumph of Catholic action led by the sodalists of the Ateneo.
The Ateneo alumni helped reconstruct the Ateneo, inaugurated with a mammoth parade around the city. Scheduled to start on1 September 1956, the Ateneans began soliciting funds as soon as the parade ended, asking P0.20 from everyone to help fill the ground that would serve as the foundation of the new building. The details of the reconstruction we omit, but we may mention an unexpected difficulty the Jesuits faced when they planned to build the students’ chapel.
By 1958,various projects to raise fund for the chapel had already been started. A group of career ladies, for example, staged a musical program at the mayor’s private lawn in Sta. María, charging P10 from each family that came. Benefit movies also helped raise more money.
Then, in November, the Jesuits received notice that the Claretian Fathers would not object to the new chapel if it was exclusively for the Ateneo students. Building the school chapel would prejudice the interests of the Cathedral parish, for which a fund drive to renovate that façade had already been started. And the Archbishop, it was pointed out had not given any permission for the Ateneo project since he had never been informed about it.
The surprised Jesuits answered that, actually in several previous conversations with them, the Claretians had not objected in any way to the chapel. It was not meant to be a parish and, although with no faculties to administer the sacraments of marriage or baptism, it was hoped rather to help the Cathedral parish. Besides, no one could ban anyone from worshipping anywhere he wanted. The Ateneo chapel fund drive for only to reach P6,000 could not affect the Claretians’ campaign.
A students’ chapel for the Ateneo was justifiable, the Claretians admitted, but it would not do if it became the habitual and ordinary center for religious service. And it would be inconvenient to allow non-Ateneans to fulfill their Sunday obligations there, for the better educated in Zamboanga who could be the best parish helpers, would soon become “stranger” to the cathedral parish.
When it was brought to his attention, Archbishop del Rosario asked the Jesuits to sign a waiver to all their rights. To make sure they acted properly, the latter consulted the canonists.
The faithful, the latter answered, had the right to go and worship in any canonically erected public or semi-public oratory, although owners of a semi-public oratory could at discretion ban certain people from it. Furthermore, exempt religious Orders, like the Society of Jesus, had the right to erect a church or public oratory without the local Ordinary’s license, although its location needed his approval and license. In the Philippines, not only did the Jesuit Provincial Superior enjoy full authority to erect a semi-public oratory, but also all the Jesuit school chapels were semi-public oratories and did not need the Ordinary’s license. No one could ban attendance at any Jesuit semi-public oratories, and no license was needed for a fund drive to build one. Otherwise, it would violate the vow of poverty of members of the mendicant Orders, like the Jesuits.
On the other hand, a canonist wrote that it was “the obligation of priests, especially of parish priests, to look for means so that the faithful cold fulfill their Sunday obligation,” an opinion a Claretian canonist also expressed. The Jesuits, then, in Zamboanga could legally and with full a clear conscience continue their fund campaign and build a school chapel.
Finally, on 28 October 1961, in the presence of a large number of guests and friends, Archbishop de Rosario solemnly blessed the Ateneo students’ Chapel of the Sacred Heart. The dream, first envisioned by Fr. Paul Hugendobler, S. J., and realized in stone and concrete by Fr. Manuel Regalado, was turned into a reality through the united efforts of the Ateneo students, faculty, alumni, friends, and benefactors. Part of the drive for funds was a contest to sell tiles for the chapel, a contest won by Cesar Ledesma, a Grade Six pupil, who project, “”Buy-
And-Sell-A-Tile-for-the Chapel,” earned P500.
.Geradro Madrazo, Jr., editor-in-chief of the Ateneo students’ organ, The Beacon, wrote perhaps the best description of the new chapel:
The new chapel is now finished, a fitting home for Christ the King
. . . built by all the Ateneans, not simply supplying material things
-- but homage and praise. It takes only a few minutes to visit Him,
but what peace and consolation we can derive from that short visit,
and what great blessing He will impart to us.
Another wrote in the same editorial page:
. . . the ultimate aim of the Ateneo is to save your immortal souls.
If one comes to the Ateneo only for the academic subjects . . .
without having learned what it means to be an exemplary
Catholic and without that determination to try to be that kind
of Catholic, you have wasted your time and ours. Remember
that the Philippines is the only Catholic nation in the Orient,
and can only be as Catholic as the Filipinos who comprise it.
As we asked earlier, has the Ateneo followed the Ignatian ideal? At the end of the Vietnam War in 1954, millions migrated to live in the non-coummunist South Vietnam. But they had literally nothing, not even relatives who could have helped them start a new life. Shocked by what he saw, Oscar Arellano, president of the Philippine Jaycees, hoped to do something to help them. Earlier he had already seen in Zamboanga a program called “Help-the-Barrio” Mayor Cesar Climaco of Zamboanga and an Ateneo alumnus had initiated for the poor. Volunteers went to the barrios, and while their children played with the local barrio children, their parents discussed means to improve their living, earn a livelihood, better health habits, etc. When he saw the conditions in South Vietnam, Arellano already knew what to do. He started the well-known “Operation Brotherhood,” which sent thousands of Filipino physicians, nurses, and other volunteer helpers to humanize life in South Vietnam. It is not too far fetched to say that the seed of that work of Christian charity and concern for one’s neighbor came from Ateneo de Zamboanga.
In 1986, the Ateneo awarded diplomas to more than 700 graduates of the three departments of the school. The college valedictorian was Jane Bacar, only the second graduate in the school’s history to receive the highest academic honors, summa cum laude. The commencement speaker began by admitting he was not an Ateneo alumnus, but
. . . I am mighty proud to tell this audience that Ateneans formed
the front line in the past Aquino revolution. Those brave Ateneans
forced the formidable tanks and soldiers of Marcos equipped with
the most modern firearms to turn around without firing a single
shot. The courage and bravery of those Ateneans was the beginning of that triumphant revolution now called the “people power.”
As if it was the thing to do, those Ateneans, not just from Manila, but also from all over the country, who had braved the guns of Marcos, had externalized the Ignatian ideals.
Ateneo de Zamboanga had its share of successes and admirable exploits. Collegiate activities – spots, drama, elocution contest, music – have brought out the best in its students. For seven successive years, its nursing graduates recorded a perfect passing rate in the government exams. Vocations to the religious life have not been wanting. This is as it ought to be. St. Ignatius wanted only the best, and the Jesuits should strive only for the best of their students.
In 1987, Fr. Pedro Arrupe described his dream of what a Jesuit school ought to do, to form “men for others.” Faced with the rapid changes world wide, Jesuit education should form teachers and students deeply concerned with the serious issues of our day. Schools can never be ivory towers, splendid to look at, but isolated and elevated about the real world. Jesuit education should develop a fine sensitivity to the possible effects a school can have on the life of the larger community in which it tries to fulfill its mission. That is why he warned that we must never be “tied down by structures which become real straight jackets, [but] remain flexible and able to changer to meet the pressing human problems and, specifically, to study the dominant ideas that determine the march of history.” His words are famous:
Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-
others; men and women who will live not for themselves but
for God and His Christ – for the God-man who life and died for
all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of
love of God which does not include love for the least of their
neighbor; men and women completely convinced that the love
of God which does not issue in justice for man and women is a