TO LIGHT A FIRE
The recent New Year’s Message of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Nereo P. Odchimar, DD who is the Bishop of Tandag, Surigao del Sur and the recently elected President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), is as follows:
Dear People of God,
“Happy New Year!” This greeting may not just remain a simple wish; its realization is within reach. Now, more than ever, we hold the promise of a happier
Institutions need change. No less than the late Holy Father, Pope John XXIII of holy memory, said when he convoked the Second Vatican Council: “Ecclesia semper reformanda est”. (The Church must always be in the process of reform). 2010 in our political life is an election year; people through the exercise of their right of suffrage will effect a power shift in the executive and legislative branches of our civil government. We must retain what is good, promote what still needs improvement and discard what is base and corrupt. However, admittedly and sadly, a number of us have remained myopic by focusing our attention only to the satisfaction of the moment, swayed by the glitter of money and promises of patronage, and do not raise our eyes beyond election time to the resultant situation created by our indiscretion. Those who have allowed, much worse abetted, corruption to thrive in our midst, do not have the right to complain.
If we were a part of the problem yesterday, we can also be a part of the solution today. We hold the key to a better tomorrow. We need an informed electorate enlightened through voters’ education, a vigilant citizenry who will guard against the attempts of some to frustrate the genuine will of the people, and steadfast persons who stay undaunted by intimidation of ruthless politicians, in order to put into office reliable leaders who would guide our nation in the coming years.
The poor constitute the greater part of our population. They are remembered and courted by politicians during the campaign period. “Poverty alleviation”, “more jobs” and “upliftment of the masses” are some familiar refrains chanted by candidates and issues incorporated into their attractive platforms. If only there is political will, the economic situation of our people would be far better that it was generations back.
Social transformation starts within ourselves. Election is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Over and above the factors beyond our capacity, with our great faith in God and in ourselves, we can still make our wish for a happy new year a reality. God bless us all.
+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD
Bishop of Tandag
December 30, 2009
With all due respect to His Grace, there is the likely possibility that the message was composed for him by somebody else. Nevertheless the composition will be viewed by most Filipinos as “de cajon”, or worse, naively optimistic about the supposed powers of “political will”. For it is chockfull of what we at the Asian Institute of Management’s Faculty many years ago routinely recognized as mere “motherhood” statements, with which practically nobody will disagree yet most everybody else will have completely forgotten just a few minutes later. If Father John P. Delaney, S.J. our UP Students Catholic Action (UPSCA) chaplain were still alive, he would probably also instantly label those statements as namby-pamby piosities - - his pet peeve.
But my own overall critique of the message itself, which was supposedly given for and in behalf of some 130 active and retired bishops in the CBCP, goes deeper. And so I surmise that the good Bishop of Tandag is NOT exclusively the cause of its insipidity.
Being new on the job as CBCP President, His Grace must have tried hard to come up with a message that would NOT be seriously OBJECTIONABLE to any sizeable number of other bishops. In short, his main priority had to be that of NOT TERRIBLY DISPLEASING anybody. But it also meant that NEITHER would it TRULY PLEASE anybody. And thus the more important question or issue is “Why is it so?”
Again with all due respect to all 130 or so pastors-members of CBCP, I believe that such is the case because they as Catholic bishops have NOT and NEVER have reached any reasonably acceptable level of positive agreement, much less a majority consensus whether in principle or in actual observance, on their own faithful performance of perhaps the most NEGLECTED, yet most important and most difficult duty as Catholic bishops!
Canon 387 of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, under Book III, Part II, Section II, Title I, Chapter II (BISHOPS) and Article 2 thereof, states (with emphases added) as follows:
“Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ’s faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that Christ’s faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and (thus) may know and live the paschal mystery”.
The iconic Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and future Pope made a similar yet far more trenchant observation while being interviewed by Vittorio Messori in August of 1984, as follows: (vide pages 58 to 62 of the Ratzinger Report)
The decisive new emphasis on the role of the bishops is in reality restrained or actually risks being smothered by the insertion of bishops into episcopal conferences that are more organized, often with burdensome structures. We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have NO THEOLOGICAL BASIS; they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function.
The new Code of Canon Law… prescribes the extent of the authority of (such) conferences, which cannot validly act “in the name of all the bishops unless each and every bishop has given his consent, (except if) it concerns cases in which the common law prescribes it or a special mandate of the Apostolic See…. determines it” (CIC, Canon 455, 4 and 1). Thus no episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.
…… It happens that with some bishops there is a certain lack of a sense of individual responsibility, and the delegation of his inalienable powers as shepherd and teacher to the structures of the local conference leads to letting what should remain very personal, lapse into anonymity…. It happens then that the search for agreement between the different tendencies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents in which decisive positions (where they might be necessary) are weakened…. Well, the really powerful documents against National Socialism (Hitler’s Nazism) were those that came from individual courageous bishops. The documents of the (German Bishops) Conference, on the contrary, were often rather wan and too weak with respect to what the tragedy called for.
….. Thus, in many episcopal conferences, the group spirit and perhaps even the wish for a quiet, peaceful life or conformism lead the majority to accept the positions of active minorities bent upon pursuing clear goals….
….. It seems very nice always to decide together. This way however, entails the risk of losing the “scandal” and the “folly” of the Gospel, that “salt” and that “leaven” (which) today are more indispensable than ever for a Christian (above all when he is a bishop, hence invested with precise responsibility for the faithful) in the face of the gravity of the crisis. (emphases added)
And so if it is true that our Catholic Bishops have never achieved any real consensus as to what they ESSENTIALLY OUGHT TO BE, day-in and day-out, as truly thus “HOLY” Catholic Bishops, therefore it should not be a surprise to us that their collective message on New Year’s Day or on any important issue for that matter, will be as UNCONTROVERSIAL, as possible.
In contrast, the very caption “Working and Praying in 2010” of the January 3, 2010 column piece of Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, SVD in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, immediately captured the full flavor and essence of applicable Catholic Church teachings on how Pinoy People of God must live their lives throughout this year. Ora et labora! And like Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, S.J. whose main theme in the Philippine Star (God’s Word Today) was “Mary, the Star of Bethlehem”, a controversial yet most fundamental Catholic Marian dogma of Mary being the true Mother of God, was quietly yet boldly presented. Fr. Orbos too, though not as a surprise at all to those who know him well, similarly albeit briefly acknowledged Our Lady’s being the Theotokos.
Incidentally, Jesuit Father Manoling Francisco is a prime albeit rare proof of Jesuit exemplar Father Reuter’s assurances to me that not all Jesuits of today have junked our Blessed Mother as part of neo-Jesuitry’s so-called New Theology now being taught by Jesuit theologians at the Ateneo de Manila at all levels including its Grade School. For in his wellknown sacred music and its lyrics, as well as in his theology, Father Manoling like Father Jim Reuter have kept the faith and charism of their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola, including OBEDIENCE to the Pope….. Thus we learned from the likes of other real Jesuits such as John Delaney, Horacio de la Costa, William L. Hayes, Lorenzo Ma. Guerrero when public veneration and filial devotion for Our Lady was a true-blue Ateneo tradition, that the surest way to our Lord Jesus was through Mary. Ad Jesum per Mariam!
But the most pleasant surprise was reading the Postscript piece of veteran newspaperman and regular columnist of the Philippine Star, Federico D. Pascual, Jr. For I thought for a while that his caption “Ít’s still the same bad world out there” would have the same cynical point of view as that of Patricia Evangelista’s Method To Madness in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Instead however, more than 80% of his column space was devoted to Papa Bene’s message on January 1, 2010 on the occasion of the annual celebration of the World Day of Peace. Thus in contrast to that of the CBCP President, the Pope’s homily for that occasion was given prominence by Mr. Pascual. And like Frs. Orbos and Francisco he also found relevance for his readers and significance for the occasion in bringing the Blessed Virgin Mary into the picture as the Mother of God by using the Pope’s easily understandable yet poignant presentation. And thanks too to Mr. Federico D. Pascual Jr. whom I suspect has NOT been blessed with nor perhaps even considered any formal priestly vocation other than the common priesthood we Catholics share in Baptism and as the “priest of the basic Church” as padre de familia to our own kith and kin, a prominent Catholic layman-professional Journalist has unabashedly given public personal testimony on his Catholic Faith. Rara avis! Nowadays, a rare bird indeed…
And so in solidarity with Fathers Orbos and Francisco, and with my fellow “priest of the basic Church” Federico Pascual, I shall repeat what I wrote in one of the paragraphs of my December 8, 2009 LIGHT A FIRE blog.
“But more importantly I dare say: our Catholic bishops will ultimately be able to arrive consistently at a comprehensively Catholic yet credible even if controversial, PUBLIC declaration on the faith and moral aspects of any TRULY IMPORTANT national issue, ONLY for as long as a clear and cohesive MAJORITY among THEMSELVES are personally and habitually attuned to the same basic theological, ecclesial and philosophical MOORINGS, coupled with a truly PRAYER-FILLED MARIAN spirituality, in solidarity with their first-among-equal brother, the Bishop of Rome, Peter’s Successor!”
And so I submit that it will NOT be any of our current Presidential candidates who will lead us to the Promised Land. For I believe it will and SHOULD BE such Catholic Bishops and priests who will inspire and will lead PINOY People of God, BY THEIR HABITUAL EXAMPLE as Christ’s faithful shepherds of His flock and by His grace through the Holy Sacraments especially the Eucharist and by His Divine Providence, back to moral righteousness in our politics, governance and citizenship.
The wise authors of Canon Law 387 were surely aware of the simple yet fundamental fact that the ultimate opposite alternative to the habitual “HOLINESS” its provisions demanded from our Bishops, was and still is, SINFULNESS or betrayal of Jesus Christ! Since the heydays of the Greek philosophers Aristotle, Plato, Socrates followed by their Roman counterparts such as Galen and Virgil – they all gave the highest moral value to virtues such as justice, honesty and fidelity to vows. More importantly, they themselves practiced what they preached!
Let me close this article by revisiting just four samples of recent and most genuine contemporary private supernatural revelations wherein our Blessed Mother and Jesus Christ Himself have been issuing dire warnings to Catholic bishops and pastors who have been unfaithful to their sacred duties such as those mentioned in Canon Law 387 and who have rejected related dogmas of the Church.
- From the Rev. Father Steffano Gobbi’s To The Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, a Blue Book compilation of the 604 messages Our Lady had been giving over a period of 25 years to Fr. Gobbi until December 31, 1997, which has been granted an IMPRIMATUR by some 200 or more different Bishops and Cardinals (including Cardinal Sin circa 1990) since 1973 when the earliest messages were first published by the Marian Movement of Priests, a worldwide apostolate with more than 200,000 priest-members.
Message No. 420, given in
When the Son of Man Returns
a "You read in the Gospel: 'When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on earth?' (Luke 18:8)
b Today I want to invite you to meditate on these words, uttered by my Son Jesus. They are grave words, which cause one to reflect and which succeed in making you understand the times through which you are living. First of all, you can ask why Jesus has uttered them: to prepare you for his second coming and to describe for you a circumstance which will be indicative of the proximity of his glorious return.
c This circumstance is the loss of faith.
d Also, in another part of holy scripture, in the letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, it is clearly announced that, before the glorious return of Christ, a great apostasy must take place. The loss of the faith is a true apostasy. The spread of the apostasy is therefore the sign which indicates that the second coming of Christ is, as of now, close at hand.
e At Fatima, I have foretold to you that a time would come when the true faith would be lost. These are the times. Your days are marked by this painful and significant situation, which as foretold to you in holy scripture: the true faith is in the process of disappearing in an ever increasingly greater number of my children.
f The causes of the loss of faith are:
(1) the spread of errors which are being propagated, and are often taught by professors of theology in Catholic seminaries and in Catholic schools and which thus acquire a certain character of credibility and legitimacy;
(2) the open ,and public rebellion against the authentic Magisterium of the Church, especially against that of the Pope, who has from Christ the duty of preserving the whole Church in the truth of the Catholic faith;
(3) the bad example given by those Pastors (Bishops!), who have allowed themselves to be completely possessed by the spirit of the world and who become propagators of political and sociological ideologies, rather than messengers of Christ and of his Gospel, thus forgetting the mandate received from Him: 'Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.'
g Thus, in these days of yours, apostasy on the part of many of my poor children is inundating you more and more.
h When the Son of Man returns ...
i If indeed his return is close at hand, then my motherly action becomes more concerned and vigorous, in order to assist all my children to remain ever in the truth of the faith. This is why I have asked you to consecrate yourselves to my Immaculate Heart. This is why, in these times of yours, I have spread everywhere my Marian Movement of Priests: to form the little flock, reunited in the prayer of the cenacles and watchful in expectation - the flock gathered together and formed by me to ever preserve the true faith.
j Thus, when the Son of Man returns, He will still find the faith on earth in all those who will have consecrated themselves to me, allowing themselves to be gathered together in the heavenly garden of my Immaculate Heart."
2. And from the Lord Jesus Himself as was dictated to Maria Valtorta (Q43:514) on October 30, 1943, referring to abortion as the “crime of crimes” in section 45, page 70 of the book The End Times as revealed to Maria Valtorta, as published by Editions Paulines, Centro Editoriale Valtortiano SRL, translated from Italian to English by Paul T.Y. Atworth.
“I am the Merciful One. I am indulgent and I forgive. There is so much that I forgive. I forgive what I see you do out of human weakness, not what is done out of deliberate human self-interest. I will never be as severe a judge as with those who, with their thinking sold to Satan, commit more crimes than outlaws, lead others to commit crimes, and above all commit the crime of crimes, thus leading souls to mistrust God.
“Nowadays this crime of homicide and deicide is not the monopoly of a few. They kill bodies and souls and kill the idea of God in souls, making them blind like empty eye-sockets.
“The crowds make it out (realize it) too late. But I see, at the instant you think and act. And all of you, ungodly of flesh and spirit, will be judged with an extremely severe judgment.”
- From Volume One Chapter 8, pages 144-145 (with emphasis supplied) of Direction for Our Times, given through Anne an Irish-American who was invited by both Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales and Archbishop Angel Lagdameo in November 2006 to speak to several large audiences of priests, nuns and lay people in Metro Manila and in Iloilo City.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
”Do you hear My Son’s voice? He is calling His children with authority. Dear little ones, He does this in an effort to save them. The Voice of my Son bears authority and that is why He says His children will know that it is He, their God, who calls out to them. My little ones must make a choice now. And they must choose God and all that is good.
Priests and religious, holy men and women, console my heart in extraordinary fashion right now and I am maximizing the tremendous graces I receive from these righteous souls. Religious in the world are under attack. Be brave, religious souls. Your mother defends you as her own and you will be raised up to your rightful place soon. Instead of being honoured by the world, you are reviled and slandered. This will not endure.
I want to say that there are those religious who have disappointed my Son and turned to the Evil One. Do not think, oh souls of Satan, that you will escape divine justice. And for you who have damaged innocent souls? All of heaven quakes with the retribution that will be yours. I say this to you with a special gravity. Repent! Admit your sins and become cleansed. Only in this way will you enter into the
- From the booklet written by Father Edward Carter, S.J. entitled “Tell My People”, published by the Office of Media Affairs, CBCP under Fr. James B. Reuter, S.J. on page 61 thereof:
“My beloved friend, remind My people that the Church was born from My Heart, pierced with the soldier’s lance on
“I am Lord and Master. I request that all My people listen to My words and respond to them. I love My people with a tremendous love, and in this great love I give them this message!”
“My church is experiencing critical and very difficult times. There are many divisions. There are many false teachings - including some put forth by certain theologians. These false teachings occur because those responsible are not in proper union with My vicar, the Pope, and the Church Magisterium. I want all My children to pray daily for the cure of many and serious ills of the Church. With increased prayer and sacrifices for the health of the Church, that day will soon come when the Church will be purified and revitalized. When that day comes, the Church will be a light to all nations as never before. When that day comes, the renewed Church will be characterized by the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. Thus the message of
EDUARDO B. OLAGUER