Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 4, 2018
HELL, of course, is one of
the eternal last things, together with death, judgment and heaven,
which we are encouraged to consider every so often, if only to
derive some appropriate resolutions as to how we ought to live our
life here in this world.
The considerations of the
so-called last things would give us a global picture of things that
should guide us better in our choices and decisions. Let’s hope that
we understand this point well and take it to heart and to practice.
With respect to hell,
however, we have to understand that it truly exists in spite of all
the goodness and mercy of God. It is the place, or better said, the
eternal state of those who are all-out against God, their opposition
to God not only incidental but formal.
But we need to talk about
hell with great delicacy. It is not meant to scare us, to bully us
to behave properly, although some fear would be good for us. But it
should be a fear that is out of love of God, not simply because of
the punishment. We should be driven by filial fear, not servile
God must have thought of
hell when he decided to create. And that’s simply because there is
nothing that exists that was not thought of by God from all
eternity. Otherwise, God would not be God. Just the same, God
decided to create in spite of that possibility because he also knows
that good will in the end triumph. God, in his own wisdom and ways,
will always have the last word.
Hell came to be because of
some angels who chose to be by themselves instead of being with God.
Being pure spirits, their choice is instantaneous and has eternal
effects. When they are good by choosing God, they would really be
good always. And when they are bad by rejecting God, they would
really be very bad always. There’s no state of in-between in them.
They are either very good or very bad.
With us, since we are body
and soul, our choices are always conditioned by many factors. In
fact, as long as we live, our final choice, either to be with God or
to be by ourselves simply, is always a work in progress.
The choices that we make
in life should always be viewed in this context of being
conditioned. That’s why even if we make a bad or sinful choice,
there is still hope because we can still correct it. And we should
not forget the all-powerful and abiding mercy of God. Remember St.
Paul saying, “Where sin has abounded, God’s mercy has abounded even
more.” (Rom 5,20)
Besides, we really cannot
deny the fact that our proneness to sin is such that it will need
only God’s grace to combat it. We do our part, but we know our
efforts would not be enough. St. Paul dramatized this when he said:
“I delight in the law of
God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war
with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin
which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver
me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord!” (Rom 7,22-25)
Before God, we are like
little children who try to behave well but who cannot avoid bumbling
down. The consideration of hell is not meant simply to scare us, but
to encourage us to go always to God.
PMPI statement on
the appointment of charter change consultative committee
January 26, 2018
On January 25, President
Rodrigo Duterte finally named 19 out of the 25 members of the
Charter Change Consultative Committee on amending the 1987
constitution, after several months of the committee’s establishment.
We, the Philippine
Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of NGOs,
religious/church-based organizations, and people’s organization,
welcomes this new development. Finally, and soon we will stop
groping in the dark; there will be concrete and real proposals for
charter change that we can discuss and reflect on. This is also
positive as it gives us a glimpse of the character of the group that
was given the huge responsibility to re-write our current
constitution, fashioned to strengthen democracy and social justice,
and prevent a dictatorship to ever happen again.
The changing of the new
constitution is touted and being framed by the current government as
a way to usher the development that the 1987 constitution allegedly
failed to effect.
While we believe that
there are sections in the current constitution that needed updating,
we do not agree in fast-tracking the process of changing the
constitution within 6 months as per instruction from the President.
We are deeply concerned of its effects as failures and instability
in governance from the past continue to plague our nation.
The constitution is the
heart of any government and of any institution for that matter. It
is the fundamental law that governs and prescribes the life of a
people. Thus, there should be a recognition that changing the
constitution would require that every citizens’ concerns, every
epoch’s milestone, and every historical experiences are considered
and studied thoroughly.
Every Filipino needs to
know the following:
- What is the current
national situation that warrants a change in the constitution?
- Is the current political
condition a good environment to carry out this process?
- Is constitutional change
the ONLY way to address the identified current national situation?
Have we exhausted all options that will bring the same change we
- Is 6 months enough to
disseminate information, carryout conversations, and install
mechanisms that will ensure that transparency and accountability in
the process of constitutional change?
- Is the Constitutional
Assembly the best form to change the current constitution? Is the
composition of the current congress carry the aspirations of the
majority of people?
- How is the common
Filipino being engaged and informed on the change issues that will
affect his/her future?
conversation should be encouraged for every Filipino to understand
the context of the proposed processes, thereby owning it.
We call on the government
not to take the charter change process in haste. We urge the
government to involve various stakeholders from different sectors of
society in crafting the needed change in the constitution and take
part in policy making.
The participation of
various sectors will ensure that these changes in the constitution
meet expectations for equal rights, effective delivery of resources,
protection of lands and indigenous territories, provision of social
services, stop political dynasty and corruption with respect to the
rule of law.
We reject the
Constitutional Assembly as a way to change the constitution. We do
not trust that the current lower house will represent the genuine
voice of the people by the way they have repeatedly conducted
themselves in addressing social issues since the assumption to power
of President Duterte.
We say NO TO CHARTER
CHANGE IN HASTE. We say NO TO CON-ASS.
great treasure in the Sto. Niño
January 13, 2018
WE really have to be most
thankful that even up to now we as a people still have a great
devotion to the Sto. Niño. Instead of waning through the years, this
popular piety we have toward the Child Jesus has grown.
Yes, there are still
things that should be made right and purified, (I suppose we will
never run out of them), but we cannot deny that this devotion has
helped us greatly in a world and in times that are increasingly
secularized and paganised. Think of the many so-called liberal
people in the world who have considered faith, religion and piety as
Thanks to God the image of
Christ as both a child and king has truly so captured the Filipino
heart (especially the Cebuano heart) that whatever situation we may
find ourselves in, whether good or bad humanly speaking, we still
keep our Christian faith and try our best to live by it.
Let’s hope that this
devotion continues to develop and to spread more widely, especially
among the young ones who are most vulnerable to the faith-killing
and piety-numbing ways of the world today. In this, we have to use
both the human and supernatural means of prayer and sacrifice, and
to involve as many people and institutions as possible.
That the Sto. Niño is both
child and king somehow reminds us that we need to be like a child to
attain our ultimate kingly goal of human maturity and Christian
perfection. As we grow older, more exposed to the world and gaining
a lot of experience, we need to be more like a child, deepening and
enriching our spiritual childhood in Christ.
Let’s always remember what
Christ himself said: “Unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3)
Yes, children and heaven
are almost synonymous to each other. No wonder we feel like we are
in heaven every time we see children around. Every time a baby is
born, we are very happy because we somehow know that he just did not
come out of his mother’s womb, but rather from the very hands of God
who created him before the parents procreated him.
In spite of the many
limitations of children, what makes them always desirable is their
pure, innocent heart, incapable of malice, ambition, pride and
haughtiness. They are a source of many other good things.
Their heart is always
trusting in the Lord always, just like a little kid is always
confident with his father. Faith and hope easily grow and acquire
strength when nurtured in a child's heart. It's this attitude that
leads them to go on and move on no matter what, for life to them
could only be an adventure of discoveries.
It's this kind of heart
that makes them transparent, sincere and simple, not afraid to be
known as they truly are. They may still lack the subtlety of
prudence and discretion, and be prone to spontaneity, but they
hardly mind these deficiencies.
They are only interested
in doing what they think is good and enjoyable. Suggestions and
corrections do not humiliate them. Rather, they welcome these
suggestions and corrections.
Children are humble,
teachable, flexible and docile. You can tell them anything, and they
always tend to believe and obey. Attainments, achievements and
successes do not spoil them. Neither do difficulties, temptations
and failures crush them and plunge them to sadness or bitterness.
They are easy to motivate,
to be consoled, to be optimistic. Falls and mistakes are easily
forgotten. They only leave a mark that becomes a source of precious
lessons for them to learn. They are quick to heal when wounded.
Christmas Message by the Asian Human Rights Commission
December 23, 2017
Thinking purely in
symbolic terms, Christmas celebrates a fascinating event. Jesus was
born in a cattle shed. This was where sheep slept. From a power
point of view, it was so completely different from the way other
religious or political leaders are presented to the world. Links to
royalty or nobility, or at least some affluence, and education, were
considered qualities of leaders. But here, none of those symbols of
power was present.
From the point of view of
value systems, this symbolic birth presents very different
appreciation of values than what we see in many other models. A
human being is born the midst of cattle. Human beings are part of
nature, and that is more important than any symbols of status and
This is a message that has
been largely lost. Perhaps, at the heart of the moral crisis in the
world is this problem of being unable to consider that human beings
are a part of nature. As St Francis wanted, genuine relationships
should be established with ‘Brother Sheep and Sister Bees’.
This symbolism is even
more important for the new world, which began with the first testing
of the atom bomb in New Mexico in 1941, a test which was nicknamed,
quite inappropriately, Trinity. The success of the explosion that
happened on that day posed a moral crisis which baffled the most
talented scientists, and changed their own views on their
achievements. Robert Oppenheimer and, later, his counterparts in
other countries, like the Russian Andrei Sakharov and others like
them, all lived to regret what they initially thought was the
highest achievement of their lives. The plea to end this experiment
was their final message.
The dilemmas posed on that
day by Trinity remain not only unresolved, but appear to be
unresolvable. The creative capacity of human beings resulted in a
situation where they became their own annihilators.
In terms of political
civilization, this “achievement” of Trinity also posed the greatest
threat to liberal democracy itself. The value of the political was
diminished, creating a higher place for those who manage security
apparatuses. This is now reflected everywhere, including those
places that were considered the most developed democracies in the
Now, on the one hand,
security agencies, including intelligence agencies, have truly
become the final arbiters of human destinies. On the other hand,
this has become an unacceptable situation for everyone, including
the persons in these agencies. Yet there is no way out to be seen.
Human intelligence is trapped within this great contradiction.
In creating the atom bomb,
the argument in the United States was that this was essential in
order to save western civilization. However, the achievement of the
dream has posed not only a threat to western civilization, but to
human civilization as a whole. Yet, to those who are most powerful
in the world, the crisis of human civilization as a whole has not
been taken as seriously as it should be.
The Christmas symbolism
must be treated a powerful reminder of humanity’s link to the
totality of the world. That realization should transcend all
considerations of wealth and power. This is no longer a sentimental
aspiration. The practical survival of the world depends on the
capacity to bring back the natural link between human beings and the
rest of creation. This has become the challenge of ‘to be or not to
be’ for everyone.
expecting any return
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 16, 2017
THIS is how we should give
if we want to follow the example of Christ. We have to give to
others not only things but also our own selves without expecting any
recognition nor any reward.
This was clearly taught by
Christ when he said that when we hold a banquet, we should not
invite those who can invite us in return, but rather those – “the
poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” – who are unable to invite
us in return. (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
“Blessed indeed will you
be because of their inability to repay you,” he said, “for you will
be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
Let’s always keep these words of Christ that assure us of what we
are going to receive in heaven if we are generous with others here
We have to make an effort,
always asking, of course, for the grace of God first of all, so that
we can learn to assume this attitude with respect to our
self-giving. In the end, this will make us to be like Christ who
gave himself totally to us, including giving his life for our sins.
Let’s remember what he
told his disciples: “Freely you have received, freely you have to
give.” (Mt 10,8) Gratuitousness should characterize our self-giving
to God and to others, just as gratuitousness characterizes God’s
love for us. Such gratuitousness will gain us much more than what we
In this regard, we have to
do some continuing battle against our unavoidable tendency to be
calculating in our self-giving. Not only do we have to contend with
our personal weaknesses in this regard. We also have to contend with
a tremendous cultural environment, so prevalent these days, that not
only is not conducive to this attitude of Christian generosity but
is also hostile to it.
We constantly have to
rectify our intentions when we have to give to others – be it
things, a service, or matter of attention and affection. This is
especially so when our giving is for God. Let’s never forget that
God cannot be outdone in generosity.
Remember that episode of
the couple Ananias and Sapphira as recorded in the Acts of the
Apostles. (cfr 5,1-11) They sold a piece of property, but instead of
giving the whole proceeds to the apostles, they gave only a part and
kept the rest, lying to the Holy Spirit in the process. For this,
they met sudden death.
We should see to it that
our gestures of self-giving is whole-hearted and is inspired by true
love that can only come from the love of God for us. We have to
avoid playing games in this regard, for God knows everything and
would deal with us the way we deserve.
We have to learn to be
truly generous, neither counting the cost nor expecting any return.
This obviously is not easy to do, given our wounded human condition.
But if we always go to Christ to get inspired by his example and to
ask for his grace, we can do it. The impossible becomes possible!
Everyday, we have to find
opportunities to practice and grow in this virtue of generosity,
always aware that Christ is always with us and is showing us the way
and how to behave and react to any situation we find ourselves in.
So when we find ourselves
in some difficulties or are hounded by temptations, let’s never
delay in going immediately to him to ask for help and guidance.
Mary of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 4, 2017
WE once again celebrate
this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary on December 8, a holy day of obligation in our country. With it
we are reminded of the great privilege given to one of us, Mary of
Nazareth, who was chosen many centuries ago to be the mother of the
Son of God who had to become man to save us and to bring us back to
God, our Father.
With this celebration, we
are told that Mary was conceived without original sin. This is how
the Eucharistic preface of the solemnity explains the reason why.
“For you (referring to God
the Father) preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of
original sin, so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your
grace, you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son and signify
the beginning of the Church, his beautiful Bride without spot or
The Eucharistic preface
continues: “She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son, the
innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses; you placed her above
all others to be for your people an advocate of grace and a model of
It’s good that we go
through these words, this prayer, slowly if only to savor the
tremendous, awesome truth of faith that should richly nourish our
souls and inspire us to pursue holiness wholeheartedly no matter
This truth about Mary in
relation to us should fill us with joy and a great sense of
confidence that what seems to us to be impossible to reach and
attain can indeed be achieved.
We may not have the
privilege that Mary had of being conceived sinless and remaining
sinless all throughout our life, but it’s good to look at Mary, now
our Mother as given to us by Christ himself, so we can be inspired
and consoled to pursue holiness in our vale of tears here on earth.
To be sure, Mary, though
conceived without sin and sinless all throughout her life, was
exposed to all the temptations and the sins of men, because she was
and continues to be most close and most identified with her Son who
bore all the sins of men.
Her sinlessness was not
one of a blissful ignorance of the reality of sin. Her closeness and
complete identification with her Son made her know the very core of
evil and sin in the world. But like her Son too, she knew how to
handle all those. And that is by suffering the way Christ suffered
for our sins. That’s why she’s referred to also the Mother of
It’s true that she was not
crucified the way Christ was crucified. But her suffering perfectly
mirrored the extreme suffering of her Son. In fact, we can consider
her suffering a very heroic since it was experienced in a quiet and
While all of us who try to
follow Christ can be regarded as co-redeemers with Christ in the
sense that we also have to suffer, die and resurrect with Christ,
Mary can be described as the co-redemptrix par excellence.
Deepening our devotion to
Mary of the Immaculate Conception can only help us to effectively
handle the reality of evil and sin in this world as we pursue the
real and ultimate purpose of our life. And that is to be holy as our
heavenly Father is holy.
Deepening our Marian
devotion should be a task that we carry out daily. We lose nothing.
Rather we have everything to gain!
We always need
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 2, 2017
MAKE no mistake about it.
We always need God’s grace. On our own, we can only do evil.
Whatever good we think we can do without God’s grace is only
apparent. Sooner or later, that good will have no other fate but to
degenerate into something evil.
Actually, God’s grace – at
least what is known as the actual grace – is always available. But
we need to be aware of it by constantly asking for it so that our
actuations will always be according to God’s will and ways even as
they are also according to ours.
Let’s always remember that
our life is always a life with God. Considering that we have been
created in God’s image and likeness and are children of his,
everything in our life is infused with God’s spirit which we have to
learn to be aware of and to correspond to as best as we can.
Christ affirmed this truth
when he said he is the vine and we are the branches. “If you remain
in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can
do nothing.” (Jn 15,5)
We have to overcome our
strong tendency to think that we can be just on our own, wrongly
thinking that this is how we exercise our freedom. Our freedom can
only be true freedom when it is exercised with God who is its
source, its power and its end.
The autonomy that we enjoy
in this life, especially in our temporal affairs where we are
legitimately allowed to have different views and opinions, should
never be understood as being totally independent of God such that we
can even go against God’s will.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, we are bound to misuse our human powers. If our first
parents, still in their state of original justice, managed to sin
because in a moment they lapsed into forgetting God and following
the suggestion of the devil, how much more us who have been born
already with the handicap of the original sin.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, the use of our human powers will be distorted and will
just convert into all kinds of isms. Our intellectual activity, for
example, will fall into intellectualism, the exercise of our will
into voluntarism, the joy of our sentiments into sentimentalism.
These human powers become easy prey to the wiles of our wounded
flesh, the deceptive charms of the world, and the tricks of the
Our will, for example,
which is what enables us to be the image and likeness of God and is
therefore our most powerful human faculty, can be misused such that
instead of becoming like God, we can choose to become like the
For us to correspond
properly to God’s grace, we need to be always humble, always feeling
the need to be in his presence and to know his will in an abiding
manner. May it be that no moment passes without being with God and
interacting with him.
We have to regularly
examine ourselves to see how we can plug the hole that takes us away
from God’s presence. This hole usually takes the form of the pride
that we can derive from enjoying our God-given endowments. Instead
of thanking God for them and using them for God’s purposes, we
simply enjoy them on our own, using them entirely according to our
will and designs.
May we always be desirous
of God’s grace!