Pray, pray and pray
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
March 22, 2015
I'm not exaggerating. Our
need to pray is like our need to breathe. It should be non-stop, since
it is indispensable in our union with God our Creator, who keeps us
alive and healthy in our spiritual life. Again, letís bring back a
basic truth Ė without God we are nothing!
The only difference is that
breathing is a bodily necessity and is instinctive and automatic until
we die, while praying is a spiritual necessity that requires conscious
effort and continues even after death though in a different form.
In fact, praying requires
faith, hope and charity which first of all are gifts from God that
need to be corresponded to by us with a lot of patience and the
dynamic interplay of all the other virtues.
We should not be surprised
by this requirement of prayer, much less complain about it, since
praying is our most basic way of dealing with God who has given us all
and who has the right to expect all for us also, we being his image
If understood and done
properly, praying actually gives us joy always. It enables us to see
and understand things better. More importantly, it helps us to have a
glimpse of God's will, where everything starts and is governed and led
to its proper end.
Praying processes and finds
the answers to all our needs. In good times and bad times, when we are
healthy or sick, when we enjoy successes or suffer defeats or are
tempted, praying comes as our natural way of coping with everything
that our spiritual life needs just like breathing does with our bodily
To those who are afraid that
praying just gets in the way of our human activities and concerns, the
contrary is true. If anything at all, praying tremendously helps us in
putting our activities and concerns in another level so they acquire a
spiritual, moral and supernatural value, which is proper to us, since
we are God's image and likeness, and children of his.
It fits in all the
situations of our life, because it is first of all a matter of
attitude, of an awareness that we are in the presence of God who asks
us to follow him and to love him.
Obviously, for our prayer to
be substantial, consistent and abiding, we need to spend some moments
of special and serious conversation with him, like some period of
mental prayer, meditating on Godís word, having recourse to the
sacraments, etc. These are like the refueling process that helps us to
continue going on with our spiritual life.
The important thing to
remember is that whatever we may be doing, we somehow should engage
our mind and heart with God. We should never dare to do things alone,
by our lonesome, relying only on our natural powers and some kind of
luck. That is the way to get carried away and swallowed up by the
It is when we are constantly
engaged with God that we get the light and the strength to deal with
our earthly affairs, knowing how to relate them always to our ultimate
goal, and not getting entangled with merely temporal goals. When we
pray, our sense of purpose and direction gets sharpened.
While it needs them, prayer
also actually nourishes our faith, hope and charity. Prayer puts us
into a virtuous cycle that brings us closer to our ideal ultimate
state of communion with God and with others.
No, prayer does not alienate
us from others nor from our earthly affairs. Quite the contrary is
true. It puts us in a proper relation to them, and helps us to avoid
the unhealthy entanglements with our worldly business.
This truth should be spread
out quite widely these days, since many now are the factors and
elements that tend to deny the indispensability of prayer in our life.
In short, what some people are saying is that we do not need God in
our life. We are our own god, our own lawgiver. We just rely on
whatever we have in terms of intelligence, talents and luck.
It should be clear to us
that prayer is indispensable to us. Unless we make ourselves souls of
prayer, we have reason to doubt whether we are truly living our life
properly. We should be wary of some worldly ideologies, like atheism,
agnosticism, hedonism, etc., that tend to mock the importance of
prayer in our life.
We have to overcome some
myths, like prayer is only for old women and little children, etc.
Fr. Roy Cimagala, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 20, 2014
PRAYER is always relevant.
Itís as indispensable as breathing. Our spiritual life would be
detached from its life-source, exposing itself to great dangers, when
one stops to pray. But with todayís confusing developments, when we
have to learn to blend truth with charity, justice with mercy, prayer
becomes even more relevant and indispensable.
To be sure, this task of
blending competing values properly is nothing new. This has been both
our challenge and our duty since time immemorial. But the new
developments today require us to be more skillful in it as we face
more complicated issues and situations and more difficult questions
that just cannot be ignored.
With the current papal
thrust to have a Church of mercy and compassion, there definitely will
be a more deliberate effort to review and sort out the current norms
and practices in the Church to see if there are areas that can be
improved, updated, purified of such tendencies as traditionalism,
legalism, rigorism, etc.
Letís remember that the
Church, while divine and is therefore divinely guaranteed, is also
human and as such is subject to the vicissitudes of our human
condition. It will always be in need of growth and development, and
along the way, continuing conversion and purification.
The task to review and sort
out is going to be very delicate, and we have to expect a lot of
discussion in this regard. Thatís why prayer is so much needed these
days so that these discussions would be pursued always with the
guidance of the Spirit who can spring surprises and tackle anything,
and all within the truth of our faith, the confidence of our hope and
the warmth of our charity.
When we pray, we follow the
example of Christ who managed to go through his passion and death
calmly and with the confidence that his passion and death was the way
to go for the salvation of mankind.
Prayer makes us see things
better. It inclines us to be more perceptive of the abiding promptings
of the Holy Spirit who always traces the path we need to follow. At
this point, we need to be strongly reminded that it is the Holy
Spirit, more than us, no matter how bright and experienced we may be,
who leads the way. We all have to go to him and refrain from getting
too attached to our views and positions.
Prayer helps to calm down
our emotions that can easily get agitated and that can blind us
especially when sharp differences arise in the discussion. We have to
be wary of our tendency to easily get inflamed by our passions that
would just complicate matters.
Prayer helps us to be more
prudent in our judgments. It facilitates our ability to listen to all
sides, to study things thoroughly, to make consultations when
necessary, and to make decisions. Prayer helps us to know when to stop
and think, and when to move and execute things.
Prayer broadens our mind,
nourishes our patience, and keeps us hopeful and optimistic despite
unavoidable setbacks. It helps us how to properly take the biases,
opinions, assumptions that we always carry with us when we enter into
We need to see to it that we
are truly praying, that is, conversing with God in a very intimate way
and bringing up things that really matter to us. We should avoid just
going through the motions of praying but really without getting in
contact with God and taking up things that are not relevant, sort of
just indulging in some abstract exercise. Alas, this is a common bane
to those who claim they pray.
For this, we have to find
the appropriate time and place, knowing how to distance ourselves from
our usual activities so we can get into the proper mode of meditation
We have to have the right
dispositions, sharpening our act of faith, our humility and docility.
We have to be wary of the wiles of our flesh, the world and the devil
that can nullify our efforts to pray.
Obviously, we also have to
prepare the topics well. This is very crucial so that we avoid wasting
time during our meditations. This preparation will put us in a better
position to see the light that the Holy Spirit will be shedding on us.
But itís also important that
we make a conscious effort to appeal to the Holy Spirit to enlighten
us. This should not be taken for granted. This conscious effort will
make us more perceptive of his promptings.
The new pharisaism
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
November 21, 2014
IN writing this column, I
wish to make the caveat that the topic is meant to clarify matters and
to warn us of certain dangers that we may not be aware of. Itís not to
condemn anyone or any group, but simply to point out that there are
occasions when we think we are doing right when in fact we are doing
wrong in the eyes of God.
Itís also meant to figure
out how we can identify and avoid these dangers, and what we can do to
correct and make up if we have fallen into them.
Pharisaism, as the
dictionary puts it, refers to the doctrines and practices of many of
the Pharisees during the time of Christ. They were almost invincibly
convinced they were always right, basing that conviction simply on
their traditions and their own interpretations of Godís laws.
When Christ finally came,
they could not believe he was the Messiah since Christ did not jibe
with their expectations as based on their own estimation of things. In
fact, they were suspicious of him, always finding fault in him and
finally managed to crucify him.
To be sure, not all
Pharisees were like that. We can cite the example of Nicodemus who
went to see Christ by night to ask for some clarifications and who
helped bury Christís body. There must have been others like Nicodemus.
And so, we have to refrain
from making blanket accusations against all Pharisees. By pharisaism,
we simply refer to certain portions of the Pharisees who had the wrong
attitude toward Christ and the things of God.
Their error was in the too
literal interpretation of the religious and moral laws without due
regard to the spirit of the laws.
Such interpretation led them
unavoidably to fall into hypocrisy, since the reality even of their
own lives cannot cope with the very restrictive view of what they
considered as right and wrong, good and evil.
In other words, they
themselves could not keep up with their own standards, and yet made a
show that they were all right. They would hardly admit their own
mistakes and sinfulness. Such was the case that at one point Christ
told the people that these leading men did not practice what they
In other instances, Christ
pointed out the contradictions and inconsistencies between their words
and behavior, their observances and the all-too-obvious realities of
life, like the question of the Sabbath day observance.
The justice of pharisaism
has no room for mercy. Its mind-frame and lifestyle is prone to
knee-jerk reactions, rash judgments and reckless, lynching
condemnations, that precisely runs counter to the ways of God who is
slow to anger and quick to forgive.
Its ways are often hardened
along patterns of rigorism, legalism, traditionalism, fundamentalism.
They have forms and structures but without the appropriate substance
Pharisaism drips with
sanctimoniousness and self-righteousness, a funny caricature of
authentic holiness. It is an ugly bag of all violations of charity,
often disguised as defense of justice and human rights.
It is a collection of false
reasons and rationalizations not based on faith, hope and charity.
Itís more interested in pursuing oneís self-interest than in a genuine
concern for the common good, and much less, in giving glory to God. It
thrives in an environment of gossips, rumor-mongering and mob rule.
We have to be most wary of
the dangers of pharisaism that can come to us anytime and in very
subtle ways. When in our pursuit for truth, justice and beauty, we
become judgmental and rigid, less patient, understanding and merciful
towards others, we can be sure we are falling into the hands of a new
When in our legitimate
pursuit for greater knowledge, power and fame, we do not make the
corresponding conversions of heart and are unwilling to suffer for
others, this new pharisaism is setting in.
This new pharisaism usually
leads one along the paths of conceit and self-satisfaction. It makes
one simplistic in his views, ignoring the many legitimate nuances of
the situations of people. The worst cut is that it deadens oneís
sensitivity to have another conversion.
When progress in any aspect
of our life is not accompanied by a growth in humility, openness and
tolerance towards those of different views and opinions, when we
cannot see our own faults and defects and yet are quick to see those
of others, then we have basis to think we are in the grip of this new
But thereís always hope.
Godís grace can strike us strongly anytime. We just have to pray!
The Greater Disaster:
waray pulos! (Walang silbi!)
Statement of Hustisya on the
1st year commemoration of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)
November 8, 2014
Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) is one in solidarity with the
survivors of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in demanding justice
today, one year after the strongest typhoon hit the Eastern and some
parts of Western Visayas of the Philippines.
We demand justice, as we stand firm that the Aquino government is
guilty of criminal neglect. Pres. Noynoy Aquino bragged that the
government is prepared for the coming disaster, but later justified
its ineptness amid the overwhelming destruction wrought by the super
typhoon. The Aquino government declared a ďstate of national calamityĒ
four days after, only when the people have been too desperate for
food, water and shelter. More lives were lost and put in danger in the
coming days, while government agencies were ready making different
excuses why help did not reach the people on time.
We hold the Aquino government accountable for the massive loss of
lives and the absence of much-needed relief and rehabilitation. The
people looked for ways to survive while enduring the pain and sudden
loss. Various cause-oriented individuals and groups, both locally and
internationally have set foot in the areas affected, way earlier than
the government, way much earlier than Pres. Aquino himself. The
national government, that should have the means, the resources and
machinery for disaster response, was quick to pass the blame.
If there was one disaster that the people suffered from in the event
of super typhoon Yolanda, it is the inutility, inaction and outright
callousness of the Aquino government.
We are enraged that the approval of the rehabilitation plan for areas
affected by super typhoon was only signed shortly a week before the
first year commemoration of the super typhoon. Meanwhile, the Aquino
government was quick to allow the entry of multinationals and local
compradors and landlords in the affected areas in a matter of months
after the super typhoon. Big businesses have begun dividing the
affected provinces among themselves, using ďrehabilitationĒ as a way
to pursue their interests of business and profit. Pres. Aquino not
just showed his inutility and callousness to the needs of the victims
Ė he showed whose interests he favors.
The survivors of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) continue to rise up. They
continue to muster strength after the disaster, not just to rebuild
their lives and livelihood, but to hold accountable a government that
is not worth staying another day in power.
We enjoin everyone to echo the call for justice.
Justice for victims of typhoon Yolanda! Justice for victims of
Noynoy Aquino, waray pulos! Patalsikon!
When a marriage
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
November 8, 2014
ITíS truly depressing when
we hear about a marriage going sour. What began as a happy event,
complete with fervent affirmations of love, commitment and
self-giving, now looks dry and lifeless, and even showing traces of
But we should never allow
sadness, let alone discouragement to dominate us. Failures in life are
at best temporary, unless we persist in making them permanent. There
is always hope. Solutions to problems are always available. Cures and
remedies to whatever is wrong are all there for the asking.
We need to face marital
problems with hope and optimism. And so, we need to review a few
points to put this issue in its proper perspective with the view of
helping everyone involved in these cases Ė the spouses themselves and
those who are in a position to help, like relatives, friends, priests,
counselors Ė resolve the issue effectively.
First of all, we have to
look into how couples are prepared for marriage. The couples
themselves have to be sure itís true love that leads them to make a
lifelong and all- embracing commitment of marriage.
This love cannot be other
than a vital sharing of the love of God, who is the very source,
pattern, end and power of love. When this fundamental principle is not
clear, we would already have a big problem in the making.
All the pre-marriage classes
and seminars given by the parishes and other groups should clarify the
true nature and character of marriage as well as its purpose and
essential properties of unity and indissolubility.
They should explain why
marriage based on true love is very important for the health of the
family and of society. Moreover, it should be made clear that marriage
is actually a divine vocation, a true, heroic path to sanctity for the
couple, where their relation with God is very much at play.
Since it is also a sacrament
for the Catholics, marriage is where Christ himself acts as guarantor
for its vitality and fruitfulness. Especially when problems and
difficulties come, the couples have to be assured of Christís grace
The couples have to
understand then that marriage has to be approached with a theological
mind using spiritual and supernatural means, and not just with some
purely human motives using merely material and human means.
They have to understand that
to keep their marriage going, the couples need to have first of all as
an indispensable requirement a healthy spiritual life, based on
prayer, sacrifice, recourse to the sacraments, study of the doctrine,
and that attitude of welcoming a continuing process of conversion
They have to realize that
they need to bank on some effective program of spiritual growth
through an on-going system of formation, nourished by specific acts of
They need to continue
developing their love for each other, each one ďconqueringĒ each other
every day by looking for things that would make the other feel loved.
The courtship should never end, but should rather evolve into more
It is in this way that they
will keep their love young and strong, ever renewed and able to cope
with changing circumstances and situations. Even if physically they
will unavoidably suffer decline, their love will continue to be
vibrant and creative.
Love, if itís true and is
taken seriously, is always inventive. It knows how to find ways to
enter into the heart of the other spouse. No event, whether of the
successful type or the opposite, would be a hindrance for love to
express itself and grow.
All concerns, trials,
challenges and difficulties are faced and tackled with love as the
be-all and end-all. They should never be pursued purely on the
technical level or for some practical purposes alone.
The search for work and
financial stability, for example, should be inspired and subordinated
to the love of the spouse and the family. If that search would
undermine the love due to the spouse and the family, then it would not
Obviously, sacrifices will
be involved in marriage and family life. Everyone should try his or
her best to be generous in this area. But to be realistic, everyone
should also be prudent enough to assess up to what point the other
spouse can take in terms of sacrifices.
Thatís why constant,
intimate dialogue between spouses is a must. Everything has to be done
to facilitate that dialogue, making it as pleasant and positive as
possible. The art of tactful discussion should be learned carefully,
considering the varying temperaments, moods, physical and emotional
states the couple can find themselves in.
demand justice for Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude murdered by a
United States marine
A Press Statement by the
International Womenís Alliance (IWA) on the murder of Jennifer Laude
November 2, 2014
The International Womenís
Alliance (IWA) strongly condemns the brutal murder of 26-year old
Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude who was allegedly killed by
United States Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton on
October 11, 2014. Jennifer Laude was last seen with PFC Pemberton and
was found dead in a hotel bathroom less than an hour later with her
head shoved in a toilet bowl, autopsy later revealing she died of
The women of the
organizations in IWA, a global alliance of militant grassroots-based
womenís organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and
individuals committed to advance national and social liberation and
gender equality, mourn the unjust and sudden death of Jennifer and
extend our support and sincere condolences to the family, friends,
community of Jennifer Laude, who are grappling with grief as they lose
a daughter, a loved one, a friend.
As an alliance, IWA places
culpability on the Aquino regime for continuing agreements, policies,
treaties and laws that trample on the sovereignty of the Philippines,
the rights of the Filipino people and condone the unequal relations
between the US and the Philippines. Under the Mutual Defense Treaty
(MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation (EDCA) Agreement, the US military servicemen have and
continue to regard the Philippines as a playground for ďrest and
recreationĒ and the Filipinos as sex slaves and sex objects for
consumption. Jennifer Laudeís murder is part of the systemic violence
that is deeply rooted in a historical legacy of imperialist occupation
and an extension of all systems of exploitation and slavery. We
believe that in order to build safety for LGBT people, women, and
children we must eliminate the root causes and conditions that
contribute to and justify the senseless violence.
We also recognize that
transphobia, homophobia and hate crime, as expressed differently in
the world, have resulted in many deaths. We acknowledge that
Jenniferís life, along with the lives of other victims of
transviolence and hate crimes, matters a great deal. Their deaths have
provided impetus for awareness raising on the issues and struggles of
trans genders. IWA is also committed to organize against all forms of
hate, intolerance and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and Queer people.
The long history of military
violence has proven to be devastating to Filipino/a children, women
and LGBTQ people as the rate of prostitution and sexual assault
increases with the presence of US military, from the Balangiga
Massacre that started when two American soldiers tried to molest a
girl tending a store in September 1901 to the rape of ďNicoleĒ by
Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in November 2005.
In the past weeks, PFC
Pemberton has been shielded by the US with the latter swiftly taking
custody and protecting the alleged murderer of Laude in a
US-controlled facility. Although Pemberton is currently being tried
under Philippine laws, he can choose not to appear and was never
presented to the family and the Filipino people. Under US protection,
PFC Pemberton has arrogantly made demands to reduce charges against
The MDT, the VFA and the
recently signed, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have
made all these possible. Philippine sovereignty and the Filipino
people remain at the mercy and will of US dictates.
Lastly, IWA supports the
call of the Filipino women for the removal of US troops, military
facilities and bases from their soil, the Asia-Pacific region and
beyond. These facilities and bases are magnets for war and have been
used by the US in its intervention and aggression in many parts of the
world. We oppose the increasing presence of US troops in the region as
the US "rebalances" and "pivots" to Asia and heightens militarization
of the Asia-Pacific region. We join the call for justice for Jennifer
Laude and justice for the Filipino nation.
JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE!
HOLD PEMBERTON ACCOUNTABLE!
ASSERT CUSTODY OF PEMBERTON!
PRESENT PEMBERTON TO THE FAMILY AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!
END VIOLENCE AGAINST ALL
LGBT PEOPLE! TRANS-LIVES MATTER!
US TROOPS OUT NOW! RESPECT
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PHILIPPINES!
END UNEQUAL RELATIONS
BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE U.S.! TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES
AGREEMENT! STOP NEGOTIATIONS ON ENHANCED DEFENSE COOPERATION
October 16, 2014
Two items grabbed my
attention these past days. Both commanded intense prayers Ė of
thanksgiving, expiation and petition. One was the first anniversary of
the 7.2 tremor that hit my beloved province of Bohol, and Cebu where
Iím now assigned.
The other was the Synod of
Bishops on Family now going on in the Vatican, which some observers
also considered as a kind earthquake. Its mid-Synod report generated
quite a heat among many who certainly are seeing things from different
The Bohol earthquake
destroyed a lot of churches, but it strengthened also the faith of
many. It also brought out the resilient character of the people. Itís
a good reason to be happy and thankful, and to still hope that things,
and the people especially, continue improving.
Itís different with respect
to the Synod. The cracks, potential destruction and havoc it is
producing are so very subtle that many do not even notice them. Thatís
why, that gathering to the eyes of many has become more disturbing.
But there is always hope,
and so letís pray that with the open, candid but respectful discussion
the Pope is promoting in this Synod, the issues would be resolved
properly, with every voice and observation given due attention and
blended, hopefully seamlessly, in one organic, living piece, with the
divine spirit animating it.
Itís not an easy task, of
course. And so we really have to implore the help of the Holy Spirit
to guide our Church leaders to come out with a document that would
make everybody happy. That may sound impossible, or at least
improbable, but hope always springs eternal. We just have to try to be
most receptive to the Spiritís promptings.
The main issue, to my mind,
is how to fuse together the exclusivity of truth and the inclusivity
of charity. In this regard, it may be useful to keep in mind all
possible leanings and biases people can have and try to craft a
document that would be kind of politically or pastorally correct for
everyone, not favouring one over the other.
We have to presume that
everyone is for God, that everyone is for the truth, charity, justice
and mercy, that everyone is a sinner called to become a saint, etc.
But we have to get real on how each one is in his concrete condition.
Some can be described as
conservatives, others liberal, some saintly and pious, others openly
sinful, some are of the intellectual and theoretical type, others are
more of the pragmatic kind, some steeped more in tradition, others are
of the progressive mould, keen in innovations, etc. We also have
straight and gay people.
This is not to mention that
people are classified according to age, sex, profession, social,
economic and health condition, talents, charisms and other endowments.
Some are healthy, others not, others may even be in the ICU. Everyone
has to be respected, loved and cared for.
Yes, we have to give more
attention and care to the needy, confused and lost but not at the
expense of sacrificing those who are well-off, clear-minded and very
much in the mainstream of orthodoxy.
A way has to be found to
make everyone care for one another, with the better-off giving more to
those who are more in need who actually can also give something
precious, if intangible, to the better off.
Whatever document or comment
or initiative our Church leaders make about his pastoral ministry
should be tactful, avoiding anything that can disparage, much less,
alienate in any way certain sectors. They have to learn to be most
prudent, discreet and delicate especially in their words.
Of course, man will always
be man, still haunted by his weaknesses, mistakes and all that, but
Christ has already come and redeemed us with his death and
resurrection, and all we need to cure what is sick, right what is
wrong, heal what is wounded is already given to us, entrusting the
Church with the power to dispense those means.
Itís right that Christís
redemptive work, while already perfect and made available to us, still
remains a mystery that can spring surprises to us. But these surprises
will never be a denial of what is already known and lived by us as
authoritatively taught by the Church, but rather a deepening of those.
We have to revisit the
doctrine on graduality and conversion as articulated in ďFamiliaris
consotioĒ and see to it that it does not degenerate into relativism,
which is to make God according to our designs. Everyone needs
continuing conversion, you, me, priests, bishops and even the Pope.
Letís help one another instead of quarreling.