Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 12, 2019
IF we want our life to be
good, we need to develop a keen sense of transparency and
accountability. These traits assure us that we are on the right
path. That is to say, we have nothing bad to hide, and more, we are
seeing to it that we are responsible for what God has given us,
making these God-given gifts fruitful and productive.
A good sense of
transparency will help us develop and sustain our integrity in life.
It means that everything that we do is good, that is, morally good.
This sense of transparency can only take root when it is based on
our faith in God who sets all the laws in our life, and therefore,
all that is good for us.
Besides, God actually sees
everything. Before him, nothing can be hidden. We therefore have to
adapt a lifestyle that would make us do everything in his presence.
In fact, we are not simply meant to do things in his presence. It is
more to do everything for God’s glory. Thus, when we do things
without God in mind, let us be warned that we are already doing
We should not base our
sense of transparency on human, natural and worldly criteria alone.
These latter standards do not capture all the good that is proper to
us. At best, they may just be silent about the finer nuances and
consequences of what is generally good for us. We have to remember
that many mysteries shroud our understanding of things.
But what is bad is that
our human laws and worldly standards have started to go against
God’s will. This, of course, can be due to our limitations in truly
understanding God’s law. But it can also be due to our sinfulness
and malice. Nowadays, I believe it is the latter that has led us to
make laws that are openly against God’s law.
We can try to do something
about this problem by teaching the children to be transparent
always, first to God, then to their lawful authorities: their
parents, teachers, elders, etc. And with the adults, let us remind
them often of the importance and the great many benefits that a
working sense of transparency brings.
The same with the sense of
accountability. This has to be inculcated in the children as early
as when they can be understand it. In the gospel, many are the
references that talk about this need for accountability. One is the
parable of the talents where a master gave his three servants
different amounts to do business with while he went away. (cfr. Mt
25,14-30) The master asked for an accounting when he returned.
We even have to account
for the words we speak, as attested in this passage of St. Matthew’s
gospel: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account
for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be
justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (12,36-37)
St. Paul in his Letter to
the Romans also said that “each of us will give an account of
himself to God.” (14,12) And in his second letter to the
Corinthians, he said: “For we must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he
has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (5,10)
We have to prepare for
this judgment when we have to give account of what we have done with
what God has given us. Let’s remember that God has given us
everything that is good to us, even the way to recover our dignity
as children of God once we lose it due to our sins. He has given us
life, talents, the theological virtues, mercy, etc.
We should be ready to face
God to give an accounting of our life with eagerness, not with fear.
discriminating ACT members in election service!
A press statement by
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
March 6, 2019
Over the last few weeks,
teacher-unionists under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
have reported alarming cases of disinformation in various regions,
where some local officials of the Department of Education (DepEd)
have been declaring the ineligibility of ACT union members to serve
as part of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the upcoming
midterm polls. This is yet another attack against teachers’ right to
self-organization and a dirty attempt to persecute ACT.
In Central Luzon and
Eastern Samar, DepEd officials have purportedly been announcing in
meeting with school heads and in teachers’ seminars that ACT members
are prohibited from being part of the BEI for the 2019 elections. In
Laguna, a document that made rounds among teachers detailed the
qualifications of BEI members, which explicitly noted that members
of the “Allegiance of Concerned Teachers” are not qualified.
The outright singling out
of ACT members in election service has no legal basis. No law or
policy allows for the wholesale disqualification of BEI members –
especially not on the grounds of their affiliation to any
organization, as such would be a case of political discrimination
prohibited by the law. Furthermore, barring teachers from serving as
poll workers is a violation of R.A. 10756 or the Election Service
Reform Act (ESRA) which states that public school teachers shall be
prioritized in election service.
This is a vicious attack
against teachers’ economic rights. For underpaid teachers, the
P6,000 honorarium they receive as workers during elections is a
significant addition to their scant income. The accordance of a just
compensation to the difficult and perilous job they take on every
elections is a product of their determined and consistent effort to
push for the enactment of the ESRA, and to prohibit them now from
participating as BEIs is to deny them of their hard-earned victory.
This is a malicious strike
against teachers’ right to unionize, a clear attempt at
union-busting. Such efforts are aimed at forcing teachers to
dissociate themselves from our union by stifling their work and
As the surveillance and
harassment suffered by our members continue to intensify, another
dirty tactic of vilification and persecution is employed by the
state in a futile attempt to enfeeble us and our organization.
We call on DepEd to
clarify this issue involving their local officials. DepEd must state
for the record if there is such a national order to discriminate ACT
members in election service. If so, how is this related to the
meeting mentioned by retired DepEd Region 3 Director Torno which was
supposedly held between DepEd and the National Police Commission on
the government’s counter-terrorism campaign? The central office
shall effect measures to correct the unlawful and misinformed
pronouncements of its local officials.
We also urge the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to take urgent action to resolve
this issue. As the commission with the exclusive authority to
appoint or disqualify BEI members, we urge you to provide
clarification on this matter.
We demand the immediate
termination of all acts of terrorism launched by the state against
us in the form of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and
terrorist-tagging of our organization and our members. ACT
Philippines and ACT unions are legal and legitimate organizations of
teachers, administrative staff, and advocates who have consistently
lobbied for and advanced the rights and welfare of education
workers. Such are not acts of rebellion or terrorism, but are mere
exercises of democracy.
The state, instead of
subjecting teachers to intimidation and repression, should honor and
dignify teachers for their unparalleled commitment and sacrifice in
the fulfillment of their vital role in people’s education amid dire
Spending a Good
Seminarian LANCE ENAD,
February 28, 2019
Guerranger OSB tells us that the principal effect Lent should have
in us is the renovation of our spiritual lives. In this sense, a
person who comes out of a well spent lent should be a better
catholic, a person who loves God more, a person more identical to
For most of us, spiritual
perfection is the work of a life time. If we at least try to conquer
a particular vice or defect and to acquire a particular virtue or to
make a particular resolution for each lent, we would at least have a
stable growth in our spiritual life – in the spiritual life, mind
you, according to St. Augustine, not to move forward is to move
It is a pity though how
lent is almost not noticed nowadays and how the spirit of lent is
chocked by the thorn bushes of the world. That is why it is
interesting how in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine
Mass), lent is preceded by Septuagessima season – a prelude to lent
– so that the faithful may be better prepared to spend a good lent.
In line with this, here
are some things useful to spend a good lent.
Root out a vice or
defect. Catholic Spirituality would tell us that each of us have
a predominant fault – which is an obstacle in our spiritual life.
Lent would be high time to remove these so as to advance in the
spiritual life. If for example, one has the vice of intemperance in
eating or drinking, lent would be the time to confront this, to
purge ourselves of this vice, this capital sin which lead us to much
graver sins. It would be a mistake to think that one would give up,
let’s say, drinking in lent, and would return to unrestrained
drunkenness after lent. A man with the vice of intemperance taking
lent seriously should come out of it a man who has, or at least is
sincerely trying to have, the virtue of temperance not only for this
particular lent, or for this particular liturgical year but for the
rest of his life.
Acquire a virtue.
St. Augustine tells us that virtue is just another form of Charity –
here I do not mean philanthropy but Charity, the theological virtue
that has God for its object, that is, the Love of God. St. Francis
de Sales also tells us that the devout life – the spiritual life –
consists in loving God. In this sense, the renovation of our
spiritual life would mean that we would love God more, that we will
acquire more virtues – not for their own sake but because they are a
means to prove our love for God. For instance, a young man, may use
this lent to acquire the virtue of chastity – he would have to do
some spiritual reading, a lot of prayer, a lot of mortification, a
lot of devotion to the Mother of God during this season of lent to
acquire this virtue so threatened by the world today. It is to be
noted that virtue for us is not merely the fruit of personal
struggle alone but virtue is not possible without the grace of God.
If each person, at least in a city, decided to acquire a virtue each
year, that city would probably become a city of saints.
Prayer and penance.
Lent would be the time to form the habit of prayer or for those with
this already, to intensify their prayer. The spiritual life is not
possible without prayer. Prayer, apart from being the great means of
salvation and spiritual perfection, is the means by which we acquire
graces. Without grace, the spiritual life is not possible. Lent
would also be the time to acquire or to strengthen the virtue of
penance. There are so many reasons to do penance (something I
discussed at length in my other essays). It would, perhaps, suffice
to say here that lent is the best time to unite ourselves to our
Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross by means of penance and that the
penance, along with prayer, is a pillar of the spiritual life.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 20, 2019
WITH new scandals
assailing parts of the Church today (mainly in the US), we are
reminded that we are into another round of crucifixion time for our
Mother, the Church. We should not be surprised anymore by this
development. But we should be prepared to handle this predicament
properly and learn some precious lessons.
The life of the Church
cannot help but reflect the life, passion, death and resurrection of
Christ, its founder and its body into which we, Christian believers,
are incorporated. Yes, we cannot escape the curse of sin in our life
as well as in the life of the Church as a whole.
Like Christ, the Church
has to bear all the sins of men, including those committed by its
temporal leaders. Christ did all he could to sanctify us. He
preached, performed miracles, instituted the sacraments and founded
the Church, etc. But in the end, due to our hard-headedness and all
kinds of weaknesses, he just had to offer his life to save us. The
Church cannot do no less. She has to suffer the same fate.
It is, of course, painful
to experience all these scandals, but we should not over-react to
the point of making things worse. These scandals, a consequence of
human weaknesses that can afflict even our Church leaders, are
actually a call for another conversion, which is something that is
meant to be a continuing, life-long process for each one of us.
Something very good can be derived from these scandals.
We just have to focus more
on what we can gain from these scandals in terms of what can favor
another conversion rather than on getting hooked on their purely
negative aspects. Of course, there will be elements that will rub it
in on us. Some sectors of the media will have a field day in this.
But this should also be expected.
We just have to be ready
to react to all this properly, as shown by Christ himself. And that
is simply to suffer together with Christ – a suffering that is in
accordance to the will of the Father. In a sense, the suffering
caused by the scandals is another concrete way of identifying
ourselves more intimately with Christ. In a way, it is a welcome
In the meantime, we have
to do the continuing task of cleaning up our own selves and the
Church as an institution. We cannot deny that weaknesses,
temptations and sins will always hound us. We have to identify more
clearly the deficiencies in Christian life that give rise to these
scandals and come up with the appropriate measures to address them.
Offhand, we can take
another review of how the formation of priests and seminarians is
done. What improvement can be made in that department? How should
priests be more effectively accompanied in their ministry so that
their spiritual life would remain healthy as they carry out their
And since transparency is
also a goal to be pursued, how should this be done without
compromising the basic human rights of all the parties involved? How
should Church authorities handle cases where the legal rights of
persons are involved? Justice, charity and mercy should go hand in
These, I suppose, are some
of the things that have to be looked into if only to minimize the
cases of scandals that can unnecessarily disturb the people in
general. It cannot be denied that the Church authorities have to
install appropriate means and structures to be in step with the
rightful expectations of the world.
It’s about time for the
Church authorities to air out the hidden dirty closets. Transparency
and accountability should be lived strictly. It certainly will be a
very painful and unpleasant task, but it will definitely be for the
common good, and will give due glory to God!
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD, email@example.com
February 15, 2019
February 17 this year, in
the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine Latin Mass)
Septuagesima Sunday –seventy days before Easter. The two Sundays
after this would be Sexagesima Sunday (sixty), and Quinquagesima
Sunday (fifty). These three weeks are a prelude to lent –in Latin,
Quadragesima (forty). On that day, in the extraordinary form, the
Gloria and the Alleluia are omitted, and purple becomes the
Liturgical color. This season though is not yet lent but is a means
to prepare for lent.
In the Parable of the
sower, we see the seeds that are sown into the thorny bushes. They
grow yet the thorns choke them. As we know, the seeds are the word
of God and the thorns symbolize the world and all the things opposed
to our salvation and sanctification. In this we can see the purpose
of the Septuagesima: Lent is a very important season and that we
ought to prepare ourselves for it to make the most out of it.
On the feast of Epiphany
there is the tradition of announcing the movable feasts for the
year. In the announcement of the date for Ash Wednesday, the cantor
says “the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.”
This shows how the church has regarded lent as a very important
An authority no less that
Dom Prosper Guerranger O.S.B., in his magnum opus, “the Liturgical
year” that the Church wants us to make the most out of lent, a
season of penance, that it may produce its work in our souls: “the
renovation of our spiritual life.”
distractions, the comforts, and the pleasures of the world render us
indisposed to enter into the season of penance. Perhaps, before we
know it, lent would arrive and it would catch us off guard. The
Church invites us, therefore, to prepare the soil for the sowing. We
ought to remove all that could impede or make difficult our
observance of lent.
Dom Propser Guerranger
O.S.B. tells us: “Now, the Feast of Easter must be prepared for by a
forty-days’ recollectedness and penance. Those forty-days are one of
the principal Seasons of the Liturgical Year, and one of the most
powerful means employed by the Church for exciting in the hearts of
her children the spirit of their Christian vocation. It is of the
utmost importance, that such a Season of penance should produce its
work in our souls – the renovation of the whole spiritual life. The
Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of
Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she
withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the
world, in order that our hearts may be the more readily impressed by
the solemn warning she is to give us, at the commencement of Lent,
by marking our foreheads with ashes.”
Although Septuagesima has
been abolished by the liturgical reforms. The values behind it,
however, remain valid. The devil, the flesh, and the world remain
opposed to our salvation and sanctification no matter how these are
almost no longer mentioned. We need to prepare ourselves to lent.
Lent should be the time for those who do not have a spiritual life
to live one, for those who have, to advance. We need to pay
attention to the affairs of our soul, to our spiritual life. These
would not be possible of we are distracted and choked by the thorns
of the devil, the flesh, the world, and all those opposed to our
sanctification. Let the remaining weeks be a time to prepare for
lent so that lent this year would be the best lent we ever had.
needed to understand global human rights situation
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
January 23, 2019
After two world wars, the
first world elite realized the necessity of a global human rights
movement, and cooperated with each other to bring that about. The
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a product of this
imagination and determination not to allow past rights violations to
recur. Subsequent UN conventions all followed from this imagination.
Unfortunately, today, that
imagination is no longer manifested in the first world. The
political elite in developed countries is now dominated by a narrow
perspective that does not consider the conditions of the third
world, where life is truly nasty, brutal and short. The first world
is willingly turning a blind eye to the massive loss of human rights
in the third world. Their attitude is almost cynical. This is most
clearly noticed in the bilateral ties first world countries have
with developing countries, all but ignoring human rights concerns.
It is also visible in current UN forums, including the Human Rights
Council. As Human Rights Watch noted in a statement earlier this
month, when states with poor human rights records were joining the
Council as members, “The Human Rights Council should not be a place
where violators come to seek shelter. It should be a profoundly
uncomfortable place for rights violators; a place where they know
they will be held to a higher standard and put under the spotlight
for their abuses. Membership has its consequences.”
There are several probable
reasons as to why the first world has become so indifferent to the
human rights violations in the third world. One reason may be the
end of the Cold War. When the Cold War prevailed, there was a fear
of a territorial shift in favour of Communist opponents. This threat
no longer exists, with the elite in the first world and former
Communist countries now sitting at the table together. The first
world is therefore willing not to make any fuss about the suffering
of the ordinary folk living in these countries.
The economic crises
affecting the first world could be another reason for its myopia.
With first world countries all preoccupied with their own problems,
and an increase in isolationist practices, there is little united
leadership toward human rights issues shown by the first world.
Aside from any other
reasons, it is necessary to note that there is something radically
wrong with the imagination and leadership regarding human rights in
the third world. It is ironic that while today the first world knows
more about the third world than ever before with the advancement in
world communication networks, this very knowledge that the world
possesses may be producing negative results. It seems as though the
more the problems of the third world become known, the more
pusillanimous and insular the first world becomes. Perhaps the
feeling is that it is not within our power or capacity to deal with
such horrendous violence and human rights abuse.
The result of this
attitude is that people in third world countries who are fighting to
improve their rights are today more isolated than ever before. As
governments of third world countries are fully aware that the first
world is turning a blind eye to the human rights violations in their
countries, they are emboldened to attack their poor and marginalized
communities. The present global impunity for human rights abuse
creates political leaders who violate the rights of their own people
without any fear or shame.
The few fine individuals
and intellectuals in the first world who are concerned with global
human rights situation are disoriented due to a lack of support in
their own countries. Critical discourse is therefore necessary
regarding the Human Rights struggles throughout the world. American
lawyer Gary Haugen has captured this situation marvellously in his
book, The Locust Effect. In spite of a few who are making strong
efforts, the general situation of the first world is that it does
not care about the global human rights situation anymore.
It is this that needs to
become the focus of discussion among those who care for the lives
and rights of everyone, in order to fire up new imagination on this
LANCE PATRICK ENAD,
January 18, 2019
In his book, “True
Devotion to Mary,” – which every serious catholic should read – St.
Louis de Montfort explains that True Devotion to our Lady is
interior, tender, holy, constant, and disinterested.
Perhaps, we who labor for
our salvation can use these characteristics for our benefit. It
seems that these characteristics can be used as a checklist for
devotion in general.
True devotion is holy.
First, this would mean that true devotion (to the Blessed Sacrament,
to the saints, etc.) would lead us to God. True devotion to Mary,
for example, would lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus
Christ. Second, this would mean that true devotion would lead us to
abhor sin thereby loving God more. A person habitually in the state
of mortal sin, for example, who prays the rosary devoutly every day,
would one day either give up mortal sin or the rosary.
True devotion is interior.
This means that true devotion comes from the heart and does not
consist merely of reciting prayers and waving hands.
True devotion is constant.
This means that true devotion is not impulsive but is stable. A
person who has a devotion to our Lady, for example, ought to have a
fixed program for his devotional acts and should be faithful to
that. This could mean praying the rosary every day.
True devotion is
disinterested. This means that a true devotee does not have -or at
least is trying to do away- with self-serving motives but is
selfless in doing his devotions and is motivated by love.
True devotion is tender.
This means that true devotion entails childlike confidence. True
devotion to our Lady, for example, means childlike trust in our
Moreover, St. Louis de
Montfort continues to explain that True Devotion to Our Lady,
consists in the imitation of our Lady’s virtues. I suppose this
applies to all other devotions. Devotion to the Sto. Niño for
example, would consist in imitating the virtues of our Lord in his
childhood –meekness, humility, obedience to the Father, and all
those virtues a good meditation on the Childhood of Our Lord will
tell us. The Sto. Niño is also viewed as a symbol of the Christian
Faith in our country. Devotion to the Sto. Niño then would compel
the devotee to study the faith, to be firmer in their conviction to
live and die in the catholic faith.
Let the words of St. Louis
de Montfort be an examination of conscience for us. Are these
characteristics present in my devotion? Am I trying to imitate the
virtues of the Child Jesus? Do I study the my Faith? Do I read the
catechism? If by the end of your examination you find out that your
devotion fails to meet this, resolve to try hard –an harder if
needed- to meet this aided by the grace of God. By the end of your
life, having done these things, you would have been a better person
–that is, more identical to Jesus Christ-, a better catholic, a
virtuous person, and, by the graces God bestows upon you because of
your devotion, a person meriting a canonization.
PATRICK ENAD, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 15, 2019
Holy days, have always
been, at least on paper, sacred times. In these holy times, anything
that could be a distraction from the worship of God is to be avoided
–hence we abstain from work (although with exceptions) on Sundays so
that we can spend the day for God, with our families, and for rest.
We see in the catechisms
and in the preaching of many saints, especially St. John Mary
Vianney, the phrase “desecration of Sundays.” St. John Mary Vianney
often preached against it. Being the pastor of the village of Ars,
he lamented how people worked on Sundays and neglected to come to
Mass. On Sundays too, dances were held in the town –dances which
fostered immorality and other occasions of sin.
Obviously, Sundays and
holy days are days for our Lord. Holy days are especially set apart
for the worship of God, for doing good works, for the family.
Anything that would be an obstacle to those would be an abuse of
these sacred times. Any sinful act or vice on these days –parties,
or street parties, dances, etc. that endanger purity, that are
occasions of sin- would be a desecration of these sacred times.
It is rather lamentable to
think how Cebu City on the feast day of the Sto. Niño instead of
being filled with grace, becomes a cesspool of sin, vice, and
immorality. While we supposedly enthrone the Christ Child, the City
becomes a pit of sin –so many souls that are in the darkness of
mortal sin commit still more on this day and perhaps so many souls
on that day, lose the grace of God.
You, Christian Reader,
redeemed by Jesus Christ, would you tolerate how God is offended on
the time that should be for him? On birthdays, we always try to be
nice to the celebrant. On the day of the Lord, why is it that we
offend God all the more. It is like how those engaged in theNi
demonic mock God at 3am and how we remember the death of Our Lord at
3pm. God is offended, what is your reaction, Christian soul?
For this reason, it is
important to give some advice on how to celebrate the feast of the
Santo Niño well.
(1) Attend / assist in the
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is Sunday, you are obliged to assist
in the Most Holy Sacrifice. Offer this mass for the salvation of
souls, for the conversion of sinners, especially for those who will
have the misfortune of committing a mortal sin on the feast of the
Sto. Niño. Offer this mass as a reparation for each time God is
(2) Pray the Rosary. This
is a powerful weapon for our times. The Rosary is a meditation on
the life of Our Lord. If you pray it every day, Sinulog would be a
great day to pray all the mysteries. If you don’t pray it every day,
it is high time to begin. Commend your soul and the souls of your
loved ones to our Lady so that you will always be kept in the grace
(3) Holy hour. So many
graces flow from an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Spend an hour before Jesus. Offer it in reparation for the sins
committed today and in homage to the Sto. Niño.
(4) Read the Bible. Read
the Gospels. How fruitful it is for us to read the life of our Lord!
While so many people do not think of God on that day –and so many
even offend him-, you reading the Bible make it one person less.
(5) Preparation. Prepare
yourself for the feast day of the Sto. Niño. Pray the Novena and
meditate on the Childhood of Our Lord.
Sinulog, before it is a
festival, before it is a time for culture, is a time for God, a
sacred time- we ought not to forget that.
statement that human rights groups are enemies of the state
A press statement by
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
January 10, 2019
Only tyrants and human
rights violators consider human rights defenders as enemies, to
justify their killing and other worse violations against them. It is
actually those in government who order, encourage and perpetuate
extrajudicial killings, illegal or arbitrary arrests, rape, torture,
and other grave violations, as well as those who engender impunity
and poverty and promote the sell-out of our country’s patrimony, who
are considered by the people as their enemies.
We reiterate - Duterte’s
sham drug war and its consequences cannot be justified by the
government’s inability to resolve criminality and its distorted and
unscientific analysis on the roots of the problem of the illegal
drug trade. As long as the government sees that the solution to
social woes is through its kill, kill, kill approach, as long it
does not nip corruption in government in the bud by being complicit
in the entry and proliferation of illegal drugs in the streets, as
long as it doesn’t solve the root causes of poverty, it will always
face criticism and opposition from the people.
Human rights defense is
not the sole purview of human rights groups. Every day, every hour,
several communities and individuals uphold and defend their
individual and collective rights. The people are defending our
rights. As long as Duterte continues to disregard these rights, he
will be made accountable by the people.