Souls of prayer
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 11, 2017
We really need to be souls
of prayer. This is what is proper to us. It’s a fundamental need
because when we pray we connect ourselves with our ultimate life
source who is God. Our need for prayer is infinitely more than our
need for air and food. Before anything else, it is what truly makes us
a human person and a child of God.
That is why Christ preached
abundantly about it, and encouraged us always to pray. He himself, who
is both God and man, prayed all the time. He prayed before he started
his public life, when he began his day of work as well as at the end
of the day, when he performed miracles, when he had to make big
In the end, he clearly told
us to pray always and not to lose heart when he talked about the
parable of the persistent widow (cfr Lk 18,1ff). He also told us about
the basic characteristics of our prayer – that it should be sincere,
confident, humble and constant.
We have to be wary of our
great tendency to be dominated by worldly and temporal concerns such
that we fail to pray. That would be a disaster since that would be
like being deluded that we are doing well in life when in fact we are
failing big time.
We have to start to pick up
the rudiments of prayer and begin the process of becoming authentic
souls of prayer, such that wherever we are, whatever situation we may
be in, somehow we are always praying, we are always in touch with God.
This should not be difficult
because we know that God is always around. He is everywhere. Besides,
he is always solicitous of us. He cannot fail to love us. We may fail
him and earn his anger, but that anger would only be for a while,
since his mercy is forever. We can always manage to pray any time any
place if we just would have the proper disposition.
Definitely, we need to
exercise our faith and be willing to exert effort and make sacrifices.
That is how we can aspire to make our prayer alive always. We should
put ourselves in God’s presence always so we avoid anonymity in our
intimate conversations with him.
What can also help is to
train and use our imagination in our prayer. In fact, we have to use
all our human powers and faculties – our intelligence and will, our
feelings and memory, etc. – in our prayer.
And we should be ready to
handle the unavoidable difficulties in our prayer. There will be times
when we would feel dry and uninspired or when we would be tempted to
think that our prayer is going nowhere.
Those difficulties are
actually opportunities to improve our prayer and to grow in our
spiritual life. If we persevere in praying, using all the means that
are always available, we will see how this improvement and growth are
taking place, and be filled with joy and satisfaction.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 7, 2017
APPARENTLY an American actor
expressed the view recently that if he does not read the newspapers,
he obviously would be uninformed of developments around. But if he
reads them, he most likely would also get misinformed, considering the
way the papers are now, he said. He found himself in a dilemma.
This is the challenge we all
face at present. The truth is that we have to get informed, but
informed properly. We simply have to find ways of how to get out of
the state of being uninformed and misinformed.
This will require some
skills, of course. But the basic and relevant virtue to live here is
that of prudence. That’s what would enable us to judge whether we
should read the papers or not, now or later, or to “smell” whether a
piece of information is good or not, useful or useless, relevant or
irrelevant, true or false.
Nowadays, the need to be
most discerning is getting urgent precisely because of the
proliferation of useless information, not to mention, misleading and
deceptive ones and fake news that are laced with all sorts of biases
and prejudices of those who make them. It’s not only political
partisanship that occasions this phenomenon. It’s deeper than that.
It’s now ideological partisanship.
This virtue of prudence, of
course, presumes some criteria to guide our judgments. In this regard,
it has to be made clear that we have to start with God’s moral law. We
just cannot set aside this indispensable requirement and plunge
immediately to merely earthly and temporal values like practicality,
profitability, popularity, etc., to guide us. That would be like
sailing a boat without the North Star, or the GPS.
Prudence, of course,
presumes a certain hierarchy of values that we should respect, uphold
and defend. It should be vitally connected with wisdom that in the end
connects us with God and all others, as well as all things in the
world, through love and truth.
We have to make sure that
our prudence is not only motivated by secondary criteria, like
efficiency, effectiveness, practicality, profitability, convenience,
etc. If these criteria do not lead us to a closer relation with God,
with others and the rest of the world, but would rather reinforce our
self-absorption, then it would not be true prudence.
We might enjoy some perks
that these secondary standards may give us, but it would not be true
prudence when it fails to lead us to our proper relationship with God,
others and the rest of the world.
Of course, true prudence
springs first of all from our intimate personal relation with God, the
source of all good things, of all truth, of all love. Without that
foundation, our prudence would be limited to mere appearances of
prudence that would be nothing other than the prudence of the world
and the prudence of the flesh, if not the prudence of the devil.
Again, we cannot
overemphasize the need to be vitally united with God for us to be
truly prudent and able to discern all types of information that are
being fed to us these days.
In the name of
Fr. Roy Cimagala,
January 12, 2017
WE should form the habit of
frequently invoking the name of Jesus. If there’s any name that we
should call most often, it should be that of Jesus. It is the most
important and necessary name we can call, as attested by St. Paul
himself who said:
“God greatly exalted him,
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the
name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2,10-11)
Calling his name, for sure,
is never just an empty form of pietism, or some kind of superstition.
Calling his name corresponds to a basic necessity of ours who always
need to be helped, enlightened, strengthened and ultimately redeemed.
We are assured that Jesus
always listens to us and promptly attends to our needs, although in
ways that may be different from our own expectations. It’s not in
Jesus to be indifferent to our needs, no matter how unworthy and
undeserving we are. His great love for us will always lead him to
intervene always in our life.
The name of Jesus means “God
saves.” Invoking that name will always remind us of our need for
salvation, that is, our ultimate salvation from sin, from death, from
all pain and suffering. It’s not simply liberation from some
transitory hunger or worldly need. It’s liberation to eternal life.
If invoked with faith and
love, if done with great piety, calling the name Jesus can only give
us a lot of good. It can even give us an immediate relieving and
I remember that one time, I
had some muscle pain in my legs and in my back. A ‘manghihilot’ was
recommended to me, and he told me to have strong faith and to follow
him in calling the name of Jesus as he did his therapy. I must say
that it worked.
But more importantly, we
need to call Jesus’ name when we are faced with big challenges and
difficult, if not irresistible, temptations. Somehow doing so
generates a certain kind of spiritual strength that would enable us to
handle these situations effectively.
When we feel our weaknesses
stirred up, or when, for some mysterious reasons, we seem to be
strongly drawn or lured to do something sinful, calling the name of
Jesus would really help. More than just recovering our senses, we can
feel a strong mysterious spiritual force that will enable us to do
what we ought to do.
And if, in spite of
everything, we still manage to fall, then calling Jesus’ name
facilitates our repentance and reconciliation with God and with
others. We do not actually need to go far or do extraordinary things
for us to be helped, guided, enlightened, strengthened and redeemed.
We just need to call Jesus’ name, and the process of healing starts.
Some people question whether
it is practicable to be truly holy in the middle of the world that is
full of sin and temptations. The answer to that is a resounding,
‘yes.’ Christ would not command us to be holy if that is not doable.
And the practicability of holiness can start simply by calling the
name of Jesus – with faith, love and piety.
The lives of saints can
attest to this. And even our own personal experiences can prove it.
Calling Jesus’ name can immediately soften our mind and heart that can
tend to harden due to the pressures of life, not to mention, the
temptations and sin around.
Calling Jesus’ name will
always remind us to be good to others, to be charitable, understanding
and compassionate with them. It will prod us to think well of the
others, to be quick to serve and help them. It will push us to do a
lot of good, never saying enough.
Calling Jesus’ name will
help us to be quick to ask for forgiveness if we commit a mistake as
well as to forgive others. It will lead us along the way of humility
Calling Jesus’ name will
strengthen us so we can tackle the many and endless challenges and
problems of life. It will help us to handle situations when we are
insulted, mocked and offended. It will encourage us to identify with
him on the cross when we suffer all kinds of injustice.
Calling Jesus’ name will
also show us what else to do to follow him all the way to the end.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
January 8, 2017
LEST you get scandalized, it
was Christ himself who said so. Let us cite the exact quotation:
‘“Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they
answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors
and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.’”
Of course, the context was
the precious lesson Christ wanted to highlight as to what would
comprise fulfilling God’s will. He mentioned about two brothers. The
first was asked to work in the vineyard, and said no, but later on,
changed his mind and went to work. The second said yes, but actually
did not go.
The precious lesson Christ
wanted to impart is that what really matters is doing and not simply
saying to do God’s will, even if at the beginning one declines to do
God’s will. An important part of this lesson is the need for
repentance and conversion in our life.
So the prostitutes referred
to in this particular episode are those who repented and who actually
did what Christ wanted them to do. They did not enter as prostitutes,
but as sinners who have repented.
A significant lesson we can
also gather from this particular story, and one that should serve as a
constant warning to all of us, is that we have to be most careful when
we think we are already good enough because of certain good things we
have or have done, but still have failed to be very faithful to God’s
This is the lesson embedded
in that saying that “the good is the enemy of the best,” that is the
very germ of that most insidious spiritual illness called spiritual
complacency and lukewarmness. That’s when we think we are good enough.
There’s no need to be better.
We have to understand that
conversion is a continuing need for all of us. We can never say that
we are good enough and that we do not need further conversions. We
should not forget that we are all sinners even in the best condition
of our earthly life.
For this to happen, we need
to be humble, which can be the result of the keen awareness of our
sinfulness. It’s when we think we are sinless or with little and
negligible sin that we fail to realize the need for conversion.
We should never allow
whatever good we have done to lull us to think that we are good enough
and that we don’t need another conversion.
I refer more to people who
have been doing good all these years, but somehow are stuck at a
certain point in their spiritual life. Doing good for them has become
a kind of set routine that is turning to be more mechanical than
spiritual, leaving an impressive shell but slowly being deprived of
substance, desensitizing them from the urge for another conversion.
The mark of true saints is
precisely this hunger and thirst for repentance and conversion.
Whatever good they did humbled them instead of leaving them proud.
They knew who and what was behind all the accomplishments they made,
and were more keenly aware of their inadequacies, their mistakes,
faults, infidelities, etc.
It’s not that they led a
miserable life of having a dark outlook in life and a negative
attitude toward their own selves. They were a happy lot, whose joy
sprang from their living and faithful union with God, their father,
but aware of their total dependence on God.
It’s their driving love for
God and souls that keep them feeling always the need for penance and
conversion. It’s not just fear of sin and evil that provokes this
hunger. It’s love of God and souls. It’s this love that made them see
more things that they need to do. It’s this love for God and souls
that would make them feel that they have to go further than what so
far they have accomplished.
This love has no limits. It
does not have the word ‘enough’ in its vocabulary. It always urges
them to do more to be more and better.
That is why it is often
given as a spiritual advice that one forgets himself completely and
just thinks of God and the others. Not only that, but also that one’s
true growth and development toward human maturity and Christian
perfection is measured to the extent that one thinks of God and the
others and does things for them.
It might be good to
replicate in oneself a true act of contrition that is involved in a
conversion of a prostitute.
Good news and the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 13, 2016
There's a new scourge in the
media today. It's called the fake news. It had its most devastating
display during the last US presidential election where one candidate
was touted practically by all the major news sources to be the winner,
The outcome was, of course,
different. The upset was shocking. And the world woke up to the
realization that it has been fed, maliciously or not, systematically
or not, with fake news.
That this phenomenon
happened certainly deserves a more in-depth study. How could such
powerful news agencies, pollsters, etc., fail to read the mind of the
people in general? What an epic, big-time fail it was!
There can be many, endless
reasons behind it. But offhand, what I can say is that there certainly
was a very devious virus of bias and prejudice involved among the
media people that now include millions of netizens with their blogs
and social media accounts.
It was a virus that found
its host in the passion-filled arena of the political warfare, where
the light that was shed blinded more than made people see things
properly. It generated what may be termed as agenda-dictated
journalism, where self-serving slanting of data and the objective
assessment and the fair treatment of the issues were set aside.
Words were inflated or
deflated to serve the biases and prejudices of those in media. More
than words, ideologies corrupted the minds of people to the extent
that the people could not judge things properly anymore and resorted
instead to a simplistic black-and-white tack on the issues.
These ideologies tried to be
the core basis for the people's faith and reasoning. But we know that
for all their valid points, no ideology has exclusive right to be the
sole holder and owner of what is true, right and fair in our human
affairs. It's amazing that many people now turn to ideologies as the
bedrock of their beliefs.
God, his word, his will and
ways – in short, the Good News – are all but dismissed completely.
They are considered irrelevant, a drag and an unnecessary baggage in
resolving issues political or otherwise.
Many people have not come
any closer to the realization that in fact God has to be in the middle
of all our earthly affairs, be it business or politics, etc. No
ideology, no personal convictions can replace him.
In short, we have to listen
to the Good News God has given us through Christ and now in the Holy
Spirit that animates the Church and its many instrumentalities. We
have to understand that this Good News is the foundation of whatever
opinion, view, philosophy, ideology that we may use to pursue our
In other words, God’s word
is the first and last word. Any word we coin and use in the fields of
our sciences, arts, technologies, politics, business, culture, etc.,
should begin and end with God’s word. Otherwise it will have no proper
foundation and orientation.
St. Paul has amply warned us
about arrogating our words to be simply our own. “Let no man deceive
himself,” he said. “If any man among you seems to be wise in this
world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of
this world is foolishness with God…Let no man therefore glory in men.”
(1 Cor 3,19-21)
That's simply because God's
word or the Good News, as described in the Letter to the Hebrews, is
“living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and
marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Its primary purpose is to
bring us back to God through our temporal affaris. And so more than
just giving us some helpful earthly knowledge, it gives us the
ultimate spiritual knowledge we need to return to God, even through
the very contentious field of politics.
Christ himself said: “Heaven
and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mk 13,31)
We need to echo that response of St. Peter who, when asked if the
apostles would also go away from Christ when he talked about himself
as the bread of life, said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words
of eternal life.” (Jn 6,68)
We certainly have to sit
down and see how we can be more aware of grounding and orienting our
words with God’s word, the Good News. Otherwise, we will be wallowing
in fake news.
Heroes and saints
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
December 8, 2016
HEROES need not be saints,
but saints are always heroes in the sense that whatever their vocation
and mission, they always live them with heroicity even if their heroic
lives may not be publicly known in some political, social, historical
or cultural terms.
Saints can even live their
heroicity hidden from the public eye, and often they live it by going
against the current obtaining in a certain society. They can be
unpopular, in fact, as St. Paul once said: “We have become the scum of
the earth, the garbage of the world...” (1 Cor 4,13)
Heroes obviously can be
saints too, as long as they live their vocation and mission in strict
and heroic obedience to God's will and ways. They definitely have done
some acts that we consider as heroic. They serve a certain purpose in
But what we usually consider
heroes are defined more in political, social, historical and cultural
terms, and need not accord with the spiritual and supernatural
criteria of sainthood.
In fact, there are many
heroes now who can hardly qualify as saints, precisely because their
heroism may go against spiritual and supernatural standards. Heroes
work for some worldly values like nationalism, save-and-rescue
operations, efficiency and effectiveness, etc. Saints work only for
the fidelity to God's will.
While heroes are always
involved in some extraordinary events, saints need not get involved in
those kind of events. Most of them become saints simply doing very
ordinary things but doing them extraordinarily well, that is, with
great love of God and of others, with extreme fidelity to their
vocation and mission.
Most saints live their
heroic lives in secret. They don't show off their goodness, imitating
Christ who said: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door
and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in
secret will reward you...And when you fast, do not look dismal, like
the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may
be seen by men...” (Mt 6,6&16)
Saints live their heroic
lives consistently, in season and out of season, when times are
favorable and when they are not. They hardly are influenced by the
opinions of people. They can go against the general trends, if need
be. Theirs is in strict obedience and fidelity to God's will.
The distinction between
heroes and saints is crucial because we need to realize that we have
to aim more at becoming saints than at becoming heroes. If we happen
to end up both saints and heroes, then that's good. It's quite a
privilege. But if given a choice, we have to opt for sainthood rather
than for being a hero.
What is truly important is
that we are with God rather than with our own selves. We have to aim
at heaven rather than some earthly advantage. “What does it profit a
man,” Christ says, “to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.” (Mk
This does not mean that we
have to belittle the value of the world. Not at all. The world and the
things in it, our temporal affairs, are important and even
indispensable in the pursuit of sanctity. But the world and things in
it are simply means. They are never the end.
Thus, the call to holiness
and sanctity is universal. It's meant for everyone, while the call to
be heroes is quite selective. Not everyone can be heroes, but everyone
is expected to be a saint. The occasions to become saints are always
available, while those to become heroes are few and far between.
That is why even with his
apostles, Christ would just choose practically anyone at random,
including the one who would betray him later. And the reason is simply
because all of us come from God and belong to him.
To become a saint is not so
much a matter of the kind of skill, talent, position, etc. that one
has. It's simply a matter of a total self-giving to God and to others,
irrespective of the conditions and circumstances one may be in.
In this regard, we have to
develop the appropriate passion. That's simply because to become a
saint just cannot happen without fully involving all our faculties,
including our passions. Let's remember what Christ told us about the
greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22,37)
To become a saint is to
achieve the fullness of our humanity. Our fullness is not to become a