From digital to
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 26, 2014
WE need to be aware of the
dangers of some aspects of our fast-growing digital culture. More than
that, we need to be adequately equipped to handle those dangers before
they come, when they come and after they have come.
Not everything in our
digital technologies is good to us. The tremendous convenience and
possibilities they offer us can benefit us wrongly. They can give us a
false sense of joy and accomplishment. They can spoil us as when they
nail us to care only of our immediate needs while sacrificing the
Yes, they can blind us from
the more precious values in life to attend simply to the pressing ones
here and now. They can stimulate our senses, emotions and intellect,
but can weaken or even deaden our spiritual life. In short, our sense
of priority would be thrown into disarray.
Many people are getting so
hooked and addicted to digital games, social networking, for example,
that they even forget to take their meals properly or to take care of
their hygiene. You can just imagine what would happen in the area of
their prayer life and their other spiritual duties.
If this predicament extends
unabatedly and hardens to become the norm and culture of our life, we
can reason to expect a significant deformation of our humanity. We
would be just carnal and materialistic, and forget about our spiritual
We would be self-absorbed,
instead of being mindful and thoughtful of others and especially of
God, as we ought to be. And as the gospel would say, we may seem to
gain the world, but then lose our soul.
Things can come to the point
of us losing the capacity to think, not to mention, to speak and
behave, in terms of our faith, hope and charity. We would simply be
governed by the movements of the flesh, the stirrings of the hormones,
the shifty trends and fashions of the world around.
In short, our sense of
reality would be greatly impaired and impoverished. The organic
relation between the objective and the subjective in our life would be
practically broken or at least dysfunctional.
This brings us to the main
point of this particular column, giving us a light of hope amid the
gathering darkness of the dangers of our digital culture.
We need to see that this
digital culture of ours that otherwise is a wonderful development in
our life help us to become better persons, rather than deplete the
substance of our being persons and converting us into objects or
automatons or humanoids or androids.
To be a person means not to
be just an individual, much less, individualistic, but one who knows
how to relate himself to God and to all the others. The powers and
faculties endowed in us, making us as a someone not a something, are
meant precisely to connect us to God, our Creator and Father, and to
all the others who are actually our brothers and sisters.
It should be the aim and
effect of the digital technologies to enhance this identity and
dignity of our being a person, and not to hinder or undermine it. When
they make us self-absorbed, indifferent to others and especially to
God, then they become a curse to us rather than a great help.
When they simply arouse our
emotions and intellectual prowess, and desensitize us from our duty to
love and care for the others, then they are used wrongly. When they
litter with traces of pride, vanity, sarcasm, bitterness, discord and
division, greed, envy, lust, etc., then they certainly are very
harmful to us.
We need to learn how to
humanize and personalize this digital culture we have today. For this,
we have to make the conscious effort to remind ourselves of this need,
pausing properly to be able to relate our digital work and time to God
and to the others.
We should avoid plunging
immediately into it without conditioning ourselves properly, since we
can easily fall into the trap of the digital wonders that can insulate
us from God and the others, and thereby dehumanizing and
If we have the proper
mindset, what would usually happen is for us to be most delicate,
refined, charitable, patient, courteous, at least in our comments and
communications on FB, for example.
We would be open-minded and
quite tolerant in our dialogues especially when we have to sort out
things and resolve issues and differences of opinions. We would be
magnanimous and quick to forgive.
We need to make the digital
August 18, 2014
I AM now in the process of
talking with parents of the students who will receive the sacrament of
confirmation in October. The idea is to explain and remind them of the
nature and purpose of the sacrament, and the many implications, both
theoretical and practical, that it brings about.
By some twist of
circumstances, this sacrament happens to be one of the less known and
appreciated sacraments. Even in my case, I received it when I was
already about 20 because it was not felt to be that necessary in the
province where I grew up and had my early education.
But itís actually a very
important sacrament, for it gives us the gift of spiritual strength
and perfection that go into what we may call our Christian maturity or
the fullness of Christian life.
Letís remember what St. Paul
once said about Christ providing us with apostles, prophets,
evangelists, and obviously many other gifts too so that we can be ďa
perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ,
that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried
about with every wind of doctrineÖĒ (Eph 4,13-14)
God is never sparing in
sharing what he has with us who are his image and likeness and his
adopted children. The sacrament of confirmation is a gift that
together with the other sacraments perfects us and brings us to the
possibility of living the fullness of Christian life while still here
It gives us nothing less
than the Holy Spirit, the very love of God. The Holy Spirit is now our
sanctifier, who nourishes our faith, hope and charity. He gives us his
7-fold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge,
piety and fear of the Lord.
Besides, the Holy Spirit
gives us his perfections or the fruits of charity, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness,
modesty, self-control and chastity.
With these, the Holy Spirit
who is given to us in confirmation just like in Pentecost, roots us
more deeply in divine sonship, and binds us more firmly to Christ and
to the Church. He gives us strength to witness to the Christian faith,
(cfr Catechism 268) It imprints an indelible character that resembles
us more closely to Christ.
We need to be aware that
this sacrament is a supernatural gift. As such we need to receive it
with profound gratitude and to try to make use of it as best as we
could. That is why we need to know more and more about it and to live
by its law and purpose.
Just like the many
sophisticated gadgets that may be gifted to us, whose manual and
instructions we need to study to make them useful, we also need to
study well the nature and purpose of the sacrament of confirmation to
make it effective in our lives.
As a supernatural gift, it
transcends without rejecting our human conditions. Usually
administered when we reach the age of discretion or at 12 years of
age, it can be given to us even when we have not yet achieved our full
human maturity in terms of our emotional or intellectual development.
The grace of God and our
correspondence to it through faith and piety can somehow make the
effects of the sacrament manifested in our life. One psalm beautifully
expresses this truth when it says, ďI have had understanding above the
aged, because I have sought your commandments.Ē (Ps 119,100)
It is simply by following
the commandments of God that would lead us to love God and others,
that we can attain our Christian maturity. Christian maturity does not
depend so much on our temporal age or on earthly erudition. Itís a
matter of grace which God actually gives us in abundance.
We need to see to it
therefore that we are trying our best to live by the grace of God. In
practical terms this means we need to study and assimilate his
teaching and commandments, develop the virtues, have recourse to the
sacraments, learn to pray and offer sacrifices.
We need to learn to think in
terms of our faith, and not just in terms of our sheer reasoning,
feelings and other means of human estimations of things. Our attitude
and outlook should be supernatural, based on our faith and love of
This is how the greatness of
God himself can sit well in the midst of our human limitations and
errors. Given our increasingly challenging times, we need to spread
more widely the good news about the sacrament of confirmation.
The power of prayer
July 30, 2014
IF only we know the great
and true power of prayer! Our problem is that we often relegate this
duty of ours practically to oblivion, banishing it to exile and
branding it entirely as useless, as just fantasy, too abstract to have
any impact on what we consider as the real world.
And by real world, we
usually mean the world where we simply have to be practical, more
concerned about immediate results than about morality, mindful only of
worldly values and criteria rather than spiritual and supernatural
But we cannot deny that deep
in our heart there is a yearning for some stable contact with the very
source of life, of goodness, of a joy without end, of peace that would
go on and on, etc.
Itís this yearning that,
from the subjective point of view, lays the foundation for our need of
prayer. We want to know the ultimate causes of things, but many times
we abort this desire just to give way to reasons of practicality. We
have to be aware of this bad tendency and do something to correct it.
Thereís, of course, an
objective basis for our need of prayer, but this would require faith
which actually is given to us in abundance but which we also have to
correspond. The problem lies precisely in our non-correspondence or at
least in our inadequate correspondence to this God-given faith and
many other graces.
The objective truth is that
we are creatures of a Creator, of whom we have an inkling that he must
be all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, etc. That inkling is validated
and reinforced with the motu proprio revelation the Creator
makes of himself and of us and of everything else in life and in the
According to that
revelation, made in full in Christ and perpetually kept and taught by
the Church, we have been made in the image and likeness of God our
Creator, endowed with a spiritual soul that enables us through our
intellect and will to know and to love, to enter into relationships
with everybody else, starting ideally with God himself.
We need to learn to pray,
because it is in so doing that we get in touch with the very
foundation of reality himself, God our Creator and heaven. It is in
praying that we keep ourselves spiritually alive and put ourselves in
position to know the human and divine meaning of everything that
happens in our life.
We cannot deny that in all
aspects of our life, we have to contend with difficult and complicated
issues, problems, and challenges. Whether it is about our very
intimate private, personal and spiritual life, or in our collective
life of business, politics and work, we unavoidably have to face
With prayer, our
understanding and reactions to things and events would be deep and
extensive, going beyond what is merely practical and convenient, what
is socially or politically correct, etc. Our understanding and
reactions to things and events would be marked by true wisdom and
When we pray, we somehow
would know how to distinguish between what is essential and what is
not in any given issue, be it in politics or ethics or whatever. We
would know how to work for what is constructive in a given a situation
rather than contribute to what is destructive and disunitive.
Especially in the most
dizzying world of our politics and social life, we really need to pray
well. Otherwise, we simply would plunge into the freefall of acrimony,
grumbling and murmuring, anguish and hatred, occasioned by the
increasing differences and conflicts of our opinions and preferences.
We need to realize that
prayer is the language of the heart, the very breathing our soul needs
in order to survive and function well. It is actually indispensable in
our life. But we have to be aware of this need by activating our
faith, since it is not a need that springs automatically from our
feelings and bodily conditions.
When we pray, we have to
constantly remind ourselves of to whom we are praying. Such awareness
would help us to be in the proper attitude and disposition. It
practically would show us how to prepare ourselves for prayer and how
to proceed whenever we start to pray.
When we are aware of with
whom we are conversing when we pray, we actually would feel at ease
and at peace, with joy and sense of goodness to boot, because we would
know we are with our Father who is full of mercy and compassion.
Are you spiritual
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
July 24, 2014
I was happy to learn that a
grandnephew of mine is part of a boy band in Manila that won a
competition recently. His mother, my niece, diligently sends me videos
of his performances. I canít help but make time to see them, in spite
of my tight schedule.
At least, seeing them makes
me reminisce my younger days when I too was part of a band. The
difference was that mine was a seminary band and my performances were
limited to certain audiences and occasions. His would bring him to
public concerts and dimly lighted clubs.
Still, the viewings would
provoke me to make certain observations and considerations. Like, how
different the singing style is now. Thatís to be expected, of course,
But there seems to be a deliberate attempt to appeal to the sensual.
Somehow we can make that
conclusion, tentative at least, because of the reaction of the
audience. I canít help but notice the shrieking of girls and some
boys, and the look of awe on their faces, that clearly show a mere
This is where the difference
is greatest. But let me hasten to say that such difference may just be
a matter of taste and preferences due to differences in age, culture,
temper of the times, etc. to which tolerance and mutual respect should
be exercised. But we need to clarify a few things.
Certainly, looks play a big
part of their formula for popularity. With hair colored, brushed up or
spiked, faces slightly made-up, skin-tight pants and shirts that
literally follow the contours of their physique, some metallic
accessories pierced or dangling somewhere, the boys simply inflict
swooning on their audience their age.
Their movements and
choreography include swaying, grinding, shrugging and twisting that
definitely are flammable and electric to youthful sensitivities. Many
in the audience are left completely defenseless and floored.
It seems to me that things
are arranged in such a way as to give free rein to the primitive urges
and hormones, detached or still unconnected to the directing influence
of right reason, let alone, of faith, hope and charity.
As we can see, our urges and
hormones, and the world of the senses in general, or the aspect of
sensual pleasure in our life are not bad in themselves. They just need
to be directed by right reason, and especially by faith, hope and
These latter, to be cure, do
nothing to suppress or annihilate our urges and hormones which are an
integral part of our humanity. What they do is simply put them in
their right places or on the right track so that these senses, urges
and hormones truly express and affirm our real dignity as persons, and
not just objects or animals.
In other words, when left on
their own, these senses, urges and hormones can be dangerous, since
they would be deprived of direction. They would simply remain on the
level of the material and the worldly that is proper only to inanimate
objects or to animals, but not to us as persons, and especially as
children of God.
They would simply be
subjected to laws of physics, chemistry, sociology, economics,
politics, etc., but not to the moral law that would consider us in our
totality as persons with intelligence and will, freedom and
Letís hope that we can be
more aware of this concern and comply with its requirements. At the
moment, there seems to be a worldwide trend toward pure sensualization
or carnalization, leading us, especially the young, to be merely
carnal, instead of being spiritual, to use terms defined by St. Paul.
Itís important that we
develop a certain sensitivity to this concern because otherwise we
would all be deluded by a very treacherous virus, a sweet poison that
can truly harm us individually and collectively.
To repeat, this is not at
all about suppressing or disparaging in any way the value of the
senses, the urges and the hormones, and the sentiments, feelings,
passions that they produce. Neither the value of the physical
attributes we have.
We just have to realize more
deeply that they need to be ruled and directed by reason and
ultimately by faith, hope and charity. Otherwise, we can be accused by
Christ himself who once said of some people Ė
ĎThey look but do not see
and hear but do not listen or understand.í And citing a prophecy of
Isaiah, he said, ĎGross is the heart of this people, they will hardly
hear with their ears, they have closed their eyesÖí
Prepare to be a
July 22, 2014
TO be very realistic in
life, we have to be ready and eager to become a sacrificial lamb. This
is not bad news. This is Good News. Let me explain.
Our problem is that,
unfortunately, the expression, sacrificial lamb, has suffered a great
diminution of appreciation in the world today. It is simply considered
in the context of practical advantages and disadvantages of a given
Obviously, with that frame
of mind and only and exclusively with that attitude without any other
higher consideration, no one would like to be a sacrificial lamb. Even
the commonest of common sense would be averse to that idea. Everyone
would like to flee from that predicament as much as possible.
But the phenomenon of
sacrificial lamb actually has a very wonderful significance. Our
Christian faith tells us that given who and what we are, we have been
taught right from the beginning of humanity, that we need to offer a
sacrifice as a way of expressing and affirming the truth that we come
from God and we also belong to him.
God, our Father and Creator,
has been the one who teaches us about this duty. He has also equipped
us in our nature so that we can comply with this duty that only shows
the intimate relation we have with God. In short, God, who is love,
has been teaching us, who are his image and likeness, how to love.
This whole business of
offering sacrifices is actually the language of love. It acts out the
dynamics of love which is that of mutual self-giving between the lover
and the beloved. Each party becomes both lover and beloved in the
ideal state of love.
In the beginning, the
sacrifice was made by offering things. This started, when man was
still in the state of original justice, as something easy and
spontaneous to do. But with the entry of sin, this offering of
sacrifice became more and more difficult and complicated to do.
In spite of sin, God
continued in the flow of time to tutor humanity about this duty of
making sacrifices. This process of divine tutelage passed through
tumultuous route given manís wounded condition. All sorts of
resistance and rejection, distortion and confusion, tended to empty
the meaning of sacrifice.
But God persisted by sending
us his only Son who became the perfect and ultimate sacrifice, the
true sacrificial lamb, who out of completely gratuitous love, and
without deserving to suffer in any way, assumed all our sin, died to
them and offered us a way to reconcile ourselves with God in a perfect
It was John the Baptist who
pointed out Jesus to us, calling him the Lamb of God. ďBehold, the
lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.Ē (Jn
1,29) Christ is the one who bore all the sins of man, showing us the
way of perfect love.
We have to understand from
all this that the life and death of Christ, especially the supreme
sacrifice of his life on the cross, should be the model and motive of
our life and death as well.
This is when the worst thing
that can happen to us, that is, to be in sin, alienated from God, can
turn into the best thing for us as well, as long as we know how to
unite ourselves with Christ.
That is why we have to learn
to make sacrifice, first of all, because, it is the most natural thing
for us to do considering who and what we are in relation to God. Then,
we have to make a sacrifice because we have to make up for our sins
and mistakes. And ultimately we have to make sacrifice because we have
to follow the example of Christ all the way.
That is why, if for some
reason or another we find ourselves in situations and predicaments
that make us feel like sacrificial lambs, that is, made to suffer
though we feel we donít seem to deserve it, we should actually feel
happy and privileged, because in that way, we are being conformed to
Christ in his best act of love in a most intimate manner.
It is good, therefore, that
we condition ourselves to aim at being sacrificial lambs. We ought to
welcome every opportunity to be so and somehow be happy with it. The
saints and holy men and women through the ages have always felt that
Thus if we suffer some
extraordinary difficult problems and conditions, we should never fail
to see the great blessing we are actually receiving.
What to do with
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 3, 2014
I WOULD say that when
temptations come, the first thing we have to do is to immediately go
to God, to run to him, to stick to him as closely as possible. Thatís
simply because God is our rock and fortress, the ultimate source of
strength. Missing this reaction, we open ourselves to a long, tortuous
episode that can end badly.
Missing this reaction is
actually a common thing to happen because in the first place our
relation with God is not strong. If ever there is some relation, it is
more on the theoretical level and hardly on the practical, much less
something that involves our feelings and instincts.
And so, we have to work hard
in building up this relation with God if we want to keep some safe
distance away from temptations. If our love for God is hot, the devil
will find it hard to get near us, just like a fly would not get close
to a hot soup.
Our usual problem is that we
tend to be by ourselves when temptations come, and to rely simply on
our powers which actually are already heavily compromised since our
wounded flesh is an ally of the enemies of our soul. We always have a
Trojan horse in our personal lives.
Without Godís grace we
simply cannot do anything except to fall, if not soon then later. It
would just be a matter of time. But when we are with God, we get to
see the whole picture, and can distinguish the poison embedded in the
many good, beautiful, true and sweet things that temptations come
From there we would know
what strategy to take. Very often, what can be effective is simply to
ignore the temptation and the pour scorn on the evil spirits behind
the temptation. This is effective if in the first place our spiritual
life is healthy, with faith and love for God and for souls vibrant and
But then when such faith and
love is not that strong, the temptations can gain some foothold in us.
When we notice this, our reaction should be just to stay calm and not
to dare to get overexcited. When there is a storm around, we usually
would stay home or at a safe place to ride it out, and avoid going
The same with this
particular case of temptations gaining some foothold in us. It simply
means that God is allowing these temptations to come to show us where
we are weak, and therefore where we should do something about.
This is when we have to
spend time praying and offering sacrifices, for only in this way can
we discern the proper tactics to take advantage of the temptations.
Yes, temptations are not all that bad. They can be tremendous
occasions to boost our spiritual growth. We all need to be tested.
Letís always remember that
everything that happens to us, including those that appear very bad,
are at least allowed by God to happen. And if he allows them to happen
it is because there will always be some good that can be derived from
Letís remember St. Paulís
words: ďWhere sin has abounded, the grace of God has abounded even
more.Ē (Rom 5,20) Letís be quick to assume this reasoning when
temptations come to avoid sinking in depressions.
Rather we should be quick to
discern Godís ever wise, if mysterious and often painful ways of his
providence that is meant to lead us to him through the drama of our
life here on earth. Thatís why he is full of mercy, and also wants us
to be merciful to one another.
It is also good that we
avail of whatever help we can get to tackle our temptations. In this,
what is most recommended is frequent confession and regular spiritual
direction. That would mean that we are going to God and to a very
reliable person to ask for help.
The story of Christ being
tempted by the devil after his forty days of prayer and fasting in the
desert is a model for us to follow. Like Christ, we should be steeped
in prayer and fasting if we want to be prepared to face temptations
Letís not forget that
temptations will always be packaged very beautifully. In Christís
case, even Godís words were cited by the devil. But then again, if we
are truly with God, we also would know where the lie is inserted and,
like Christ, how we can remain unaffected by these temptations.
June 24, 2014
ITíS a difficult animal to
tame. I am referring to freedom that all of us want to invoke to
express what we really have inside our mind and heart. Unfortunately,
very little attention is given to the fact that freedom is something
we need to cultivate, and as such it requires all kinds of processes
and procedures, and patience, and patience, and still more patience.
I remember when I graduated
from high school, my father made for me the valedictory that I had to
deliver on behalf of my class. It had an intriguing opening line,
since my father, who was a lawyer, had a flair for the dramatic in his
ďFreedom is not free,Ē my
speech began. ďEither you pay for it or it buys you out.Ē That was
quite a mouthful for a 15-year-old to say, and I tried my best to show
that I understood what I said and that I meant it. Those were the days
of teen-age bravura. Now, of course, this memory makes me laugh.
I somehow understood then
that what my father meant was that freedom can either make or unmake a
man. Iíve read that in some novels, and seen it in some movies and
even in real-life third-person drama. But such understanding was more
theoretical than experiential.
Still, I knew then that the
seed of curiosity about freedom was planted deeply in my heart. And as
years passed, my understanding of it also grew. And what a tumultuous
itinerary I had to pass through! Indeed, direct, first-person
experience is quite a master teacher.
Our problem with freedom
usually stems from the fact that we have a partial understanding of it
which we tend to consider as already complete and full. We hardly
realize that our idea of freedom would often be short-sighted,
narrow-minded, biased and straight-jacketed according to our own
That is why we often would
have the sensation of highs and lows, exuberance and depression. A
sense of stability and confidence is hardly felt. But life in general,
no matter how much we twist it, cannot help but show us the real
objective face of freedom through the many contradictions and
humiliations we suffer along the way.
Yes, reality bites! It
sooner or later, one way or another, will burst the bubbles that we
unwittingly have been creating for ourselves. Sometimes, we fall
crashing down to earth after we managed to build a complex and
sophisticated dream world, driven by a false idea of freedom and
Whether we like it or not,
aware of it or not, reality will find a way to tell us that freedom is
not something that we spontaneously generated. Itís not our own
making. It is something given to us, with an objective law that
Itís not our creation, to be
used absolutely according to our own personal and subjective terms. It
comes together with the most fundamental truth that we are creatures
and that there is a Creator. Toward it, the proper attitude to have to
is to respect it and its law. And this requires a lot of humility.
The law that governs freedom
is, of course, nothing other than God himself, in whose image and
likeness we are. Thatís why Christ, the fullness of the revelation of
God to us, said: ďI am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me.Ē
It is Christ who is the
truth that will make us free. And Christ himself lived by this truth.
His sense of freedom was bound up with his obedience to his Fatherís
will, no matter how painful that will was.
Saints have understood this
character of freedom very well. Many of them have gone to the extent
of explicitly saying that freedom is none other than obeying the will
of God. That, in its distilled form, is the essence of freedom.
Freedom and obedience
therefore go together. One cannot be without the other, in
contradiction to the understanding of many of us who often put freedom
and obedience as antithetical to each other.
Thatís why we need to deepen
our humility to be able to see this vital connection between freedom
and obedience. And again, this humility has to be understood not only
theoretically, but also practically. In fact, it should not only be
understood. It has to be lived always through the events and
circumstances of our daily life.
To cultivate true freedom is
to cultivate a growing obedience to Godís will. Outside of that orbit,
we can only have false freedom.