Filipino WW II Vets
on the return of Balangiga Bells to Eastern Samar
An Open Letter to the
Philippine Government, and the Filipino Community
August 7, 2015
Greetings my name is Rose
San Diego and I am a Filipina nurse assisting the Chicago Fil-Am WWII
veterans with their advocacy in obtaining the Congressional Gold Medal
along with the returning of the Balangiga Bells.
Seventy-five days ago, an
exploratory study was completed on entering a major awareness campaign
here in the Midwest region for Returning the Bells of Balangiga of
1901 back to Eastern Samar or to aggressively promote awarding to our
Filipino WWII veterans the Congressional Gold Medal, America’s highest
civilian award. It was decided to merge these dual tasks.
As a people, for centuries
we have risen above many obstacles, from being conquered by foreign
occupation and colonial rule of other countries, to severe disciplines
and atrocities brought on by WWII’s aggressions. As a nation of
determined Filipinos, we have acclaimed our independence to finally be
self sovereign. Generations of past have planted the seeds for us to
grow and make a humanitarian difference worldwide.
We are looking for
commitment from the heart and not just a promise to volunteer, for a
continued direct action approach from each Fil-Am WWII veteran and/or
their families wishing to be considered for this honor or in the
memory of those family relatives who had perished without receiving
any accolades for their service to country. Collaboration with the
Philippine Government and its agencies would be welcomed.
For further inquiries,
please feel free to contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good from evil,
evil from good
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
July 25, 2015
The twists and turns of life
today have been such that we can derive good from evil, and
vice-versa, evil from good. We have to learn how to properly deal with
this peculiar phenomenon so that we can manage to reach our ultimate
goal without getting lost along the way.
We can derive good from evil
because God will always be around, providing us with all the grace
that we need, as well as his eternal mercy and compassion when we
happen to be downed by our weaknesses, the temptations and trials
around, and sin itself. There is nothing impossible with God. He can
take on any evil and nullify it.
And we can also fall into an
evil state in spite of the many good things around precisely because
we can dare to separate ourselves from God and just make use of the
many good things today, like the new technologies, without him. Sooner
or later, these good things will just spoil us and lead us into evil.
A more serious case is when
we can be endowed with good if not superior intellectual and spiritual
powers but fail to refer them to God. Our goodness, superiority and
righteousness could occasion pride, vanity and self-righteousness.
This is the classic example of how evil can be derived from good.
The crucial point in this
issue is that we should try our best to be with God always, something
that we have to work out day in and day out. Our petition to God
should be something to the effect that we feel a sharp pain right in
our flesh, like a wound freshly inflicted, once we distance ourselves
God’s patience is infinite.
And so, we should never despair whenever we fall into some immoral
predicament that may seem persistent. These days, for example, when we
cannot but be affected by all sorts of sweet poisons like consumerism,
materialism, hedonism, technologism, etc., we should see to it that we
get hold of at least a shred of hope in God’s mercy and compassion.
We all know that our best
intentions and best efforts would not be enough to confront the daily
onslaught of these sweet poisons and blinding false lights. To
dominate these things which usually have a possible double effect, we
need to pass by a learning curve, and so we cannot avoid committing
some mistakes, big and small.
Especially in the beginning
of the process of mastering the many new things that can have dual
effects on us, we cannot avoid dirtying ourselves from time to time.
And even if we may already achieve a certain level of dominion over
them, the danger of falling can still take place. And in fact, the
falls in this stage is graver and more painful than those in the
And yet we should never lose
hope. Somehow, even if we hate sin and do our best to avoid falling,
God allows these falls to take place to give us a more intimate
knowledge of our weakness and of God’s ever powerful mercy.
The temptations and falls
can still be useful since they can serve to enrich and deepen our
knowledge of things in general, something that we may miss if we have
not been tempted and have not tasted the bitterness of our falls and
the precious lessons they can give.
That’s why saints have also
been sinners. We can cite the example of St. Mary Magdalene whose deep
contrition and love for Christ sprang from her grievous sins. And big
sinners have also become big lovers of God, as in the case of St.
It would seem that while
it’s true that the corruption of the best is the worst, the reverse
can also be said – the redemption of the worst is the best. This is a
thought that should come to our mind whenever we happen to fall into
some grave sin. There’s always hope. God is willing to forgive and to
give us more than we deserve.
Let’s be a Mary Magdalene or
an Augustine, or a Peter or the prodigal son, the lost coin, the lost
sheep. Let’s make our sinfulness a powerful motive to go back to God.
Let us live out those words of St. Paul that it is when he is weak
that he is strong. Let’s fill ourselves with the conviction, based
again on St. Paul’s words, that where sin has abounded, God’s grace
has abounded even more.
Let’s learn to derive good
from evil, and to avoid turning good into evil.
Lasting peace can
be President Aquino’s legacy to the Filipino people
A Statement of the Ecumenical
Bishops Forum on the Peace Process
July 22, 2015
It is not too late for the
government of the Republic of the Philippines under the incumbency of
President Benigno S. Aquino III to forge an agreement with the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Lasting peace can be his
legacy to the Filipino people. He still has more than ten (10) months
to do that.
No less than the Speaker of
the House of Representatives, Hon. Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., believes
that “peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines -
National Democratic Front can still be done within the remaining term
of office of President Benigno Aquino III.” (Philippine News Agency,
July 20, 2015).
Belmonte went to the
Netherlands as part of the Philippine delegation to the hearing of the
United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos)
when it heard the case filed by the Philippine Government against
China on the West Philippine Sea dispute. He took the opportunity to
meet with the communist delegation of ten (10) people to discuss the
issue of peace talks. With Belmonte were House Majority Leader and
Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali Gonzales II, Appropriations
Committee Chair and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, and Accounts
Committee Chair and Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madriona.
The House Speaker was quoted
as saying that “the atmosphere is such that it (peace negotiations)
can still be done during the term of the president… He has other
assistants. I do hope the festering problem will be solved and it can
be solved during the last year in office.”
The favorable atmosphere
includes the openness of the new Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen.
Hernando Iriberi to the resumption of the peace talks. “The AFP
welcomes the government ‘s openness for the revival of the peace talks
with the CPP-NPA,” he said (The Phil Star, p. 9, July 20, 2015).
We hope and pray that this
declaration is not simply a motherhood statement from one who is newly
appointed to a key office because he is expected to say something
positive for the people to court their confidence and support. The
good general knows too well the need “for the peaceful resolution of
conflicts and long term peace in our country” as he has stated.
Another positive note for
peace was the position of the CPP founder Jose Maria Sison declaring
full support to the Philippine government’s move to bring its problem
with China over the West Philippine Sea to the UN ITLoS. He signed the
statement of Filipinos in the Netherlands which said: “We, Filipinos
and friends of the Filipino people in the Netherlands, stand together
in upholding the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of our
Motherland, and in defending the Filipino people’s sovereign rights
over their exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf in
the West Philippine Sea, now being illegally claimed and encroached
upon by China.”
On China’s position for a
bilateral talk between the two nations, Sison asked: “How can the
Philippines negotiate with China, which always declares ‘ab initio’
(from the beginning) that it has indisputable sovereignty over 90% of
the entire South China Sea and that in effect the Philippines has no
rights over EEZ and ECS (extended continental shelf)?” Sison is one
with the Philippine government in this stand, and Malacañang
spokespersons appreciate this.
We see one problem, however.
In spite of the feelers sent by top NDFP leaders on their willingness
to resume the stalled peace talks soon, there is no feedback until now
from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
It appears that Sec. Teresita “Ging” Deles is not keen on reopening
the talks. Is she heading the Office of the Presidential Adviser
Against the Peace Process?
Speaker Belmonte himself
expressed surprise at the absence of reaction from OPAPP to the NDFP’s
overtures. Gen. Hernando Iriberri may also get disappointed because
his plan is to work “hand in hand with agencies of government tasked
to lead the talks.” If the primary agency which is OPAPP does not
lead, what can the Filipino people expect?
President Aquino, we
suggest, should seriously consider placing into OPAPP people who will
give him the proper advice (as Speaker Belmonte emphasized, the
President “has other assistants.”) to be able to leave a legacy of
genuine and lasting peace to our beloved country and people. When this
happens, God’s dream for the people may come to pass: “My people will
abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet
resting place” (Isaiah 32:18).
Issued and signed this 22
day of July, 2015.
Our continuing hope
and cry for peace
A press statement by the
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform on the GPH-NDFP Peace Talks resumption
July 1, 2015
“But those who hope for the LORD will renew their strength, they will
soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will
walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
We are the Philippine
Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest ecumenical formation of
church leaders in the country today. As peace advocates, compelled by
the gospel mandate, we see it within the ambit of our mission to
accompany the peace process between the Government of the Philippines
(GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We held our 4th Church Leaders’ Summit in Cebu City this June 29 to
July 1, 2015 with sixty-three (63) participants representing the
Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP-men
and women), Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),
Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF), National Council of Churches in the
Philippines (NCCP) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
(PCEC) coming from all over the country to express our support for the
resumption of the peace talks between the parties. As we journey with
the GPH-NDFP peace process, we resolved to amplify the call to both
parties to resume the formal peace talks on the Comprehensive
Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) that has been in an
impasse since February 2011.
The former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chair, Atty. Christian
Monsod and former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)
Chief, Dr. Cielito Habito briefed us on the challenges of social
justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms that will
address the issues of poverty and inequity – the roots of the armed
conflict. We heard the explanations of former GPH Peace Panel member,
Atty. Rene Sarmiento on how the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) was crafted
through an arduous process of negotiations including the contentious
issue of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),
which underwent a total of 17 drafts.
We were likewise moved by the testimonies of a health worker, a farmer
and a LUMAD about their experiences of injustice and the violation of
their fundamental rights in their communities. We also engaged in
profound conversations on how we as church leaders and our flock, can
contribute to the peace negotiations in order to attain the peace our
people cry for. This sharing of insights and experiences by our
resource persons and our own conversations has inspired us to remain
committed and steadfast in our accompaniment work with the GPH-NDFP
Recent developments have also strengthened our resolve. We are
enthused by the recent pronouncements of the GPH and NDFP that they
are open to the possibility of going back to the negotiating table. We
are similarly encouraged by the perseverance and ready involvement of
the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) in its role as third party
facilitator with the appointment of a new special envoy in the person
of Ms. Elisabeth Slattum, as we also call for a more proactive
We call on the GPH and NDFP to immediately resume the formal peace
talks in order to address the roots of the armed conflict. Along with
this call is our appeal to both parties to make themselves more
visible and accessible to the public, especially to the organizations
accompanying this process.
As an expression of our commitment, we will help spread the good news
of peace through the creative education of our people on the GPH-NDFP
process. We will do innovative approaches to peace in our churches
like popularizing peace sports, songs, dances and other art forms in
support of the peace process. We will encourage our young people to be
involved in different fora. We will likewise make our church leaders
more visible in the public media expressing their full support to the
talks. We will use the time and space during the election months to
consolidate our ranks, strengthen our collective strategies, dialogue
with different stakeholders to sustain the peace process and be more
pro-active when an opportunity opens up for the resumption of the
We affirm that all signed agreements that were painstakingly
negotiated by both parties in the past are signs of hope and should be
honored to serve as building blocks for future agreements.
We will journey with the parties and our people until the day we see
the dawning of peace.
We enjoin all peace-loving Filipinos to continually pray and
tirelessly work for peace.
When old age and
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 23, 2015
have to be ready for these eventualities. We grow old, have
limitations and weaknesses. We commit mistakes. All these have effects
on our body, and since our body is always linked to our soul, they too
affect our soul, the way we think, judge, reason, understand, love,
etc. They can affect our spiritual life, our faith, etc.
We all suffer these things one way or another, sooner or later. But in
the meantime, let’s learn how to take care of ourselves and of one
another as we unavoidably approach these situations or go through them
The need to learn the art of caring, at once physical, emotional,
mental and spiritual, cannot be overemphasized. May we progress in
this department, at least to pace with the rapid development we see
around in the other dimensions and aspects of our life –
technological, social, professional, political, etc.
It should not be said that while we are making great strides in the
area of work and professional prestige, financial and social status,
etc., we still could be considered as primitive in this most basic
aspect of human life – the care we need when we suffer the unavoidable
limitations of our nature.
This should be the concern of everyone, but especially those who are
more educated, more endowed and more blessed with certain charisms.
Let’s see to it that we have the appropriate attitude and skills in
Some studies say that up to 15% of people over 65 and up to 40% of
those over 80 suffer from some form of dementia (Alzheimer, multiple
cerebral infarctions, Parkinson’s, etc.)
The symptoms are usually some degree of memory loss, impoverishment of
language, difficulty in remembering the name of objects or in
recalling words, inability to concentrate, temporal or spatial
disorientation, agitation, or loss of capacity for judgment.
There’s also some character, mood or behavioral changes and loss of
interest in things that previously mattered a lot to a person,
reduction in physical strength and general activity, increased
fatigue, slowness and unsteadiness in walking, fear and risk of
falling, lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, etc.
It’s important that we instill hope and empathize with these people
who are undergoing these conditions and help them to understand that
suffering has a meaning even if it is not fully understood. For this,
the example of Christ, and before him, Job, should be highlighted.
We need to listen to them even when they seem to be talking nonsense.
We have to encourage them to look at God and other people, since this
is the path to discovering the meaning of suffering.
Only in that way can suffering be understood as a sacrifice, a
tremendous gift, a redeeming trial or a clear proof of love. Let’s
remind ourselves that suffering can only be understood and appreciated
when seen more under the light of faith than of reason and the
sciences. And we should know how to convey this truth to those who
In the end, it’s Christian love, the love that comes from God, which
cures, or more properly said, ultimately resolves even our most
difficult, if not humanly insoluble, predicaments. What St. Paul said
about it is no exaggeration. “Charity bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7)
I was happy to learn recently that Einstein, one of our greatest
scientists, wrote a letter to his daughter many years ago, which said
that the greatest force on earth certainly does not come from matter
nor from some natural source, but from love that comes from God.
This is a challenge to all of us when we have to deal with people,
usually those close to us like our relatives and friends, who suffer
some extreme forms of problems. It’s said that we can only give what
we have. So, if our faith in the love of God is not that strong or is
practically non-existent, then we cannot expect to convey the truth of
God’s love for us to others, nor to our own selves.
In short, we will surely fail in dealing with problems related to old
age or to difficult, if not incurable, illnesses. But since there is
always hope even in our most trying situations, we know that we can do
something about this.
Let’s hope that we can find time to build up our love of God and of
others by making an effort to pray, offer sacrifices, deepen our
faith, develop virtues, and acquire those skills of compassion and
empathy even as we avail of all medical help appropriate to the
malupit at mapagkunwaring warden sa Samar Provincial Jail (SPJ)
A Press Statement by the
Samar Provincial Jail detainees
May 9, 2015
taong paghihirap sa rasyon ng pagkain ang nararanasan ng mga bilanggo
sa Samar Provincial Jail sa kamay ni provincial jail warden Victor
Templonuevo kung saan itinali niya ang budget sa tatlumpong piso (P30)
lamang sa isang araw sa bawat bilanggo. Hilaw na bigas at ulam na
gagawing pagkain ng isang bilanggo tatlong beses isang araw. Ang
napakasakit at makahayop na pagtrato'y ginawa pang negosyo ng warden
sapagkat ito ang nagsusuplay ng rasyon lalung-lalo na ang isda na
madalas ay mabaho at di sariwa.
Batay sa kompyutasyon, imbes P30 ang budget sa isang araw, lumalabas
na dalawampu't isang piso (P21) lamang ang aktwal na napapakinabangan
ng isang bilanggo sa isang araw at ang natitirang siyam na piso (P9)
ang ninanakaw ng warden sa isang bilanggo araw-araw.
Pitong taong pagtitiis ng kalupitan ang dinaranas ng mga bilanggo sa
kamay ng warden bunga sa kawalan ng malinaw at sadyang walang
nakasulat na mga patakaran (written policies) bilang gabay ng mga
bilanggo, na siyang nagiging behikulo ng malawakang pang-aabuso.
Nagbunga rin ito ng pitong taong paglapastangan sa karapatang pantao
ng mga bilanggo at sa maraming pagkakataon ay sa kanilang mga dalaw.
Naging karaniwan na lang ngayon sa SPJ ang pagpapahirap sa mga
bilanggo tulad ng pagkait sa kanilang mga karapatan, iba't-ibang anyo
ng pananakot, walang due process na pagpaparusa tulad ng pag-padlock,
paggiba ng mga kubol, corporal punishment at pagbartolina.
Pitong taong pasimuno rin ang warden sa korapsyon at sangkot sa
maraming anomalya sa loob ng SPJ.
Ginagawang private property ang SPJ, talamak ang imoralidad, pagpasok
ng ilegal na droga, alak, sugal, special treatment sa pinapaborang
bilanggo, negosyo, pagpapasahod sa mga walang trabahong empleyado at
marami pang iba.
Habang pinagmamalupitan ang mga bilanggo, patuloy namang nagkakamal ng
malaking kita ang warden para sa kanyang sarili. Liban sa ninanakaw
niya sa rasyon ng pagkain, nagmamantine pa siya ng babuyan sa loob ng
jail, may mobile store at nagpapautang. Ang babuyan ay malaking
problema sa kalusugan ng mga bilanggo at sanitasyon ng buong SPJ.
Anong klaseng warden si Victor Templonuevo na minamabuti pa ang baboy
kesa tao dahil sa babuyan ay may itinalagang bilanggong alipin na
araw-araw na nagaalaga, naglilinis at nagpapakain sa standard na
pagkain ng baboy. Samantalang ang ipinabartolinang bilanggo nang
walang due process ay sadyang pinagkaitan ng tubig, pagkain, kalusugan,
sanitasyon at dalaw. Malayong mababa pa sa baboy ang turing niya sa
Si Provincial warden Victor Templonuevo ay isang tusong negosyante na
ang nasa utak lamang ay kung paano kumita nang kumita. Upang walang
maging hadlang sa kanyang mapang-api at mapagsamantalang layunin,
tinatakot niya ang mga bilanggo, gumagamit ng bilanggo upang
patahimikin ang kapwa, o di kaya naman ay pinangangakuan ang mga
bilanggo ng wala. Kaba, takot, pag-aalinlangan at desperasyon ang
nararanasan ng mga bilanggo sa SPJ sa loob ng ilang taon hanggang
Ngunit dahil sa lumalalang pang-aapi at pagsasamantala, ang kaba at
takot na nararamdaman ng mga bilanggo ang naging tungtungan ng
pagkakaisa at pagkakapit-bisig upang igiit ang karapatan at ito'y
napatunayan nang matagumpay na isagawa ang mga serye ng protesta laban
sa masamang rasyon ng pagkain, mga maling patakaran at katiwalian
noong nakaraang mga buwan.
Ang nangyayari sa SPJ ay bahagi lamang ng malawakang katiwalian,
pagsasamantala at pang-aapi sa mga bilanggo na nagaganap sa
iba't-ibang piitan sa buong bansa, at ng lipunan.
Ang SPJ ay nasa ilalim ng pamamahala ng probinsyal na pamahalaan. Ang
isang mahalagang sukatan kung anong klaseng liderato ng pamahalaan
mayroon ang isang partikular na lipunan ay kung paano tinatrato ang
mga bilanggo. Ang ginagawa ni Victor Templonuevo ay malaking kahihiyan
sa probinsyal na pamahalaan.
Nananawagan kami sa gobernador ng Samar na gamutin ang malalang sakit
sa Samar Provincial Jail sa pamamagitan ng agarang pagpapatalsik kay
Victor Templonuevo upang isalba ang malaking kahihiyan ng probinsyal
Nananawagan din kami sa lahat ng kamag-anak ng mga bilanggo sa SPJ,
mga kaibigan at mamamayang sumisimpatya na suportahan ang aming
TAPUSIN NA ANG PITONG TAONG PANG-AALIPIN SA MGA BILANGGO NG SAMAR
PROVINCIAL JAIL NI WARDEN VICTOR TEMPLONUEVO!
Chairperson, Anti-Repression and Corruption Committee
Samar Provincial Jail
May 4, 2015
US President Barack Obama
came out of the closet sometime ago and announced that he is for
same-sex marriage. He said that was the conclusion of his long period
Many political observers,
however, say that he originally was for it, then against it, then was
reconsidering, and then finally is for it again. They say this
flip-flopping is a reaction of a political animal to changing
Well, we know how this
stance is called in our country. “Weather-weather lang ni, bai.” To a
certain extent, this attitude is valid given the temporal nature and
autonomous character of politics.
But when used
indiscriminately, it can enter into forbidden territory as when it is
applied on matters of faith and morals, and on the fixed nature of
things. And I am afraid this is what is happening in this present
Marriage is not a political
issue that has to be defined, and its problems resolved, solely or
mainly in a political way. Marriage has a universal, immutable nature,
applicable to all of us regardless of race, gender and whatever
condition we may be in. When nature of things is involved, we just
accept it, we don’t redefine it.
Marriage simply has to be a stable relationship between a man and a
woman, because it involves a love that entails the use of sex whose
primary purpose is procreation before it provides pleasure and other
benefits to the couples concerned.
That’s simply the nature of
sex and marriage. It is not a religious imposition, but rather a
result of careful, comprehensive metaphysical study of the matter. If
we pursue this study thoroughly, then we will arrive at the conclusion
that marriage in itself has properties of exclusivity, unity and
Of course, people can have
varying understanding of the nature of sex and marriage, and so we
just have to undertake a continuing discussion, clarification and
formation. The government should also feel the duty to do this. This
is everyone’s responsibility.
But we just cannot stop at
the level of “that-is-your-stand-and-this-is-mine,” since the issue at
hand is not a matter of opinion or personal preferences. It binds
everyone to conform to this nature of sex and marriage, in a way that
should be more forceful than the binding quality of our tax and
Ironically, the latter laws
on taxes and traffic are more strictly pursued than our marriage laws.
It seems we are now having the wrong priorities, the wrong emphasis on
our varied concerns.
I was shocked when I heard
President Obama’s reasons for supporting same-sex marriage. They had
the usual rationalizing taste of the tolerance bit. It’s a reasoning
that has overreached its purpose, trying to go to a bridge too far.
This alibi about tolerance,
while it has its merits, should not be the only, much less, the
primary consideration to make especially in issues like marriage.
There are many other more fundamental and indispensable considerations
that precede it.
Obama was quoted as saying:
“No matter who you love or what God you worship, you can still pursue
happiness – I will support you every step of the way."
So, if one happens to love
an animal in a sexual way, he is free to marry it, and bestiality can
now be elevated to the level of marriage? Or if one happens to fall in
love with his own sister, or his own brother, he can also marry her or
him, and incest can be marriage?
Anything is always possible
with man. That’s why we need laws based on some absolute truths to
guide and educate us.
Or if one happens to believe
in violence and terrorism as his own God, it would just be ok? The
words of Obama did not include any qualifier as to who can be the
object and God of one’s love and devotion.
I may be exaggerating and
blowing out of proportion Obama’s words, but these words certainly
give us a direction that, in their most lenient interpretation, can be
considered as potentially dangerous.
There are things that we can
not and should not tamper. Marriage is one of them. Everything has to
be done to strengthen it. Those who violate them, while we always have
to be charitable and fair, should be dealt with clearly, and even
I have no problem with gays.
I know many of them and they are excellent persons, workers and
friends. But let’s not call what is wrong, right, and bad, good, just
because we are friends.
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
April 19, 2015
Priests have just been told
recently by no less than the president of the bishops’ conference to
avoid homily abuse. “Long, winding, repetitious, irrelevant,
unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest,”
said he, and this kind of homilies, he added, certainly harm souls.
I, of course, immediately
examined myself if I could be accused of such charge. I must say that
I have to plead guilty, of course. No matter how much one prepares for
it, there will always be some imperfections.
But I also know that the
Holy Spirit has a way of resolving all the snags, big and small, that
can take place, both on the part of the preacher and on the part of
the listener. I believe everyone can be rightly accused of some
aspects of homily abuse, including the Pope and the bishop who said
I remember the first time
Pope-now-Saint John Paul II came to our country. I was very
disappointed to hear him, since I was expecting a good speaker. What I
heard was a droning speaker, contrary to what I thought was a good
stage actor that he was touted to be.
But, of course, I made up
for it by reading what he said later on, and I got the message quite
well. I understood that St. John Paul was not speaking in his mother
tongue, and so I just had to make the necessary adjustments. What I am
trying to say is that preaching is always a humbling experience, at
least for me. There will always be something that would not go well.
It’s not a walk in the park
to preach at the instance of the Holy Spirit, which is what a homily
is supposed to be. The best that we can do is to try and try to be
faithful to God’s word, delivering it in the manner Christ himself
would have delivered it, given the kind of listeners and the context
of time and place.
It will always an act of
approximation, an expression of faith that can require nothing less
than heroic efforts in humility, docility and self-abasement, because
the temptation for one to shine out instead of showing Christ to the
people would always be there and would be quite strong.
It would be hypocritical of
any cleric to say that he has not fallen into some kind of abuse in
his preaching. I always get frightened when an ecclesiastic presents
himself as if he has the Holy Spirit right in his lips.
Just because one speaks
well, or is adept in the art of rhetoric, or is very theological or
pastoral in his training and exposure, or occupies a high position in
the Church hierarchy, etc., is no guarantee that no abuse of some form
can take place in his preaching.
I get bothered when after
hearing a homily of a brother priest, the main impression I get is
that he sings well, or he knows how to make a good show, or he is a
good or bad lecturer or manager, or he has a logical mind, or he is
popular and much admired by the people, or he is just terrible, etc.
When these things happen
instead of getting the feel that I was listening to Christ or is
touched by Christ’s teaching, I need to make extra effort to draw what
the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me in those instances. Yes, the
Holy Spirit can always convey something regardless of the inadequacies
of the instruments.
Preaching is not so much a
matter of techniques as it is a result of a healthy interior life,
marked by fidelity and humility, and nourished by prayer, sacrifice, a
solicitous pastoral charity that is keenly attentive to the needs of
Of course, it would involve
continuing study and formation, constant contact with the people and
the developments of the world. The preacher has to be like Christ in
that he has to realize that he has to be the link between God and men.
Of course, the sacrament of
Holy Orders conforms one to Christ as head of the Church and therefore
has the power to preach in the name of Christ, but that sacramental
identity requires all-out effort to be up to par to that standard.
It may look tremendous, if
not impossible, but when one has faith, when one has humility, he will
always be convinced that in spite of his limitations and possible
personal mistakes, Christ acts through him, the Holy Spirit speaks
through him. Christ has given him everything that he needs to be a
good priest and preacher.