I remember a line from a song which goes, “And a house is not a home when there’s no one there…” Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact title of the song, but this line has caught me just recently. Why? Because our home has started to become a house.
Yes, there’s no one there. I mean, not that it’s completely desolate, but that it has lost its life. And life it has to the full just a couple of months ago. Our house has not that many number of persons who live there, originally there were only four of us before the advent of new arrivals to the family – my parents, my sister and me. Few as we are, it has become the locus of our lives. I was born there and first set foot on its cold and shiny floor. It has become a sacred ground to my feet. Its roof has sheltered me for most of my teenage years before I braved out to the wider world in search of higher education. And no matter how nice the wider world could be, my mind would always long to return to that place I call home. I don’t care if it looks too ordinary resembling a simple cube-like structure; it’s a home because of the people living there. As I realize later on, no matter how splendid a place could be, only people can put vitality to its being. There’s no substitute to it, take away the people in a place and you would see wilderness – avast stretch of land without life.
And yet, I’m starting to witness the same thing happening to our house which once was a home. Maybe, it would do well if I tell you something more about this home. My sister married when I was third year in high school and that brought a new arrival to our family. A year after that, she had a beautiful daughter. So by then we are six in the family. But I’m not only talking here about numbers or arrivals. Each new addition meant more than that – it means vigor, vitality, life, new persons to put new meaning to the home we are living in. As my sister and her husband are yet to build their own house, for the mean time they decided to live with us. Her daughter brought joy to our home. Our house is small but it was brimming with activities of my mother cooking, my father painting and most of all my little niece running here and there. And no matter if the chairs and tables spread beyond their proper places as my niece frolic around, there is an overwhelming feeling of excitement all throughout the four corners of our little abode. Four years after the birth of my niece came a new addition – my nephew. That means more scattered toys, more noise, and more laughter but it’s nice seeing them both enjoy the seasons of their childhood with all its fun. Their laughter made our house more of a home.
Until my sister’s house was completed last year and she with her family moved there. My parents who are so fond of their grandchildren also spend most of their times there. When I went home for the Christmas vacation, our house was not the same as it used to be when I was growing up. There’s an arresting feeling of solitude all over. No more cooking, no more noise, no more laughter – the presence of the furniture all properly pasted to their places just made the nostalgia more cumbersome. I tried to settle down and attuned myself to the change but how I long for the time that has been. From time to time, my parents would clean the house. My father, on the other hand, does his job at a space in our garage. But the children have enlivened another home –a home of their own. So I also followed them there – I eat and sleep there and during the day I return home to clean it and there spend my afternoon just in case our house like a living person would long for a companion.Our house becomes a place where we visit, not anymore a place where we live.
But change would always catch you anytime and sometimes there’s no worth resisting it. In fact, I never resisted the reasons why my parents practically followed them there. My sister needs help, she needs company while her husband works overseas, my parents’ too couldn’t withstand the absence of their grandchildren. I can’t either. So we’re caught between attachment and detachment and finding the fact that we cannot decide which of the two. It’s easy to detach from a thing but not from a person especially from a family.
So I need to face that time has changed and go with the flow –resisting the current would only weaken you. Be happy where you are. After all in my case the place has remained, the persons have remained and only the distribution changed. Life is a matter of accepting, coping and moving on. Besides, if God wills in the not too distant future that I should become a priest, I too will move to a home of my own. Maybe another change to cope to but I need to.
After all that’s been said, the song still holds true,
“But a house is not a home, when there’s no one there.”
Summary of eRumor:
This email claims that Leonardo Da Vinci spent seven years painting “The Last Supper” in Milan, Italy. He interviewed hundreds of models to get just the right ones to use for each disciple, choosing the one to portray Christ first. Six years later, he looked for someone to be the model for Judas and found a convicted murderer in Rome who fit the part. When he finished the painting, the man revealed that he was the same person Leonardo has used years earlier to be the model for Christ but had degenerated because of his sin and crime.
There is no record of Leonardo using the same model for both Christ and Judas. According to author Robert Wallace who wrote “The World Of Leonardo 1452-1519,” Leonardo did use live models and did look among local prisoners for someone to portray Judas, but did not choose the same person as used for Christ. The painting took only two to three years, not seven and there are no accounts of a prisoner being brought from Rome for the sittings.
A real example of the story as it has been circulated:
The story of the painting, The Last Supper, is extremely interesting and instructive. The two incidents connected with it afford a most convincing lesson on the effects of right thinking or wrong thinking in the life of a boy or girl, or of a man or a woman.The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, a noted Italian artist; and the time engaged for its completion was seven years.
The figures representing the twelve Apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first.
When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin.
Finally, after weeks of laborious searching, a young man nineteen years of age was selected as a model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months, Da Vinci worked on the production of this leading character of his famous painting. During the next six years, Da Vinci continued his labors on this sublime work of art. One by one fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven Apostles; space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece. This was the Apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, worth in our present day, currency of $16.96.
For weeks, Da Vinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime; a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend.
After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to Da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met his requirements had been found in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.
Da Vinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun. There Da Vinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man; his long, shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which betrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last, the famous painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the picture was being painted; and for months he sat before Da Vinci at appointed hours each day as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting to his painting this base character in the picture representing the traitor and betrayer of our savior. As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, “I have finished. You may take the prisoner away.”
As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to Da Vinci, crying as he did so, “O, Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?”
Da Vinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, “No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome.”
Then, lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, “Oh, God, have I fallen so low?” Then turning his face to the painter he cried, “Leonardo Da Vinci! Look at me again for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ.”
This is the true story of the painting of The Last Supper that teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right or wrong thinking on the life of an individual. Here was a young man whose character was so pure, unspoiled by the sins of the world that he presented a countenance of innocence and beauty fit to be used for the painting of a representation of Christ. But within seven years, following the thoughts of sin and a life of crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most traitorous character ever known in the history of the world.
(I wrote this letter as an activity during our Silsilah Summer Course (April 7-May 4 2013, Zamboanga City). We were made to imagine talking to a Muslim friend and tell them how we look at our friendship. Our Muslim friends on the other hand were made to write the same to us Christians. When I wrote this, I imagined not only my new found friends in the Silsilah Interreligious Dialogue program but most especially my Muslim friends in the Mindanao State University-Marawi City.)
So we’re here. Trying to make up for those years when our friendship was tested by rumors and vain talks. We’re not supposed to feel alienated from each other. We’re fellow human beings, I know it and you know it too. But somehow there are circumstances beyond our control, and even circumstances that control us. We are of different communities, communities which are characterized by hostility towards each other. They say that you are up to kill us while others say that we are up to take advantage of you, to take away your land, to oppress you, and to repress your distinctive culture. We know very well that between me and you, none of that sort of feelings has ever entered our consciousness. But that’s what they say and sometimes people around us would hinder us from reaching out to each other.
But we are friends. Whenever I see you, I do not feel hatred or animosity. You are a human being, no less human than I and all others who feel joy, sadness and love. We breathe the same air, and the same sun rises and sets over us. We both turn our eyes towards heaven, believing that in that abode is the Maker of us all. We may call Him in different names but it is not our fault. We are born into it. You may be a Muslim and I may be a Christian, but above all this we are followers of God. You may pray to Him prostrating yourself and I may pray to Him kneeling, but again it’s not our fault. God looks into our hearts and He knows that we love Him just the same.
A couple of days ago, I saw one of your own people accused of kidnapping and a day after that you told me about someone whose bag had been snatched by someone of my own people. But that gave me no reason to hate you and I’m happy that you think that way too. You see, we both have good and bad elements among our own people. But between you and me, we choose to remain good. And I think, that’s what matters most. People are not born to hate, we are born to love. “Only the unloved hate.”
Again, I want to tell you that I’m happy knowing that we’ve remained friends after all these years. We’re supposed to be like that. Nothing should stop us from being so. For as long as you and I are here and for as long as we believe that love can bridge every gap, there is no reason for us to be discouraged. We’re friends and we should let the world see that despite our differences we are still capable of loving each other and the rest of humanity.
I still have plenty of things to say to you, but I’m sleepy now. Night has taken its toll on me. For the mean time, I entrust you to His loving care for in His arms we are all loved, we are all wanted, we are all cared for.
So let us start right there and then, how would I react to the recent conviction of Carlos Celdran to the offense against religious sentiments?
I’m not sure how would I say it, but I’m one of those who were deeply offended by what he did inside the Manila Cathedral. I would never mind anyone protesting against any government institution or against any religious denomination for that matter so long as it lies within the bounds of decency, sensitivity and well maybe formality. Had he carried the placard carrying the name “Damaso” at the gate of the church or even within the premises of the church, I would just have shrugged my shoulder off. It would have been a decent and formal protest by him if not sensitive. Had he done it in those places, I wouldn’t have mind hearing him shouting his protest, criticism and even derision against the Church, at least I would have interpreted it as a legitimate right of expression. But he did it inside the church and during a solemn service. If he didn’t have a speck of respect for the bishops, at least he should have even for God’s sake. He did it during a divine service when all, sinners and saints, were in the middle of their supplications to God. If he didn’t consider the bishops as saints, at least the sinners deserve his respect too. He doesn’t need to go that far in order to be heard by the bishops, just standing there at the gates would do. Or he could go to the convent and disturb the sleeping clergy if his guts for disrespect would allow him. But please not inside the church. What he did only diverted a social issue to a religious one.
So now that a conviction has been served him, he should learn his lessons. He should be aware that despite the number of people dissenting against the Church’s stand on many issues, the church building still remains a sacred place for over 80 million Filipinos in this country. This is not a secular country where religiosity is looked upon with condescension. This is not a country that has lost its faith. This is a Christian country – infested with corruption maybe, full of children who have gone astray, but this is still a country who cries out to God in times of need and who looked to Him for strength. So next time, if ever another individual would follow Mr. Celdran’s footsteps he should take time to observe sensitivity for his disrespect.
For sure, I would be very glad if the Archdiocese of Manila would forgive Mr. Celdran and dispense him of this temporal punishment. It is enough for the records to show that indeed he had hurt us. He did hurt my faith and the faith of millions in this country. But should the Archdiocese be firm in its stand, then I’m on its side. I believe in the decisions of our bishops. I’m not saying this because I’m a Catholic, the fact is had this happened to other denominations, I would still feel the same.
Many people who had a taste for hostility towards the Church have come and gone. But even that cannot assure that the Church would be peaceful in the coming years. No, Christ did not promise that the Church will not face any challenges. What he promised is that whatever storm the Church will face, the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
“Damaso!” “Damaso!” – not even a placard could destroy my faith.
Every 9th of January, the Philippine church celebrates the feast of the Black Nazarene. Thousands of replicas of the of the Nazarene is paraded throughout different places in the country but one of them stands out among the others – that of the image of the Black Nazarene enshrined in Quiapo church.
But first, what is the Black Nazarene? It is a life-sized, dark wooden image of the suffering Christ carrying his cross in behalf of fallen humanity. It is the image of Christ during his passion and on his way to Calvary. The image is believed to be miraculous by many Filipinos. Originally, the image was not dark but fair complexioned. But as it was transported from Mexico to the Philippines, the ship that carried it caught fire and the image though not totally consumed was charred by the flames. It became dark. The Black Nazarene is publicly processed on three occasions: New Year’s Day, Good Friday and January 9. Of these three occasions, it is on January 9 that people crowd the streets often in frenzied atmosphere.
As what I’ve said earlier, what makes the Black Nazarene of the Quiapo church stand out among the others? Because only in Quiapo do throngs of people gather in order to follow the procession. We are not talking here of hundreds or thousands but millions of people and just recently approximately 9 million devotees followed the translacion or the transfer of the image to the Quiapo church. During the procession, people would vie to touch or get a hold of the rope which connects to the andas. An ocean of people would push their way just to get a closer glimpse of the Nazarene. The men on the other hand, would push hard in order to get the chance to carry the rope in their right shoulder – as it is the side people believed Christ carried his cross. While people are shoving their way into the procession, devotees would throw their handkerchiefs to the image’s marshals clad in yellow shirt for them to wipe it on the image as people often associate miracles to it. If one is to see the whole milieu sans the eyes of faith, one cannot avoid looking at these people with disdain.
In fact, many people did look at them with disdain. One writer would even refer to the crowd as collective fools. And in national newspapers, many writers would even deprive them of holiness and instead accuse them of insanity. But just to set things straight, who are we to boast of our holiness and pin them with insanity? What difference exists between their insanity and our insanity? After all, in God’s eyes we are all sinners. What power do we have to look into their hearts and what authority do we have to judge them with our eyes? Didn’t Jesus refuse to judge the woman caught in adultery? The fact is, our search for holiness would often appear insane to the eyes of the world. The world cannot understand why people are willing to walk barefoot amidst the grueling heat of the not-so-well-paved road, why people are willing to stand for even a day waiting for the Nazarene to pass by, why people in tattered clothes would forget their poverty for a day in order to enjoy the richness of God’s presence, why people who have been sinners for a year would cease to be so in a day, why people who suffered for so many years would not budge to hope in God, and why people who appeared feeble in countenance would find the strength to follow the procession all the way even when midnight comes. To the world it’s foolishness, but to the one who believes it’s holiness. As what Cardinal Tagle had said, only the devotees know what is in their hearts as they do these things. We who don’t have the power to search their hearts could only look at them with wonder.
But talking of insanity, here’s the catch. Even the prophets of Old Testament times had their share of expressing their faith even to the verge of what the world might call insanity. The prophet Isaiah walked barefoot for three years predicting a forthcoming captivity in Egypt (Isaiah 20:2-3), per instruction of God the prophet Ezekiel ate bread baked on cow dung instead of human waste (Ezekiel 4:9-15), and King David himself leapt and danced before the Lord naked – when Michal saw her in such form she despised him in her heart. When Saint Francis felt the need to give up all worldly cares stripped all of his clothes and stood naked in front of the crowd and Saint Basil who in order to shame the rich went around naked and weighed himself in chains. No wonder they are called the Holy Fools!
Insanity – but is it? There are only things the not-so-holy and the so-much-holy could never understand. For us, faith is not just an article to be scanned once in a while in our books. Faith needs to be expressed. And for many the streets, not just the church, are one of those avenues to express such faith. But the faith which one hears only from instruction or practiced only individually is the faith meant for the well-off , the poor who miss or who cannot afford instruction cling on to extreme hope which they find in the suffering Christ whose image they can associate with. They discover such faith even without instruction and they continue to express that faith through their fervent devotion.
But what about the handkerchiefs? What has God to do with the towels and handkerchiefs? As one can see them flying around while being tossed to the image of the Black Nazarene, some with critical minds couldn’t help asking if this is warranted by biblical example. To answer such concern, one only has to look at the life of Saint Paul. When he passed by Ephesus during his missionary journey, he performed miracles among the people there, driving out demons and even the handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and their evil spirits left them. (Acts 19:11-12) And does it add up to insanity? Hardly, if one has to look at the example of Saint Paul.
And what about the charge that the occasion is just for frenzy since some devotees still sin after the feast? The truth is, there are people who join the feast just for fun, but who are we to deprive them of the once-in-a-year opportunity to seek God just because they could sin thereafter? Didn’t King David after dancing before the Lord fell to sin when he saw Bathsheba? But that does not mean that we abandon our devotion altogether just because sin could still lurk behind us. When St. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Jesus did not answer seven times but seventy times seven times which means unlimited forgiveness. The fact is, the more we sin the more we need to come to God. And who are we to stop them from coming to God?
Not even the charge of insanity could stop the holy from being foolish for Christ. Who would consider it sane for God the Son to die in the hands of His creation, or for God the Son to carry the cross created by his creation? Insanity – isn’t it?
But indeed, “We are fools for Christ…!” (1 Corinthians 4:10)
Rising birth rate in former Soviet nation credited to Orthodox Patriarch
TBILISI, Georgia, May 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church has been credited with helping raise the birth rate in the former Soviet nation of Georgia.
Patriarch Ilia II came up with an astonishingly successful incentive to counteract the country’s plummeting birth rate by promising to become the godfather of all babies born into Orthodox Christian families who already have two or more children. Since he began fulfilling his promise with the mass baptisms in 2008, he has gained nearly 11,000 godchildren.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili publicly stated that the patriarch deserves much of the credit for the rising birth rate, which was 25 percent higher in 2010 than in 2005, and which Saakashvili said is helping the government achieve its five year plan of increasing the aging nation’s population from 4.5 million to 5 million by 2015.
While Georgia was under the domination of the former Soviet Union, the Orthodox religion was all but suppressed in the country. But now, according to the (http://patriarch.ge/eng) Patriarch Foundation, a movement set up to promote the interests of the Church, the Orthodox Church and clergy play a very influential role in Georgian society, with many seeing the patriarch as the most authoritative figure in their lives. “Faith is getting stronger,” said spokesman Irakli Kadagishvili. “The patriarch is seen not only as a religious figure, but also as a national authority. When he saw the need to increase the birth rate he only had to provide an incentive. It was the only stimulus most parents needed if they were already thinking about having more children.”
Lamara Georgadze, whose fourth child was recently baptized by Patriarch Ilia II, said she and her husband answered the patriarch’s call to have more children.
“The Holy Father reminded us all of the importance of increasing the birth rate,” she said in an AP report that described the 400 baptisms presided over by Patriarch Ilia II in a Tbilisi cathedral on May 6. “There are too few of us Georgians and therefore this is very important.”
“This is a wonderful day for my family,” said Tamar Kapanadze, a 33-year-old father of four. “Our fourth son, Lashko, was baptized by the patriarch himself, and before this he baptized our daughter Liziko. This is why we decided to have a fourth child.”
The Georgian government announced earlier this year that parents would be given a one-time payment of 1000 Georgian Lari (about $600) for a third child and double that amount for a fourth child.
“This will help raise the birth rate,” Saakashvili said. “The patriarch has already taken steps in this direction. We should be thankful to him for continually reminding the Georgian people that we should multiply.”
Government statistics indicate that the number of abortions has also declined by nearly 50 percent between 2005 and 2010.
I just finished reading the book Woman Priest: A Personal Odyssey written by Alla Bozarth-Campbell – herself a womanpriest. I spent approximately three days reading it right between my vacant schedules. I was intrigued when I found the book in the shelf, with an interesting title and an interesting cover which shows the picture of a beautiful womanpriest extending her hands on the altar.
The book is not a theological treatise on women ordination, rather it is a biography which tells about the struggles, pains, and courage of a woman who desired to answer God’s calling in the arena which has long been dominated by men – and dominated by men for a reason which is beyond our reasoning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Catholic and I stand squarely with my church with regards to this issue – that the Catholic Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood as defined by Pope John Paul II in his letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. By the way, the womanpriest I’ve mentioned is not a Catholic priest, but a priest of the Episcopal Church of the USA.
The issue of woman ordination has once again sprung into the spotlight with the ever fervent feminists who are fighting for equality not only in the political sphere but ecclesiastical as well. From being a purely religious matter, it was gradually associated with the civil rights movement thereby giving the impression that woman ordination is not just a spiritual right but one of the fundamental human rights. And I must admit, tackling issues which involve the fundamental rights of an individual is very delicate and full of sensibilities. No matter how religious your reason is, you cannot go against it without being branded a religious bigot. This is more so, since the issue that pains most women in the Christian feminist movement today is discrimination against women and the “seeming” neglect of the institutional Church to the religious aspirations of its female members. To them, answering God’s call is so universal a theme to be confined only to the male sex.
And this particular calling is not just the calling to religious life but more specifically to the priestly life. Many women today feel a growing inclination to serve God in the altar; not just an altar server but the one who celebrates the Mass and consecrates the Host. This agitation for women ordination has stirred not only the Anglican Communion but the Catholic Church as well. Different feminist groups have sent their petition to the Pope to open the debate about women ordination. This issue has been circulating inside the Church and culminated in the issuance of the decree Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which affirmed that the Catholic Church does not ordain women not because she does not want to but because she doesn’t have the authority to do so. Biblical revelation and apostolic tradition have always been consistent that ordination is only reserved for men.
However, despite this papal definition the issue still continues to circulate in some circles. In fact, a group of women dared to stir the water and pushed through with ordaining their female colleagues. The ordination was done not in the solemn canopy of a cathedral but on a ferryboat in the river Danube in 2002. They in turn organized a group and called it Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests – a designation which the Roman Catholic Church has nothing to do about. Consequently, they were declared to have incurred latae sententiae excommunication (i.e they were automatically excommunicated by virtue of the act they have done.), and their ordination null and void from the beginning.
Aside from ordination, first and foremost they want the Church to recognize that femininity should not be something that would bar them and place them outside the realm of the Church’s language and expressions. Accordingly, the Church is very masculine in her language. In the book I’ve mentioned earlier, Rev. Alla shared an experience while attending a church service in the Episcopal Church,
“I heard from the scriptures that God our Father cares for the needs of men; I heard that we must love our brothers; and I heard that it is a wonderful thing to become a son of God…”
Notice something with the highlighted words? They are all masculine. If women feel estranged because of the language formulation, then I offer them my sympathy. But honestly, I believe that the problem only exists in our language but never in the eyes of God. You know, language is just our way of putting into words that truth which is very above and beyond us. The love of God is so immense and so vast a truth to be put exactly into words and sometimes when we express it using language we cannot cover all its depths because we are limited by the grammatical structure, word usage and syntax of the language with which we express it. But despite that, God remains a loving God who loves us all. Besides, if we express the previous experience mentioned above in another language, say Cebuano, all the seeming disparity would subside.
“Akong nadungog gikan sa kasulatan nga ang Dios Amahan adunay pagtagad alang sa panginahanglan sa iyang katawhan (means human race not just men); akong nadungog nga kinahanglan atong higugmaon ang atong mga kaigsoonan (the word is gender inclusive, the Cebuano language does not have a specific language for brother or sister instead it uses a gender inclusive word igsoon); ug akong nadungog nga usa ka maanindot nga butang ang mahimong anak (a gender inclusive word, the Cebuano language does not have a specific language for brother or sister) sa Dios.”
So while other languages could be limiting, the Cebuano language is primarily a gender inclusive language. While American women may find it disheartening to hear their pastors talk only about men or brothers, or sons, Cebuano women do not have the same problem when it comes to language. So the language is only secondary, the basic truth of all is that God loves us men and women alike.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love…” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Now that’s a you, and the word you covers all regardless of the sexes.
Actually, we cannot question the motives of the women who want to seek ordination especially the women in the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement. They may have acted in good faith and with a real desire to serve God. But motives do not excuse someone from an act which is uncanonical. The Church ordains only men not because she intends to discriminate against women but because she is safeguarding sacred traditions handed on to her since apostolic times. This reason may be hard to swallow for some but it really is the fact. While Jesus had many disciples, he chose only twelve fishermen as his apostles. After Judas hanged himself and one apostolic seat became vacant, the one who filled up the position was also a man and the apostles and presbyters which were chosen for every city in New Testament times were men. But even though women were not ordained we cannot say that they are discriminated. Women have become an important part of the history of the Church. The apostle Paul had to thank several women who helped the Church during New Testament times. He had to thank a certain Tryphaena and Tryphosa, a friend Persis – who works hard for the Lord, Priscilla, Nympha, and others. Many saints of the Church are women, and many of them have even been declared Doctors of the Church – St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese of Lisieux is a nun, but she is the patroness of all missionaries including priests. Mary Magdalene – the first missionary was a woman. Most of all, the first among the saints is a woman, no other than the Blessed Virgin Mary. They may not be priests but they certainly are big figures in the Church. In fact, it is said that the Church would collapse without women.
Everyone, ordained or not is called by God to work in his vineyard. Women though they may not be priests share the equal calling to evangelize the world and many of them did change the face of the world in the like of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. We cannot look down on their contributions moreso ignore the fact that women helped the Church survive through this turbulent times.
“In speaking about participation in the apostolic mission of the Church, there is no doubt that in virtue of Baptism and Confirmation, a woman-as well as a man-is made a sharer in the threefold mission of Jesus Christ, Priest, Prophet and King, and is thereby charged and given the ability to fulfill the fundamental apostolate of the Church: evangelization. However, a woman is called to put to work in this apostolate the “gifts” which are properly hers: first of all, the gift that is her very dignity as a person exercised in word and testimony of life, gifts therefore connected with her vocation as a woman.” Christifideles Laici #51
And lastly, as what Paul VI had said, “We cannot change what our Lord did, nor his call to women; but we can recognize and promote the role of women in the mission of evangelization and in the life of the Christian community.”
After giving a talk, someone from a corner commented and told me that I have a fundamentalist tendency. I listened attentively to what he was saying while at the same time, at the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out the sense of all that’s been said.
Fundamentalism – such a strong and heavy duty word to be branded to an ordinary seminarian like me. While the word has a theological color, it is not always a positive one. It connotes a tendency which is old-fashioned, rebellious and irrelevant. So how did that gentleman from a corner come up with such an assessment?
First, what is fundamentalism? It is used to describe a cognitive approach to doctrine and scriptures and on the whole as a theological movement which grew within American Protestantism. As a cognitive approach, fundamentalism has been associated with a closed, dogmatic, exclusivist, particularist, LITERALIST, and rigorist stand in matters of doctrine and the interpretation of sacred scriptures. As a theological movement it came to be applied to certain groups within Protestantism which opposed modernist and ultra liberalist trend which was gaining ground within the wider spectrum of Protestantism. It seeks to draw out points of belief which are to be considered essential or fundamental to the Christian faith, hence the word fundamentalism. So in opposition to modernists who subjected the Bible to extreme historical and literary criticism who exposed doctrines to reinterpretation, the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1910 issued the Five Points of Fundamentalism which are:
The inerrancy of Scriptures
The Virgin Birth
Christ’s substitutionary atonement
His bodily resurrection
The authority of miracles
These are the beliefs which qualify a fundamentalist. So aside from some differences in my Catholic understanding of the inerrancy of Scriptures, I wonder why the word fundamentalism should sound derogatory. Maybe because it is Protestant or maybe because it is literalist, the second I believe is the reason why.
You know, the only biblical passage I used during my talk was 1 Timothy 6:10 “The love of money is the root of all evil.” There I emphasized that according to the Bible, it is the love of money, not money itself which is the root of all evil. Many people today when they quote the verse would readily say “money is the root of all evil” which is not the original wording of the Bible. I then proceeded it explaining further. Now, if fundamentalism is literalism then I couldn’t find any reason why the gentleman earlier considered me a fundamentalist than this particular case. And if this was the case, was I too literal in my explanation? Did I explain the passage in a naively literal sense? And if indeed it was literal, was it wrong?
I consulted some versions of the Bible and indeed it was the proper translation.
The Jerusalem Bible translated it as love of money.
The New American Bible translated it as love of money.
The Christian Community Bible translated it as the love of money.
The Good News Bible translated it as love of money.
The Contemporary English version translated it as love of money.
And even the King James Version translated it as love of money.
Furthermore, according to page 356 of the Jerome Biblical Commentary, “Paul is not speaking directly about those who are actually rich but about the desire for riches, the love of money, the love of money is the root of all evils…” If he meant something negative when he called me a fundamentalist, why should it be when I just followed this thought right from a Catholic commentary? So, common misguided understanding equates fundamentalism with literalism and Bible-tottering. It is even ironic how easy it is for us Catholics to label someone as fundamentalist whenever we hear him frequently quote from the Bible. For Protestants, quoting from the Bible during preaching is ordinary but if a Catholic does that, he is one of the few, he is extraordinary. And not only is he extraordinary, he is corny and pretentious especially if he is a layman. To get rid of him we call him fundamentalist.
So, should we go away with literalism altogether? While there are passages in the Scriptures which require thorough interpretations, there are many passages which we simply take as it is i.e literally; the Ten Commandments for example, Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing, Jesus’ command to love God and our neighbors, the Virgin Birth and many others. They can be further explained but they are accepted as stated. In fact, paragraph 116 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that;
“The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation:”All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”
Furthermore, there are also aspects of our Catholic interpretation which are literal but are accepted as true and reliable interpretation. For example, in Luke 22:19-20 when Jesus said that this is my body and this is my blood in reference to the bread and wine respectively, how does our magisterium interpret it? That the bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of our Lord – the truth we call the Real Presence. Protestants on the other hand cannot accept this and they do not interpret it literally. In this case, we accept Christ’s words as it is, as written yet we do not consider ourselves fundamentalists because of that. So not all literal interpretation is fundamentalism.
So thorough consideration must be employed before we brand someone as fundamentalist as this word carries a dangerous tone in the Catholic sense. Our world would be better off if we take away our biases and end throwing each other slurs. On my part, I resolve not to let the incident put me down – I know where I stand, I know whom I have faith with. Call me a fundamentalist – I know I’m not.
I can’t describe my feelings when I saw the video of Pope Leo XIII. He was the first Pope to be filmed and to have his voice recorded. It felt like I’m going back deeper and deeper into history. The video was black and white, it was so melancholic to look at and I felt nostalgic while watching it. Tears wanted to flow from my eyes, I don’t know how to describe what I feel. It seemed like the feeling of the NUMINOUS. Perhaps after all, I can say that I really am a Catholic.
The first Pope who I knew when I grew up was Pope John Paul II. It wasn’t so difficult to have a glimpse of him for his images abound in literature and in the media. He was a very popular pope and so whenever someone mentions his name I don’t have the difficulty to produce an image of him in my mind. But all the previous popes – I only knew them through the books. They have their images too, but all of them are just portraits. To see the first footage of a pope and to hear the first audio recording of his voice was something different.
But who really is Pope Leo XIII? Born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci,was the 256th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903 and had the third longest pontificate after Pius IX and John Paul II.
He is known for intellectualism, the development of social teachings with his encyclical Rerum Novarum and his attempts to define the position of the Church with regard to modern thinking. He influenced Roman Catholic Mariology and promoted both the rosary and the scapular. He issued a record eleven encyclicals on the rosary, approved two new Marian scapulars and was the first Pope to fully embrace the concept of Mary as mediatrix.
As soon as he was elected to the papacy, Leo XIII worked to encourage understanding between the Church and the modern world. When he firmly re-asserted the scholastic doctrine that science and religion co-exist, he required the study of Thomas Aquinas and opened the Vatican Secret Archives to qualified researchers, among whom was the noted historian of the Papacy Ludwig von Pastor.
Leo XIII brought normality back to the Church after the tumultuous years of Pius IX. Leo’s intellectual and diplomatic skills helped regain much of the prestige lost with the fall of the Papal States. He tried to reconcile the Church with the working class, particularly by dealing with the social changes that were sweeping Europe. The new economic order had resulted in the growth of an impoverished working class, with increasing anti-clerical and socialist sympathies. Leo helped reverse this trend.
While Leo was no radical in either theology or politics, his papacy did move the Church back to the mainstream of European life. Considered a great diplomat, he managed to improve relations with Russia, Prussia, Germany, France, England and other countries.
Pope Leo XIII was able to reach several agreements in 1896, which resulted in better conditions for the faithful and additional appointments of bishops. During the Fifth cholera pandemic in 1891 he ordered the construction of a hospice inside the Vatican. That building would be torn down in 1996 to make way for construction of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Of outstanding significance, not least for the English-speaking world, was Leo’s encyclical Apostolicae Curae on the invalidity of the Anglican orders, published in 1896.
Leo XIII was the first Pope of whom a sound recording was made. The recording can be found on a compact disc of Alessandro Moreschi’s singing; a recording of his performance of the Ave Maria is available on the web. He was also the first Pope to be filmed on the motion picture camera. He was filmed by its inventor, W.K. Dickson, and blessed the camera while being filmed.
Leo XIII was the first Pope to be born in the 19th century. He was also the first to die in the 20th century: he lived to the age of 93, the longest living pope. At the time of his death, Leo XIII was the second-longest reigning pope, exceeded only by his immediate predecessor, Pius IX. Leo was not entombed in St. Peter’s Basilica, as all popes after him have been, but instead at the very ancient basilica of St. John Lateran, his cathedral church as Bishop of Rome, and a church in which he took a particular interest.