Monday, March 24, 2008

Updated Site

Hi! It has been soooo long since I posted a note here at my blog. Most of the time, I update my multiply site. do come by http://neofiles.multiply.com/ okay? I'll see you there!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

St. Thomas Aquinas

28 January 2008
St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

Jesus' numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the works of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battle with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry. He overcame the evil one through his obedience to the will of his Father. Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus' healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could he get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan's power? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God. Jesus answers their charge with two arguments. There were many exorcists in Palestine in Jesus' time. So Jesus retorted by saying that they also incriminate their own kin who cast out demons. If they condemn Jesus, they also condemn themselves. In his second argument, he asserts that no kingdom divided against itself cannot survive for long. We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Jesus asserted his authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God. God's power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God's kingdom has come.

What is the point of Jesus' grim story about a strong man's house being occupied by an evil force? Our foe and the arch-enemy of God, who is Satan, is stronger than us. Unless we are clothed in God's strength, we cannot withstand Satan with our own strength. What does Satan wish to take from us? Our faith and confidence in God and our submission to his kingly rule. Satan can only have power or dominion over us if we listen to his lies and succumb to his will, which is contrary to the will of God. Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. There are two kingdoms in opposition to one another— the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God's word, we open the door to the power of sin and Satan. If we want to live in freedom from sin and Satan, then our house must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as Lord as Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and his word?

What is the unforgivable sin which Jesus warns us to avoid? Jesus knows that his disciples will be tested and he assures them that the Holy Spirit will give them what they need in their time of adversity. He warns them, however, that it is possible to spurn the grace of God and to fall into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or disbelief. Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit reprehensible? Blasphemy consists in uttering against God, inwardly or outwardly, words of hatred, reproach, or defiance. It is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. Jesus speaks of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin. Jesus spoke about this sin immediately after the scribes and Pharisees had attributed his miracles to the work of the devil instead of to God. A sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible. If someone repeatedly closes his eye to God and shuts his ears to his voice, he comes to a point where he can no longer recognize God when he can be seen, and when he sees evil as good and good as evil (Is. 5:20). To fear such a sin, however, signals that one is not dead to God and is conscious of the need for God's grace and mercy. There are no limits to the mercy of God, but any who refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. God gives grace and help to all who humbly call upon him. Giving up on God and refusing to turn away from sin and disbelief results from pride and the loss of hope in God. What is the basis of our hope and confidence in God? Jesus' death on the cross won for us our salvation and adoption as the children of God. The love and mercy of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are freely given to those who acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Is your hope securely placed in Christ and his victory on the cross?

"Lord Jesus, you are my hope and salvation. Be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Feast of the Archangels


In honoring the angels we honor God’s power and might. In honoring the angels, we honor our fellow servants. We humans and the angels share the same status before God as servants. However, it is also worthwhile to remember that although we humans are created a little lower than the angels, to use the words of St. Paul, our future will far exceed that of the angels’.

The writer C.S. Lewis told a short parable to help illustrate this. Think of a master of a household who has in his house his young child, his heir, and his adult servant. The servant has been given the task to guard, protect, and train the master’s child. Even though the intelligence and the strength of that servant exceeds that of the child, as that child grows and eventually inherits his Father’s house, his status and his power will eventually become more important than the servant.

We are like that child, and the angels the servant. They have been given the task to guard and protect us until such time as Christ returns and we inherit both heaven and earth. They have been charged to look after us because of our importance in God’s eyes.

The image from today’s Gospel helps to illustrate this. Jesus took the image of angels ascending and descending, as on a ladder, directly from the book of Genesis--from Jacob’s dream of a ladder coming down from heaven and touching the earth--with angels going up and down from it.

Ancient people believed that there are holy and sacred spots here on earth where heaven and earth meet–-spots where heaven and earth intersect. That is a useful image to keep in mind because here before us is such a holy spot-the altar-the spot where heaven and earth intersect: where God sends his Holy Spirit so that mere bread and wine may become Christ’s body and blood. And that holy spot extends into each one of us who partake of Christ’s body and blood, because inasmuch as we bear Christ’s body and blood and the Holy Spirit, we too are sacred and holy.



And so, we may be unable now to see with our bare eyes Who the angels see directly. But the time will come when we will inherit God’s promise to us and we shall join all the angels in heaven as they rejoice in God’s glory, making their hymn of praise our very own: holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.



It is also worthy to note that St. Ignatius asks us, his sons, to practice chastity like the angels, limpid in body and soul. Singlehearted, clear and unambigous in fidelity. I think this is one thing we can learn from the angels. Their undivided love makes them immune from deception which we mere mortals are very much susceptible. By virtue of our being incarnate, makes us all the more distracted to that which we have fixed our eyes. However, this does not make us hopeless and resigned to that which we are prone to. It should give us more courage that the Lord has given us his angels to emulate.



Finally, we do not have to look up and wait for angels to show themselves. We just have to look around and find our angels here in this community. Realizing as well, that we too are angels to one another: God's soldier, being God’s messenger, bearer of God’s love.

I delivered this homily to my sub-community at Loyola House of Studies.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

So, define Philosophy.

Defining philosophy is to define what it actually is, and, yet it is difficult to do so since by pinpointing a lexical definition of it runs the risk of oversimplifying the term. And this oversimplification can lead to looking at philosophy as an academic exercise removed from its intricate connection with the world. I find it strange then to define it, however I must admit the act of philosophizing is something that produces a certain discipline or outlook which broadens the horizon of the human person and further ones knowledge of one’s self. To philosophize is to embody the questions of those who precede us. It is to ask again what really it is to be a human person given our ever-changing situations. Allow me then to relate an experience which I feel paints more accurately what philosophy is in my daily life.

Last Saturday, I gave a recollection to a group of boys until 12 noon. After which, I listened to a three-hour lecture. I felt so spent that day that I rushed home to retire. However, when I arrived home, I could not sleep. I went out of the house and walked from Barangka to Tañong, and then back to Katipunan then entered the Ateneo campus. Looking back, I did not understand why I did such a thing. There were no great ideas that came over me while walking. What I had in mind was to make sure I stayed on the sidewalk to avoid being hit. I had no mystical experience while looking at an old lady trying desperately to get to the other side while doing a patintero with the jeepneys. I was concentrating on holding my handkerchief to avoid inhaling those horrific black smoke emitted by those jeepneys. At the end of the day, I had a tired feet and an oily face. That day ended with me still baffled why I did such a thing. I never knew what it meant to me until I sat down and tried to think deeply what it actually meant. And this is what philosophy or philosophizing is, to actually get our hands dirty, to allow our daily experience to tell us why we do things and what they tell us about ourselves.

Should one miss to develop one’s sense of wonder in putting things together one’s experience, one gets stuck with what the world is feeding the person. A sense of wonder helps the person to get out of the usual patterns of thought and bring alive those which are thought to be impossible. One does not stop in wondering what the experience means to the person at different moments of one’s life, therefore giving new insights or lessons appropriate for the person at that instance.

I wish to use the analogy of looking at a cut diamond. We look at it at a distance on one side. But we just don’t put it down, we turn it against the light and see the different colors it emits. Such is the way we do with philosophizing, we do not look at it on one side, but we turn and twist it to ‘see’ the different meanings it emits to us. We try to use our sense of wonder to make sense out of it. When wonder is absent from all of life’s beauty, we run the risk of being like walking zombies, unable to celebrate life and continues to wander around aimlessly. A sense of wonder enables us to discover new things about ourselves given the new environments that we are exposed. We will not be always at the receiving end to that which what the world wants to dictates to us, but we begin to develop our own selves.
A question then, follows the example of ‘seeing’ the different kinds of light emitted by a diamond; will we ever exhaust, or see all the kinds of light the diamond emits? Will we ever say, ‘this is enough, I’ve seen enough’?

I don’t think we will. At each slow turn of the diamond in our fingers, different experiences will also turn with it. Thereby an experience associated with a ‘color’ will have a different ‘texture’ as it is seen again. That experience, through the passage of time, will have a different flavor, as it will be seen again. Our sense of wonder fuels us to turn this diamond and like the turning of the diamond, it will never be exhausted as long as let go and let our sense of wonder wander. Finally, simply put it, philosophy is enjoying life!

this paper was submitted to my epistemology class this year.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's the time of the year

Yes, it is the time of the year when I try to write something. Either profound or downright corny. It is the start of the classes once more. My first semester did not start until the second day, when 3 out of my 5 Philosophy courses are lumped. Shall we start with understanding how we understand a word with Epistemology with Dr. Angeles or do we want to swim into the minds of the modern Philosophers who believe anything can come from anything of Mr. Mariano or do you want to be ethically correct with Dr. Reyes' Foundations of Moral Value? I had such a long day that I went to bed and slept until 8pm after my last class. I don't know what to expect tomorrow as I pursue Political Philosophy with Mr. Kaelin from 6-9pm (!) on a Friday night! You see, I so want to end this year, however with the comprehensive exam 9 months from now, I do not know as to how my year would end. It is making me nervous and anxious of the future. I can only prepare so much.

On another thought, this is also the time of the year where I join a new community. A new group of brothers who will accompany us through this year. We recently welcomed our new Juniors, the holiest amongst us here. I'd say we will have fun (but again, this is a disposition we all can choose) this year. To Madz, Patrick, Jon, Jovan and Noel, welcome to LHS!

New pictures are posted in my multiply account: neofiles.multiply.com

enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

WHY NOT?

I was tempted to respond, ‘why not?”, when I saw the guide questions for this long test. It was a reaction that was actually empty of any claim for I do not have the capacity (yet) to back-up this response. But in the end of two years, hopefully I can take that side of the argument and honestly ask, ‘why not?’ with a bit of the answer in mind. But for now, I will have to set that aside.

In this day and age, information is power. Information can come in different forms at different speeds. And the more timely the information is, the more powerful it is. Telecommunications have changed the way we mean by up-to-date or up to the last second. For now these are all possible, literally. We enter into a day filled with different kinds of information. We let them go through us, influence us, move us and we swiftly let the day end, with these thousands of information pass us, unprocessed. And it is in these little pockets of moments where we have a glimpse of our being. And no better way for us to know the being in us, but in philosophizing.

Last Saturday, I gave a recollection to a group of boys until 12 noon. After which, I listened to a three-hour lecture. I felt so spent that day that I rushed home to retire. However, when I arrived home, I could not sleep. I went out of the house and walked from Barangka to Tañong, and then back to Katipunan then entered the ADMU campus. Looking back, I could not understand how I did such a thing. There were no great ideas that came over me while walking. What I had in mind was to make sure I stayed on the sidewalk to avoid being hit. I had no mystical experience while looking at an old lady trying desperately to get to the other side while doing a patintero with the jeepneys. I was concentrating on holding my handkerchief to avoid inhaling those horrific black smoke emitted by those jeepneys. At the end of the day, I had a tired feet and an oily face. That day ended with me still baffled of why I did such a thing. I never knew what it meant to me until I sat down and tried to think deeply what it actually meant.

And this is what Ferriols wanted when he asks us to ‘do’ philosophy and not just define it. To actually get our hands dirty to know whether it is what it is. An insight, if I may add with Ferriols’ thought, presupposes a reflection of an experience. A reflection that is not a ‘navel-gazing’ exercise but a reflection that includes the surroundings of the person. An insight that actually moves the person into action. I suppose an insight that does not attain its full meaning when it is not set into action. It remains an insight. It remains ‘up there.’ What good is it then to be left ‘up there’?

Depending whether something is of importance to a person, one may not be compelled to act on it. I’d say it would now depend on how it is of relevance to the person. If it compels the person to wake up in the morning and plague the person’s mind, if it drives the person to work on things, then that may be of significant importance to the person. If it is giving the person that ‘itch,’ then such a ‘something’ could be a true question.

Once I had to drop everything I was doing since I had to understand a certain part of me that I could not completely grasp. I was getting confused why the ideal self was inversely proportional to my real self. There was confusion; why was there a difference of what I say from what I do. It came to that serious point that I had to drop everything to find a way to ‘unscrew’ such dilemma. This was of utter importance to me, that I could afford to drop everything I was doing. It gave me such un-easeness to the point that it manifested in my bodily dis-ease.

In that context, I would say that the experience gave me a new insight, an insight that I could use to better myself. An insight that gave me a piece of knowledge of who I am and pushed me another step forward to knowing myself. In the many facets of philosophizing, the number of benefits we could draw from it depends on where we are looking at it. There will a certain resolution, but not quite. For our human instincts will tell us to look at it differently, and so hopefully, draw out a different insight. I wish to use the analogy of looking at a cut diamond. We look at it at a distance on one side. But we just don’t put it down, we turn it against the light and see the different colors it emits. Such is the way we do with philosophizing, we do not look at it on one side, but we turn and twist it to ‘see’ the different meanings it emits to us.

A question then, follows the example of ‘seeing’ the different kinds of light emitted by a diamond; will we ever exhaust, or see all the kinds of light the diamond emits? Will we ever say, ‘this is enough, I’ve seen enough’?

I don’t think we will. At each slow turn of the diamond in our fingers, different experiences will also turn with it. Thereby an experience associated with a ‘color’ will have a different ‘texture’ as it is seen again. That experience, through the passage of time, will have a different flavor, as it will be seen again. Just as philosophizing.

We may stop turning the diamond for a moment and simply gaze at the light, just like we may stop philosophizing for a moment and be content with what we have achieved. But there will come a time, when we cannot help, but be compelled to turn the diamond again, to ask again, to philosophize again. And as each turn becomes more unpredictable, we come to the knowledge, that even if we have passed this way before, we cannot say, we know.

For saying we know is assuming that we no longer open ourselves to learning for we have set a formula that we have established. We apply certain principles that we think is applicable to all and think of ourselves as wise. Just as the Athenians were.

It is a great folly to fall into the trap and say, ‘I know.’ For much better it is to say I do not know, even if I have an inkling or knowledge of it, than to say I know and not fully expound what I purportedly know. Socrates pounds this on his fellow countrymen and yet they were stubborn to accept their flaw. And yet how funny it is that such admonition is still relevant today. Information is power and people want to have that piece of information, however incomplete, and declare it, in the hope that it will bring about power to them. The temporary grasp of information blinds them to acquire more of it, even if there is a flaw to such information. Socrates reminds his people, and us, that it is not enough to get hold of knowledge, but to grasp it and understand it. In doing so, we run the risk of not really understanding completely what it is. And we become humbled by the fact that in our own strength, lies our great limitation.

published in Pilosopo Tasyo
A Philosophy Joournal of the
Ateneo Philosophy Club

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Jesuit 'Greatness'


Copied from a reflection of a Jesuit Provincial of the California Province
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Some time ago, a young man asked me how it was that so many ordinary men, upon entering the Society of Jesus, went on to do great things. What was it, he wondered, about Jesuit formation that brought "greatness" to the fore in the individual Jesuit? I must confess that I'd never really thought about Jesuit life in those terms. Upon further reflection, however, I thought of the "great desires" that were so important to St. Ignatius. Fr. Ed Kinerk, S.J., in his article, "Eliciting Great Desires," sheds considerable light on these "great desires" and helps answer the young man's question:

"One of the paradoxes of the group of early Jesuits was that Ignatius attracted to his company men like Pierre Favre and Jerónimo Nadal. A Francis Xavier we could expect: he and Ignatius came from the same fiery soil. But Favre and Nadal were timid men, often depressed, and bothered by self-doubt – hardly promising material for the spiritual and apostolic rigors of the Society. Nonetheless, Ignatius saw beyond their fears, and he uncovered in them intense desires to follow Jesus Christ and give service in his name. We know the rest: Nadal is considered our greatest source for understanding the mind of Ignatius, and we honor Favre as a `blessed' of the Church.

"It was the genius of Ignatius ordinarily to win his men to his viewpoints, rather than impose on them or the Society a particular way of responding. He went to great pains to draw the best out of his men by helping them to discover for themselves what they most deeply desired; and he always assumed that the most effective and energetic
Jesuits would be those who could generate their own zeal. In fact, he did not want any other kind around, since the far-flung and ambitious mission of the Society demanded men whose energy and apostolic desires would in turn be sources of animation for others."

Some years ago, one of my Jesuit heroes, the German theologian Karl Rahner (1904-1984), was asked how it is that a modern man can still remain or become a Jesuit. His entire answer is magnificent, but it included the following:

"I still see around me, living in many of my companions, a readiness for disinterested service carried out in silence, a readiness for prayer, for abandonment to the incomprehensibility of God, for the calm acceptance of death in whatever form it may come, for total dedication to the following of Christ crucified."

It's clear that Karl Rahner not only experienced Jesuit life; he reflected on it and found words to express the fruit of his reflections. Perhaps he even read about it and brought his thoughts about it to prayer. But it seems that he helped find his own "great desires" in the lives of the Jesuits with whom he lived and worked.

* In the picture (center): Very Rev. Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. Superior General of the Society of Jesus.