Thursday, August 15, 2013

Let go and let God!

Have you ever experienced losing someone? Perhaps one of your loved ones; your mother, your father, or anyone whom you loved and treasured in life. Isn’t it hurting?

It has been for a while since my beloved father had passed away. I still remember that sad feeling of letting him go. How I wish that God would bring him back again to life so that I can say thank you to him and tell him that I am very proud of him as my father. How I wish...but it had already happened. His death, although painful, must be accepted.

It was a sad reality that my father left us. I blamed God to allow such thing to happen. I still saw my father in the morning, but then in the afternoon he was already in the coffin. I felt like he abandoned me. I was, in some way, like a street child struggling to survive without someone to hold on but my very own self; to stand in my own feet.

This was perhaps the feeling of Jesus when He was on the cross, suffering for the salvation of mankind. It seemed like He was forgotten by His Father when He said: “Eloi! Eloi! Lema sabachtani?”(My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?). These words of Jesus show His humanity, His human frailty. He complains to the Father why He allowed such thing to happen to Him, His only beloved Son. However, this was not the end of the story; instead it brings us, if we would examine profoundly, to a deeper meaning. 

In the mystery of Incarnation, Jesus’ coming into the world implies that He would have to undergo suffering, that is, His passion, death, and resurrection in order to save the humanity from the slavery of sin. When Jesus was sent by the Father, it is part and parcel of Jesus’ mission to face this reality of dying on the cross for the salvation of the world. His approval of death on the cross is the inexorable consequence of fidelity to His mission. However, it is but important to note that although He complained to God, He still in the end submit His entire will to the Father who sent Him. That is somehow the difference between my experience of being forsaken by God and Jesus’ experience of being forsaken by His Father.

The death of my father somehow hinders me to submit my will to the plan of God. I keep on insisting to be with my father where, in fact, he is now in heaven dwelling with the One who created him (who knows???). Somehow, I still have in my heart the pain of letting him go. I know that it would really take time to heal the wounded heart especially that it was still fresh in my memory. He died in a motorcycle accident on April 7, 2011.

Moreover, I am hoping and praying that despite my yearning to my father; God will accept him in heaven, to dwell with Him forever. Let us remember that God has always a plan for us; we need, on our part, to let His will be done for us. 

Let go and let God! Amen.

Sem. John Kristoffer Nalam is a 2nd Year Theologian from the Diocese of Tagum. He is currently enrolled at the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. He is also the Secretary for Internal Affairs of the UST Central Seminary.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Moral Ambivalence: A Second Time Around

It is very interesting and even commendable how the article tries to infiltrate the legal bounds of the notion of crime to explain as much as possible a morally upright ground from which this could be imagined tenable. Promising it is, to depict two moral principles: one of Locke, that the obligation to obey the law can be reduced or even eliminated in the context of injustice; and the other of Hobbes, that every citizen is obligated to obey the law to ensure peace. It was a kind attempt to sketch a fair juxtaposition of the committal of crime in the legal sense along the moral sense. Yet, there is in no way that this has been successful enough in portraying ambivalence in morality with regard in committing crime as illustrated. Instead, the greater ambivalence that can be identified in the article is the author’s evident personal hatred of being a helpless victim of crime and as well his very own pretentious motive to deny it smoothly as possible. That is why, to concern himself in elucidating the moral sense of crime in this moment of denial, he fails to consider the nature of human action and its implications thereof, neglects to question the apparent selfishness of the subscribed moral principles, and ultimately falters to consider law as a mental experiment, disregarding natural law as a preëmptive assurance.

Stealing is the glaring issue throughout the article and the author struggles to extract claims of uprightness from such. However, it was a weak argument that stealing as reclamation of one’s possession disproves its criminality. For as a human action, there should always be an adherence to the right object, with right intention and under the right circumstance. Simply speaking, the first and last requirements in such light are very much debatable. It would be much more appealing if the controversy has been handed through right authorities and not as pathetic as to reclaim it right there and then. Needless to say, it was also human action that designed these prerogatives, a reason aside from the examination of prudence. 


The two philosophical giants, Locke and Hobbes, adored by this article seem to be mishandled or demonstrated inadequately. To sermon about morality, it is not enough to focus the report to sincere personal inclinations or interests. Otherwise, morality which is universal in nature and altruistic in impulse will be contained into a pathetic self-imposition of unreasonable whines and pretense. Driving from the Lockean argument that to obey the law belongs only to those who experience justice leaves those victims of injustice unobligated. However, human as we are, egoism tells us that there would always be a reason to see ourselves victims of injustice in one way or another, and others will have no right to debunk our own perspective. In fact, they might as well join us, sympathize with us, and rally with us to share the privilege of being unobligated to obey the law, if that is the case. On the other hand, the Hobbesian principle of achieving peace begins to be questionable when one is to define it for themselves. And the closest way to formalize the notion of peace is through societal limits. But practically, the observance of societal law is not stimulated through the dream of brotherhood and harmony but through the nightmare of police power. There may be peace in traffic enforcements and economic relations, but the peace dreamt within the person’s undying integrity and beliefs places societal peace in the edge of danger. The point is pampering conceited human actions promotes immature conscience. After all, morality is in the aim of attaining common good far higher than satisfying personal good.

This now brings us to the significance of re-echoing civil law through natural law. For, to regard civil law as less as mental experiment proves to be the primary mistake. It should be noted that civil law come from man’s own examination of conscience on the natural law. This declares that any mistake observed in the laws is not a failure of experiment but a failure of conscience. In fact, no one can even determine a ‘rightful mistake’ unless seen through right conscience. It is then a matter of progression rather than mere replacement. Civil law would always be a sign of maturity of heart and not of satirical cleverness that more often tries to reconfigure the imperatives even of natural law. Simply speaking, civil laws should always be a reflection of natural law and not mere decisions that come from ill-disposed morals or worse from thin air of ignorance. Stealing is wrong, because if it is not, it is not stealing; just as contraception is wrong, because if it is not, it is life that would be wrong – the greatest absurdity leading to nothing less than suicide. 

Hence, to save this article from its suicidal phase, it should be delivered not through definite intellectual arrogance but instead, through the indefinite humble understanding of conscience. It is true that there is no actual criminal justice system that acknowledges injustice as enough reason for the inobservance of law, yet natural law dictates us through the purity of our conscience to go against civil authorities if it is to be discerned wrong – whereby the greater moral ambivalence lies.

Sem. Baltazar Acebedo Jr. is a first year Theologian from the Diocese of Parañaque. He is currently enrolled in the STB Program of the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. This is a CRITIQUE on Jeffrey Reiman's, The Moral Ambivalence of Crime in an Unjust Society during his class in Moral Theology.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Understanding our Parents

I grew up in a family where I can play with my brother and sister every time. My father used to tell me bedtime stories. My mother took charge of checking my assignments and correcting my mistakes. All of them contributed much to make my childhood years a memorable one. I have a very supporting family and a home where I can never be unwanted.

As I grow, I slowly realized the bigger picture of life. I encountered a diverse reality - different people, struggles and achievements. My childhood years began to change. There are no more playtime, bed stories, and assignments to be checked by my mother. I belong now to the decision-making community. 

Yes, I can decide on my own but this is the stage where I often encounter problems. When I have something to do with my classmates, we usually do the activities away from home. And what usually happens, I come home late. My parents then start to scold me for not respecting the house rules, or other instances like spending too much time in leisure, bonding time with my classmates than staying at home. Sometimes when I want to visit some friends during night-time, they don’t allow me to go with them and punish me for not obeying their decisions. It seems that I don’t have freedom. I feel unloved and disrespected. I don’t get what I wanted. This leads me to rebellion.

Nonetheless, as a philosopher, it is my task to unravel the ‘mystery’ of the family. It is my job to comprehend the situation I have with my parents. I am their child and I am their responsibility. Whatever happens to me disturbs them. I exist because two persons offered themselves to each other – an expression of their mutual surrender. I am the significant unfolding and blossoming of the unity of love of my parents. My existence is the meaning of their existence.

As their child, I have my role in the welfare of the family. I have my responsibility in keeping the family united. The moment I was born, I became their life. My existence brings forth their meaningful existence. My life is also their life.

Now that I realized the situation, I can now take part without hesitation to contribute for the sake of the family. Their intention when they don’t allow me to go outside during night-time is their expression of love for me. Their actions remind me that I am their responsibility. And most of all, since I am their life, without me in their side, life seems worthless to them. 

A ‘mystery’ indeed.

Sem. Dennis Rey Ortojan is a 2nd Year Theologian from the Diocese of Tandag. He is currently enrolled at the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. He is also the Secretary for External Affairs of the UST Central Seminary. This article was first posted in his Facebook account last January 13, 2011.  

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Ordination of Rev. Djatmiko Rachmad - August 15, 2013

This is the invitation 
There are 13 deacons 

who will be ordained as PRIEST on August 15, 2013.
The ceremony will take place 

at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Surabaya, Indonesia at 5 pm


Rev. Djatmiko Rachmad finished his STB Program in the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. During his stay with the Central Seminary Community, he was part of the Bukluran Kabagis Blitz and served as one of the Kapitanes. Let us include him in our prayer intentions.

Moral Ambivalence of Crime in an Unjust Society

A society could be unjust if it fails to give what is due to every citizen to experience a decent living. However, there is an unfair observation of rights and privileges and an imbalance distribution of goods within the society. Only few people are enjoying all the luxuries of life while massive of them are doomed to poverty and cannot even secure the basic needs for life preservation.

On the other hand, we may also ask, what is the Moral Ambivalence of Crime all about? Practically, there is a sort of complication in understanding this phenomenon. A crime, if committed in this context, may be seen as not an actual crime in its moral sense. Maybe in its legal sense, it is. The author presented this example: “Supposing I have seen someone sawing the chain of a bicycle which is locked to a post, and after the chain is severed, the person jump over it and take it away”. Definitely, I would say that I have witnessed a crime before my own eyes. However, one thing that I’m unaware of is that, the person who just took the bicycle was actually the owner of it. It was just stolen from him some earlier time and that he is just reclaiming what rightfully belongs to him. Hence, at this point, what I judged to be a crime is not a crime at all but rather a sort of restitution.

Indeed, theft and robbery are prevalent crimes in many societies. Somehow, these destroy the reputation of some places and loosen the trust of many people. Yet, considering the given situation above, have we ever come to realize that these people who are engaged in such crimes are, in one way or another, not actually stealing anything in a strict sense, but just unconsciously claiming what is rightfully theirs? Well, we might have a difficulty in understanding this phenomenon. It needs a delicate examination. However, it seems that, those people have been deprived of something which is supposed to be their property thus, they seem to have the right to claim it by any means. At this point, I’m not saying that criminals can do whatever they wanted just to have back their share because I believe by nature, they are aware of their moral obligation not to cause any harm to their fellow. However, just as the state has the right to use force in taking what is not mine and give it back to rightful owner, so I believe that these people who have been victims of injustice and violence has also the right to do what is necessary to take back what are theirs. After all, there is always an inclination for the victims of injustice and violence to act unjustly and violently in return although, this is not the point.

Yes, at some point, they are right. However, this exclusive attitude towards themselves is in itself a manifestation of selfishness and self-centeredness. They are just thinking of themselves and for their own sake thus, denying any responsibility towards their fellow. Definitely, this attitude is the starting point of greediness and at the same time, the ground of injustice. Since from this context arises the desire to possess earthly goods and services without limit even to the extent of depriving others. In fact, this is forbidden in the 10th commandment and in the 7th one because earthly goods are ought to be distributed properly, not just for the benefits of some but for the common good all.

Sem. Mamerto Caliwan Jr. is a first year Theologian from the Diocese of Borongan. He is currently enrolled in the STB Program of the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology. This article is an excerpt of his reaction on Jeffrey Reiman's, The Moral Ambivalence of Crime in an Unjust Society during his class in Moral Theology.  

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Parable of the Net

In the gospel, Jesus told his disciples that the Kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some fish of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore.

But what if after all the hard work and the effort exerted by the fishermen, they will experience what the disciples of Jesus experienced before they meet him and caught not a single fish . If this thing happens, they will certainly spent a time or two to check their nets, trying to comprehend what had just happen to their night of fishing in vain. Maybe the net is not so strong that it was easily destroyed at the very moment when it was filled with fishes, or maybe there were holes in it where the fish can pass way out. Certainly if the fishermen saw the problem they will immediately fix it.

In the previous days, we come to heard the news of Pope Francis' attendance to the World Youth Day Jamboree in Rio de Jainero Brazil, Brazil  which is considered to be a country with the largest Catholic population in the world but recently experiencing massive exodus of faithful who were converted to Protestantism or have been succumbed  to the tempting  consumerist-secularistic lifestyle of the world. With this situation enveloping Brazil and other parts of the world, Pope Francis candidly post a question to the Cardinals as a point of reflection, “Are we still a Church capable of warming the hearts of people?”. Aside from our faith to God, solidarity to each member of the Church is also needed in order for people to have a sense of belongingness - one can confidently say to oneself, I belong here, they love me here and I will stay here.

With it I come to think of my own experience in my vocation, people would usually ask us (seminarians) “Bakit  ka naman nag-seminarista?" Sayang! (Why have you decided to enter the seminary? What a waste!) Yes, often times I am like a fish. After being caught would dare, with all its strength,  to get away.

But I would say that I am still a seminarian because have experienced warmth even in frustrations, experienced God through the community, through the people who recognized my presence/existence in the most peculiar manner you can imagine such as what I call “Kantiyawan Moments”. Besides you can only candidly tease a person whom you consider as friends.

I always believe that when our hearts are full of charity, it will help us persevere and stay where we are now. Like what St. Peter said to the question of Jesus when most of his disciples left him because they cannot accept his teachings, "Lord, to whom shall we go, we believe and we know that you have the words of eternal life."

It is easy not to remain faithful if the love inside one’s hearts does not suffice “Madaling maging hindi tapat kung ang pag-ibig sa puso’y di sapat.”

Lastly, we are now fishers of men in our own right. In our apostolate, God gives us the opportunity to be his messengers. It is an essential part of the Church to go into the mission. A Church who forgets or decides to forget her missionary identity will cease to become a Church and it will only be considered as a merely social worker or a fisherman whose net is ruined.

Sem. Jonathan Autida is a Fifth Year theologian from the Diocese of Tagum. Currently, he is taking Canon Law in the UST Ecclesiastical Faculties. This reflection was given last July 31, 2013 during the Sharing of the Acolytes every Wednesdays & Sundays.