27 January 2011

'Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .' Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, 30 January 2011

Sermon on the Mount, Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82

Readings (New American Bible, used in the Lectionary in the Philippines and USA)

Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12a)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”


Nearly all English translations that I’m familiar with use the term ‘poor in spirit’ in the first beatitude. I never quite understood what this meant until I read the New English Bible (NEB) translation: ‘How blest are those who know their need of God, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs’. (Many say that the NEB isn’t a literal translation. The Revised English Bible, a revision of the NEB, went back to ‘poor in spirit’). However, for the first time the term ‘poor in spirit’ became clear to me. It doesn’t mean being far from God, being lost in sin, but knowing that we need God. It is in that awareness that we are blessed by God.



Biblical Reflection for 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB http://www.zenit.org/article-31564?l=english

TORONTO, JAN. 25, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the Church continues her pilgrim journey throughout history, we need a vision to sustain us and give us hope in the midst of our shadows, ambiguities and sins, our joys and hopes and victories. That biblical vision is found in the great Christian charter in today's Gospel passage . . .

Meaning of the beatitudes

The beatitudes are the great charter for Christian living. They reveal God's ultimate justice and outline Jesus' prophetic outreach to those who live on the fringes of society. So many people -- the sick, the lame, the poor and the hungry -- converge on Jesus on that Galilean hillside. In this awesome biblical scene overlooking the sea, Jesus puts biblical justice into practice by proclaiming the beatitudes. Authentic justice is a bonding of one's self with the sick, the disabled, the poor and the hungry. The crowds that listened to Jesus were awestruck because he spoke with authority, with the force of someone who knew the truth and offered it freely to others. He was a teacher like no other . . .

Blueprint for holiness

The beatitudes are also a recipe for extreme holiness. Holiness is a way of life that involves commitment and activity. It is not a passive endeavor but rather a continuous choice to deepen one's relationship with God and to then allow this relationship to guide all of one's actions in the world . . .

Full text here.

26 January 2011

'Abortion is not a treatment' - Professor of Paediatrics

Visitation, Mariotto Martinelli, 1503

Family & Life, an Irish pro-life organization, recently carried the story below. I have highlighted some parts.

Abortion Is Not Treatment - Professor

Professor Jim Dundon, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, has intervened in the ongoing debate on abortion in Ireland to remind people that abortion is not a medical treatment. "In what is termed a 'crisis pregnancy' all of us would feel for the mother to be, but apparently some would go so far as to advise termination of the pregnancy, ie, abortion," he writes.

"Abortion is not a treatment. It kills an innocent defenceless human being. Human life begins at conception and ends at natural death." The professor points out that "Any life-threatening disease or disorder arising during a pregnancy can and should be treated." But "Abortion is not a treatment of any disease or disorder."

Prof Dundon deplores those who, "At a time when such a 'mother to be' needs all the help and support she can be given" would abandon her and offer her "only one option – abortion."

"Apart from the aggressive trauma of abortion, which is considerable," he concludes, "she has to face the rest of her life with the knowledge she has destroyed the life of her own baby". The Irish Times. January 14.


Family & Life sent out the following alert yesterday, 25 January, to those on its emailing list. The alert is in the context of the election today of a new leader of the ruling Fianna Fáil Party to succeed Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen who resigned from that position in the party last Saturday. It is certain that the party will receive a 'hammering' in the forthcoming general election.

As a Columban priest I must say that Mr Martin was a great help to us when Fr Michael Sinnott was kidnapped in the southern Philippines in October 2009. He went beyond what was required of him as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Action Alert!

Embryo Research Advocate Leads FF Race

Micheál Martin, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, is believed to be the front-runner in the race to succeed Taoiseach Brian Cowen as leader of the Fianna Fáil Party. As Minister for Health in 2000 it was Martin who set up the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction. This body was stacked with representatives of the IVF industry and produced a hugely unbalanced report which ignored most of the submissions made to the Commission. In 2006, when he was Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin spoke out in favour of permitting research in Ireland involving the destruction of human embryos. He voted in favour of EU funding for embryonic stem cell research and said that he would support such research in Ireland once the constitutional status of unimplanted human embryos was clarified. The new leader of Fianna Fáil will be elected tomorrow afternoon. While the party is widely expected to fare badly in the upcoming general election, the prospect of a leader with Micheál Martin’s record on life issues will likely raise additional concerns for many supporters which they may wish to raise urgently with their local Fianna Fáil TDs.

24 January 2011

Irish Examiner: State 'exported' 55 people with intellectual disabilities, report says

As an Irish citizen, I was utterly shocked when I read the headline in today's Irish Examiner: State 'exported' 55 people with intellectual disabilities, report says. The story is by Jennifer Hough. The paper's second editorial comments on the story: Intellectual disability - Hypocrisy of the HSE. The HSE(logo above), Health Service Executive,  was set up in 2005 to replace the regional health boards. The Irish Examiner editorial is not its main one, which is about the Green Party leaving the Irish government, which is about to fall.

Here is the text of Jennifer Hough's news story. I've highlighted some parts and added [comments].

State ‘exported’ 55 people with intellectual disabilities, report says

By Jennifer Hough

Monday, January 24, 2011

PEOPLE with intellectual disabilities have been "exiled" to agencies outside of Ireland for the past 30 years and continue to be "ignored" in the provision of mental health services, according to a report.

The damning study — published to coincide with the fifth anniversary of A Vision for Change, a policy document drawn up to reform mental health services in Ireland — concludes the provision of mental health services for people with an intellectual disability (ID) continues to require "immediate prioritisation" by the HSE as it has not been afforded "any discernible concern".

Excluded, Expelled and Exported: The citizens we’ve ignored and those we’ve exiled, which is published by The College of Psychiatry of Ireland, reveals that over the past 30 years at least €30 million has been spent on placing people in other jurisdictions. [Could not much of that money have been spent on making it possible to provide proper services in Ireland?]

It reveals 55 Irish people with an intellectual disability — some of whom have been in the placements for decades — are in specialist services outside of the state.

Some of those placements cost up to €300,000 annually. The latest figure is an increase of 20 people — or 57% — since A Vision for Change was published.

According to the report, the fact that 75% of the placements are in the North refutes the argument that there is not the critical mass for such specialist service provision here. [The 'North' refers to Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At least they are in the same country, though in a different state, making it possible for their families and friends to visit them.]

Additionally, it is estimated at least 137 more people with intellectual disability require specialist residential services that are not available. The CPsychI maintains this is an "unacceptable and unsustainable" situation.

"As we export people with intellectual disability for placement and treatment, individual people and their families may get a service, but no level of national expertise builds up," the report states.

"Clearly, it is not rational or humane but rather ad hoc and inequitable and clearly, many people get no service at all."

The data comes from a HSE freedom of information request, which did not include information on people who had previously been placed out of the state and who had returned during or prior to 2010. [Note that the HSE had to be requested to release the information.] Therefore, the costs are likely to be under-estimated.

The data shows that the longest placement outside of Ireland is of a person who has been in the United States since 1981. [In other words, this person has been in exile for the last thirty years at the behest of the Irish Department of Health, the Irish taxpayer footing the bill. Would we accept such a situation for a person who didn't have an intellectual disability? How can this person, a citizen of Ireland, experience the opening word of Article 40 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the Irish Constitution, says: All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law? How can that person and his or her family experience what Article 41 says: 2° The State, therefore, guarantees to protect the Family in its constitution and authority, as the necessary basis of social order and as indispensable to the welfare of the Nation and the State? Isn't the sending a person into permanent exile simply because he or she has an intelletual disability destroying that person's family, making it impossible for the members to realte to one another?]The cost of the placements differ dramatically, but the overall annual cost of placing all 55 people who are currently in residential care out of state is €5m.

The annual cost of placement for 20 individuals is less than €50,000.

For a further 20 individuals it is between €50,000 and €100,000.

In six cases the cost is €100,000-€200,000, in seven cases it is €200,000-€300,000 and in one case the annual cost is more than €300,000.

However, as the report’s authors point out, the "export of Irish citizens comes at a considerable financial cost as well as human cost" as placements outside of the state dislodge vulnerable people with an intellectual disability from their families and local communities. [See comments above.]

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, January 24, 2011.

Meb was a painter, he had an intellectual disability. He composed his work of art on the occasion of the first pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1971 after some one read him the Charter of the first Faith and Light pilgrimage.

What he did was very simple. A boat in which he put a number of figures. He painted twelve of them. Jesus must be sleeping somewhere in the bottom of the boat. Then there was the sun and the clouds. Meb was certainly very inspired. He could not count.

His idea : we are in a boat and we are travelling together. Sometimes the sea is rough, sometimes it’s dead calm, sometimes you need to row, and sometimes the wind blows in the sails .. Meb had understood all that.

Here is the caption that goes with the drawing :

“The clouds parted and Your light, oh Lord, shone down upon us.”


Christ Blessing the children, Nicolaes Maes, painted 1652-53

Last year it came to light that many children had died in the previous ten years while under the 'care' of the Irish State. Here is one report by Susan Mitchell in The Sunday Business Post on 23 May 2010: HSE believes 200 children died in care. One quotation from that story: A senior figure in the HSE told The Sunday Business Post that it still did not know the precise number of children that had died while in care, but it was feared that the true tally could be in the order of 200.


22 January 2011

'Come after me . . .' Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, 23 January 2011

The Calling of St Peter and St Andrew, Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder

Readings (New American Bibles used in the Philippines) 

Gospel (Mt 4:12-23)

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.


(Mt 4:12-17)

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


The readings today draw us back to Christmas and forward to Lent. The text from Isaiah that Matthew quotes contains part of the first reading at the Midnight Mass for Christmas. The same reading was used here in the Philippines last Sunday for the feast of the Santo Niño (Holy Child). The words of Isaiah are followed by those of Jesus that point us towards Lent, just over six weeks away.

The call of the first disciples may be omitted. It would seem a pity to do so even though it’s not overtly connected with what precedes it. But Jesus before he returned to his Father he gave us our mission: Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." The call of Peter, Andrew, James and John points us towards that.

Often enough we restrict the word ‘vocation’ to that of the priest or religious. Each one of us has a specific vocation from God, included in the basic call to be a saint. I spent some years as a vocation director here in the Philippines and sometimes listened to religious or priests speak to young people about the vocation of marriage and almost forgetting to speak about their own. That’s going to the other extreme.

Sr Marie Paul Therese OCD

However, the vocation stories in the gospels always bring me to thank God for my own vocation to be a Columban missionary priest. The call of each of us involves a unique story. One such ‘love story’, as she calls it, expressing the heart of the reality of a vocation, is that of Sr Marie Paul Therese OCD of the Carmel in Vilvoorde, Belgium, the oldest Carmelite monastery in the world. Part of her story was reading an article in Misyon, the Columban magazine I have been editing here in the Philippines since the feast of St Thérèse of Lisiuex, patron of missionaries, 1 October 2002. An article by a Filipina Carmelite nun in Vilvoorde, Sr Mary Carmela OCD, in Misyon, when it was still a printed magazine, led Sr Marie Paul Therese from Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, where the Columbans worked for many years, to Belgium, with the help of the email address we included. You can read From Iligan to Vilvoorde in the current issue of Misyon.



Biblical Reflection for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, JAN. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Both today's first reading from the Prophet Isaiah (Is 8:23-9:3) and the Gospel passage (Matthew 4:12-23) keep alive the memory of Christmas for us. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness– on them a light has shined."

The choral section from the Nativity cycle of Handel's Messiah never ceases to move me each time I listen to Isaiah's prophecy set to hauntingly beautiful music. The words reach their crescendo in the announcement of the birth of a child who will be called: "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah's prophecy forms the first reading that we hear proclaimed each year at the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Full text here.  

19 January 2011

'Thank you' from the Columbans

Though 2011 is now well under way, it is never too late to say 'thank you' for the graces of 2010. The Columbans in the Region of Australia and New Zealand have put together this short video to thank God and all our benefactors for the blessings we have received, and others through us - and we through them - in the countries where we work, in the year that ended a few weeks ago.

15 January 2011

Sunday Reflections. Feast of the Sto Niño (Philippines); Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (elsewhere), 16 January 2011

Christ Blessing the Children, Nicolas Maes, 1652-53

This Sunday, 16 January 2011, is the Feast of the Sto Niño (Holy Child) in the Philippines. Elsewhere it is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A.

The readings for the Feast of the Sto Niño are:
Isaiah 9:1-6; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18; Matthew 18:1-5, 10.

Gospel (Mt 18:1-5, 10; New American Bible, used in the Lectionary in the Philippines)

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.


Holy Family Home, Bacolod City

In the context of the gospel above you might like to read A Safe Haven by Fr Gary Walker that appeared in Misyon in January-February 2009. The video version is here. Read also A Child Redeemed is a Generation Saved by Richelle Verdeprado, from Misyon July-August 2008. The video version is here.


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

The Preaching of St John the Baptist, Alessandro Allori, 1601-03


Gospel (John 1:29-34, New American Bible)

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”


Recognizing Agnus Dei, Agna Dei and Martyrdom

Biblical Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time A

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, JAN. 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- In today's Gospel passage (John 1:29-34), the figure of John the Baptist appears once again almost as if to send us back to Advent to look carefully at the evidence of the Baptizer and of Jesus, and to make some decisions about our own lives.

The evangelist John’s account of the Baptism of Jesus is very different from the other three evangelists, and the historical situation explains why. John’s gospel text shows no knowledge of the tradition (Luke 1) about the kinship of Jesus and John the Baptist. In the Fourth Gospel, John's baptism is not connected with forgiveness of sins; its purpose is revelatory, that Jesus may be made known to Israel. For John, a simple chronicle of events is never enough; the important thing is that events excite a personal testimony about Jesus.

The evangelist John is very intent on counteracting a movement that regarded John the Baptist as superior to Jesus. He does not narrate the baptism event; instead, he puts the meaning of the baptism into John the Baptist's testimony. He has the Baptizer publicly profess his raison d’être: "The reason why I came...was that he [Jesus] might be made known."

Full text here.

14 January 2011

'Non-reproductive beings' should have no voice in defence of human life?

US Secretary of State clarifies to Rep. Chris Smith that 'Reproductive Health' etc includes abortion

Rina Jimenez-David is a columnist in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the most widely read broadsheet in the Philippines. The paper began 25 years ago as part of the movement that eventually ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Ms Jimenez-David frequently writes in support of contraception. She began one column by stating that the most important decision to be made by a couple getting married was which contraceptive to use. In the last two years or so it is clear that she also supports abortion. Four or five years ago she got a fellowship to a short course in California the aim of which was to train persons with influence in developing countries to promote contraception. The columnist wrote at the time that there was an extra week for those from Spanish-speaking countries to help them promote abortion. (The Philippines is not and never has been a Spanish-speaking country so she did not take part in that). The course was largely funded by a Bill Gates foundation, as I recall.

A Reproductive Health bill is being pushed through at the moment in the Philippines. Its proponents have said many times that it does not include abortion. But the term 'Reproductive Health' is a code for abortion, as Hillary Clinton makes clear in the video above. The RH Bill is the background to the column to which I responded.

Last Sunday  in her column Ms Jimenez-David wrote: But let me caution the President and his advisers against letting his dialogue partners take their sweet time nitpicking over various arcane issues like when life begins; what constitutes fertilization, ovulation and abortion; and whose rights should prevail: The mother’s or the unborn child’s. If they so want, Catholic bishops and their supporters among hard-line conservatives can keep up the “dialogue” until well into the next millennium! (Emphasis mine throughout.)

She further wrote: And may I point out that Catholic bishops and priests are strictly speaking peripheral to the issue of reproductive health: they are not (officially at least) reproductive beings. Having taken vows of celibacy, they are not (or should not be) confronted with the problems that millions of reproductive Filipino men and women face every day

Ms Jimenez-David further wrote: (As an aside—I couldn’t resist bringing it up—a doctor-friend of mine tells me that while he was a young physician, he was asked to give a talk on sexuality before a group of priests. Afterwards, he recalled, he was approached “in private” by quite a good number of priests who wanted to know what they could do about their sexually transmitted infections. “I lost my faith in priests that day,” he confessed.) (Brackets in the original).

Yesterday, Thursday, the PDI published my reply:

Heed Rina’s counsel—P-Noy urged ('P-Noy' is President Aquino whose nickname is 'Noynoy'. 'Pinoy' is a colloquial term for the Filipino.)

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:01:00 01/13/2011

RINA JIMENEZ-David apparently wants to take us back into the Dark Ages by dismissing as “arcane” issues such as “when life begins, what constitutes fertilization, ovulation and abortion.” (Inquirer, 1/9/11) She wants us to dismiss modern medical science as of no matter.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated very clearly in answer to US Rep. Chris Smith that for her and her government “Reproductive Rights,” “Reproductive Health,” etc. include abortion. (This can be easily googled.)

As an aside—I couldn’t resist bringing this up—President Aquino would do well to follow David’s implicit advice and ignore the views of columnists who have ceased to be “reproductive beings.”


I had put the last paragraph in brackets but the paper dropped them. However, I was very pleasantly surprised that my letter was published as there is rarely anything critical of Rina Jimenez-David in the letters page, though there is one strongly pro-life columnist, Antonio J. Montalvan II, based in Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao.

The video I referred to in the letter is at the top. 

I"m aware that part of my reply ('As an aside . . .') is to some extent ad hominem though not totally so since I'm basically showing where the columnist's logic leads.

08 January 2011

Pope Visits Sick Children on Feast of the Epiphany

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake where I found this video of Pope Benedict visiting sick children in the Agostino Gemelli Hospital in Rome on the Feast of the Epiphany, 6 January.

'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.' The Baptism of the Lord, 9 January 2011

The Baptism of Christ, El Greco, painted 1608-28 

Readings (New American Bible)

Gospel Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


El Greco painted the Baptism of Christ a number of times. In the painting above he shows Jesus kneeling before his cousin St John the Baptist with nothing, just as John had nothing. Both were totally open to the will of God the Father.

Though it’s not expressed in this painting, for me one of the most astonishing realities in this scene is that Jesus lined up with everyone else, all of whom were sinners. All those present, except John, would have presumed that Jesus was just another sinner like themselves. This shows the extent of God’s love for us as sinners, that God who became Man, Jesus, allowed himself to be seen as a sinner.

It is here that God the Father proclaims ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’. The Father uses the very same words at the Transfiguration, with the words ‘listen to him’ added (Mt 17:5). In the latter Peter, James and John the Apostle had caught a glimpse of the reality that Jesus is God. At the baptism the people saw someone they presumed to be a sinner.

A former chief of the Irish police lives near my brother. I remember when he held that position he used to stand outside the parish church after all the Masses on one Sunday of the month with other members of the St Vincent de Paul Society collecting money to help the poor. There was nothing to indicate who he was or the very important position he held. I was always struck by that and that he and his family lived in an ordinary house just like everyone else.

The fact that Jesus identified himself, in effect, as a sinner, shows that God is not ashamed of us despite our sins. He identifies himself with us even though he is pure love, utter sinlessness.

And just as God the Father proclaims Jesus as his ‘beloved Son’ at his baptism, he does the same with us at our baptism which, unlike the baptism of John, makes us God’s very own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus and therefore brothers and sisters of one another. This is our deepest identity.

05 January 2011

A saint from Carcar, Cebu?

Archbishop Teofilo Bastida Camomot (3 March 1914 - 27 September 1988)

On 27 September 1988 I had lunch at San Carlos Major Seminary, Cebu City. It was the feast of St Vincent de Paul, founder of the Vincentians.The Vincentians had been running the seminary for a long time and some were still on the staff, though the diocesan clergy were gradually replacing them. One of the guests was Archbishop Teofilo B. Camomot from Carcar, a town, now a city, a little over an hour's drive south of Cebu City. The Archbishop was from the town and had been auxiliary bishop of Jaro for some years before being appointed coadjutor Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro in northern Mindanao. He resigned from that position after twelve years and returned to Carcar where he lived for 18 years until his death in a car crash as he returned home after the lunch in the seminary.

Cardinal Vidal of Cebu had tried to persuade Archbishop Camomot to take a siesta but the latter insisted on going home, since he had a driver.

I'm almost sure I exchanged greetings with Monsignor Camomot before lunch that day, as I had done once or twice at previous gatherings. I didn't know him in a personal way but after his death I heard many stories that revealed a man who was like St Francis in his simplicity and in his love for the poor. One bishop told he me had heard stories of bi-location, as has happened in the lives of some saints, being seen in two different places at the same time while on errands of mercy.

Cardinal Vidal, who will be replaced as Archbishop of Cebu in a few days by Archbishop Jose S. Palma, told me of how on one occasion he noticed that Archbishop Camomot wasn't wearing his pectoral cross. Curious, he asked him about it. Monsignor Camomot made some non-commital reply. But later a priest told the Cardinal that the Archbishop had pawned his cross in order to help some poor people. Some time after that Cardinal Vidal gave the Archbishop another pectoral cross. With a broad smile, the Cardinal told me that he forbade Archbishop Camomot from pawning it.

After he resigned as coadjutor Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Monsignor Camomot worked, as far as I recall, as parish priest of his native town, which became a city a few years ago. He was also, in effect, again as I recall, an auxiliary bishop of Cebu, though I don't think he had an official appointment as such.

This saintly archbishop's funeral was one of the biggest I have ever attended.

CathNews Philippines carries this report today:

Cebuanos push for Camomot’s beatification

Published Date: January 5, 2011

THE Cebu archdiocese has formed a panel to push for the beatification of Monsignor Teofilo Camomot, a native of Carcar town who was known for his service and generosity to the poor.

Claims of miracles attributed to Monsignor Camomot circulated after he was reportedly seen in two different places while he was still serving the clergy of Cebu.

Monsignor Camomot, 74, died in a road accident on Sept. 27, 1988, on his way home to Carcar.

Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal formed the commission to look into the possibility of beatification last Dec. 27. Members of the commission are retired Bishop Antonio Ranola, Monsignor Dennis Villarojo, Monsignor Raul Go, Rev. Jasper John Petralba, and Trinidad Calleno.

Report from Inquirer.Net

01 January 2011

‘They prostrated themselves and did him homage’. The Epiphany

Adoration of the Magi, Jacopo Bassano, oil on slate, 1580-85

Readings (New American Bible)  

Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12)

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.


‘They prostrated themselves and did him homage’. It is striking that as we look at the humanity of Jesus this gospel draws us, with the Magi, to ‘prostrate ourselves and pay homage’. It draws us to recognize the divinity of the Child whom these men from the east came to see. In Jacopo Bassano’s painting above we see the profound adoration of one of the wise men offering his gift, not the usual approach of an admiring adult to an infant. We see Mary looking at her Child, not at the visitor, and St Joseph behind her lost in prayer. Even the dog seems to be caught up in the contemplation. (Last night a dog wandered in after the consecration in the chapel where I celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The firecrackers for the New Year weren’t too loud yet but he probably felt safe in the presence of the Lord! He was only a slight distraction. I find that here in the Philippines dogs and cats rarely cause any problems whereas in Ireland people used to get very upset if a dog came into the church). The rays of light from above remind me of the fireworks with which people throughout the world welcomed the New Year.

In countries that still observe the Epiphany as a holyday of obligation on 6 January the gospel used today in the Mass for the Second Sunday after Christmas is the opening of St John’s Gospel, John 1:1-18, which in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, which was used universally in the Roman Rite up to the 1960s, was read always at the end of the Mass, ‘The Last Gospel’. St John emphasizes the divinity of Christ and speaks of him as ‘the light that shines in the darkness’. John gives us those magnificent words ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father’ (RSVCE).