Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thoughts in Transit,

While waiting for the second lap of my long journey to begin, here in the international airport of Dubai, the WiFi connection having failed where I am presently, I am writing to collect my thoughts. The trip from Manila was basically uneventful; we were delayed for about half an hour in embarking, but we managed to arrive at Dubai in time. After making the more than seven thousand - kilometer journey, I'm watching the sun as it rises above the deserts before me. It's almost six in the morning as I write, and the grey dawn light has yet to give way to the blazing inferno it might well be later on in the day. 

I've watched a couple of films during the flight. Well, I've skipped some parts in one of the movies, The Chronicle, a sci-fi movie about some kids being able to have some powers and which grows rotten on one of them. And then, after another brief nap (I've been sleeping during a great part of the flight, which is good) I watched a Filipino romantic comedy entitled Cactus Heart, which starred Maja Salvador, Mateo Guidicelli, and introduces Xian Lim. It's funny because I only get to watch these kind of movies whenever I'm outside of the country, particularly in a flight. Maybe perhaps it's the homesickness that had immediately set in, a mere hours after leaving native soil. Maybe it's just that I find them even more appealing knowing that I won't be having much of the typically Pinoy humor where I am. 

It's strange to feel that, despite of the fact that when one is traveling one has always to keep track of the time, something that's really important especially considering that you have an itinerary to follow, somehow you seem to be suspended in limbo, in timelessness. One has no other choice than to wait hours that seem endless, until your eventual arrival at your final destination ushers you in once again to reality. In the airport, things seem to be suspended. I couldn't forget my journey to Spain to study once again; I had to stay for ten hours in Doha while waiting for my connecting flight that would take me to Madrid. Now that was an eternity. 

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time: High Fidelity

"Decide today whom you will serve..." These words that we hear in the first reading turn our considerations to the virtue of fidelity. Fidelity, to be faithful is a decision. The people of Israel had continually experienced the fidelity of God, seen in the wonders and in the salvation the Lord of Israel had done in favor of the people whom he had chosen. From the very beginning, God had wanted to be faithful, his decision is once and for all; he will never change in his faithfulness. Deep within the testimony of Sacred Scripture of the history of salvation is the conviction that God is faithful.

But man is not like God, however, he is likewise called to be faithful. This fidelity is based note truth about man that reveals him to be capable of entering into relationships capable of loving and being loved. Man is capable of saying "yes", and he is likewise capable of holding on to his word. However, unlike God, who is eternal and unchanging, firm in his word, man needs to say this "yes" time and again in his life. If we were to compare the word given by God with that given by man (not that it is possible; it would be like comparing a flickering candle flame to the blazing inferno that is the sun), man's word is fickle, always in the danger of changing, now yes, and then no at the moment.

For man, being faithful always entails the decision to say "yes", and to renew whenever needed, whenever possible. Fidelity requires bolstering this decision with the only force that cold make it thrive and grow: love. In our relationship with the Lord, being his requires renewing this decision time and again, and making the love of God--not even ours--as the foundation of this decision. This is the same in every human relationship that is made to last. Being faithful to one's spouse means affirming this decision to love steadfastly whenever it is precisely needed. This goes as well for those who had consecrated themselves especially to the love of God, whether in the priesthood, in the religious life, or in the apostolate. 

Being conscious of the good news that God is faithful allows us to live on this fidelity, and be faithful ourselves. In the gospel we hear precious words coming from Peter: Master, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” One proof of God's faithfulness is that he gives us the words of eternal life. The mystery of divine life is not closed to man; in Jesus Christ it is accessible, and only sin is the barrier that impedes the life of God from entering into us. 

With the divine life of grace pulsating within us, we become like God himself, and become faithful as he is. Divine fidelity is translated in our life in the way we give ourselves unreservedly to good, in loving others as they should be loved. In the Second Reading we hear the words of the Apostle Paul: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Man's love become purified of its selfishness, because it begins to be strengthen by divine love. This is the blessing of those who strive to be faithful to God: they become stronger in loving others in the way these should be loved. Let's pray that all married couples, all consecrated persons may love in this way. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer's End

As I await the final summons for me to board the plane that would lead me back to my studies, I am taking this time to look back and think about everything that has transpired during these (more or less) three months that I have spent in vacation. I'm sorry to see them pass by so quickly, and that I'm going back to the life of a student that I wouldn't much desire for myself. To go on further studies for me is something that I myself do not want, and I have not kept a secret of this; however, listening from the people whom I've shared my sentiments and thoughts with, I'm all the more convinced that, though I may not want this for myself, I would do good in desiring it for the fruitfulness of my priestly ministry and the good of the Church. This is a big grace for me, I believe, that I should as, to be able to live generously and cheerfully these last remaining years of rigid and scientific intellectual formation. This is something that other people and priests don't have, and this is something which has been given to me. 

The months have passed quickly, and I've been blessed in being reunited with loved ones and friends. I was able to make new acquaintances, the biggest of which was none other than my new archbishop, John F. Du. I have been blessed to be counted among his friends, I count it as a privileged to been able to live with him for sometime and see how he shepherded the archdiocese, as he made his first steps in getting to know his new flock. 

The summer was not lacking in episodes of grace. Truly, God is faithful, and this fidelity I have witnessed in administering the sacraments and in shepherding the faithful during my short stay. God is faithful: FIDELIS DEUS! is one consideration that would guide me from now on. I have witnessed the graces and blessings that come in whenever one is faithful to God, and gives witness to his fidelity; I have also seen the misery that comes as a result of straying away from his love. 

The question of the doctorate is something that has demanded a part of my considerations. To be or not to be...I confess that in this question I am quite like Hamlet. Desiring to have my studies done and over with as soon as possible, I also consider that a doctorate would be a great help in the ministry. I've decided to take things a step at a time. I'll have to focus on my licentiate degree first.

The hour is late, the darkness outside all the more brings home to me the fact that the curtains have descended upon the summer idyll that I had s longingly looked forward to a few months ago. But the darkness of night is nothing but the promise of the approaching day. My story has not yet ended, and so is my struggle. I look willingly and with renewed determination at the new day that dawns, ready to face the challenges that it brings, knowing that the day shall soon come when I shall be reunited with those whom I love in the land that I love, once again. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012



From the writings of Saint Rose of Lima, virgin
(Ad medicum Castillo: edit. L. Getino, La Patrona de America, madrid 1928, pp. 54-55)

Let us know the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his
voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”

When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.”

That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant. I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:

“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience. No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men.”

1 Corinthians 1:27, 28-29; Psalm 138:6

To shame the wise, God chose what the world considers foolish.
God chose those who were nothing at all
to humble those who were everything
 so that no one might boast in his presence.

Though the Lord is exalted,
he cares for the lowly,
but the proud he looks down on from afar.
 So that no one might boast in his presence.


Let us pray.

Let us praise the Lord.
 And give him thanks.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Still in relation to the fiercely raging debate surrounding the RH Bill, the president of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines had stated that Catholic institutions of learning--schools or universities--could be stripped of its affiliation with the Church and of their Catholic title if they teach or hold positions contrary to Catholic faith and morals. This came in view of the fact that a number of professors of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University had publicly declared their support for the controversial bill, which advocates the use of contraceptive and abortifacient devices as part of the solution to problems that are stunting the development rate of the country. Archbishop Palma had affirmed that this is possible as a disciplinary measure in the case of recalcitrant institutions bearing the name "Catholic". The official news organ of the the CBCP reports this here, at the CBCP Monitor. Furthermore, Archbishop Palma explained that in issues such as these, dialogue with the institutions would be the first logical step in clearing up problem. “In some places, we first talk to them because some teachers may have some misunderstanding of what they think of freedom of conscience or academic freedom,” he explains. The archbishop sees this measure as something that is merely logical, concerning the Christian identity of the institution: “If we are a Catholic school, we should not teach anything contrary to the official teaching of the church,” Palma said. Concerning the expression of personal opinion of part of any personnel within these institutions, it's not that they are curtailing their freedom of speech or opinion. They are free to express it if they wish to, but this should not be done at the expense of the institutions true mission of forming people in the Catholic Faith. "In some of the universities, we say that if you want to teach that idea, do not do it in a Catholic school because we are confusing the students… do it in other universities,” Archbishop said.

After being released, the statement drew varied reactions, as expected. I for my part thought that it was time to be clear on certain things. News agencies and the media at large pounced on the statement and reported it, each according to its tendencies. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, that with the "balanced news and fearless views"(a motto which I had long since doubted years ago, I'm sorry to confess, but hey, this is my blog) placed a sneering headline saying: CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TOLD: TOE RH LINE OR ELSE... GMA News Network said CBCP WARNS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS AGAINST PRO-RH TEACHING. The Manila Bulletin trumpeted CBCP ISSUES WARNING TO 'DEFIANT' CATHOLIC SCHOOLS.

I first got hold of the news from the CBCP Monitor, and I was expecting a barrage of acid remarks from that. I wasn't disappointed in this. But hey, that was to be expected. As I have come to point out, I see it as something perfectly logical and normal for a Catholic institution of learning to be conscious of its identity and to be faithful to it. Even many of the Pro-RH were reasonable enough to see it as logical (apart from the usual number of kibitzers who are always ready to contribute a ready supply of trash and asinine remarks to the comment boxes). Besides, to strip a school or a university of its Catholic title is no far-fetched thing, but as something that is perfectly possible. Last month the Holy See had stripped one of Peru's most prestigious institutions, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, of its pontifical and Catholic status. This came after years of recalcitrance on the part of the university with regard to the Church, and its obstinacy in distancing itself from clear Catholic teaching on faith and morals. Another catholic institution in hot water with this regard is the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), along with its sister university in Louvain.

What makes an institution of learning Catholic, especially one of higher learning? The Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on August 15, 1990 (Archbishop Palma released the statement two days after the twenty-secondth anniversary of the constitution; mere coincidence? The timing of the events and issues could never have  been more perfect), delimits and defines the idea of the Catholic institution of higher learning. It's a ling document, but I hope to share one important part of it here:

12. Every Catholic University, as a university, is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities. It possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.
13. Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture, every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential characteristics:
"1. a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
2. a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
3. fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
4. an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life".
14. "In the light of these four characteristics, it is evident that besides the teaching, research and services common to all Universities, a Catholic University, by institutional commitment, brings to its task the inspiration and light of the Christian message. In a Catholic University, therefore, Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance with the proper nature and autonomy of these activities. In a word, being both a University and Catholic, it must be both a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge, and an academic institution in which Catholicism is vitally present and operative".

Pope John Paul II couldn't have been more clear than this. I won't elaborate more on it, as I believe that it is as clear as day. During the CEAP (Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines) meeting held las month at St. Scholastica's College of Health Sciences in Manlurip, Tacloban, Archbishop John F. Du of Palo had admonished the Catholic schools of the metropolitan province therein represented by their teachers to be faithful to their catholic identity. I guess that should be the battle cry of these institutions who are truly Catholic: Catholic institutions of learning, be thyself!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!

The reflections that we’ve had throughout these weeks, guided by the Sunday Readings, have allowed us to contemplate on this mystery of love, which is the gift that Jesus makes out of himself in the Eucharist. He is the good shepherd who provides for his flock the generous God who always sees to our needs and never lets him be outdone in generosity, the Lord who feeds and satisfies the deepest desire of the human heart. The words of the responsorial psalm this 20th Sunday in ordinary time spring readily from a heart that has contemplated on this goodness and has seen the fruits of divine grace: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!

It is in the mystery and sacrament of the most holy Eucharist that the Lord gives himself out to us, feeding us not with mere earthly food, but rather with the bread that is his flesh and quenching our deepest thirst with the wine which is his blood. Jesus is our food. What ordinary bread and drink does to the organism, the miracle of Jesus’ own self-giving makes possible in the soul: it nourishes, strengthens, and preserves the divine life given to those who abide in his love, making the Christian capable of doing good, leading a life of a free child of God.

The Sunday readings lead us to consider the importance of Holy Communion in the life of the Christian. Christ is the only one who can give the fullness of life that he himself receives from the Father; for us to receive that life from him, we need to be united with his very life, which was offered totally on the cross. Holy Communion allows us to do exactly what the term says: to be in communion, to be one with the sacrificed life of the Redeemer, to be one and the same thing with him. We may not be crucified with Jesus on the cross so as to share his life and to enter into his glory, but in eating his flesh and in drinking his blood, we receive that very same life into ourselves. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also a banquet—the Eucharistic Banquet—where Jesus is not merely the one who invites us to eat; he himself is the food, given for the life of the world. No other food can give this life, only Jesus who is our Eucharist.

“Unless you do not eat of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day”.

These words of our Lord that we hear in the Gospel for today would allow us to see why Sunday Mass is very important. This is why Holy Communion is very essential in our lives as Christians. This is the reason why all of the spiritual means the Church gives to us as a preparation for this meeting (first among all, the Sacrament of Penance) is very important. Without the divine life, the very life of Jesus Christ, flowing within us, it is impossible to be Christian and to live a life that is really pleasing to God.

In receiving the Lord worthily in his entirety in Holy Communion—where is present body and blood, soul and divinity—we allow God to re-create his life within us. Our catholic faith teaches us that there are chiefly four effects of this this wonderful union between God and man: (1) it increases our union with Christ and his Church; (2) it preserves and renews the life of grace received at Baptism and confirmation, and lets us grow in the love of our neighbor; (3)it strengthens us in charity and finally (4) it wipes away venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin in the future (cfr. Compendium of the Catechism of theCatholic Church, n. 292).

When we eat his body, it is not that Christ becomes part of us, just like what happens with ordinary food when it gets assimilated into our organism. The Eucharist is no mere food. When we receive the bread of life in communion, we get more assimilated to Christ, and to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Since he whom we receive is the author of life himself, we are introduced more into that divine life, something that we have already received in Baptism, and strengthened in Confirmation. It makes us stronger in the struggle to better ourselves, in weeding out our defects, and so Holy Communion is an important means to holiness. In a thanksgiving prayer after Mass that he composed, St. Thomas Aquinas expresses this beautifully when he asks the Lord that this communion “may cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion…may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of flesh and of the spirit”.

Jesus who waits for us daily in the Eucharist, Jesus whom we receive in Holy Communion has the power to change us, transforming our lives into the pattern of his own divine life. Perhaps, despite of the thousands of communions that we’ve made during our lifetime, we may be tempted to think that this hasn’t been true in our own life. I still have the same defects, the same imperfections as before, and there seems to be no improvement whatsoever, each of us might say. But come to consider what if we haven’t been receiving all throughout this time, worthily as we could possibly be; perhaps we could’ve been even worse.

The spiritual considerations that we’ve made should also allow us to resolve to make our communions as worthy as possible. We couldn’t just afford to receive our Lord with hearts that are choked with the filth of our sins. We cannot receive him if we know that we are in the state of mortal sin. As such, we should not receive him without first seeking his mercy in the Sacrament of Penance.

May Mary our Mother, teach us how to receive her Eucharistic Son with all the care and love that we could muster in our hearts. AMEN.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The plagiarism charge aimed at Sen. Tito Sotto seems designed to divert public attention from the facts that he had wished to reveal behind the fa├žade of the Reproductive Health/Responsible Parenthood Bill. With news such as this, manipulative media seems to try to divert the attention of the general public from considering the more salient parts of the speech to a mere part. I believe that it pays to read the whole discourse and see what really lies within, in order for us to see the real truth behind the bill. (emphases made in the speech are mine)

Turno en Contra of Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III on SB 2865
Part II - Aug. 15, 2012
Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

Before I proceed Mr. President, I would like to take exception to the statements made by Dr. Cabral and to a certain extent by Congresswoman Garin, in reaction, to my disclosure and confession on the death of my first son, Vincent Paul. I find their statements callous and insensitive and it is unfortunate that the reproductive health debate has come to this level. They should have given the sorrow of my family more respect.
Linawin ko lang mabuti:
Diane po ang pangalan ng pills na ginamit ng aking asawa noon. Supervised po siya ng doktor habang ginagamit nya ito. Intellehente naman po ang asawa ko, alam niya kung paano gumamit nito. Malinaw po ang sinabi sa amin ng kanyang doctor, katuwang ang aking ina, Dra. Herminia Castelo Sotto, **  na ang pagbubuntis niya kahit may contraceptives  ang maaring naging sanhi ng kumplikasyon, prematurity at eventually pagkamatay ng anak namin. Bakit ko po iimbentuhin ang katotohanang ito?
Maliwanag, nagko-contraceptives, nagbuntis. Yun ang issue.
Meron naman din po na mga pag-aaral na makakapagpatunay na mayroong masamang epekto ang contraceptives sa kalusugan ng mga bata na pinanganak ng mga ina na gumagamit ng contraceptives. Ito po ay pinatototohanan ng mga pag-aaral at hindi ko imbento lamang.
In the book entitled “The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women, Exploding the Estrogen Myth” by Barbara Seaman, it was stated that those who take pills but still got pregnant have more abnormal children and lower I.Q. (Hindi naman po siguro kelangan pa na maging doctor ang isang tao para lamang malaman ang maaaring maging kumplikasyon ng pag-gamit ng pills ngunit nagbuntis pa din di ba?)
“In a cohort of 50,282 pregnancies, 19 children with cardiovascular defects were born to 1042 women who received female hormones during early pregnancy (18.2 per 1000). Among 49,240 children not exposed in utero to these agents there were 385 with cardiovascular malformations (7.8 per 1000). Six children with cardiovascular defects were born to a subgroup of 278 women who used oral contraceptives during early pregnancy (21.5 per 1000). After the data were controlled for a wide variety of potentially confounding factors by multivariate methods, the association between utero exposure to female hormones and cardiovascular birth defects was statistically significant”.
(Source: Cardiovascular Birth Defects and Antenatal Exposure to Female Sex Hormones by Olli P. Heinonen, M.D., M.SC., Dennis Slone, M.D., Richard R. Monson, M.D., Ernest B. Hook, M.D., and Samuel Shapiro, M.B., F.R.C.P.)
Sa unang bahagi ng ating turno en contra, sa aking palagay ay naipaliwanag ko na ang mga sumusunod:
1.  That contraceptives are abortifacients.
2.  That contraceptives pose health risks to women and may even expose them to serious health problems and death.
3.  That contraceptives have harmful effects to children born to mothers who were using contraceptives and still got pregnant.
Doon po sa mga bumabatikos at nang-gagalaiti sa akin, sagutin ninyo yung mga yun, punto por punto, at hindi atakihin ang persona ko. Sa facebook.. sa twitter.. kung anu-ano ang sinasabi, hindi naman nila naiintindihan ang punto ko. May mga nananakot pa. Kung sa mga drug-lords nga hindi ako natakot, sa kanila pa? Ang lambot nga ng dating ng umpisa ng turno en contra ko, tapos gagalitin nila ako?
Gusto kong bigyang diin na hindi ko tinututulan ang paggamit ng contraceptives dito sa Pilipinas at lalong hindi ko pinagbabawal ang paggamit nito. Hindi ko intensyon na panghimasukan ang personal na bahagi ng buhay pamilya ng bawat Pilipino. Ang sa akin lamang, bilang mambabatas na pinagkatiwalaan ng nakararami, obligasyon ko na suriin, busisiin at pag-aralang mabuti ang pangkalahatang implikasyon ng bill na ito sa lahat ng mamamayan, ngayon at sa susunod na henerasyon.
Inihain ko, nung Lunes, ang mga mahahalagang puntong dapat isaalang-alang bago natin ipasa ang batas na into, partikular ang nakangangambang epekto nito sa kalusugan ng ating mga kababaihan, at maging sa kanilang mga anak tulad ng aking masaklap na karanasan.
Given all these repercussions, would we still want to take the risk and brush aside all the probable deterimental effects of these family planning supplies and devices by passing, without scrunity, the RH Bill? Ako po ay nagmamalasakit sa lahat ng nagtiwala sa akin kaya naman aking binubusisi ang bawat aspeto ng bill na ito. Sana po ay maintindihan ninyo na ginagampanan ko lamang ang aking tungkulin sa bayan.
Today with your kind indulgence, allow me to proceed to the second part of my turno en contra. Last Monday, I mentioned that I will show how the RH Bill violates Philippine sovereignty. My point in stating that is we should not be pushed over by any state or international organizations in determining what is best for our country. Hindi po porque ginagawa na nila sa kanilang bansa, ay dapat gawin din natin.  Tandaan natin na may iba’t iba tayong kultura, kasaysayan at tradisyon, at higit sa lahat, pangangailangan. Sino sila para magdikta sa atin? Hindi tayo gaya nila na iba ang pagpapahalaga sa pagkakabuklod-buklod ng pamilyang Pilipino at pagpapahalaga sa buhay ng tao.
I will prove that this bill has been significantly influenced by various organizations, both local and international, which are of doubtful character. They have been pushing for the passage of this bill to serve their ulterior motives far-off from the aims of the proponents of the bill.
The sponsors of the measure openly admitted that the statistics used in the bill were obtained from various sources. Regrettably, the credibility and trustworthiness of these sources are questionable. And who are these sources? Reliable ba ang sources na ito? May pinapaboran ba ang source dahil makikinabang sila dito kalaunan? Dapat natin itanong ito sa mga tao at organisasyon na aktibong nagtutulak sa pagpasa nito.  Tandaan natin mula 1997, ilang Kongreso na ang nakalipas at panay- panay ang pagsulpot ng RH bill, at parati itong hindi naipapasa.  Hindi ba dapat nating gawing masinsinan ang pagsusuri kung talaga bang kailangan natin ito? At ano ang motibo ng mga organisasyong nagtutulak nito?
Halimbawa na lamang, nabanggit noon ni Sen. Pia Cayetano ang ilang statistical materials na isinagawa daw ng National Statistics Office, kasama dito ang Philippine 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey.
Ang problema, ang nagpondo sa paggawa ng mga statistical data na ito ay ang  United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Malamang na ang resulta ng kanilang pinondohang materials ay papabor sa kagustuhan ng nagbigay ng pondo. The USAID, for the information of the body is the agency which the United States uses as its principal instrument to control and reduce the population through birth control worldwide. It is also the same agency which funded the DKT’s project. Dhramendra Kumar Tyagi or DKT is the largest manufacturer of trust condoms, pills and other contraceptives. Nais ng DKT na lumaganap ang paggamit ng contraceptive products sa Pilipinas. Magaling naman tayo sa simpleng lohika di ba? Ulitin natin, USAID ang magpopondo sa NSO para lumabas ang impormasyong kailangan ng population control sa bansa, at USAID din ang tumutulong sa DKT na mapalaganap  ang produkto nila.  Aba ang galing ano? Gagawa ka ng demand for contraceptives, tapos ikaw ang magsu-supply ng solusyon. Magandang ideya sa marketing pero hindi sa paggawa ng batas.  Sana wag nating gawing pain ang ating bansa sa ganitong pageeksperimento.
Also, the Sponsor used statistical materials provided by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) to support their position. But as correctly pointed out by Senate President Enrile, the Guttmacher Institute came into existence as the marketing arm of Planned Parenthood in 1968 and has masterminded the public manipulation of reproduction in the United States, promoting abortion, sterilization, and amniocentesis and genetic screening, as well as foreign population control. The Institute is predisposed to a particular line of attitude in relation to population and birth, and that is to control population and not to deal with health concerns.
Ang concern ko lang naman, sana mapagkakatiwalaan ang mga data na ginagamit natin sa bill na ito. Because of the delicate nature of the measure and its eventual impact on the future and well-being of the country and the people, we should be assured that the statistics presented to support the bill are beyond doubt. These statistics should be gathered, compiled, analyzed and synthesized by persons or institutions with no personal biases or motives in the bill.  We cannot simply rely on these questionable institutions to provide the statistics for us, since these statistical data would help us make intelligible and accurate judgment on the issue at hand.
Sa totoo lang, yung mga figures na sinubmit dito sa plenary tungkol sa number   of   unintended  pregnanies, induced  abortions, hospitalizations due to complications of  abortion, mistimed  births  or  unwanted  babies, or maternal deaths  ay mahirap din na tanggapin. They appear to be mere estimates or extrapolations of figures and are not mathematically exact.
I have been severely criticized when I questioned the truthfulness of the claim that 11 mothers die every day. Ngunit bakit naman hindi ko ku-kwestyunin ang figure na ito, kung alam ko na hindi ito tama? Kung sa figures pa lang, sumasablay na sila, what more sa contents na mismo ng bill di ba?
The proponents of the bill are saying that 11 Filipino women die every day when they talked about maternal mortality. They have not, however, supported this claim with accurate and consistent data.
Kung tutuusin sa pinagawa ko sa mga staff ko, hindi pa nga umabot man lang sa kalahati ng 11 maternal deaths ang nakalap nila sa mga hospitals sa Pilipinas nung 2011 eh.  For example, sa Nueva Viscaya Provincial Hospital, ang maternal deaths na naitala nila ay 2 lamang sa 2011. Let me emphasize, this is for the entire year of 2011, hindi po ito kada-araw. Sa Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, 4 lamang ang naitalang namatay sa panganganak sa nakaraang taon. Sa Batangas Regional Hospital, 7 out of 2584 deliveries ang naitala .27%. Hindi pa nga umabot sa 1%. Sa Cavite Naval Hospital, wala silang naitala na namatay sa panganganak sa taong 2011. Kaya ang hirap paniwalaan ang kanilang figure na 11 mothers die every day.
Nagtataka lang talaga ako saan at paano nila nakuha ang figure na ito. Kung ang National Statistics Coordinating Board nga, walang maibigay. Ang Philippine Association of Hospitals nirefer lang kami sa Department of Health. Saan naman kaya kinukuha ng DOH ang mga figures na ito? Diyan na ngayon papasok ang mga organizations na ipe-presenta ang mga gawa-gawa nilang figures. Para ano? Para mailihis ang mga mambabatas at masunod ang mga gusto nilang mangyari sa bill na ito.
Uulitin ko lamang po, hindi po sa wala akong pakialam sa mga nanay na namamatay, ang punto ko po ay ayokong gamitin nila ang maling figures at statistics na ito para lamang hikayatin ang nakakarami na ipasa ang RH bill.  Maling konklusyon po ang kahihinatnan nitong maling figures.  Gaya po ng nasabi ko nung Lunes, malamang kapag naipasa ang RH bill ay mas marami pang kababaihan ang mamamatay dahil sa contraceptives. Ayaw ko po mangyari yon.
I think it was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s hated propagandist, who said that a lie repeated several times would eventually be accepted as fact by the people. 
This is exactly what is happening now since several documents have pointed out that the so-called 11 maternal deaths a day in the Philippines is a canard and yet RH proponents continued to hoist it as gospel truth. I challenge the RH bill supporters to give me the names of faces of the 11 mothers who died in one particular day if they want me to believe in their claim.
O sige po, ipagpalagay na natin na tama ang statistics na binibigay ng mga foreign institutions na ito. Pero sa mga datos nila, hindi pa rin 11 maternal deaths ang lumalabas eh.
Here are the facts:
The September 2010 report of the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Bank, estimated annual maternal deaths in the Philippines at Two Thousand One Hundred (2,100) in 2008. That is equivalent to 5.75 deaths a day, which is way off from the 11 per day. This was clearly down from the 2000 level of Four Thousand One Hundred (4,100), or 11.2 a day, which was published in a report seven years ago by the same international agencies.
It should be noted that the proponents’ population projections and maternal mortality ratios (MMRs), or deaths per 100,000 live births, came from a census conducted 11 years ago. The UN Population Division’s estimates were released just recently and, therefore, should be more reliable.
O ayan, for the sake of argument, PRO-RH figures themselves result in 5.75 maternal deaths a day at hindi 11 deaths tulad ng kanilang ipinagpipilitan. Gusto ko lamang i-correct ang figures nila.
The strong pressure and the massive propaganda materials emanating from various groups cannot simply be put aside. They have been doing everything to impose their hidden agenda through the RH bill. The proponents of the bill admitted that they sought the assistance of various non-government organizations specifically to learn about the effects of certain procedures or nuances of terminologies used in the bill. This in effect gave these organizations the opportunity to incorporate their distorted beliefs and principles in the bill.
Now let me name these organizations. Let me start with foreign organizations that surreptitiously impose their hidden agenda through this bill.
1.  By  virtue  of  National Security Study Memorandum 200, issued by Henry  Kissinger  who  is  the source  of  the entire family planning, population and poverty reduction programs  of  the  United  States,  all  loans,  grants and aid  coming  from  the  United  States  and  western powers  must  be  based  on  reduction  of  population through  birth control. Since the  USAID is  the principal  instrument for the so-called development programs, there are NGOs and government agencies in the Philippines that have been contacted, supported  and  funded  by  it.  USAID, World Health  Organization,  World  Bank  and  all  economic agencies were given a directive to gear their policies and  programs  towards  promoting  the  reduction  of  the  world's population  especially  in  less  developed countries (LDCs).
2.  United Nations agencies are using UN resources to advocate their agenda on a local level in order to bypass cultural and religious resistance. Gamal Serour, president of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), reported that UNFPA has a program in 25 countries to lobby religious leaders into dropping objections to the agenda. These programs are aimed at “re-educating” religious leaders and convincing them to accept their population control programs. UN Secretariat released a report from the UN Human Rights Council calling on all nations to accept that women and girls must be granted access to legal abortion in order for them to fully enjoy their human rights. The report, written by UN Special Rapporteur Anand Grover, links abortion on demand with the fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. According to Grover, “Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon opened a women’s conference with the announcement of a new document titled: “Investing in our Common Future: Joint Action Plan for Women’s and Children’s Health,” intended to accelerate progress towards MDGs 4 and 5. A draft of the Joint Action Plan circulated at the conference cited examples of actions to be taken by governments and policy makers. The draft insists that States “fully integrate the following into all primary healthcare facilities: family planning and abortion-related care among other health issues. The draft Joint Action Plan also called on all states to “increase governments’ portion of budget allocated to health and build on existing regional commitments to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services.”
Douglas Sylva, Phd. reported on March 5, 2004 that former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan congratulated and encouraged the leadership and work of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), a group working for worldwide abortion on demand for women and girls. Where legal abortion is restricted to those abortions considered necessary to save the life of the mother, the IWHC recommends that abortion providers simply “adopt a broader” definition of what constitutes a threat to a woman’s life by considering the risk of death if she seeks a clandestine procedure.”
He further states that the message of former Sec.Gen. Kofi Annan implies that if skillfully argued, abortion advocates can skirt restrictive abortion laws.
3.  The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), according to its website has for more than three decades, lobbied worldwide for the liberalization and eventual repeal of all laws that place any restrictions whatever on access to abortion. This stance is reflected in all of its major policy statements, as described in the IPPF’s Vision 2000 Strategic Plan. In its Vision 2000 document, which is considered to be the marching orders” for all its members, repeatedly and unambigiously calls for the legalization of abortion in countries where the procedure is currently unlawful. Currently, IPPF is operating in the Philippines through its member, Family Planning Organizations of the Philippines. FPOP had actively participated during committee hearings.

This is IPPF’s vision: “We believe that a woman has the right to choose and access safe abortion services and we advocate for changes in legislation to support this.”
This is the true meaning of Pro-Choice.
Sa totoo lang meron iba pang mga international organizations na nakapasok na dito sa Pilipinas at nagbibigay at nagpapalaganap ng mga serbisyo at nagpapamahagi ng mga artificial contraceptives sa mga Pilipino. Ito ay para lubos na tanggapin pa nga ng mga Pilipino ang konsepto ng contraceptives na tulad din ng isinusulong ng IPPF. Isa na dito ang Marie Stopes International na may sangay dito sa Pilipinas.
Before I proceed to other organizations, Mr. President, my dear colleagues, please allow me to talk a little more about Margaret Sanger, who founded the IPPF. The three major thrusts of her work are reflected in today’s IPPF’s programs throughout the world and these are: 1) free sex: 2) eugenics; and 3) birth control.
Sanger, in her first pamphlet listed the methods of birth control, among which she included abortion. She knew that once sex education and birth control were accepted, abortion would follow. Mapapansin po natin na sa U.S. at Canada, napalawig ang pagtanggap sa konsepto ng aborsyon sa pamamagitan ng pagtulak sa birth control.  At ito din ngayon ang  kanilang estratehiya para sa kalaunan ay matanggap na din ng mga Pilipino ang konseptong ito.
Sanger was so intent on reducing family size that she seemed to not stop even at abortion. Many believe that under the right circumstances, Sanger would have condoned infanticide. Indeed she wrote in her book Woman and the New Race: “The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
This comes from the woman who formed the philosophical base for IPPF.
But there was even a darker side to Margaret Sanger: a side that IPPF people try to cover up or explain away. That was her belief in “eugenics.” Eugenics is defined as “the application of the laws of hereditary to physical and mental improvement, especially of the human race.”
To Sanger this meant the systematic elimination (through birth control, including abortion) of all those people she and her cohorts considered to be of “dysgenic stock” in order to create a race of superior intellectuals. Ito na rin po yung tinatawag na eugenics—if you are weak, useless, uneducated and poor, you have no right in this world.  Sa medaling salita, ang gusto mangyari ng konsepto na eugenics ay ang magkaroon ng birth control para ang matitira na lamang sa mundo ay ang lahing na superior at intelektwal.
Hindi kaya ito ang gusto mangyari ng mga nagtutulak ng RH bill?
Here again we have shades of Hitler’s ambition to create a super Aryan race that prompted his sick mind to eliminate all Jews in Germany and neighboring countries.
In an article she wrote in 1922, Sanger defended the U.S. immigration policy of not allowing the entry to the US of the feeble-minded or diseased people by saying that this policy “was reasonable and eugenic.”
Sanger also attempted to unduly influence Mahatma Gandhi to adhere to her distorted principles. Fortunately, Sanger’s attempts to do so proved futile. The two activists met in December of 1936 when Sanger traveled to India to speak with Gandhi about birth control, population and the plight of women in India. At that time, Sanger staunchly advocated the global use of artificial contraceptives and, in order to make the acceptance of such contraceptives easier to the Indian populace, sought to make Gandhi an ally.  While Sanger claimed she merely wanted to pay her respects and give a personal tribute to Gandhi, she coveted nothing less than his endorsement of the widespread use of artificial birth control methods. Gandhi firmly stood by his belief that the spiritual bonds of marriage are strengthened by sexual abstinence. He thus completely rejected Sanger's plea for contraception as a tool to control population growth, fearing it would lead to an increase in non-procreative sex, which he viewed as immoral lust.
Despite the fact that the movement was gaining popularity in a society with a serious poverty crisis, Gandhi was an outspoken critic of artificial birth control. His general attitude was that “Persons who use contraceptives will never learn the value of self-restraint. They will not need it. Self-indulgence with contraceptives may prevent the coming of children but will sap the vitality of both men and women, perhaps more of men than of women. It is unmanly to refuse battle with the devil.”
Between a person who had been actively promoting free sex, eugenics and birth control and a person who had been an advocate of nonviolence, discipline, chastity, control of the palate, sino ba ang dapat nating paniwalaan? Kanino bang yapak ang dapat nating sundin?  Kaninong mga pangaral ang mas akma sa ating kinagisnang kaugalian at paniniwala? Klarong-klaro naman po, di ba?
Now, let me proceed with the other organizations backing up the bill. I will disclose the workings of local organizations that push the passage of the RH Bill. Sa aking pagsisiyasat, pagsaliksik at pagmamatyag sa bawat galaw ng iba’t ibang organisasyon na may kinalaman sa usaping ito, aking napag-alaman na may mga lihim na hangarin ang iba sa mga naturang organisasyong ito, na nagkukubli sa kanilang sinasabing intensyon na mapabuti ang kalusugan ng ating mga kababaihan. Aking natuklasan na may mga local organizations na ginagamit ng kanilang mga katuwang na foreign organizations upang unti-unting imulat ang kamalayan ng sambayanang Pilipino sa moderno at liberal na reproductive health schemes, simula sa paggamit ng artificial contraceptives hanggang sa malaunang pagtanggap ng bansa sa konsepto ng abortion. This is the big picture, and the RH Bill is an important detail to complete this picture.
1.  There are local organizations that were supposedly receiving funds from international organizations, such as the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). FPOP, claims to be a VERY PROUD member of the number one international organization, which happens to promote abortion worldwide. IPPF’s recent financial statement reveals that FPOP received a subsidy amounting to $625,095 or almost Php 27.5M in 2011. It thus appears that FPOP have already adopted IPPF’s abortion advocacy. FPOP’s website displays the organization’s support to the use of abortive facilities. In fact, the FPOP posted on its website an instructional brochure discussing different methods of abortion, depending on the weeks of pregnancy. Furthermore, FPOP’s website is linked to a website named Women on Waves which provides contacts to abortion clinics worldwide. Kapalit ng malaking halagang ipinamamahagi ng IPPF sa mga myembro nito ay ang pagsunod sa mga programang isinusulong ng IPPF, tulad ng pagsasabatas ng abortion at pagpapalaganap ng artificial contraceptives.
2.  Another organization receiving financial support from these International Organizations is the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN). I have discovered, and this was confirmed during one of the interpellations on this measure that RHAN submitted a budget proposal to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) containing a budget allocation for “nurturing legislators”, to expedite the passage of the RH Bill.
Aside from the provision to nurture legislators, there are also monetary allocations for development, production,  and dissemination of information segregated into target audiences : for media and professionals, and communities mobilizations. 
3.  LIKHAAN, an affiliate of RHAN, is also one of the local organizations actively pushing for the RH Bill. It reportedly received funds from the UNFPD for the passage of the RH Bill. Likhaan openly supports abortion, as it features in its website step by step procedure on how to abort a baby. To make matters worse, the instructional material desperately intends to reach the Filipino masses by using Filipino language and putting pictures that clearly illustrate how to abort. In addition, there is a video featuring Dr. Junice Melgar, head of Likhaan who was quoted as saying, "If you are pro-women, you will have contacts to the services that are underground," and whose other statements refer to abortion service providers.
In an article entitled Philippines: Pro-abortion groups funding RH bill backers, it revealed the following financial grants granted to RH lobby groups:
  • $90,000 to the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network RHAN) for promotion, from the UN Population Fund or UNFPA (2011);
  • $6.6 million to Planned Parenthood arm Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) from UNFPA (2009);
  • $1.6 million to FPOP from IPPF for the years 2005, 2009, and 2010;$1.2 million to PSPI from Marie Stopes (2009);
  • $39,000 to Likhaan from Planned Parenthood (2007);
  • $88,000 to FPOP in 2009 from Marie Stopes for RH kits; and
  • $75,000 to “Catholics” for Choice to promote RH, from the Wallace Global Fund (2009)

Sa laki ng budget ng mga organisasyong ito, hindi na kataka-takang napakasigla ng kampanya nila para sa RH Bill sa radyo, telebisyon, pahayagan at lalo na sa internet.
4.  Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, which actively participated in the deliberations of the RH Bill, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, excludes the unborn from the definition of “children” and claims that “calling the unborn a child is going beyond what the constitution provides.” This organization further claims that only children have human rights, excepting the unborn.
Kung hindi kinikilala ng organisasyong ito na may karapatang pantao ang mga batang nasa sinapupunan pa lamang ng kanilang ina, hindi malayong tinatanggap nila ang ideya ng abortion tulad ng pagtanggap ng mga foreign organizations na nagsusulong nito sa ating bansa.
These foreign organizations underhandedly seek to legalize abortion in countries where it is still a crime. And that I believe is exactly what they’re doing now in our country through this bill. This bill is a foreign-dictated policy, forcing us to adopt population control and abortion, contrary to the values that we uphold.
Sana wag tayong magbulag-bulagan sa katotohanan na iniimpluwensyahan tayo ng mga banyaga sa pamamagitan ng bill na ito. Gumagamit sila ng mga mapanlinlang na impormasyon upang sa ganun ay tayo ay makumbinsi nila na tanggapin ang kanilang mga baluktot na paniniwala.
They want us to believe that the use of contraceptives lowers the number of abortions. On the surface, this claim appears to be reasonable. It seems obvious that, if one uses some type of birth control when engaging in sexual intercourse, one will be less likely to get pregnant than if one used no means of birth control. So the general public believes this claim and sees the distribution of contraceptives as part of the solution to the “abortion problem”. Yet there are studies, supported by facts transpiring in the last 50 years, that cast a large cloud of doubt over this conclusion.
In fact, in a study undertaken by Raymond Pearl, a John Hopkins professor and noted authority on this matter, wrote: “Those who practice contraception as part of their sex life, by their own admission, resort to criminally induced abortions about three times as often proportionately as do their comparable non-contraceptor contemporaries.”
Also in a report prepared for the Royal Commission on Population in Great Britain found that the incidence of induced abortion as a percentage of all pregnancies was nine times higher for women using contraceptives than for women not using birth control.
With the foregoing, I think I have adequately shown that the proponents of the bill have been misled by deceptive and misleading information to push for the bill’s passage.
Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: This speech was reposted from the Senate website. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012


The Lord gave them bread from heaven…

The reading that we have from the Old Testament this Sunday, the eighteenth in Ordinary Time, brings us back to a critical moment in the desert experience of Israel. As the people of Israel continue on their exodus from slavery into freedom, they run into a shortage of food. This crisis allows them to see that the path to freedom is not as rosy as it first seemed, but rather a one filled with challenges and difficulties. The crisis of food was so acute as to let them yearn for the time they were slaves back in Egypt, where they did not have to look for the food themselves. The lack of this important element for survival provided the occasion for them to flounder in the God who led them out of Egypt and to grumble against him. At the same time, this episode also shows that God never failed to provide for his people. In sending them sustenance from the heavens, we are made to realize that the Lord is true to his promise, that he is faithful and that he provides for his people.

This is one point that we got from the readings of the previous Sundays: the providence of God that never fails. But our reflection allows us to see the fact that the Lord does not merely take care to provide for the material needs of man. In the Gospel of Matthew we hear this admonition from the Lord: “Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.” These are words that make us aware that there is something else that satisfies man, that fills him, more than any other material need could. Man needs bread in order to live on this earth, and everything that could raise the standard of his life here in earth. But even these cannot provide what man ultimately needs: the promise of life in its fullness. Man wants to live and not lose his life, to be able to possess it, and to be free of the fear of losing this abundant life that he holds in his hands. More than anything else, man wants to be happy, man wants to attain salvation.

There will come a time in our life when we will realize that even the things of this earth cannot satisfy us fully. This gift of wisdom unfortunately does not come to all. Not even the comforts that we had worked so hard for will be of any consolation to us, when faced with the longing to possess the infinite in our hearts. God, in creating man, has placed this desire of the infinite in his heart; he has placed the desire for God himself. In the end, only God can fully satisfy the ultimate yearning of the human heart. How right was St. Augustine—himself an expert in matters of the human heart—when he said these famous words in his Confessions: “our heart is restless until it rests in you”!

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you: It is in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, that we find the fulfillment of this desire: he is, to use the words of an old Christian hymn, the “desire of the ages”. Not only does he propose to give the bread that would really satisfy man, but rather, he himself is that food that satisfies man’s hunger for salvation. Not only does he impart words of everlasting life, but he gives divine life itself through the gift of his own self. Jesus gives man his very life, the one that he had received from his Father eternally. He gave it up for us on the cross; he continues to give it to us in the sacrament of his Body and Blood. Jesus is the true bread that had come down from heaven: It is in the Eucharist that we receive the life of God, and the assurance that we will receive this very life that knows no end in heaven. In the Eucharist we receive the great gift of God’s eternal life.

Received worthily, the Bread of Life that is the Eucharist has the power to change our life, transforming it as such that God’s own divine life is wonderfully re-created in our own. This is the effect of the Eucharist; the deep friendship which we establish with the Lord in Holy Communion allow us to partake of his divine nature, making us holy, more loving, more patient, understanding, and generous. It makes that which is good more attractive for me, enabling me to yearn for goodness even more, while allowing me to see the true ugliness of sin and separation from God, making me hate sin all the more. Constant union with Christ in the Eucharist begets love, and makes it stronger.

This is both a gift and a challenge. In the Second Reading, from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, we hear these words: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ. You should do away with the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. To put away the old self, and be renewed, the image of God, in righteousness and holiness of truth. We should not leave Holy Communion in the same way that we had entered it! We should strive to change our life and the way we see things. What a pity if we continue receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, and live as if he had not touched our lives! What a huge waste of grace, and what a big scandal for men that would be, if we who are supposed to be friends of the Lord act as if we didn’t have anything to do with him!

May this be an occasion of self-examination for all of us: Do I allow myself to be changed by this friendship that I enjoy with the Son of God, whenever I receive his most sacred Body, and his precious Blood in Holy Communion? Do I strive to cooperate with the grace received, in order that in my life it is not I but Christ living in me? AMEN.