Archive for January 2009
In the system which Maimonides sets forth we see, so to speak, the culmination of all the ideas whose development has been traced in this chapter.
We find there, first of all, the affirmation of the principle that Aristotle had already formulated with such clarity: The various parts of the universe is interconnected by a rigorous determinism and this determinism subjects the entire world of generation and corruption to the rule of celestial circulations.
We find there the corollary of that principle, namely, the definition of an astrological science which ties all changes accomplished here below to the motion of a specific planet.
We see there the preponderant role which that astrology attributes to the Moon as a rule of water and humid matter. The moon forces them to grow and decrease with her. The theory of tides clearly proves the reality of this lunar action and, through it, of all influence emanating from the celestial bodies.
Finally, we hear stated that the very slow changes on earth are tied to the almost imperceptibly slow motion of the fixed stars whose revolution measures the Great Year.
To that system all the disciples of Greek philosophy—Peripatetics, Stoics, Neoplatonists—have contributed. To that system Abu Masar offered the homage of the Arabs. The most illustrious rabbis, from Philo of Alexandria to Maimonides accepted that system.
Christianity was needed to condemn that system as a monstruous supersitition and to throw it overboard….
Hardly anxious to explore in detail the works of Greek astronomers, the bishop of Hippo and with him, undoubtedly, the great majority of the Church Fathers, did not know how to separate, in a precise manner, the hypotheses of the astronomers from the astrologer’s superstitions. The former were confusedly included in the disapprovals accorded to the latter….
Let us not therefore search in the writings of the Church Fathers for the traces of a meticulously and sophisticatedly treated science. We assuredly cannot find them there at all.
Let us not, however, neglect the little they said about physics and astronomy.
First of all, their teachings on this topic are the first seeds from which the cosmology of the Christian Middle Ages would slowly and gradually develop.
Also, and above all, the Church Fathers hit, and did so in the name of the Christian Creed, the pagan philosophers on points which, today, we consider more metaphysical than physical but where actually lie the cornerstones of the physics of Antiquity: such are the theory of an eternal prime matter, the belief in the stars’ domination over sublunary things and in the periodic life of a cosmos subject to the rhythm of the Great Year. By destroying through these attacks the cosmologies of peripatetism, of Stoicism, and of Neoplatonism, the Fathers of the Church clearly prepare the way for modern science.
Source: Pierre Duhem, Le systeme du monde… Tome II. La cosmologie hellenique (1914), pp. 390, 4087-408 (1914-1). In Scientist and Catholic: An Essay on Pierre Duhem by Stanley L. Jaki (Christendom, Front Royal, VA, 1991), pp. 256-257.
58. The last Synod devoted considerable attention to these “small communities,” or communautes de base, because they are often talked about in the Church today. What are they, and why should they be the special beneficiaries of evangelization and at the same time evangelizers themselves?
According to the various statements heard in the Synod, such communities flourish more or less throughout the Church. They differ greatly among themselves both within the same region and even more so from one region to another.
In some regions they appear and develop, almost without exception, within the Church, having solidarity with her life, being nourished by her teaching and united with her pastors. In these cases, they spring from the need to live the Church’s life more intensely, or from the desire and quest for a more human dimension such as larger ecclesial communities can only offer with difficulty, especially in the big modern cities which lend themselves both to life in the mass and to anonymity. Such communities call quite simply be in their own way an extension on the spiritual and religious level- worship, deepening of faith, fraternal charity, prayer, contact with pastors- of the small sociological community such as the village, etc. Or again their aim may be to bring together, for the purpose of listening to and meditating on the Word, for the sacraments and the bond of the agape, groups of people who are linked by age, culture, civil state or social situation: married couples, young people, professional people, etc.; people who already happen to be united in the struggle for justice, brotherly aid to the poor, human advancement. In still other cases they bring Christians together in places where the shortage of priests does not favor the normal life of a parish community. This is all presupposed within communities constituted by the Church, especially individual Churches and parishes.
In other regions, on the other hand, communautes de base come together in a spirit of bitter criticism of the Church, which they are quick to stigmatize as “institutional” and to which they set themselves Up in opposition as charismatic communities, free from structures and inspired only by the Gospel. Thus their obvious characteristic is an attitude of fault-finding and of rejection with regard to the Church’s outward manifestations: her hierarchy, her signs. They are radically opposed to the Church. By following these lines their main inspiration very quickly becomes ideological, and it rarely happens that they do not quickly fall victim to some political option or current of thought, and then to a system, even a party, with all the attendant risks of becoming its instrument.
The difference is already notable: the communities which by their spirit of opposition cut themselves off from the Church, and whose unity they wound, can well be called communautes de base, but in this case it is a strictly sociological name. They could not, without a misuse of terms, be called ecclesial communautes de base, even if while being hostile to the hierarchy, they claim to remain within the unity of the Church. This name belongs to the other groups, those which come together within the Church in order to unite themselves to the Church and to cause the Church to grow.
These latter communities will be a place of evangelization, for the benefit of the bigger communities, especially the individual Churches. And, as we said at the end of the last Synod, they will be a hope for the universal Church to the extent:
- that they seek their nourishment in the Word of God and do not allow themselves to be ensnared by political polarization or fashionable ideologies, which are ready to exploit their immense human potential;
- that they avoid the ever present temptation of systematic protest and a hypercritical attitude, under the pretext of authenticity and a spirit of collaboration;
- that they remain firmly attached to the local Church in which they are inserted, and to the universal Church, thus avoiding the very real danger of becoming isolated within themselves, then of believing themselves to be the only authentic Church of Christ, and hence of condemning the other ecclesial communities;
- that they maintain a sincere communion with the pastors whom the Lord gives to His Church, and with the magisterium which the Spirit of Christ has entrusted to these pastors;
- that they never look on themselves as the sole beneficiaries or sole agents of evangelization- or even the only depositaries of the Gospel- but, being aware that the Church is much more vast and diversified, accept the fact that this Church becomes incarnate in other ways than through themselves;
- that they constantly grow in missionary consciousness, fervor, commitment and zeal;
- that they show themselves to be universal in all things and never sectarian.
On these conditions, which are certainly demanding but also uplifting, the ecclesial communautes de base will correspond to their most fundamental vocation: as hearers of the Gospel which is proclaimed to them and privileged beneficiaries of evangelization, they will soon become proclaimers of the Gospel themselves.
Source: Evangelii Nuntiandi: Apostolic Exhortation of His Holiness Pope Paul VI on Evangelization in the Modern World
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines: BECs lax on social issues; lacks sustainability
The Hitherto Unpublished Letters of Jose Rizal and Portions of Fr. Pablo Pastell’s Fourth Letter and Translation of the Correspondence, together with a Historical Background and Theological Critique (Ateneo de Manila University Press, Bellarmine Hall, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, P.O. Box 154, 1099 Manila, Philippines)
This book tells the story of two brilliant men.
The first is the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He was the distinguished poet in the Spanish tongue, the master of Philippine dialects and European languages, the humble devotee of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who later became a leader of the Propaganda Movement, the writer of the subversive novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and a member of Freemasonry in London. In short, Jose Rizal was the Spanish poet who became anti-Spain, the Catholic who became anti-Catholic, the student of the Jesuits who made a “shipwreck of Faith.” In 1896 in Bagumbayan in Manila, Jose Rizal was executed for treason against Spain by firing squad. He was thirty-five.
The second is Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J. He was the student in the Jesuit-run Seminario Conciliar in Barcelona, a refugee in France after the fourth suppression of Jesuits in Spain in 1868, a man in lay clothes running from anticlerical elements after the defeat of Napoleon in the Franco-Prussian war, the priest who organized circulos or worker groups in Europe to the anger of Anarchists. Pastells arrived in the Philippines in 1875. In the middle of the following year he was sent to Ateneo de Manila and became the director of the Sodality of Our Lady. In this capacity and as a prefect of the boarders, he came to know the fourteen year old Rizal. He travelled as a missionary in the Visayan and Mindanao Islands to study the language of the natives. He was appointed Superior of the of the Philippine Mission in 1888, and it was at the end of his term of office that his correspondence with Rizal began. Pastells was sent back again to Spain in 1893 to write about the Spanish Jesuit’s overseas work, resulting to a three-volume history book (1916-1917), and another nine-volume work on the History of the Philippines (1925-1934). In 1932, he died at the age of eighty-six.
* * *
The book is divided into two parts. The first part is an Introduction by Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., which consists of a historical background and a theological critique.
The historical background is well written and researched, with long footnotes. When Rizal was exiled in Dapitan in Mindanao, Rizal told Fr. Sanchez who tried to bring him back to the Catholic Faith:
It is useless, Father, you do not convince me. I do not believe in the Eucharist or in the rites of the Catholic religion.
But to his mother Rizal wrote (which Fr. Sanchez confirmed):
We heard mass at midnight, for you ought to know that here I hear Mass every Sunday. (Underlining by Rizal.)
I expected these things. But for a physicist, here is a surprising trivia: From Rizal’s friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, Fr. Federico Faura, S.J., the founder of the Manila Observatory, learned of Blumentritt’s fear that Rizal became a Mason. And Fr. Bonoan continues:
When Fr. Ramon, the rector, and Faura in conversation with their guest raised the question of his religious beliefs, Rizal made protestations of loyalty to Spain but said it was useless to discuss religious matters inasmuch as he had long lost the faith. Whereupon, Faura sternly warned him never again to step into the corridors of the Ateneo if he should persist in his erroneous beliefs, for the Jesuit fathers were breaking all contact with him, and advised him to leave the Philippines for good lest he end up on the scaffold. Rizal remained unmoved.
Fr. Faura correctly predicted the last storm: Rizal was executed, and his death ushered the Philippine Revolution.
Fr. Bonoan’s theological critique of Rizal and Fr. Pastells is also well-written. But reading through his critique, Fr. Bonoan showed more sympathy for Rizal than for Pastells: He upheld Rizal’s primacy of conscience and contrasted Pastell’s Vatican I mindset with the teachings of Vatican II. If you want to know the details, read the book.
But my sympathies are for Pastells. And to him we can quote Fr. Horacio de la Costa’s words:
But look at it another way. Look at it through the eyes of a Spanish friar who found himself a prisoner of the Army of the Revolution. He was the last of a long line of missionaries, stretching back to that great defender of Rights, Fray Domingo de Salazar. They had brought this whole people from primitive tribalism to civilization. They had raised from stones children of Abraham. And in the end, the children had turned on their fathers.
It was not only tragic; it was the very essence of tragedy
–Fr. Horacio de la Costa, “The Priest in the Philippine Life and Society: An Historical View,” in Church and Sacraments, ed. by Ma. Victoria B. Parco (Office of Research and Publications, Ateneo de Manila University, 1990), pp. 192-200.
References to the Correspondence
Part 1. Introduction
Two Separate Paths: Historical Background
- The Young Rizal and the Jesuits
- The European Experiment
- The Shipwreck of Faith
- Pastells and the Spanish Jesuits
- Arrest and Exile
The Clash of Cultures: Theological Critique
- The Enlightenment and the Catholic Response
- Private Judgment
- The Problem of God
Part 2. The Spanish Text of Rizal’s Letters and the Missing Portions of Pastell’s Fourth Letter
The First Letter of Rizal
The Second Letter of Rizal
The Third Letter of Rizal
The Fourth Letter of Rizal
The Fifth Letter of Rizal
Portions of the Pastell’s Fourth Letter Missing in the Epislorio Rizalino
Part 3. Translations of the Correspondence
The First Letter of Rizal
The First Letter of Pastells
The Second Letter of Rizal
The Second Letter of Pastells
The Third Letter of Rizal
The Third Letter of Pastells
The Fourth Letter of Rizal
The Fourth Letter of Pastells
The Fifth Letter of Rizal
Decree of the Congregation for Bishops
CONGREGATIO PRO EPISCOPIS
By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: “We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much.“
His Holiness Benedict XVI – paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin – decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.
With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.
It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.
Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.
Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.
Card. Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
This document was copied from Rorate Caeli, which for years has followed the relationship of SSPX and the Vatican.
In 1542, the first Christian missionaries arrived from Portugal in Japan. The only religious orders that were allowed were the Jesuits, primarily because of the esteem by the Japanese barons (daimyos) for St. Francis Xavier, who reached Japan in 1549. When the Franciscans came, 26 of them were executed in 1597 (Japan Guide). From 1603 to 1867, the Edo Era under the Tokugawa dynasty, the Christians were persecuted. One of these is our first Filipino saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who died in 1637 by hanging in the pit (after his water-filled belly was rolled by a barrel and his fingernails were replaced with needles). His last words were: “Even if I have a thousand lives, I will give them all to God.” Because of failing economy due to protectionism, the Edo Era ended. In the succeeding Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), a constitutional government was made with the emperor as the head. One of the reforms in this restoration is the freedom of religion. At last, Christianity can once again be practiced without fear of persecution.
The Samurai X anime series is situated at the end of the Tokugawa Era and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. Kenshin Himura, the Battousai or the Slasher, was once an assassin for hire. He mastered the sword style called Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu (Flying Heaven Honorable Sword Style) taught by his teacher, Seijuro. This technique is only handed down from one teacher to one student only, and the final test is for the student to defeat the master using the technique called Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. One student who failed in this test is Hyoue. He nearly died. But he lived and taught it to a child prodigy named Shogo Amakusa.
Shogo is a Christian and he saw how his parents died in Shimabara during the Tokugawa persecution. And as he sailed away to escape, looking at the rows of crucified men along the cliff, he vowed to return and defend Christianity. On his return to Shimabara at the age of 24, he styled himself as the “Son of God”, and coincided his coming with the eclipse of the sun. As his boat passed through the waters to Shimabara, the waters burst into flames, forming not the sign of the cross † but the sign of a C and its reflection connected by a horizontal bar: ⊃-⊂.
Shogo and his followers have ceased to be Christians, but their practices have vestiges of Christianity. In the cave they prayed something similar to the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who love God; He will lead them to God’s country.” This is similar to “Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth.” They have a Mary figure, Shogo’s sister, the Lady Magdalia, the ever-virgin. They also have a church—probably underground—with a single circular stained glass window. The altar is attached to the wall with six candlesticks burning—perfect setting for the traditional latin mass. But they have no priests. This is the law of entropy and devolution: “Leave a village without a priest for fifty years and the people shall worship rocks and trees” (said by the Cure d’Ars, if I am not mistaken). This is what happenned to the Israelites when Moses went to Mt. Sinai to get the Ten Commandments: they made a golden calf and worshiped it as their god and savior. And this is what happened to villagers of Shimabara: they worshiped Shogo as god. (See the trailer here. Note the Christian elements.)
Shogo is an Anti-Christ. Shogo aims to establish a kingdom on earth; Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom does not belong in this world. Shogo blinds a man using his Rai-Ryu Sen; Jesus cures a man born blind. Shogo displays his divinity by his unbelievable swordsmanship; Jesus told Peter to put his sword back. And as a twist of fate, it was the Pagan Kenshin Himura who acted more Christ-like: he read Shogo’s heart and he refused to use his ultimate sword technique of Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki to defend himself against Shogo, in order that by this deed Shogo will realize that “a sword is not for killing but for protecting people”—Kenshin’s motto (c.f. “to protect what is valuable” as Yeon Soha said in the Shadowless Sword). In his dismay and anger, Shogo punished Kenshin with “a punishment much worse than death: eternal darkness!” And the blinded Kenshin fell from the cliff into the sea. (See the battle between Kenshin and Shogo in here.)
The encylical Humani Generis of Pope Pius XII discussed the various errors propagated in ecclesiastical institutions by teachers using historical and natural (evolution) sciences in their exegesis. I will extract his words regarding evolution and evolutionism:
Humani Generis on Evolution
5. Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.
6. Such fictitious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.
36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith. Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.
37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary January 15, 2009
The White House, President George W. Bush National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2009, A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America:
National Sanctity of Life Day
All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.
The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent. My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing Federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America. Also, I was proud to sign the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which allows authorities to charge a person who causes death or injury to a child in the womb with a separate offense in addition to any charges relating to the mother.
America is a caring Nation, and our values should guide us as we harness the gifts of science. In our zeal for new treatments and cures, we must never abandon our fundamental morals. We can achieve the great breakthroughs we all seek with reverence for the gift of life.
The sanctity of life is written in the hearts of all men and women. On this day and throughout the year, we aspire to build a society in which every child is welcome in life and protected in law. We also encourage more of our fellow Americans to join our just and noble cause. History tells us that with a cause rooted in our deepest principles and appealing to the best instincts of our citizens, we will prevail.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 18, 2009, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
GEORGE W. BUSH
A hobbit thanks to Karen Hall’s Some Have Hats.
The Philippine jeepney is the most colorful transportation in metro Manila (Alliance Francaise postcards here, more flamboyant pictures at the Stuart Exchange here). One reason for this is that they were made by Filipinos who gives the choice of painting to the owners (in the same way as they serve noodles separate from the seasonings). So when the jeepney is bought, its bare silvery metal sheets makes it look like a medieval European knight in full plate armor.
In medieval warfare, knights distinguish each other using heraldry, which are pictures emblazoned in their shields. Knights who cover their heraldry are called dark knights (c.f. batman), for no one knows who they are and where they came from. When the gunpowder made the armor obsolete, the art of heraldry remained in the form of coat of arms.
The coat of arms is essentially a shield with two supporters (humans or beasts) on its left and right side. On top of the shield is a helmet with a crest. The motto may be seen above the crest or below the shield. The shield is divided into several parts using a vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. Each part of the shield is a space for charge (a picture). For example, the coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI shows a chalice-like shield with a tripartite division: a moor’s head on the dexter corner (right side of the bearer), a bear on the sinister corner (left side), and a scallop shell at the bottom. Instead of a helmet is a bishop’s mitre; instead of supports, crossed keys. A pallium hangs below the shield. There is no papal motto written, but in his episcopal coat of arms it is ”Cooperatores Veritatis.”
The Philippine jeepney also uses a form of heraldry. But because jeepney looks different from a medieval knight, we shall propose different ways of describing the jeepney’s heraldric devices.
The heraldry of the Philippine jeepney is divided into three divisions: front, side, and back.
The front consists of a dashboard on top of the window, a space below the window, and everything else on the jeepney’s front. The dashboard, which doubles as a sun shield, describes the name of the jeepney. It can be “Messenger,” “Rebel,” or “James and Jun.” The space below the window is the tag line: “Gift of God” or “Mario loves Jane.” On top of the engine cover is a statuette of a horse, an eagle, a trumpet–or even a real dear’s horn. On the two sides near the front lights are posts for the crests that look like tails of horses; sometimes they are just bare posts grouped together to form whiskers like that of a cat. Flash lamps of yellow are arrayed above the dashboard or on its sides. The overall effect is gallantry–bold and sylish.
The side part of the jeepney consists of the driver’s door, the space between front and rear wheels, and the space above the rear wheel. The driver’s door is the most intimate space. Here is painted the driver himself, or his beautiful wife, or his children; sometimes you’ll see Mary or Christ, too. The space between the wheels is flat space measuring about 1.5 feet by 3 feet. This is the space for main heraldric charge for it dictates the mood of the overall jeepney. The charge may be pictures of Aragorn, Britney Spears, or Our Lady of Manaoag; it may be also be a sports car, a fairie with unicorn, or a Zodiac sign (most common). The space above the rear wheel is not ideal for portraits because of the bulging metals. So this space is usually reserved for the title of the main portrait.
The back part of the jeepney consists of two top corners and one long board as mud shield. The top corners measure 1 foot by 1 foot. The pictures drawn here are usually similar or facing each other. These pictures act like seals or post stamps. The mudshield board is for the farewell speech like “God bless our trip” or a warning like “Distancia amigo” (Put some distance, my friend). It can also be just another name like “Baluarte” (Bulwark) or “Tubong Tondo” (native of Tondo).
So the next time you ride a jeepney, look at its front, side, and back and study its heraldry. Try to guess what sort of driver you are riding with and have some fun.
The final report of the Apostolic Visitation of U.S. seminaries was dated 15 December 2008. The report presented the good and bad views of the seminaries. I will summarize the the problem areas here, so that they will provide a simple checklist for evaluating seminaries, especially here in the Philippines.
A. Concept of the Priesthood
- The students have an idea of priestly service, but teachings such as on the character impressed by the Sacred Orders, on the nature of sacra potestas, on the tria munera, etc., are not so well known.
- The mixing of seminarians and laity in theological classes leads to the blurring of the distinction between the common priesthood (of the laity) and the ministerial, hierarchical priesthood.
- The priestly formation must be devoted to the priesthood itself and not to priesthood being de facto part of religious life.
- Some thinks that to limit the priestly ministry to men is discriminatory.
B. The Government of the Seminary
- Rectors must not only be exemplary priests (or religious); they must also be leaders capable of making difficult decisions.
- Some rectors are frequently absent in their seminaries.
- Formation faculty must be priests; though the teaching faculty can include religious and lay people, the majority of the teachers must be priests.
- Frequent changes in the faculty are bad for the formation of students.
- Seminary formation suffers due to faculty members having duties inside and outside the seminary.
- Many centers run by the religious have a culture of widespread dissent.
- There are some faculty members who, although not speaking openly against church teaching, let the students understand through hints, off-the-cuff remarks, etc., their disapproval of some articles of magisterial teaching.
- In problems involving doctrinal teaching, the procedures for removing a faculty are not invoked as often as they should be.
- The laity must not study in the seminary.
- Let the USCCB decide whether there are too many or too few seminaries.
C. Criteria for Admission of Candidates
- There must be a propedeutic period for diocesan candidates.
- Prior to and following their pre-notiviate and notiviate, the seminarians must be evaluated to determine their suitability.
- The Rule of Life of the College Seminary and pre-theology course should be more, not less, exacting than that of the theologate. Unsuitable students must be dismissed.
- There must be a minimum of 6 years of formation to determine the irregularities in the behaviors of the candidates.
- The bishop, not the vocation directors, should call the cadidate to orders.
- Seminaries should have their own screening procedures and not rely on the ones provided by the diocese.
- Individual candidates from sponsoring dioceses must be well documented.
- Students studying in the same seminary–diocesan or religious–must be governed by the same rules for accepting and rejecting students.
- It is not clear who has the right to see the results of psychological testing of candidates.
- Seminary rectors must always keep the barriers to ordination high: they should reject unsuitable candidates and should not shorten the formation time.
D. The Seminarians
- Some candidates come from broken families or with little knowledge of Catholic doctrine.
- Seminaries with candidates coming from different cultures must incorporate various cultural expectations.
- There are still some places–usually centers of formation for religious–where ambiguity vis-a-vis homosexuality persists.
- The lack of oversight regarding what students do off-campus invites trouble.
E. Human Formation
- Formation advisers must not intrude into spiritual direction, i.e., they must not ask about matters of sin.
- The Rule of Life in the seminary must be more demanding, so that the seminarians would take on a more priestly and ascetic character and shed a wordly style of life, e.g., alcohol use, curfews, absences, off-limit areas to guests, etc.
- Restrict internet use to public places; internet-filtering programs must be used.
- Since the rule of life for older candidates is diminished, the superiors must closely watch if these candidates have interiorized the strict rules in his previous years.
- During summer breaks, if a student does not comport himself as if he were in the seminary, then his formation has not interiorized his formation. Plans must be drawn for the students during breaks so that their formation is not interrupted for several months.
F. Spiritual Formation
- Liturgies celebrated at religious centers of formation do not obey liturgical norms.
- There are no fixed periods of time for prayer.
- Seminaries must educate students on the classical forms and Catholic spirituality.
- All seminaries must organize community masses in the seminary every day even on Sundays; lauds and vespers must also be celebrated daily.
- Seminarians must go to confession at least once every two weeks.
- Seminaries must include recitation of the rosary, novenas, litanies, Stations of the Cross, and so on.
- Some institutes even have an atmosphere that discourages traditional acts of catholic piety, which begs the question whether the faculty’s ideas are constant with catholic teaching and tradition.
- Some sins are revealed even in the public forum; other seminaries prepare lists of exceptions to the inviolability of the seal of the confessional.
- It is difficult to ascertain, in the external forum, whether each individual seminarian is interiorizing his formation.
- Some faculty members question the link of celibacy to priesthood.
G. Intellectual Formation
- Many teachers in the seminary do not have proper qualifications from an institute recognized by the Holy See.
- Because of teacher scarcity, some teachers teach beyond their expertise and do not have enough time to keep up to date in their disciplines.
- Some essential courses are omitted or telescoped.
- It is highly unlikely that seminarians studying in community colleges would receive Catholic philosophy education that is useful for theology and whose teachers are Catholics with eccelesiastical degrees.
- Mariology and Patristics are not taught.
- Students have weak grounding in Latin, which should have been useful for the Liturgy and for consulting primary theological sources.
- In seminaries run by the religious dissent is widespread, such as on the fields of moral theology, the ordination of men alone, and bioethical and medical questions.
- Theology and spirituality cannot be divorced; teachers should not shy away from spiritual and pastoral questions should they arise in class.
- Programs of pastoral formation should be under the direction of a priest, such as those on the administration of the sacraments; religious and lay people can only assist in the planning and organization.
- Seminarians must not be sent to pastoral experiences that are incompatible with Catholic pastoral practice.
H. Promotion to Holy Orders
- Seminarians are only evaluated only on their fourth year theology and not before it.
- Non-ordained and non-Catholic faculty members should not vote on the ordination of a seminarian.
- Evaluations of seminarians must not be arbitrary; those who are denied promotion must be given an explanation by the superiors.
- Impediments and irregularities to order must be checked before the formation, in order to avoid problems later.
- If there is doubt on the worthiness of a seminarian to be ordained, do not ordain him.
I. Service of the Seminary to the Newly Ordained
- Seminaries must provide ongoing formation for the newly ordained; this is difficult if the newly ordained priests are spread out over a large geoegraphical area.
Congregatio de Institutione de Catholica (de Seminariis et atque Studiorum Institutis)