Liberal education vs liberal Faith: What is the true essence of Ateneo education?

There is a distinction between liberal education and liberal Faith. Liberal education of Ateneo simply means that students become well rounded individuals: they study languages, humanities, arts, and sciences, regardless of their chosen course. The core curriculum is the essence of Ateneo’s liberal education.

On the other hand, to have a liberal Faith is antithesis of being Catholic. To be liberal in Faith is to choose only the doctrines and teachings that you feel like obeying and discard the rest. Pope Benedict XVI calls this the Cafeteria Catholicism. The words of Dr. Clamor are only partly true. There are things in Catholicism that if one does not believe them, you do not cease to be Catholic. An example would be some Marian apparitions and other private revelations to the saints. But there are things called dogmas that are non-negotiables: if you don’t believe them, you cease to be Catholic. You become a heretic. An example would be the Dogma of the Trinity.

Membership in the Church is not a subjective feeling or being conscious about it. If you are baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you become the member of the Catholic Church. Outside the Church there is no salvation. If you are cut off from the Church, you wither and die, because the Church is the Body of Christ (c.f parable of the vine and branches).

One cannot support the Reproductive Health Bill in good conscience, because a good conscience is formed by obedience to the teachings of the Church. Support for the Reproductive Health Bill can only be a result of malformed conscience. Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae has explicitly condemned the use of contraceptives in married life as instrinsically wrong. Your Th 121 can have his/her opinions on what should the Catholic Church do regarding homosexual couples, but he does not have the Magisterium (Teaching Authority) of Bishops and Popes. Your teacher can say his opinions and we can debate forever. But when the Pope speaks ex Cathedra as successor of Peter, the case is closed.

In the time of Jose Rizal, to be an Atenean is to have a liberal education. Jose Rizal studied Latin and Greek and learned the arts and sciences. A true Atenean is a devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jose Rizal carved the Statue of the Sacred Heart in wood with a penknife. A true Atenean is a devotee of Our Lady. Jose Rizal prays the rosary. This is the reason why the Ateneo Basketball Team was once known as the Hail Mary Squad because they always pray the rosary before each game. And this is also why we sing our Alma Mater Song:

“Mary for you! For your white and blue! We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, constantly true! We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, faithful to you!”

As an agnostic, you have to be careful when you sing this song. Mama Mary can convert even the most hardened sinners. The Campus Ministry in Ateneo never cease to give the Miraculous Medal every year. It is not called Miraculous Medal for nothing. If you receive that medal and pray a Hail Mary a day devoutly for a month, you will be converted. If you are incredulous, try it.

When Rizal gone astray into masonry, did his Jesuit teachers approve of his views? No. This led to the series of letters between Rizal and Fr. Pastells, SJ. Rizal’s physics teacher, Fr. Federico Faura, SJ, the man who first forcasted Philippine storms, rebuked Rizal for his insolence. But when Rizal was shown the statue of the Sacred Heart that He carved in his youth, Rizal converted. Fr. Faura heard his confession and he died in Luneta as a true Atenean and Catholic.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

7 Responses to Liberal education vs liberal Faith: What is the true essence of Ateneo education?

  1. Arvin says:

    I remember this blog post as one of the epic comment reply of yours in your ateneo homosexual theses blog post. It is a beautiful comment composed of the difference between liberal education and liberal faith, the importance of the church, importance of being an opponent of RH Bill, miracles from God through Mama Mary and the wonderful history of Jose Rizal as a Catholic and an Atenean. It is a wonderful post with many different topics but those are all for God and his Catholic Church. Nice post!

  2. Angelo Perez says:


    What can be possible books which you can recommend to Ateneans like me who wish to rediscover the true nature of our Catholic and Jesuit university?

  3. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:


    Go to the Ateneo Archives and read the oldest issues of the Guidon. In this way, you can compare the Ateneo before and the Ateneo now.

  4. jose says:

    Are you confident that you are so pure and of without sin that you will go to heaven when you die? are priests confident that they’ll go to heaven and not to hell just because of their priesthood?

    remember the parable of the poor widow giving her last copper coin. you will be judge dearly for all your actions, the hatred you have caused because you are priests. you should know better. it is easier for a sinner who has repented to enter heaven than a rich (not literally) priest to enter the kingdom.

  5. St.Scholastica says:

    It is so refreshing to hear a Jesuit speak in the true essence of the Jesuit order.
    It is unfortunate how far most Jesuits have strayed, and how many they have taken with them.
    I am fortunate my husband has kept much of the good from his Jesuit upbringing, and I am very thankful for my Benedictine schooling.
    We have made a wonderful marriage blessed with 8 going on 9 children.

    I am so glad you mentioned the return to the faith of Jose Rizal, more of his Catholic life before Noli and after imprisonment should be highlighted to emphasize his recognition of error and return to the faith, these are very important facets of his personhood that need to be recognized.

  6. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:


    The Catholic Church is made up of sinners and saints, as the parable of the wheat and weeds tell us. That is why there is the Sacrament of Confession, so that we can tell our sins and receive forgiveness. The road to hell is also paved with the skulls of priests and bishops who neglected their flock and allowed wolves to eat the sheep. And heaven is also filled with sinners who repented before they died. As Christ said, ”
    I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Lk 15:7) As long as we Catholics do our reasonable best to avoid sin and occasions of sin, love God above all and love our neighbor as ourselves, and obey the teachings of the Church established by Christ, we can be assured of going to heaven. It is true that nothing impure can enter heaven (c.f. Rv 21:27). But there is Purgatory for the cleansing of our little sins before we can enter heaven; unconfessed mortal sins merit hell.

    I can’t see the connection between the poor widow and being judged dearly. The correct quote is this: “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest;4 for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Lk 21:3-4) Maybe you are thinking of another quote: ” I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. 37 By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12:36-37)

    The correct quote does not mention priest, so it can refer to you and me: ” it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 19:24) A man who has no possessions will find it easier to enter heaven, because he will not worry about the things of this world, but shall look forward to the next life. Religious priests, like Fr. Reuter, have made vows of poverty; they have nothing to call their own.

  7. Tom says:

    Great piece, now can somebody pass this on the the great “PeNOy?”

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