Book Review: “The Rizal-Pastells Correspondence” by Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J.

The Hitherto Unpublished Letters of Jose Rizal and Portions of Fr.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

Preliminary Notes

Two Separate Paths: Historical Background

  1. The Young Rizal and the Jesuits
  2. The European Experiment
  3. The Shipwreck of Faith
  4. Pastells and the Spanish Jesuits
  5. Arrest and Exile

The Clash of Cultures: Theological Critique

  1. The Enlightenment and the Catholic Response
  2. Private Judgment
  3. The Problem of God
  4. Revelation
  5. Conclusion

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


Book Review: Handbook on Guadalupe

I. My New Age Background
II. My Encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Somewhere I have never travelled” by e. e. cummings.

I read the Handbook on Guadalupe.

I learned that the picture of Our Lady is actually a message in the form of picture-writing, an Aztec hieroglyphics.  And the message says that Our Lady is not god but a human being for she looks down and not straight towards us.  Yet she is greater than the sun god for she blots him out; the moon goddess, for she stands over her.  She is an empress because she wears a Turquoise (blue green) mantle.  She promises paradise for her mantle is adorned with flowers and song.    She is pregnant because her sash is tied high above her waist.  The God she serves is marked by the sign of the cross on her brooch.  Her messenger is at her feet, the Eagle Who Speaks, Juan Diego’s Aztec name.  And she is kissing him for she touches him with the edge.

The stars on Our Lady’s mantle form the constellations present in Mexico City just before sunrise on 12 December 1531, but the constellations are seen from the outside of the dome of the heavens (God’s point of view).  The missing stars can then be deduced: the Corona on her forehead, the Virgo on her heart, the Leo on her belly.  This answers the riddle of the sphinx: the lion with a woman’s head.  Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son” (Mt 1:23).  And the child’s name is  Jesus, of the House of David, of the tribe of Judah (c.f. Lk 1:31-33):

Judah, like a lion’s whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts—who would dare rouse him? The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage. (Gen 49:9-10)

How the picture of Our Lady was imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma (a standard Aztec clothing consisting of a long rectangular cloth with a slit in the middle for the head) was recounted in Nican Mopohua.  To Juan Diego, she spoke the following words:

Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you. Do not let your uncle’s illness worry you, because he will not die now. You may be certain that he is already well.

How can anyone not be moved?

IV. Biblical Iconography of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith

My Encounter With Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Somewhere I have never travelled” by e. e. cummings

Previous: I.  My New Age Background

But I saw no book by Lobsang Rampa, Sitchin, Licauco, or Casteneda.  I saw something else: a picture of a lovely lady on a book’s front cover.  I did not hear angels telling me, “Tolle lege,” or “Take and read,” as what happened to St. Augustine; but I took the book anyway.  The book is entitled, “A Handbook on Guadalupe” by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (1997).

At first glance, I instinctively know that the picture of the Lady could not be a painting.  I am a pastel painter but not a professional.  I do not use brush.  I use crayon pastels like crayons, but I mix them using baby oil and cotton.  I see blue shadows cast by the yellow sun.  I see green and yellow in the human skin.  I intersect parallel lines at vanishing points.  I scale pictures using boxes and triangles.  I sense symmetry.  I see beauty.  Yet a true artist I am not, for  I do not know human anatomy.  I do not know the names of the muscles and how they are attached to the bones.  I do not know the golden ratios that describe the human form.  I am only a copyist and in this I am content.  But if I see a masterpiece, I know it truly is.

The picture is not a painting.  How can anyone draw such loveliness that even the words of e. e. cummings fail:

    somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near
    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose
    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;
    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing
    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens; only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Call it love at first sight.  I bought the book.

III. Book Review: Handbook on Guadalupe
IV. Biblical Iconography of Our Lady of Guadalupe
V. Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith

My New Age Background Before My Encounter With Our Lady of Guadalupe

When I was in college, I once visited the National Bookstore in Katipunan hoping to find some bargains on books by Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, Zechariah Sitchin, Jaime Licauco, and Carlos Castaneda.  I have read their books and I hunger for more.

Lobsang Rampa‘s “Cave of the Ancients” tells of relics of an advanced civilization hidden in a cave: a perpetual light source and some sort of movie of the bygone years.  If I remember right, it discusses Kirlian photography—how to see the human aura.  The book also tells that Jesus is only a wise man and there are records that says he learned his teachings by journeying outside Judea—probably in India or Tibet.

Zechariah Sitchin‘s “12th Planet” claims that according to ancient Sumerian records, the human race were made by aliens visiting the earth through advanced space crafts, and that these aliens are the Nephilims in the book of Genesis.

Jaime Licauco‘s “True Encounters with the Unknown” recounts the many paranormal phenomena in the Philippines: psychic surgery and faith healing, reincarnation and walk-in spirits,  Mt. Banahaw and Sto. Ninos.  The book claims that there are highly evolved ascended masters who will teach us secret knowledge such as those found in the Gnostic gospels.

Carlos Castaneda‘s “Journey to Ixtlan” talks about the author’s journey with a Yaqui Indian named Don Juan who can change his appearance and shape to that of coyote, eagle, or another man.  Don Juan told him about the Unknowable and the Unknown.  The Unknown is the refuge of the Indians during the Spanish colonization when Christianity was imposed.  In the Unknown lies a separate reality that can only be achieved by first learning to focus on the shadows instead of leaves.

As you can see, I am not a New Age practitioner.  I have no out-of-body experiences, no signs of past life, no contact with other spirits.  I do not use tarot cards, crystal balls, and dowsing sticks.  I am only a New Age reader.  The lure of New Age for me is secret knowledge or “gnosis”, the knowledge that my Catholic Faith has deprived me, or so I thought.

II. My Encounter With Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Somewhere I have never travelled” by e. e. cummings
III. Book Review: Handbook on Guadalupe
IV. Biblical Iconography of Guadalupe
V. Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith

Book Review: “Conspiracy Against Life: Evangelium Vitae’s Conclusive Evidence”

Today we are amidst the battle between the forces of Life and and of Death.  This battle is fought not against “flesh  and blood ; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph 6:12).  To know whom we in the Pro-Life Movement are fighting against, read this book:

Conspiracy Against Life: Evangelium Vitae’s Conclusive Evidence (Two Hearts Media Organization, 1996). (Amazon, Bookmooch)

SOURCES (from the Foreword):

  1. Pope John Paul II.  He wrote the longes encyclical letter ever published—the Evangelium Vitae.  The gravity of its message was strongly underscored during the 3d Pro-Life Conference in Rome which called to attention all Bishops and Catholics who are compr[om]ising in their morals and are firm advocates of the contraceptive lifestyle.  Bishops and Catolics who maintain this anti-life belief can be penalized by Rome if they do not conform to the Church’s teachings.  In the past, almost fifty percent of American and European Bishops went against Pope Paul VI because of his encyclical, Humanae Vitae.
  2. There exists in the United States a confidential document, as revealed by the Pontifical Council on Family Life, known as the National Social Security Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200).  This classified document specifically mentions the concern of the U.S. over the growing depletion of natural resources and the subsequent increase in population growth, that if left uncontrolled this phenomenon will cause major security problems for the United States (NSSM 200, p. 44).  It mentions the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh as America’s target for its depopulation program (NSSM 200, 1974, p. 101).  And they will do this using US AID.
  3. There are other materials which were provided by known authorities of New World Order from Canada and the United Staes, like Gilles Grondin who holds a copy of the Rockefeller File which exposes how the Freemasons control the U.S. government, especially its Treasury, the State Department, and the United Nations.
  4. Malachi Martin.  He is a noted relgious writer with Vatican connections, holds another explosive material, NSSM 400.  He shares materials with our research center staff in U.S.A. and Canada.  He wrote The Keys of this Blood, a powerful book on the conspiracy against the weak.
  5. En Route to Global Occupation by Gary Kah; Committee of 300, Conspirators by Dr. John Coleman; Unveiling the Mystery of Freemasonry, by the Cardinal Caro y Rodriguez; U.N. Rule the World; the Lords of Poverty, by Graham Hancock; New World Order; Iron Mountain; Beyond Freemasonry by William Schoenbelen; the Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry by Albert Pike; CBCP Decision on Freemasonry–March 14, 1990; The New American Magazine, Bimonthly Magazine.
  6. All documents from the United Nations Conferences which we collated from 1992 to 1996: the Rio de Janiero World Summit on Human Environment, 1992; U.N. World Summit on Human Rights, 1993-Vienna; U.N. International Conference on Population Development, 1994-Cairo; U.N. World Summit on Social Development, 1995-Copenhagen; U.N. 4th Women World Conference, 1995-Beijing; U.N. Habitat II Preparatory Meeting, 1996-New York


Reader’s Guide

I.  A Global Conspiracy

    The Plot, Hidden Agenda, Main Target, Totalitarianism, Apparent Culprit, Global Control

II. The Conspirators’s Front

    The NSSM 200 (Kissinger Report), New World Order, Committee of 300, C-300’s Tightly Guarded Secrets

III. The United Nations

    The Conspirator’s Killing Machine, International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), One World Citizenship, UN Declaration on its 50th Anniversary, UN Conference on Environmental Development (UNCED), UN World Conference on Human Rights, UN Int’l Conference on Population and Development, UN World Summit on Human Development, UN 4th World Conference on Women, Habitat II: UN Conference on Human Settlements

IV. Freemasons: The Real Conspirators Against Life

    Origin of Freemasonry, The Goal of Masonry, Sources of Authoritative Literature of Masonry, Kabbalism, Gnosticism, Knights Templars, Roscrusians, Illuminati, the Palladium Rite, New World Order and Freemasonry, Globalists and Piggy Globalists, old Internationale and Freemasonry, Ren Internationale and Freemasonry, Roman Catholic Church and Freemasonry, the Roman Catholic Church’s Stand on Freemasonry

V. Spiritual Warfare

    By their Fruits You Will Know Them, The Real Enemy: the Devil and His Weapons, Solution

VI. Bitter Truth

    Mass Media Control, Information, Education and Communication (IEC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Six Principles of Deception, Lie Against Women, Breakdown of the Family, Corruption of Youth, Attack Against the Clergy

VII. Evangelium Vitae and the Alliance of the Two Hearts

    Evangelium Vitae, Communion of Reparation, Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, House-toHouse Evangelism, Reading of the Word of God, FamilyReconciliation, Family Rosary, Blessing of the Home, Imposition of the Scapular, Home Study Program, Promise of Virginity, Pledge of Conjugal Chastity

Supplementary Materials

    Feminism: the Six Frauds, RU 486: the Rest of the Story, A Woman’s Right to Choose—Woman and the Problem of Pregnancy, Had an Abortion? Feeling Bad? A Guide to Fertility, To Deceive a Nation: AIDS Update 1993, Planned Parenthood: It’s Not What You Think, Blessed are the Pure in Heart, What is Worth? Evolution, Secularism and the Attack of the Church, Good Priests Need Your Support, Censorship in a Pluralistic Society, Television’s Double-Edged Impact on Family Life

How Our Lady of Guadalupe Snatched Me from New Age

I.  My New Age Background

II.  My Encounter with with Our Lady

III.  Book Review: The Handbook on Guadalupe

IV.  Biblical Iconography of Guadalupe

V.  Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith

Mama also taught me how to read other Catholic books.  I read her messages in the Marian Movement of Priests.  I read the books of Scott Hahn and learned of his conversion story.  I read Fr. Leo Trese‘s “The Faith Explained.” I read the Catechism.  But my favorite book is on Dogmatic Theology lent to me by a friend.  How simple to state are the Catholic dogmas–Jesus is the Son of Man,  Mary is the Mother of God–yet how many church doctors, how many councils, how many centuries have to pass before these dogmas can be understood and explained. And the mystery of the dogma deepens.

I read books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets–anything that I could get my hands on to learn more and more about the Catholic Church.  (I also occasionally read articles against the church and the pope, but I have to pray beforehand and read the Catechism afterwards—shots of vaccine against a virus.)  Now, I am reading the “Confessions” of St. Augustine and the “Summa Theologiae” of St. Aquinas.  But because of my physics background, I only read the physics parts: relativity of time in Augustine and optics in Aquinas. The rest I skipped. But somehow in the process I get a glimpse of their theology.

And Mama led me to her Son.  I learned to value the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.  I learned to pray the rosary as a meditation on the life of Christ.  I learned to pray the chaplet of the Divine Mercy.  I studied a little Latin.  And someday when I have enough money, I’ll buy my first 1962 missal and unearth the treasures of the ancient mass.

I do not know why our Protestant brothers hate Mama very much.  Is it because she is beautiful?  Is it because Christ honored her as his mother by lavishing her with all the graces that the Angel Gabriel addresses her as “Full of Grace”?  Or is it because they haven’t yet felt the love of mother?  They have God as Father.  They have Christ as Brother.  But they have no Mother.  “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5)– this is the only command from our Mother.  As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so does Mary shines in splendor with the light of Christ. In the darkest night, Mary guides us with the light of Christ and she prepares us for the dawn of His Coming.


A year after my graduation in college, my mother died.  She died due to kidney failure—a complication of diabetes.  But before she died, I visited her in Bacolod.  She cannot anymore recognize me.  My sister took the handbook of Guadalupe and showed it to my mother. My mother said, “Toto, Toto.”  That was my name my mother calls me.  And she only knew my name because of Guadalupe.  Maybe she is saying Christ’s last words on the cross: “Woman, behold your son.”   My mother did not leave me orphan.  She entrusted me to Our Lady, to Our Mother, to Our Mama.

I love you Nanay.  I love you Mama.

Book Review: “Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints”

Last New Year’s Eve, I was browsing some books at home in Bacolod and I stumbled on a black book with a white cross like the mantle of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John: “Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S.J.  The imprimatur was issued in 1893, so this must be a very old book, though the edition that I have was published by TAN in 1986.

The pocket book is divided into two parts.  Part I is the Mystery of God’s Justice.  Part II is the Mystery of God’s Mercy.  The first part have 41 chapters; the second, 65.  But do not let the number of chapters discourage you: each chapter do not exceed 5 pages.  And the prints are large like that of Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys.  So this 430-page treatise on purgatory is an easy read.

The book opens with fire: “Let him be anathema.”  In pages vi to vii, Fr. Shouppe immediately lists down the pertinent Canons of the Council of Trent (1547-1551) regarding Purgatory.  For those of us who still plan to set aside the doctrine of Purgatory, the threat of anathema (let him be handed over to Satan) is enough to make us think thrice.  (Vatican II, in contrast, was a pastoral council and no anathemas were hurled.)

But despite the anathemas, the book’s writing style is simple, because it was meant to instruct the simple–the children and the child-like.  Thus, we should not expect the rigor of proof like that of St. Thomas’s “Summa Theologiae”.  Rather, we should read it as if we are reading St. Louis de Montfort’s masterpiece: “The Secret of the Rosary.”

The first sentences of each chapter of the book are usually the main point.  The next paragraphs are doctrines, teachings, and stories illustrating such point.  The dogmatic doctrines of the church regarding Purgatory must be believed by all Catholics.  The teachings of doctors and theologians we may disagree, but it would be ” imprudent, and even rash, to reject them, and it is in the spirit of the church to follow the opinions commonly held by the doctors.”  The revelations of saints we may also disbelieve, but since they are authenticated, “we cannot freely reject them  without offending against reason; because sound reason demands that all men should give assent to truth when it is sufficiently demonstrated.”  These distinctions Fr. Schouppe explained in his Preface.

Today, we have forgotten about sin and the effects of sin on the soul, which must be paid to the last penny either in this age or in the age to come.  We have forgotten about our dead relatives who languished long in Purgatory with no one to pray for them.  We have forgotten how our little works here on earth, such as as simply abstaining from water between meals, can assuage the suffering of our departed brethren.  We have forgotten about the power of the rosary, the scapular, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We have forgotten that we too shall die.  And the cure for our forgetfulness? Fr. Schouppe’s “Purgatory.”

This book is a masterpiece.