Philippine Coat of Arms: a Catholic Interpretation

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Wikipedia has an excellent entry on the Philippine coat of arms that describes its evolution from that of a colony of Spain, to that of the US, and finally to its independence as a sovereign nation. The historical interpretations of the the heraldric devices such as the sun, stars, eagle, and lion are well-known. What I shall propose here is a possible reinterpretation of the devices in the light of the Scriptures and the Catholic Faith.

The top icon is Crown of Spain who gave the gift of Christianity to the Philippines; it may also be interpreted as the billowing sails of Magellan’s Spanish galleon whose front hull is shaped like the bottom of the shield. The yellow and white are the colors of Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church. The three stars and the sun represent the doctrine of the Trinity–three Divine Persons in one God; they also represent the the wounds of Christ on his hands, head, and heart. The sun represents the radiating Sacred Heart of Jesus pierced by thorns or the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by swords. The blue and red represents the water and blood that flowed from the pierced Heart of Christ, as seen in the Icon of Divine Mercy.  This is reenacted during mass when the water (blue) is mixed with (wine), which becomes the Blood of Christ after consecration.  The sun on a white ellipse may also represent the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ hidden under the appearance of bread in the Sacred Host.

The Eagle icon is the Eagle of the United States of America. The Eagle also traditionally represents St. John the Evangelist because of his lofty description of the pre-existent divinity of Christ as the Logos or the Word of God (Jn 1:1). In the Book of Revelation, the wings of a great eagle was given to the woman pursued by the Red Dragon so that she can escape to the desert (Rev 12:14). The eagle is at the foot of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the man with the the eagle’s wings (angel) representing Juan Diego whose native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin or “The Talking Eagle.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is the second patroness of the Philippine Islands as defined by Pope Pius XI; the primary patroness of the Philippines is still Our Lady under the title of The Immaculate Conception whose colors are blue and white.

Lastly, the Lion icon is the Lion of Spain. The lion represents the Judah, the Lion’s whelp, from whose loins the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus Christ, shall come:

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise –your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.9Judah, 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 him10 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.11 (Gen 49:8-11)

The present-day Jews are named after the Tribe of Judah, who survived the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians but was later sent to Babylonian exile.  The Lion of Judah is the municipal emblem of Jerusalem.  The lion also traditionally represents St. Mark the Evangelist because he begins his Gospel with St. John shouting in the desert where the wild beasts like lions live. St. Mark also described Jesus as living in the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the Satan, living with wild beasts, and ministered by angels (Mk 1: 1-13).  St. Peter describes the devil as the roaring lion:

Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. (1 Pet 5:8-9)

Thus, if the sun represents the human person, he would always have his guardian angel (eagle) and a demon (lion) by his side to influence his will whether to obey God or to go against His Holy will.

Is Christianity still needed in today’s world?

Question:

Christianity (or a religion, for that matter) is not needed anymore.  The world is against established religious structures (e.g. Churches).  The against issues which Christians (particularly Catholics) advocate.  The debate on the existence of God is still very much an issue.  One could be “ethical” and leave a good and happy life without believing in God and belonging to a religion.  And scientific knowledge provides the answer to most of life’s questions and problems (thus Christianity seems to be absurd).

Response:

The world is against established religious structures such as churches.  But whenever the world removes the Church and its of sacramental life, it leaves a spiritual vacuum that the world has to find something to fill it with–another church–or should we say a cult–possessed not by the Holy Spirit but by a different kind of spirit which promotes ideas antithesis to the Catholic religion.  Remove the Sacrament of Baptism and the world replaces it with abortion.  Remove the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and the world replaces it with the altars of the rock gods and idols in concerts and movie theaters.  Remove the Sacrament of Confession and the world replaces it with the Psychoanalyst’s couch.  Remove the Sacrament of Confirmation and the world replaces it with hazing ceremonies of fraternities.  Remove the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and the world replaces it Euthanasia.  Remove the Sacrament of Marriage and the world replaces it with homosexual marriage, polygamy, prostitution, and fornication.  Remove the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the world replaces it with Orders according to strength and power such as those of the Communist Party and Freemasonry.

If the world is against the issues advocated by Christians, then this should not be surprising because Christ said to his disciples:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. 20Remember the word I spoke to you, No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours, 21And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,  because they do not know the one who sent me. (Jn 15:18-21)

One can debate on the existence of God, but the existence of God does not depend on the outcome of debates.  The only way to live is to do the wager of Pascal.  If God does not exist, then there is no difference between believing and not believing in his existence: we all die anyway.  But if God does exist and we live our life accordingly, then our reward is to be with Him forever.  To refuse to believe in Him would be the greatest insult and we shall be separated from Him forever.  Maybe an analogy would help.  Suppose you chance upon a Facebook page of the  woman of your dreams.  If you believe that the person behind the Facebook persona is true as her profile says and you communicated with  her always, live your life befitting of the love you have for her, and manage your Facebook posts so that you would not hurt her feelings, then one can be rewarded with marriage with her someday.  If she turns out to be a poser, you have wasted your time and energy–the same amount of time and energy you would waste had you ridiculed her and questioned existence.  If she is a poser, both you and the nonbeliever loses.  But if she turns out to be true, then only you will win and the nonbeliever will wail and gnash his teeth in the darkness.

One can be ethical without belonging to the Catholic religion, by only following one’s conscience.  Pagans who do so may also be rewarded with the beatific vision of God in heaven.  But it is difficult to be ethical in all one’s actions and thoughts, because one mistake can be fatal to one’s soul.  It is like looking for the house of your friend in a large city without knowing where it is and without a map.  One can go from house to house and ask if your friend lives there, but this would be very difficult, because people may slam doors on you or would not respond to your calls or were simply not around when you came.  The best way is really to ask your friend on the way to take to go to his house.  Similarly, the best way to live an ethical life is to ask God Himself on how to live an ethical life.  The good news is that God already answered our question through the Ten Commandments.  And in the fullness of time, God sent His own Son Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Scientific knowledge may provide answers to many questions: whether it will rain today, whether it will be high tide, and at what time the sun will set.  But science can only answer what it can measure and it cannot measure the things that really matter.  Facebook can count the number of our friends and wall posts but not our love and our trust for each of them.  Google can rank the relevance of all articles on the web, but not our memories of joy and laughter. Physics can speculate on the beginning of the universe but not the purpose of our existence.  Where physics ends, metaphysics begins.

Skyline movie review: Christian rapture and the war for human brains

My father and I watched the movie Skyline few Sundays ago. We came about 15 minutes late, but we made it to the Day One of the Alien Invasion. The film ran for about an hour and a half. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 14% rating, i.e. bad movie. But I disagree.

First, there are no movie stars like Tom Cruise. I think this is a positive aspect of the movie. The characters are plain and boring–just like you and me. They represent many of people we know who spend the night away in parties and orgies. A casual sex made a girl pregnant and the man is not ready to be a father. The setting is a condominium and there is no family to speak of. An old man lives alone with a dog.

And second, the story was not well told because it has a hanging ending. When the movie ended and the cast of characters went up, the people still remained in their seats, wondering if the movie has really ended. I felt cheated that the movie did not end properly unlike Independence Day–a virus was delivered and the spaceships were destroyed. Or in Transformers: the Autobots defeated the Decepticons. A glorious morning shines after a terrible storm. But this is not how it ended in Skyline: in the face of an alien invasion, the humans–with all their jet fighters and nuclear missiles–are powerless. And the thought of powerlessness lingered long hours or days for me after watching the film.

Let us turn to some theological elements in the film:

1. Captivating Light and Beatific Vision

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, as quoted by Wikipedia, beatific vision is defined as follows:

The immediate knowledge of God which the angelic spirits and the souls of the just enjoy in Heaven. It is called “vision” to distinguish it from the mediate knowledge of God which the human mind may attain in the present life. And since in beholding God face to face the created intelligence finds perfect happiness, the vision is termed “beatific.”

The light seen by the human characters in the movie may also be called beatific in the superficial sense, because they find it wonderful to see.  Such a wonderful light pulls them towards the heavens, similar to what St. Paul described during the coming of Christ:

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thes 4:17)

But in the movie there was no heaven to speak of, but a deep pit of dark slime where humans are piled on top of each other.  This is Sheol, the abode of the dead.

Such an alien light reminds me of the shining darkness of sin (e.g. pornography): it captivates your vision, drawing you closer to read or see more, until your soul is plunged in the darkness of sin.  Not to look is difficult for the will, unless another person immediately pulls you out from the captivating light.  This reminds me of the palantir of Orthanc that Pippin looked into and the Dark Lord Sauron caught hold of his mind; Pippin only recovered when he confessed his sin to Gandalf.

2.  War for the human brain

The alien creatures may be classified as octopi and behemoths.  Octopi creatures capable of flight.  No, they do not scan for electromagnetic radiation like that in the Matrix and zoom in for the kill.  Instead, they seek human and draws them out either by lure or by force.  Behemoths, on the other, have nothing else to do but to crush everything in its path.  

These alien creatures remind me of the modern-day headhunters: multinationals, governments, and non-government organizations.  They get the best minds to join them and the persons they get became imbued with the organization’s culture and values.  I am thinking countries like China, companies like Planned Parenthood, and the many organizations which promote the homosexual lobby.  What the movie’s ending may be saying is that it is possible to be part of these organizations while keeping your own mind.  Tyranny is terrified by the human free will and tyrants will try to keep human mind in control either by brainwashing the adults in universities or by sucking the brains of infants in partial birth abortion.

The movie ends with utter hopelessness: no US nuke missiles can destroy the alien ships. The US tried all their military hardware and software against Vietnam; US lost the war.  The US also tried their military might against Iraq; the US is now recalling back its forces.  The US has not learned its lesson well: a war of the mind cannot be fought with guns and nukes.  The religion of peace called Islam can only be converted by the peace of Christ, the Lion from the Tribe of Judah.  The Great Red Dragon that is communist Russia and China can only be defeated by the Woman Clothed With the Sun, Our Lady of Fatima.  And the multi-tentacled behemoth that is Planned Parenthood can only be destroyed by She Who Crushed the Head of the Serpent, Tequaxalupeaux, Our Lady of Guadalupe whose feast we now celebrate.  In the end, this is what we can be sure: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary shall triumph.

LADLAD can now be voted as a Party-List: Some thoughts on the Christian roots of Democracy

The Supreme court has upheld the right of LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transexuals) to join the 2010 elections as a party-list. The Supreme court preferred to be amoral. This is now not a democracy of the people, but a democracy of ideas: all ideas are equally true and can equally compete in the public sphere.  C. S. Lewis warned us about this.  He calls this a demonic tactic in his Screwtape Letters.

Democracy is a Christian idea. It was not invented in Muslim lands with their caliphs and sultans. It was not invented in India with its caste system. It was not invented in China or Japan with their Emperors and Shoguns. Democracy was invented in Europe, which was part of the Roman Empire that converted by Christianity. And one of the defenders of the democracy idea is a Jesuit Doctor of the Church: St. Robert Bellarmine. He wrote:

“Secular or Civil authority (saith he) ‘is instituted by men; it is in the people unless they bestow it on a Prince. This Power is immediately in the Multitude, as in the subject of it; for this Power is in the Divine Law, but the Divine Law hath given this power to no particular man. If the Positive Law be taken away, there is left no Reason amongst the Multitude (who are Equal) one rather than another should bear the Rule over the Rest. Power is given to the multitude to one man, or to more, by the same Law of Nature; for the Commonwealth cannot exercise this Power, therefore it is bound to bestow it upon some One man or some Few. It depends upon the Consent of the multitude to ordain over themselves a King or other Magistrates, and if there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the Kingdom into an Aristocracy or Democracy’ (St. Robert Bellarmine, Book 3 De Laicis, Chapter 4). Thus far Bellarmine; in which passages are comprised the strength of all that I have read or heard produced for the Natural Liberty of the Subject.” (Patriarcha, page 5.) (Catholic Culture)

This was quoted by Filmer who disagrees with this idea:

“Since the time that school divinity (i.e. Catholic Universities) began to flourish, there hath been a common opinion maintained as well by the divines as by the divers of learned men which affirms: ‘Mankind is naturally endowed and born with freedom from all subjection, and at liberty to choose what form of government it please, and that the power which any one man hath over others was at the first by human right bestowed according to the discretion of the multitude.’ This tenet was first hatched in the (Medieval Roman Catholic Universities), and hath been fostered by all succeeding papists for good divinity. The divines also of the reformed churches have entertained it, and the common people everywhere tenderly embrace it as being most plausible to flesh and blood, for that it prodigally distributes a portion of liberty to the meanest of the multitude, who magnify liberty as if the height of human felicity were only to be found in it — never remembering that the desire of liberty was the cause of the fall of Adam.” (Catholic culture)

Democracy is a a Christian idea. The equality of men is based in their common parents Adam and Eve. The equal dignity of men is based on their equal calling to be sons and daughters of God. Take Christianity away from Democracy and you will end up with a government which is like a house built not on the firm rock of the unchanging Catholic Faith, but on the shifting sands of public opinion. Everything becomes up for voting, even morals. The Supreme Court’s allowing LADLAD to be part of the Party List is a symptom of this de-Christianization of democracy. Without the cohesive moral force of Christianity, secular Philippines will be torn apart by various forces. Nature abhors the vacuum. Secularism is not a religion. A religion can only be replaced by another religion. Remove Christianity from Philippine Jurisprudence and we shall end up with Muslim Sharia courts or the one political party of communism.

With the Supreme courts decision in favor of LADLAD, we have lost a battle and not a war. I am calling on the Church Militant. Arise from your slumber. Awake! The war is on! Let us recover the word “militant” from the the militant Left. Beat your ploughshares into swords and join in this battle of ideas. The future of Philippine Christianity is at stake! Fire!  Foes!   Awake!

Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, S.J.: “Is it possible to be a Buddhist Christian?”

Is it possible to be a Buddhist Christian?
A talk by Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ
Thursday, September 3, 4:30-6:00pm
Conference Room 1, Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall, Loyola Heights Campus
Organized by the Loyola Schools Chinese Studies Program
For reservations, call Ritch at (63-2) 426-6001 local 5280 or Lally at local 5208

Note: I was not able to attend this talk.  If there is someone who has slides or transcript for Fr. Dy’s talk, I would be happy to get a copy.  But here is a comparison of Buddhism and Christianity from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Buddhism vs Christianity

The fundamental tenets of Buddhism are marked by grave defects that not only betray its inadequacy to become a religion of enlightened humanity, but also bring into bold relief its inferiority to the religion of Jesus Christ. In the first place, the very foundation on which Buddhism rests—the doctrine of karma with its implied transmigrations—is gratuitous and false. This pretended law of nature, by which the myriads of gods, demons, men, and animals are but the transient forms of rational beings essentially the same, but forced to this diversity in consequence of varying degrees of merit and demerit in former lives, is a huge superstition in flat contradiction to the recognized laws of nature, and hence ignored by men of science. Another basic defect in primitive Buddhism is its failure to recognize man’s dependence on a supreme God. By ignoring God and by making salvation rest solely on personal effort, Buddha substituted for the Brahmin religion a cold and colourless system of philosophy. It is entirely lacking in those powerful motives to right conduct, particularly the motive of love, that spring from the consecration of religious men and women to the dependence on a personal all-loving God. Hence it is that Buddhist morality is in the last analysis a selfish utilitarianism. There is no sense of duty, as in the religion of Christ, prompted by reverence for a supreme Lawgiver, by love for a merciful Father, by personal allegiance to a Redeemer. Karma, the basis of Buddhist morality, is like any other law of nature, the observance of which is prompted by prudential considerations. Not infrequently one meets the assertion that Buddha surpassed Jesus in holding out to struggling humanity an end utterly unselfish. This is a mistake. Not to speak of the popular Swarga, or heaven, with its positive, even sensual delights the fact that Nirvana is a negative ideal of bliss does not make it the less an object of interested desire. Far from being an unselfish end, Nirvana is based wholly on the motive of self-love. It thus stands on a much lower level than the Christian ideal, which, being primarily and essentially a union of friendship with God in heaven, appeals to motives of disinterested as well as interested love.

Another fatal defect of Buddhism is its false pessimism. A strong and healthy mind revolts against the morbid view that life is not worth living, that every form of conscious existence is an evil. Buddhism stands condemned by the voice of nature the dominant tone of which is hope and joy. It is a protest against nature for possessing the perfection of rational life. The highest ambition of Buddhism is to destroy that perfection by bringing all living beings to the unconscious repose of Nirvana. Buddhism is thus guilty of a capital crime against nature, and in consequence does injustice to the individual. All legitimate desires must be repressed. Innocent recreations are condemned. The cultivation of music is forbidden. Researches in natural science are discountenanced. The development of the mind is limited to the memorizing of Buddhist texts and the study of Buddhist metaphysics, only a minimum of which is of any value. The Buddhist ideal on earth is a state of passive indifference to everything. How different is the teaching of Him who came that men might have life and have it more abundantly. Again Buddhist pessimism is unjust to the family. Marriage is held in contempt and even abhorrence as leading to the procreation of life. In thus branding marriage as a state unworthy of man, Buddhism betrays its inferiority to Christianity, which recommends virginity but at the same time teaches that marriage is a sacred union and a source of sanctification. Buddhist pessimism likewise does injustice to society. It has set the seal of approval on the Brahmin prejudice against manual labor. Since life is not worth living, to labour for the comforts and refinements of civilized life is a delusion. The perfect man is to subsist not by the labour of his hands but on the alms of inferior men. In the religion of Christ, “the carpenter’s son”, a healthier view prevails. The dignity of labour is upheld, and every form of industry is encouraged that tends to promote man’s welfare.

Buddhism has accomplished but little for the uplifting of humanity in comparison with Christianity. One of its most attractive features, which, unfortunately, has become wellnigh obsolete, was its practice of benevolence towards the sick and needy. Between Buddhists and Brahmins there was a commendable rivalry in maintaining dispensaries of food and medicine. But this charity did not, like the Christian form, extend to the prolonged nursing of unfortunates stricken with contagious and incurable diseases, to the protection of foundlings, to the bringing up of orphans, to the rescue of fallen women, to the care of the aged and insane. Asylums and hospitals in this sense are unknown to Buddhism. The consecration of religious men and women to the lifelong service of afflicted humanity is foreign to dreamy Buddhist monasticism. Again, the wonderful efficacy displayed by the religion of Christ in purifying the morals of pagan Europe has no parallel in Buddhist annals. Wherever the religion of Buddha has prevailed, it has proved singularly inefficient to lift society to a high standard of morality. It has not weaned the people of Tibet and Mongolia from the custom of abandoning the aged, nor the Chinese from the practice of infanticide. Outside the establishment of the order of nuns, it has done next to nothing to raise woman from her state of degradation in Oriental lands. It has shown itself utterly helpless to cope with the moral plagues of humanity. The consentient testimony of witnesses above the suspicion of prejudice establishes the fact that at the present day Buddhist monks are everywhere strikingly deficient in that moral earnestness and exemplary conduct which distinguished the early followers of Buddha. In short, Buddhism is all but dead. In its huge organism the faint pulsations of life are still discernible, but its power of activity is gone. The spread of European civilization over the East will inevitably bring about its extinction.

Aiken, Charles Francis. Buddhism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 7 Sept. 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03028b.htm&gt;.

(Note: The converse may be true: the present spread of Buddhism in Christian West is a symptom of the West’s abandonment of its Christian foundation.)

Is Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) the Church from the Far East or Far West?

One of the favorite verses used by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to buttress its claim that the Catholic Church apostasized after the death of the apostles and the reemergence of the true Church in the Far East is Isaiah (43:5-6):

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back’. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” (New International Version)

Moffatt Translation: “From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you.” (emphasis ours)

Today’s English Version: “Do not be afraid—I am with you! From the dis­tant east and the farthest west I will bring your people home.” (emphasis ours)

as quoted by Marlex C. Cantor of INC-Pasugo.

But we must note that Isaiah is a Jew and his prophecies are meant for the Jewish people.  if we look at the Isaiah passage carefully, we see that the text simply says that the Jews, after their diaspora, will be gathered again from all the four corners of the world: East, West, North, and South.  This in fact happenned after their Babylonian captivity in 586 BC and their subsequent return in 538 BC, as recorded in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  This also happenned again after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Romans and the return of the Jews to form the State of Israel in May 14, 1948.   Thus, the passage in Isaiah speaks of the gathering up of the Jews after their diaspora and not the formation of Iglesia ni Cristo in the Far East.

Why do the INC insist in the Far East?  If we follow the Moffatt translation, the new Church of Christ could also have been in the Far West.  And Far North and Far South, for that matter, for these places must also “give up” the sons of Israel.

In the passage of Isaiah, the center of the world is in Israel: everything else is determined with respect to it–East and West, North and South.  When INC tries to apply that passage to the modern era, the division of the world into East and West is not anymore centered on Jerusalem, but somewhere between Rome (the Western Roman Empire) and Byzantium or Constantinople  (The Eastern Roman Empire)–now in Istanbul, Turkey.  Great Britain, a western civilization, became an worldwide empire in the Modern Age and the terms Near East, Middle East, and Far East was invented, still with respect to the old boundaries of the Old Roman Empires:

The term Far East was popularized in the English language during the period of the British Empire as a blanket term for lands to the east of British India. Prior to World War I, the Near East referred to relatively nearby lands of the Ottoman Empire, Middle East to northwestern South Asia and Central Asia, and Far East for countries along the western Pacific Ocean and countries along the eastern Indian Ocean.(Wikipedia)

The Eastern and Western Roman Empires were two halves of the Roman Empire under Theodosius I, who made Catholicism as the empire’s official religion.  Thus, if INC insists that it rose from the Far East, then INC accepts the division of the world defined by Christians in general and Catholics in particular.  INC is not a Christian church, since it denies the divinity of Christ.  INC is closer to Islam, who claims that “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”  For INC, “There is no God but the God of Jesus, Jesus is his prophet, and Manalo is his last prophet.”

Fr. Peter H. Kolvenbach, S.J. on the Difficulties of Dialogue with Islam

Giacomelli: Let’s go on to another frontline apostolate entrusted to you by the Pope: dialogue with non-Christian religions.  You’ve lived for twenty-fiver years in the Lebanon, you’ve had contact with Moslem believers.  Have you ever tried to hold a dialogue with the followers of Islam?  More Important still, is religious dialogue possible with Moslems?

Kolvenbach: Dialogue is possible, but clarity’s the think.  Dialogues begun by putting confidence in similarities accepted without much discernment can only lead to sentimental and superficial agreements.  If the dialogue is conducted without sincerity, there can be not true meeting of minds betweeen those taking part.  Manipulating Islam to make it a mirror-image of Christinaity impedes true contact and dialogue in depth with living, present-day Islam.  Moslems and Christians proclaim themselves to be children of Abraham, yet we are not in fact brothers in Abraham, but in Christ.  For Islam, Abraham is the first monotheist, while for Christians he is the father of the covenant between God and his people: and inconceivable thing for a Moslem.  Similarly, the Virgin Mary is venerated by Catholic believers and by Moslems.  Yet for Moslems she is only themiracle of God’s omnipotence: God can do anything, so why shouldn/t he be able to turn motherhood into virginity?  Whereas for Christians, Mary is the new creature who, through her free assent, was forechosen to be the Theotokos, the Mother of God.  thus Mary becomes the ikon of the Church, offering an ideal of consecrated virginity which is unthinkable in Islam.  To refuse, because of false sense of charity, to face up to Islam, with all the apparent, insuperble difficulties that acceptance of the truth entails, means taking the risk of depriving Moslems of the path to a true understanding of Christianity.

Giacomelli: We hear a lot about Islamic fundamentalism today, and religious and political agitation in the Arab world is attributed to it.  Should we lookon this fundamentalism as a passing phenomenon?

Kolvenbach: The intolerant and aggressive character of jihad has its source in a theological concept of the will of God.  Islam is faith in God and in his Book.  The Koran is not merely central to Islam: it is its essence.   For Christians, the Incarnate Word is the immediate Word of God, while the Bible is the mediated Word.  For Moslems, in contrast, the Koran as book is the immediate Word of God.  Christians wish the Bible to be translated into every language and spread throught the world; Islam find it hard to accept that the Koran, having been revealed in Arabic by God, can be prayed, read and written inay language other than the one in which god himself revealed it.   Now, the Koran, the essence of Islam, is a law.  Hence the ordinances found in it are divine and, since the explicity will of God are universally binding on everyone, everywhere.  the are definitive, having binding force to the end of time.  To take one example: the Ramadan fast hasn’t altered in thecourse of many hundreds of years.  the notion of renewal, of adaptation or revision, which in Christianty are the fruit of the Spirit, conflicts with the divine character of  every ordinance of Islam.

These points having been made, let me now give you an answer to your question.  What we call Islamic fundamentalism is not a passing phenomenon, nor is it the expression of some individual’s fanaticism: it is Islam as it’s supposed to be Hence the difficulty, for a Middle Eastern government, of opposing the will of God.  christians deeply believe that the Spirit guides the Church, by means of renewal, towards the whole, entire truth of god.  Islam has to follow an immutable datum, since that has been divinely revealed; hence its intolerant, fanatical and fundamentalist aspect, summed up in the unfortunate expression holy war. It’ clear I’m referring to the Islamic religion as sucn; I’m not passing judgement on the individual Moslem, nor on his faith in God, nor on his faithfulness to the Koran.

Source:

Peter H. Kolvenbach, S.J., Men of God: Meh for Others: The Jesuits, an Obedient Avant-Guard Confronting the Challenges of the Modern World, interviewed by Renzo Giacomelli, trans. by Alan Neame (Makati, St. Paul Publications, 1990), pp. 108-109.