Buried Alive! The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

11There is a story in the newspaper about a woman who was buried alive in trash, which she had accumulated for the past thirty years. When she was rescued, she explained that the trash was really her treasure. We may be somewhat like her when we avoid going to confession. The “trash” of our sins keep piling up until we are buried alive in them.

Sometimes we do not want to get rid of our sins because we are attached to those “earthly treasures.” We are afraid the priest will ask us to make changes of our sinful lives.

Moreover, many of us tend to disguise, ignore, or glamorize sins by giving them other names or interpretations. We refuse to see them for what they really are – that sins are the rejection of God and His laws. St. John Paul II said, “learn to call sin, sin. And do not call it liberation or progress, even if the whole of fashion and propaganda are against you.” He tells us “…to rediscover the sense of sin.”
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Sin weighs us down. It prevents us from soaring high to God. Sin clips our wings spiritually because it clouds our intellect, weakens our will to do good and avoid evil, and prevents us from loving God.

Many of us consider ourselves good people. When asked to go to confession, we believe that we have not committed any sins. This self-assessment is so different from that of the saints. The greatest saints actually considered themselves the greatest sinners. Their humility and love for God made them acknowledge that they were less than perfect and that they needed improvement.
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We cannot remain buried alive in sin. The first step is to acknowledge that we are sinners! It hurts to admit the truth. Next step is to be sorry for our sins (because they offend God), resolve to change our evil lifestyle, and go to the sacrament of Penance. God’s love and mercy will rescue us from the trash of sins and give us spiritual strength to seek instead heavenly treasures.

(Reference: “You can become a Saint” by Mary Ann Budnik; Pope John Paul II, General Audience, April 1981 and September 1986)

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The Church Does Not “Hate” Gay People. The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

4When the Church states that marriage is the union between one man and one woman, she is not teaching it out of hatred or discrimination. The Church never “hates” gay people. In fact, she has great compassion for people who are struggling with their sexuality and gender identity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “any sign of unjust discrimination” toward homosexual people is to be avoided. Jesus, who heads the Church, loves all people—especially those whom society scorns, including people who are attracted to the same sex.
3For Catholics, marriage is not only about “intimate association” and “the hope of companionship,” but it is also linked intrinsically to the procreation and education of children. Today, this concept seems foreign to many people. The “contraceptive culture” has made us believe that the main function of our reproductive systems is not for reproduction, but for the pursuit of pleasure or intimacy. Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae teaches that sex within marriage has two purposes: the unitive and procreative. If we remove one of these purposes—or both, we are left with a physical union of bodies, without any transcendent meaning. Sex and babies are so separated in the modern mind that it is difficult to explain why and how marriage is more than two people who love each other; but that it is a conjugal union that exists in part for the creation and education of children.
5 The Church cannot change the definition of marriage. She continues to teach that marriage is not for two men or two women; because such relationships do not result in the birth of children or allow a child to be raised by his/her biological mother and father. This is not at all a reflection of hatred or bigotry for gay people.
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(Reference: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com – “What the Catholic Church does (and does not) teach about same-sex marriage” by Jennifer Manning; Catechism of the Catholic Church #2358)

The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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Not all can become rich, wise,famous, … yet, all of us are called to be saints!

Our Lord wants all of us to be saints. He asks all men and women, without exception, to be perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect (Mat 5:48)

To be holy is to be a good Christian. It is to make our actions consistent with the demands of our faith. It is to resemble Christ. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t difficult either. Our Lord gives us graces to achieve it; although He needs us to cooperate with them.
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The main thing we are asked to do is to love: “charity is the bond of perfection” (Col3:14). We are asked to love the Lord with our whole heart, with our whole soul, and with our whole mind. (Mat 22:37)

To love and serve God, there is no need to do anything strange or unusual. Although some of us are called to the religious (or consecrated) life, majority of us are called to be holy in the middle of the world. We try to sanctify ourselves in the midst of our ordinary work and duties, doing them the best we can for love of God.

To love God more, we have to get to know Him through prayers and in reading and contemplating His life in the Gospels.
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We cannot achieve holiness in a stroke. We will commit many mistakes and sins along the way; but this should not discourage us. We begin again each day in our struggle until the moment of our death.

St. Josemaria wrote: “Don’t wait until you are old to start becoming a saint. That would be a great mistake! Begin right now, in earnest, cheerfully and joyfully, by fulfilling the duties of your work and of your everyday life.
Don’t wait until you are old to become a saint. Because — I insist — apart from its being a great mistake, you never know whether you will live as long as that.”
(The Forge # 113)
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(Reference: “On Retreat with St. Josemaria Escriva” by John O’Dogherty; “The Way; Furrow; The Forge” by St. Josemaria Escriva; “Novo Millennio inuente” by St. John Paul II)

Is it a lack of compassion to “deprive” people the “right” to divorce?, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine by Lianne Tiu

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There is a move to legalize divorce in the Philippines. One of the arguments for divorce is the heartbreaking experience of domestic violence.

We sympathize with spouses who are trapped in these dehumanizing marriages. In fact, we must offer them much love and support. Their isolated cases, however, cannot be regarded as general situation to warrant a divorce law.

Compassion for these individuals cannot equal to the true compassion of supporting marriage itself. At its most basic level, marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation and mutual support and love. To weaken the institution of marriage (by allowing divorce) for the sake of a few – even if this is for well-meaning intentions – is not compassionate.
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It is important that marriage is for life. This is for the good of the two people involved, for the perpetuation of the family, and for the proper rearing of children. Pope Leo XIII wrote: “Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce.” An example is children of divorced parents experiencing deep and lasting emotional trauma.
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To allow divorce for exceptional cases, Arch. Socrates Villegas questioned the degree of misery or difficulty on how it can be measured. Who can say which case is worthy of the “relief” of divorce or not? In the United States, most of the divorces do not happen because of spousal physical abuse or serious conflict, but they happen simply because spouses “grow apart.”

If aggrieved spouses and children are in need of help, there are juridical options to address their needs such as legal separation, annulment of voidable marriages, and provision in the law on anti-violence against women and children.
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What about giving a second chance for happiness? The sad reality is that unhappy spouses who had divorced and remarried were no happier, on average, than unhappy spouses who stayed married. In fact, very often, their subsequent marriages did not succeed. In the United States, 2 of every 3 second marriages end in divorce, too.
Compassion compels us to protect our homes and families from all forces of destruction by saying “No to Divorce”!

(Reference: “What’s Wrong with Divorce Anyway?” by Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc.; CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage by Archbishop Socrates Villegas {CBCP President} March 25, 2015; How Could Divorce Affect My Kids? By Amy Desai, J.D.; “Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages” http://www.americanvalues.org; “The Sacrament of Marriage” catholicism.about.com)

“Are We Afraid To Touch the Poor?” The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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Last February, Pope Francis asked pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square to reflect on how to help the needy. It is true we have dropped a few coins for the poor; we have given baskets to them during Christmas season; we have donated food and clothes during disasters; and some of us have organized foundations to alleviate poverty.

Pope Francis said that those of us who help the poor cannot be afraid to touch them. He said, “If we are to be imitators of Christ before the poor or the sick, we should not be afraid to look the afflicted person in the eye, and be close to the suffering person with tenderness and compassion.”
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It is possible we have been giving without loving the poor. We give out of obligation. We give to obtain peace. We give to feel good. Let’s be honest, we often think that we are superior, and we look down on them simply because they are poor and weak. We shudder at their external appearances for we are afraid to catch some contagious germs, to get dirty, or to be robbed. We are disturbed by their smell or their unrefined manners.

To love and imitate God, we have to learn to embrace and welcome the poor with compassion. “Contact is the true language of communication,” Pope Francis said, “How many healings can we perform if only we learn this language!”
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One day St. Francis was riding his horse near Assisi, when he met a leper. He had always felt an overpowering horror of lepers, but he realized that if he was going to devote his life to the poor he had to welcome him as a brother. So he dismounted from the horse, gave him a coin, and kissed him. This encounter with the leper was the turning point of Francis’ life as he became a champion of the poor.

Blessed Mother Teresa wrote, “To serve the poor, we must love them.” Yet we know it is not easy to love them when we are bothered by their distressing outward appearances. Mother Teresa advised us that we have to look into their hearts and see human beings in need of love and understanding. We have to see the face of the crucified Jesus in those who are suffering: the poor, the sick, the prisoners, the abandoned, including the sinners. We will be able to do this only when we look through the eyes of faith and through the eyes of love.
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Jesus said: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was naked, and you clothed me.” (Matt 25:35,36)

May our whole lives be a concern for others especially the poor. May we fearlessly reach out to help them; for when we look into their eyes, we can only exclaim, “It is You, Lord!”

(Reference: Pope Francis: When you help the sick, are you afraid to touch them? (Feb.16, 2015); Catholic News Story: Pope tells new cardinals to evangelize fearlessly (Feb. 16, 2015); Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love & Secrets of Sanctity by Susan Conroy; ChristianHistory.net ”Meet St. Francis (Aug. 8, 2008))

“All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us.”, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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Michael Jackson’s song, “They don’t care about us,” reminds us of Pope Francis’ message for Lent about the “globalization of indifference.” We have become accustomed to the sufferings, poverty, and inequality of others; and they don’t affect or concern us anymore. We fail “to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors;” for there are some things in life we just don’t want to see – as the song goes.

In UST, the Pope spoke that today’s world doesn’t know how to cry, how to experience compassion, i.e. suffering with others. He said, “There is a worldly compassion which is useless. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor” (and walk on). It is possible that some works of charity are done without love. Thus, St. Paul said that even if we give away to the poor all that we have … but have no love, we don’t gain anything. (1 Cor 13:3)
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True charity is more the giving of what we are than of what we have. It is to go out of our comfort zone, to willingly inconvenience ourselves or make sacrifices for our neighbors for God’s sake. What people really want is a portion of our hearts.

To counter-act the culture of indifference, there are three things we can do. First, we pray together with the Church (in heaven and on earth) for a new era of mercy and compassion for the world. Second, we reach out to others with our acts of charity. Third, we try to have a change of heart. We ask Jesus to ”make our hearts like yours.” We wish to receive hearts, which are firm and merciful, attentive and generous; hearts which are not closed and indifferent.
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Although poverty and sufferings will never be completely eliminated, love can transform the world and make it a better place to live. Love can change lyrics; for when people experience our kindness, compassion, and selfless love, they can only exclaim, “They DO really care about us!”

(Reference: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2015; Homily of Holy Father Francis, July 8, 2013 (Visit to Lampedusa); “Pope Francis’s Critique of Indifference” by Jonathon Mansell; “The Hidden Power of Kindness” by Lawrence Lovasik)

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