ALL CHURCH-LOVING PEOPLE: READ!

Here is today’s column of Mr. Condrado de Quiro’s in the Philippine Daily Inquirer – entitled “Healing.” For a long a time, we have been saying that true conversion in the Church requires, not only going back to the institutional Church, but to the Church founded by Christ. The Church Hierarchy has lost its credibility, not because so many people criticized it, but because many who have promised to follow the Lord have immediately followed him to Resurrection without passing through Calvary.

Mr. De Quiros’ column is a wake up call to all Church-Loving people. Surely, some people in the Church will shoot the messenger before reflecting on the message. We hope that instead of reacting negatively and violently to Mr. De Quiros’ columns, we will be reflecting how much we have given up for the Lord.

To Mr. De Quiros, allow me to share this article to all my priests/brothers/sisters-friends, not to insult them, but to give them a little nudge. To all my priests/brothers/sisters-friends, read on and let’s prove to the Lord that we have followed him through the Calvary and Resurrection…

There is The Rub of Mr. De Quiros –

Theres The Rub
Healing

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:26:00 01/26/2011

I REMEMBER again a friend telling me how Catanduanes, which used to produce the highest number of seminarians in the country, suffered a precipitate fall in numbers in that respect in the 1990s. The culprit? The introduction of Cable TV. Or there seemed to have been a strong correlation between the one and the other. Suddenly the world opened up before the prospective recruits, and the prospect of living a life of much self-denial seemed less appealing.

I don’t know how true my friend’s story is. I do know that when he told me that story, I remembered Oscar Wilde’s witticism that the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it.

I remembered this after I read that Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales is blaming Hollywood for the increase in marital infidelity and gay and “live-in” relationships among Filipinos. It’s a materialistic and hedonistic culture it has been spreading, he says. “People are now seeking pleasure, money, sensuality and sexuality. Those are now the new gods.”

The solution, he says, is to go back to the fold. “We should go back to … a culture that has fear of God and values life.”

Well, I don’t know that we really need to look beyond ourselves to find the origins or cause of the things that plague us. Certainly, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more ferocious encouragement for materialism: the Hollywood movies that extol the vice of avarice, or at least that do not offer a condemnation of it, or the bishops who do not offer a resistance to it, or indeed who demonstrate, if not preach, the virtue of it. Rosales seems to forget the extent to which they propped up the most materialistic leader to have led this country (to perdition) since 1986 for the most materialistic reasons. I doubt Hollywood has produced anything more damaging to values.

Just as well, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more resolute encouragement for extramarital infidelity: the Hollywood movies that depict easy dalliances, or glorify their pleasures, or the congressmen and other officials who maintain kabits, if not regular harems (one president did, in Wack Wack), and indulge in their pleasures. In fact, I don’t know which one gives Filipinos a more convenient excuse for blithe partnerships, though “live-ins” often have more commitment in them than marriages: the ease of getting into them or the difficulty of getting out of marriages. Lest we forget, divorce is illegal in this country, no small thanks to the Church. Infidelity is probably far more the rule than the exception—no small thanks too to a macho culture—but like kabits, which are frowned upon in public but tolerated in private, the Church does not particularly seem to mind it so long as couples remain married.

While at that, the Church doesn’t particularly seem to mind priests, and even bishops, who have lovers, and get them pregnant, so long as they remain married to the Church. I doubt if “Desperate Housewives” offers more titillating fare.

But it’s true enough that Hollywood contributes to spreading materialistic values. Though there’s Hollywood and there’s Hollywood. There’s the Hollywood of the Oscars, which most Filipinos shun, and there’s the Hollywood of the blockbusters, which most Filipinos patronize. Of course there’s also the Hollywood of “Brokeback Mountain,” which won the Oscars, a magnificent movie that gives whole new insights into love. I leave the gays to argue that they were not born into evil, whatever their religious superiors say, and what they feel and do is not evil, it is human.

But it’s really more than Hollywood, it’s American culture itself. It’s a culture that, until only very recently, was symbolized by Wall Street, the proud tower of wealth, the shining glory of success. It’s a culture that extols acquisitiveness and consumerism. Arguably it has spawned a drive and initiative that have created mind-boggling abundance. On the other, it has also sparked a need to own more and more, which, like drugs, is really a want that has turned into a need. As every Fil-Am who has been swept by it knows very well, it’s not just the sheer pleasure of owning things that makes it desirable, it’s also the status it confers. That is how success is defined by how big your house is, by how grand your car is, by how trophy-like your partner is. That is how you are defined.

But even here, I don’t know that we can entirely lay our own brand of materialism at the door of Hollywood, American culture, or external influences. We do quite well enough on our own to define success by the amount of wealth and power one wields, to see importance by the pomp and ceremony one regales the world with. You don’t need to look far to see that. The Church itself is wealthy beyond belief, with its rolling lands, with its magnificent structures, with the constant stream of gratuity coming its way for charity, which in this case truly begins at home.

Indeed, you see that in the way the bishops—and cardinals—surround themselves with the finer things of life, appearing before the world in their tall hats and shiny robes and cassocked feet, waving an ornate staff, a staff of power. All this to announce the power and beneficence of God, a God who, if I recall right, was born in a stable for the animals, fished and did carpentry work to earn a living, even as he preached, and kept the company of a ragged crowd, which included a well-known prostitute. It’s not just capitalist America that drives Filipinos down the materialist road, feudal Philippines does too, with the Church at the head of the procession.

Go back to the fold, says Rosales, that is the antidote to materialism. Yes, but which fold?

If I recall right too, Jesus once offered this wise advice: Healer, heal thyself.

Advertisements

A BEAUTIFUL LIFE INDEED!!!

I am posting and sharing with you Mr. Peter Applebome’s article in The New York Times on the life of Maurice Mannion-Vanover. He was a young man of twenty who was diagnosed with AIDS when he was born. His story is one which encourages us to continue living meaningfully despite of a situation which we may think hopeless. Read on and find for your self how Maurice touched me in a very special way.

Here is his story…

Against All Odds, a Beautiful Life

By PETER APPLEBOME
Published: January 23, 2011

From left, Tim Vanover, Kindoo Mannion-Vanover and Tim Mannion at the funeral of Maurice Mannion-Vanover, who died at 20.

Some things we know for sure — a little boy dealt a seemingly impossible hand, the two gay men who decided to give him a home and a life, the unlikely spell cast by the only horse in Montclair.

Beyond that, well, it was what you could never quite know as much as what you could that drew 500 people, friends and strangers, to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Saturday to ponder the lesson in grace and resilience, the parable of good lives and deeds outside the prescribed lines, in the remarkably long and way-too-short life of Maurice Mannion-Vanover, dead at the age of 20 on Jan. 14.

Few people begin life with so many strikes against them as Maurice had when he was born with AIDS on Sept. 11, 1990, to a crack-addicted mother in a hospital in Washington. There were physical and developmental issues severe enough that his twin sister, Michelle Reed, lived only 20 months. Deserted by his parents, he got his first break in 1993 when two men, intent on caring for a baby with serious physical needs, agreed to take him in.

The two, who came to be known as the Tims, Tim Mannion and Tim Vanover, were told he would probably live six months. But, to everyone’s amazement, he began to thrive. He gained weight. His T-cell count steadily increased. In 1996, they adopted him, becoming the first gay couple in Washington to adopt a child. A year later, they adopted a second son, Kindoo, eight years older. When Tim Vanover got a new job in New York, they moved to Montclair in 1998.

Eventually, the family of two white gay men and two black children became two men, two children and one horse, Rocky, short for Rockefeller. The Tims bought Rocky, a 4-year-old cross between a Morgan and a quarter horse, for $3,500 in 2002 and gave him to Maurice on Christmas Eve.

Montclair, a densely populated suburb, isn’t exactly horse country, but they had a double lot with an old carriage house near downtown. And Maurice had fallen in love with horses, almost transformed by their presence. Atop a horse, seemingly glued to the saddle, the slender child seemed to blossom, his back straighter, his eyes brighter, as if on top not of a horse, but of the world.

To say this was a blessing for Maurice is an understatement. But it wasn’t just for Maurice. Before long, everyone in Montclair, certainly every kid, knew about the house with the horse and the incredibly lucky kid who owned him. And before long, the intersection of Union and Harrison was a mecca for children and a magnet for passers-by, invariably greeted with a wave from Maurice and often a greeting from Rocky, who trotted up to view neighbors each day on their way to work.

It’s not as if everything went smoothly. Far from it. Maurice’s health could be precarious, like the heart condition that almost killed him in 1998.

Rocky sometimes got free, galloping down busy Harrison Avenue, where the New Jersey Transit buses go, then eating some of the neighbors’ flowers. And the Tims — stout, outgoing Tim Vanover and thin, more reserved Tim Mannion — broke up, but only as a couple, not as Maurice’s fathers, choosing to live together and continue to raise him.

None of that affected Maurice, who became a fixture in his neighborhood and church, a Buddha smile always on his face, the iPod — full of Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, “The Lion King” — seemingly permanently attached. He graduated from a special-education high school, traveled to Central America, Europe and Africa with his fathers, volunteered at the church food ministry. On Dec. 12, he became a black belt in tae kwon do. He wanted to live on his own and become an elementary school teacher’s aide.

And then on a trip to Toronto in January with Mr. Vanover, he got sick. Then he got sicker. There was pneumonia, sepsis, acute renal failure. “It’s time,” he said several times, seemingly in his normal, slightly Delphic voice. No one knew quite what he meant, but it didn’t occur to anyone it meant that this was all the time he had. But it was.

Making sense of it all goes far beyond the known facts of Maurice, the Tims and Rocky the Horse: the way his beloved dog, Hunter, keeled over and died a few hours after Maurice passed on; the way Rocky took Mr. Vanover’s head with his own and drew it close to him, as if sharing grief in a hug. Before the funeral service, Rocky, the Tims and Kindoo walked to the church in front of the hearse. Maurice’s priest and friend, the Rev. John A. Mennell, recalled his incandescent smile, his cut-to-the-chase greetings, his unerring instinct for doing the right thing, if not always the proper one.

He recalled the day Maurice was helping with the collection plate.

You can do better,” Maurice said amiably to one congregant. It was the story of his life. You can do better, he said, and without quite knowing it, everyone did.