Timeline: Fr. Darwin Gitgano vs Bro. Eliseo Soriano

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What really happened between FR. DARWIN GITGANO and BRO. ELISEO SORIANO? This post will answer that question in detail.

Father Darwin Anober Gitgano is a Catholic Apologist from Bohol, Philippines. In the world of debates, he is very famous for being the only Visayan priest with exceptional apologetics and debate skills. He has debated Brother Ramil Parba of Iglesia ni Cristo in 2017. He also preaches in public areas and in local Catholic Churches in an effort to make the faithful aware and proud of the Catholic faith they received from Jesus and the Apostles.

Brother Eliseo “Eli” Soriano is the founder of Members Church of God International (M.C.G.I.) which goes by a popular name “Ang Dating Daan” which means “The Old Path” in English. Eli Soriano claims to know the Bible and insists that he has an authentic interpretation and that only members of his church deserve heaven. He ignores Peter’s warning “that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). He has criticized the Catholic Church for decades resulting many not-well-informed Catholics to leave the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

In April 17, 2020, Soriano was seen enraged on TV and which was a live broadcast. The MCGI founder felt he was attacked unfairly via social media by this humble Filipino priest who was only trying to clear the doubts of his flock against the attack and criticism of non-Catholic pastors including Soriano. He dared Gitgano to contact him via the comment section of their live streaming in Facebook any day from Monday to Thursday.

Since then, Filipino Catholics around the world, were intrigued and hoping for a friendly debate between these two pastors who claim to know the Sacred Scriptures by heart.

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This is my own timeline version of the clash between Fr. Darwin Gitgano and Bro. Eliseo Soriano. Note that I am including the history of the Church to give a background for my non-Christian friends and to new generation who do not know the history.

  • AD 33 – Jesus founded a Church through Peter and his Apostles

    Most Bible believers do not believe this fact simply because they do not have this rich history and Sacred Tradition (that can be traced back to the time of Jesus and the Apostles) that we Catholics are so blessed with. The truth is that Jesus left one singular Church (not many) through Peter. “And so I say to you, you are Peter (means stone or rock), and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

  • AD 40 – Apostles James (and Paul possibly) Christianized Spain

    Paul mentioned in his letter to the Romans that he would be seeing them on his way to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28). Whether this was realized or not, it does not matter the important thing is that Spain is one of the target region of evangelization of the apostles. James, as per history and Sacred Tradition, through the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Pillar, christianized Spain. In the year AD 40, He died as martyr and was buried in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain. His tomb is still in the Catholic Cathedral at the present time.

  • AD 1521 – Spain Christianized the Philippines

    Birth year of Christianity in the Philippines. First expedition from Spain, via Mexico, reached the shores of Samar Islands in the Philippines. “Philippines” was the name given to the newly discovered country in honor of King Philip the ruler of Spain that time. Christianization began since then. Catholic Churches and schools were build by Spanish missionaries. The Catholic Church flourished in the entire archipelago for centuries.

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  • AD 1910’s – Felix Manalo leaves the Catholic Church and founded Iglesia ni Cristo, attacks the Catholic Church for a century

    Felix Manalo, from a humble poor family, without a real understanding of the Catholic teachings, rejected Catholicism at a very young age. He questioned basic Catholic doctrines and went through his own journey of discovering what suits him best and became a part of the many Christian groups such as: the Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Christian Mission, and Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1911. SDA got rid of him in 1913 after a long quarrel over SDA doctrines. In 1914, he founded his own church called Iglesia ni Cristo.

  • AD 1980 – From Iglesia ni Cristo, Soriano founded M.C.G.I., attacks the Catholic Church for decades

    Nicholas Perez, one of the Iglesia ni Cristo member, started his own church in the 1970’s. He named his newfound religion Iglesia ng Dios (Haligi’t Suhay) and made Eli Soriano his successor. Soriano separated from Perez’ group and founded his own church in 1980. It took 24 years before the approval of its now official name “Members Church of God International”. Same tactics as the Iglesia ni Cristo, they attack those not-so-learned believers to gain membership.

  • March 31, 2020 – Fr. Darwin’s Punto por Punto program started in Facebook, YouTube

    Towards the end of March, Fr. Darwin and his wingman started “Punto por Punto“, an apologetics program attracting audience in YouTube and Facebook. It aims to debunk the lies of many Catholic attackers. For example, Fr. Darwin answered Soriano’s attack on TV about the praying of the Holy Rosary that it is vain repetition. (See my own post in defense against “vain repetition”.) As a proof that Soriano did attack Catholics, a capture of the video with him preaching this lie was shown in “Punto por Punto”. Then Fr. Darwin would explain as to why Soriano is wrong.

  • April 17, 2020 – Brother Eli Soriano seen enraged on TV against “Punto por Punto“, against the priest

    The pastor, on TV in front of all his audience, went extremely angry with the the Catholic priest for doing such thing. He said it was unfair for “Punto por Punto” to cut a piece of his preaching and the priest would talk for minutes about what he said. He called Gitgano names like “liar”, “thick-faced”, “bisaya”, etc. He then dared the clergyman to get in touch with him via their live-streaming’s comments section. Seriously? How can he see Fr. Darwin’s comment among the thousands of comments from Soriano’s members. A live debate via Zoom or Skype would be better! In any case, this was the start of the future (hopefully) debate. Soriano said he would answer Punto por Punto‘s episodes to tell the world that the priest is wrong.

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  • April 18, 2020 – Fr. Darwin heard Bro. Eli’s rage and accepted the challenge

    Early in the morning, excited to share the news, the apologist informed his followers (that’s including me, laugh!) in Facebook about the pastor’s reaction. He thanked God that their efforts have resulted to an awareness of the Catholic faith to many people and it has reached even to one of the main persecutors of the Church. He then said in his post that Catholics are not angry with the pastor even though he keeps on attacking the Catholic Church. “God bless you (Soriano) and Mama Mary loves you”, the priest said.

  • Apr 20, 2020 – Fr. Darwin on Facebook Live for three hours waiting for Soriano to fulfill his words, but nothing

    The Facebook Live coverage started at 07:03 PM and ended 10:14 PM. No sign of Soriano’s response about Punto por Punto or about the young priest. Fr. Darwin waited patiently for more than three hours in the hope he could have an open communication with Soriano. I can see his thirst of proving the world that Soriano’s preaching is wrong. He claimed to have sent around 10 messages in the comments section in Facebook but they were either deleted or responded by Soriano’s members only. His live coverage gained at least 43k views, 19k comments, 4k reactions, and almost 2k shares.

  • Apr 23, 2020 – MCGI folks informed Fr. Darwin a friendly talk with Soriano possible on Fridays only, MCGI agent will call the priest on 24th April evening

    Thursday. Around 9pm, Fr. Darwin announced in his page that he was was invited for MCGI’s Q&A on Fridays. He said he is excited to talk to Soriano on Friday and he asked his Facebook followers to follow his live coverage on Friday April 24, 2020 07:30 PM with a hashtag #ProudCatholic #ProudTeamMaria. He said he called and spoke to an MCGI agent who promised a call on the next day.

  • April 24, 2020 – Fr. Darwin on Facebook Live exhausted all means to contact MCGI, lines busy or no agent available for 3 hours

    Friday. Fr. Darwin Gitgano’s live post started around 07:40 PM. No calls received from MCGI. Fr. Darwin’s team called the Ang Dating Daan three hotline numbers multiple times but the lines are busy or no agents available. The priest made use of his time, with thousands of watchers, to expose some of the lies of Brother Soriano.

    1. 1. Soriano claimed Catholics consider Mary as “God of Mercy” or “Dios ng Awa” in a Catholic Marian prayer book of Mary (page 63). Turned out that the prayer book has 18 pages only. Also, “God of Mercy” it mentions is the “God who gave life to Mary’s parents” and not Mary herself.
    2. 2. Per Soriano, the statues and images in the Catholic Church started at the Council of Trent (held between 1545 and 1563). He referred to a book “Faith of our Fathers” page 164. Which clearly says that images or Christ and Mary should be retained. Retained means it has existed even before the said council. The same book (p162) states that the images started in the “early Christian Church” depicting images of Christ’s passion.

    09:31 PM, A call from MCGI member Brother Ben Sanchez who referred the Catholic Team to try Skype instead of phone calls (an alibi?).

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  • May 01, 2020 – Fr. Darwin received a call from MCGI. Bro. Eli Soriano will answer questions related to Punto por Punto episodes in few hours

    07:00 PM. Fr. Darwin posted a special announcement. He said, “I hope this is true. Ang Dating Daan called us informing us that Bro. Eli Soriano will face us tonight in order to address simple questions about Punto por Punto episodes from 1-7. I am already excited. I hope they honor their words (laughs). The truth that we spread via social media has called their attention. I hope that if this will happen today, it would continue every Friday so we can follow their program to correct the errors of Bro. Eli.”

    07:50 P.M. Facebook live started. Fr. Darwin and Bro John Doe played the call audio they received from Bro Mel (MCGI lector) earlier inviting them to join the Ang Dating Daan live via Zoom.

    10:00 P.M. After more than two hours of waiting, MCGI never contacted Father Darwin. The priest and his team used the time to answer some of their viewers questions instead.

Related posts:

Is Judas in Hell? A Friendly Discussion with a Fellow Catholic

Was Judas saved or damned? Here’s a transcript of a conversation I had with a fellow Catholic about the topic. Read more Is Judas in Hell? A Friendly Discussion with a Fellow Catholic

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

The Five Characteristics of the Antichrist

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The word “Antichrist” appears five times in the Bible in the letter of John. John warned the first Christian community in his time against the Antichrist in 1 John 2:24-26, “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. I write you these things about those who would deceive you.

In his admonition, it is very clear that God made a promise of eternal life to Christians (Catholics) if they keep what they have heard from the beginning. In our times today, there are many who deceive us with teachings other than those of the apostles. They even have a very ignorant teaching that the Pope is the Antichrist.

What does the Catholic Church say about Antichrist?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earthCf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22

In short, in the last days, Catholics will be deceived and they will be offered solution to their doubts and problems in exchange of their Catholic faith by the Antichrist who glorifies himself in place of God and Christ.

Five Characteristics of the Antichrist according to John

  1. It’s not one person but many. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) This verse proves that the Pope is not an Antichrist.
  2. They or their founders were once Catholics. “They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.” (1 John 2:19) This verse proves that the Antichrist is not inside the Catholic Church.
  3. They will be teaching lies. “Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. No one who denies the Son has the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.” (1 John 2:22-25)
  4. They do not acknowledge Jesus’ person and mission. “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh be longs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3)
  5. They do not abide in the teaching of Christ. “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:7-9)

The Catholic Church, from 33 AD until now, has continue to exist because she keeps what she heard from the mouth of Jesus and the apostles. There is no way the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church or the Pope or one of her member is the Antichrist as per the definitions we read in the Letter of John.

Antichrists are those who left Catholicism behind and now teaching lies about a different Christ and rejects Christ’s teachings.

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Catholics’ responsibilities as per New Testament Writers

Per Saint John, with God’s help we should conquer or overcome them. “You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (1 John 4:4-6)

Per Saint John, we should not receive them in our houses.If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works.” (2 John 1:7-11)

Per Saint Paul, we should instruct them with pure love from the heart. I repeat the request I made of you when I was on my way to Macedonia, that you stay in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to teach false doctrines or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith. The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. The aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:3-5)

Per Saint Jude, we should save others by snatching them out of the fire. “But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, “In (the) last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.” These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.” (1 Jude 1:17-23)

Per Saint Peter, we should keep the commandments of the Lord. “I am trying to stir up your sincere disposition, to recall the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and savior through your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come (to) scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:1-4)

Check out other related posts in this blog and share them to your friends. By doing so, you help proclaim the Good News to the whole creation (Mark 15:16).

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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8 Biblical Texts About Catholic Processions

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Procession is a form of popular piety being practiced by the Catholic Church for many centuries. Catholics do it before Sunday masses along with the entrance hymn. A bigger procession with a cart or float are done during feast days and during the Solemnity of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi).

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1674 Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. 1675 These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it.

Processions are always accompanied with prayers and hymns which is very similar to those in the Old Testament times. Yes! Catholics got the idea of processions from the Sacred Scriptures in both the Old and the New Testaments. It has never been an issue until these recent times when anti-Catholics started attacking every single Catholic practices in order to deceive Catholics and to make them leave the Catholic Church.

Israelites in Procession with the Ark

The Israelites went in processions to move the ark of the covenant from one place to another. The concept is very similar to Catholic processions nowadays. People carried the ark in a cart with images of two cherubims singing hymns and dancing while in procession to praise God! We find this practice in two parts in the New Testament:

2 Samuel 6:1 And David again gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went, with all the people that were with him of the men of Juda to fetch the ark of God, upon which the name of the Lord of Hosts is invoked, who sits over it upon the cherubims. 3 And they laid the ark of God upon a new cart: and took it out of the house of Abinadab, who was in Gabaa, and Oza and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. 4 And when they had taken it out of the house of Abinadab, who was in Gabaa, Ahio having care of the ark of God went before the ark. 5 But David and all Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of wood, on harps and lutes and timbrels and cornets and cymbals.

1 Kings 8:1 Then all the ancients of Israel, with the princes of the tribes, and the heads of the families of the children of Israel, were assembled to King Solomon, in Jerusalem: that they might carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, out of the city of David, that is, out of Sion. 2 And all Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon, on the festival day, in the month of Ethanim, the same is the seventh month. 3 And all the ancients of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark, 4 and carried the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the covenant, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, that were in the tabernacle: and the priests and the Levites carried them. 5 And King Solomon, and all the multitude of Israel, that were assembled unto him, went with him before the ark, and they sacrificed sheep and oxen, that could not be counted or numbered. 6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into its place, into the oracle of the temple, into the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubims. 7 For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and covered the ark, and the staves thereof above. 8 And whereas the staves stood out, the ends of them were seen without, in the sanctuary before the oracle, but were not seen farther out, and there they have been unto this day.

1 Chronicles 15:14 So the priests and the Levites were sanctified, to carry the ark of the Lord the God of Israel. 15 And the sons of Levi took the ark of God as Moses had commanded, according to the word of the Lord, upon their shoulders, with the staves. 16 And David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites, to appoint some of their brethren to be singers with musical instruments, to wit, on psalteries, and harps, and cymbals, that the joyful noise might resound on high.

New Testament’s Only Procession Account

This event is recorded in three Gospels: Mark 11:1-10; Matthew 21:1-9; and Luke 19:29-38.

Mark 11:7 And they brought the colt to Jesus. And they lay their garments on him: and he sat upon him. 8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down boughs from the trees and strewed them in the way. 9 And they that went before and they that followed cried, saying: Hosanna: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that comes: Hosanna in the highest.

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Other Bible References of Processions:

  • Nehemiah 12:27-40. At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemia relates a story of the procession attended by many people. There were priests with the trumpets, musical instruments of David, and there was rejoicing over the great feast of the LORD in which they shared.
  • Psalms 42:5 These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God: With the voice of joy and praise; the noise of one feasting.
  • Psalms 118:27 The Lord is God, and he has shone upon us. Appoint a solemn day, with shady boughs, even to the horn of the altar.

Criticizing Processions May Incur Consequences

Criticizing Catholics for going in procession might have some consequences. If we read what happened after a the procession led by King David in 2 Samuel 6:1-5, a woman questioned him about his behavior and accused him of pleasing the servant girls by his dancing. David rebukes her telling her that he was dancing before the Lord (in the ark of the covenant). So the woman never had child until her death. Full text below:

2 Samuel 6:20 And David returned to bless his own house: and Michol the daughter of Saul coming out to meet David, said: How glorious was the king of Israel to day, uncovering himself before the handmaids of his servants, and was naked, as if one of the buffoons should be naked. 21 And David said to Michol: Before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father, and than all his house, and commanded me to be ruler over the people of the Lord in Israel, 22 I will both play and make myself meaner than I have done: and I will be little in my own eyes: and with the handmaids of whom you speak, I shall appear more glorious. 23 Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

So, procession is biblical. Even if it weren’t, the Catholic Church has the power to bind and unbind. She can create practices and doctrines based in Sacred Scripture and/or Sacred Tradition. Remember that not all messages of Jesus are in the Bible (John 21:25). In fact, some messages were delivered to his disciples privately (Mark 4:34).

Now we know what to tell those who attack the Catholic Church against processions. I hope this helps.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Review: Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible App

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This is my own review for the Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible: New TestamentBook by Carl Amari, Michael (PRD) Stark, and Raymond (PRD) Arroyo, an app you can download via your Android or IOS phone with a one-time minimal charge.

This app is one of the best gifts I gave to myself and I have been enjoying it ever since. I love it because I can play it anytime I want and listen to the Word of God effortlessly even while doing something else. There is no other audio bible app out there better than this one, I promise!

The free version lets you experience a dramatized audio (a chapter if I remember correctly) but you will not be able to download the audio of the entire New Testament. You may check the current price of the app via its website https://www.truthandlifeapp.com/purchase.html.

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Other contents included in the Truth & Life app:

  • Dramatized Daily Mass readings (New Testament only)
  • Pray the Rosary
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross
  • Pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy
  • Access the Catholic News Agency (CNA)
  • Listen or Watch live broadcast of EWTN
  • Access audio and video on demand from selected EWTN programs
  • Free Online Bible studies with Fr. James Mcilhone
  • Access Word of Fire articles, blog, homilies, and online videos

I strongly recommend this not only to those who are studying apologetics and theology but also to all Christians who want grow in faith through reading, listening, and studying the Scriptures. It’s an investment you wont regret!

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Catolicos Ignorantes Futuros Protestantes

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Catolicos Ignorantes Futuros Protestantes” is a famous Spanish expression widely used in Latin America. It means that Catholics who do not study their faith are easy candidates for Protestantism. This is a reality. So far, in my circle, I have not encountered any learned ex-Catholic (in theology or apologetics) who left Catholicism and embraced another belief.

Every non-Catholics I know left the Church either by ignorance or by force renunciation of faith due to inter-religious marriage. Once they become non-Catholics, especially the Protestants, many of them begin to hate the Catholic Church because of their lack of knowledge of her. They would attack her from all sides directly and indirectly.

For the benefit of my non-Christian friends let me differentiate the two. Catholicism, of which I am a member, is by sacred tradition the first and the only assembly of faithful (church) founded by Jesus in the 1st century. Jesus Christ is God himself who took our form (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is the founder and the current head of the Church. After fulfilling his mission on earth he returned heaven leaving a vicar or representative on earth to lead his church with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis is the 266th vicar of Christ.

On the other hand, Protestantism is a movement that started in the 16th century in the person of Martin Luther, a Catholic monk. Luther developed his own views or interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures and convinced many of his reformed views. Since then, hundreds of Protestant sects sprouted. While most of them, like Catholics, believe in Jesus Christ as God and savior; there are many groups who refer to the Sacred Scriptures but do not confess the same faith.

All these groups disobey God who desired a “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” aiming for one body, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). The Bible also says that “no prophesy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). This is in order to keep the same Gospel handed to us by Jesus and the apostles. The apostles exhorted us all to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which was taught… either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2) As Paul said, “even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach other Gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8) “Accursed” or “anathema” means “under a divine curse” or “set apart for destruction”.

But many Catholics listen to their preaching. Many follow them to the point of leaving the Church and her life-giving sacraments that Jesus instituted for our salvation. They choose not to avail of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that gives new life and sanctify their souls. Without the sacraments, they risk their souls towards eternal damnation.

So we Catholics should continue to practice and study our faith. We are supposed to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13) to bear witness to Jesus Christ according to what the apostles preached to us. If we listen and support any other preaching than what the Catholic Church received from the Apostles, then we bear false witness to Jesus Christ. And we all know that bearing false witness is such a grave sin Jesus himself equates it with murder, adultery, fornication, theft, and slander as many times repeated in the Bible (Matthew 15:19, 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).

We do not have to be experts in apologetics, theology, or similar disciplines to bear witness to Christ. We only need to learn the basics so we are not easily deceived. By doing so, we protect our own families and friends safe from destructive teachings. This is a real challenge for all of us especially to parents.

There is another famous expression in the Latin world that says “Catolico Instruido Jamas Sera Confundido“. It means that Catholics who study their faith will never be confused. This is a reality too.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Where Is the Church During Difficult Times?

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The Catholic Church will always help the poor out of love for Jesus.

Vatican charities helped in assisting 1,500,000 children and providing some measure of food and clothing to 7,000,000 needy Italians. This is an old data from an article by Time Magazine in 1965. We do not know if this number has increased or decreased but this is a strong proof that the Church for a very long time has been always loyal to her mission, a mission she received from her founder and head, Jesus Christ.

The truth is that these charity works are not only being done in the Vatican but also in each of the local Catholic churches. In each charity act, the Church recalls the words of our Lord in the Gospel when he repeatedly refers himself as the poor. “I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, imprisoned…..” (Matthew 25:31-46) Therefore, Catholics believe that when we help the poor we are serving Christ. This is why since the apostolic times the first Christian community, besides spreading the gospel as their main mission, also focused on helping the poor including collection of alms (Acts 24:17) to assist the poor of Jerusalem (Roman 15:25-27, 1 Cor 16:1-4, 2 Cor 8:-9).

When we think of Christ in the poor, we do not only think of the material needs but also spiritual, intellectual, etc. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead (Hebrew 13:3). Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise (Tobit 4:5-11; Sirach 17:22; Matthew 6:2-4). But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you (Luke 3:11). If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit (Luke 11:41)?

Addressing these many areas of necessity of the poor is a task seriously taken by the Church. It has and will always be her mission along with evangelization. This is the reason why parishes have all kinds of ministries for the poor which we, individually, has to take part in any way we can. It is obvious that many of us are doing our part because it is a common knowledge that the Catholic Church, through her numerous charitable organizations, is the largest NGO that provides education and medical services in the world.

In spite of this, there are still many who are living in terrible situations. 10% of the world population are extremely poor they cannot even buy their own basic needs. By this reason, the Catholic Church needs our constant assistance. Since we cannot do much because of our family commitments, we are encouraged to help the Church and those who are generously working for the poor full time. If we have exhausted our monthly contribution of money, skills, and time, then we can try to friendly remind others of their responsibility as Catholics to support the Church. For non-Catholics, we can encourage them to help charities of their choice if they are not comfortable giving to a Catholic organization. After all, we are all brothers in the eyes of God.

It is not very charitable for us Catholics to question if the Church is doing something for the poor especially if we have not contributed enough! She was, she is, and she will always be helping the poor because of the divine mandate of love given to her by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35). Non-Catholics should stop criticizing the Catholic Church by saying she has not done enough. Haters and persecutors of the Catholic Church persecutes Christ who founded the Church: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 22:7) It is time for the new Sauls of our times to become Pauls and serve Christ instead of persecuting him.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Can Vatican’s Wealth End World Poverty?

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In my previous post, we learned that the Catholic Church (as a whole) has no wealth because each local churches are independently run and the Vatican does not get a share of the local churches’ goods. We also learned that the Vatican (the country) has $15B worth of wealth. Is this amount enough to end the world poverty? Let’s see first how many people are below the poverty index!

Check this post first:

How many people are living in poverty?

The World Bank tells us that there are about 10% of the world population who are living in extreme poverty. They earn less than $1.90 a day. Ten percent of seven billion (world population) is 700,000,000. This is the count of those in extreme poverty only excluding those who barely passed the poverty line threshold. But let us use 700M in our calculations.

Is $15 billion enough for the 700 million?

If Vatican had $15,000,000,000.00 ($15 billion) and gave all this amount to 700,000,000 people in extreme poverty, each person would have $21.43. Maybe this amount can sustain the recipient for a week or a month, who knows! What is certain is when the money is gone, the 700M will return to their previous state. So the answer is a big NO. The Vatican’s wealth is not enough to end world poverty.

If the US were to do this with their $105,990,000,000,000.00 (105 trillion) of wealth. Each person then would have $150,000.00 which is more than enough to lift them up from poverty. However, giving each person this amount wont guarantee a long term solution to the problem. Also, this would leave USA with zero wealth and could no longer function as a country. With no wealth left for food, labor, investments, etc., its population of 320M people will have no income at all. So helping 700M by putting 320M at risk is surely not the best approach to the problem, neither.

How much donation is needed to support the poor?

The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM) revealed in 2013 that $60,000,000,000 ($60 billion) annually would be enough to end global poverty. Perhaps this is an estimate of how much is needed to support the poor in terms of food, shelter, medicine, etc. If these billions annually run out after many years, because they will for sure run out, then the whole world will starve.

Conclusion

I’m no expert in demography, economics, or humanity. However, it is clear that using all the money a country, or a person, or an organization will not resolve global poverty in a long term. I believe there has to have some kind of an organized system, approved by all countries, to provide decent and consistent income to those those who are earning below the threshold so that each will have enough. Then, poverty will gradually be eradicated.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Is the Vatican or the Catholic Church Super-rich?

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Is the Catholic Church or the Vatican wealthy enough to end the world’s poverty? Let’s check out first some facts about the Church’s or the Vatican’s wealth with these common misconceptions.

First Misconception: The Vatican Is the Catholic Church, and vice versa

I was guilty of this before and I thought Vatican is the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church is the Vatican. But, no! The Vatican is not the Catholic Church and it does not own the Catholic Church. The Church or “ekklesia” in Greek means those who are called forth (YouCAT 121). Together we are the Church. It only happens that we, Catholics, our Church is headquartered in Vatican.

Second Misconception: The Catholic Church Is Super-rich

The truth is that there are many local churches that have enough funds but there are a lot more that can barely pay their monthly electricity bills. A diocese cannot have more than enough in a long term because richer dioceses are encouraged to assist the poorer ones (Cann. 1274).

The Catholic Church, as a whole, does not have one pool of wealth. So, saying that the Catholic Church is rich is simply false. In-country churches have their own income through collections, investments, donations, etc. The money it has is for the poor and for evangelization and nothing else. This is the reason why we do not see any clergy buying a Ferrari with the Church’s money. Surely there have been cases where a priest, bishop, or a cardinal used the Church’s money for personal use, but this kind of isolated cases of greed could happen in any organizations and not only inside the Church. The Code of the Canon Law 1273-1289 strictly stipulates the administration of goods the Church should follow.

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Third Misconception: The Vatican Gets a Part of the Collection Money from Each Catholic

This is simply false. When we give a money offering on Sunday masses, most of it stays for the parish, a percentage of it goes to the diocese or archdiocese, it never reaches the Vatican.

Fourth Misconception: The Vatican Is Super-rich

The Vatican City is a country, the smallest country in the world. And like all countries do, it has to have resources of its own to be able to support itself and its causes. But the Vatican is not super-rich. Although no concrete sources, it may have some wealth amounting $15,000,000,000 (15B). But this is only 0.0142% when compared to that of the United States of America. Even if the Vatican had 1 trillion dollars, it would still be less than 1% of the USA’s wealth. Putting it in table becomes clearer. 15 billion is extremely small when compared to these giants.

Individuals/Org/CountryLocationWealth
United States of AmericaUSA$105,990,000,000,000
Apple Inc.USA$1,300,000,000,000
PhilippinesPHL$764,000,000,000
Jeff BezosUSA$131,000,000,000
MyanmarMMR$116,000,000,000
SETADIRN$93,000,000,000
Mark ZuckerbergUSA$62,000,000,000
Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationUSA$46,000,000,000
Harvard UniversityUSA$37,000,000,000
Giovanni Ferrero (Chocolate)ITA$32,000,000,000
Vatican CityVAT$15,000,000,000

If you check the world’s comprehensive list of billionaires in Wikipedia and Forbes, you will surely conclude that the Vatican’s wealth is nothing. You may also compare the Vatican’s wealth to that of your country in this list of countries by total wealth.

From these points we learn that the Catholic Church (universally) has no money. Many would try to sum up the wealth of all individual local churches just to prove their point. Some would try to calculate the money the Vatican would make if everything it has is sold. Whatever they do, the end result would still remain a small percentage compared to that of other countries, individual billionaires, and wealthy organizations, if they were to do the same.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Catholics Wear Medals for a Reason

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Whenever we see someone wearing a religious medal or a crucifix, we immediately assume that he or she is Catholic. Surely a medal is one sign of that a wearer is a devout and practicing Catholic.

Even Our Lady of Guadalupe wears a medal of the holy cross when she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She manifested her own consecration to Jesus Christ, her son and true God, which as we know was crucified in the cross for all the people. So, wearing medal a sacramental which is a form of popular piety.

According the the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1674 Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. 1675 These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. 

Is wearing a medal mandatory? If not, why Catholics wear them anyway?

Let’s start with this basic Catechism! Catholics believe that God is not a God of the dead (Mark 12:27, Luke 20:38) but of the living, for to him all are alive. Catholics understand that the living Church of God is composed of three states: the Church Militant (we who are striving to be holy), the Church Suffering (those who have died in friendship of God and their souls are being purified before entering heaven), and the Church Triumphant (those who are in heaven enjoying God’s company) (CCC 954, Revelation 7).

Catechism 947 states that all the faithful form one body and the good of each is communicated to others. The most important part of the body is Christ-the head of the church-who communicates these goods to all the members. And the saints in heaven, being more closely united to Christ, do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus (CCC 956, 1 Tim 2:5).

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Understanding these basic teachings of the Church will lead us away from the sin of superstition which is the belief that medals and other devotional items and practices have supernatural or magical powers in them. This is an insult to God and affects the worship we offer the one and true God (CCC 2111). Wearing a medal is not bad when we attribute all the favors and graces we received through them to God alone.

There are plenty of choices of medals nowadays but the most common ones that Catholics wear are: the St. Benedict medal, the Miraculous Medal, and the patron saints medals. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, this practice dates back to 1200 when Pope Innocent III granted right to a group clergy the casting of lead medals impressed with an image of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Since then it has been widely embraced because of the good effects it does to the faithful.

Medals help us recall the mysteries of our Faith. They help us recall the times when God worked with the greatest saints on earth and how they offered their lives for God and for his Church. So, by wearing, touching, and looking at their medals, we are somehow inspired to imitate their lives which they lived in accordance to the person and mission of Christ.

In short, wearing medals of saints or any other medals is one of many ways for us to honor God in the wondrous works he did through his saints.

But take note of this fact: the Catholic Church does not oblige her members to own or wear a medal, neither she demands what medal to choose because wearing one is only a devotional act. We must remember that medals, although proven to be helpful to many, they do not guarantee salvation. Only Christ can assure us salvation. If we ask and let him, he can sanctify our souls through the sacraments of the Church he himself instituted.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Defending the Holy Rosary: Is Repetition Biblical?

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Rosary is a Marian devotion, meaning a devotion in honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary, practiced mostly by Roman Catholics. The phrase “Ad Jesum Per Mariam” or “To Jesus through Mary” is popular among Catholics. we show devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and ask her to bring our prayers to her Son, Jesus Christ. Rosary was designed to work as meditation on the life of Jesus Christ. When we pray the rosary, our minds are fixed in the significant and joyful, sorrowful, and glorious events during Jesus’s ministry.

However, this practice is being condemned by many anti-Catholics mainly because of two misunderstanding: the prayer is not biblical and the prayer contradicts the scriptures because the 53 Hail Marys (or 203 in the full rosary) are vain repetitions. This post focuses on the second reason.

The Bible verse they would use for this claim against the Holy Rosary is Matthew 6:7. “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.” This was part of Jesus’s discourse concerning prayer in the Sermon of the Mount.

Defending the Rosary against “vain repetitions”

If you too love the Holy Rosary, here is how to defend the Holy Rosary (against false claim that it is vain repetition) without getting into a debate and without risking your friendship with the claimant. This list is developing so make sure you subscribe to this blog for updates.

  1. Matthew 6:7 – Let us use the same verse they use by understanding the context more. Actually, they have this as “In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking.” (KJV) The Bible versions does not matter to us Catholics because we know that this warning was for all prayers and not specific to the Holy Rosary. We must remember that Jesus was merely warning the people (Jews) around him in general against doing good in order to be seen. Also, pagans babbles with a long list of divine names hoping one of those gods would answer their prayers. Catholics are not pagans. We also do not repeat meaningless words because the words we say in the rosary are from the Bible. So this verse per se is not something that is against the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
  2. Matthew 15:7-9. Speaking of vain repetitions, Jesus spoke strongly against those people who honor God with their lips but with their hearts far from him thus worshiping him in vain. This is not the case when we pray the rosary because when we say it we meditate Jesus’s life (the second person of the Holy Trinity). Our minds and hearts are with him while we recite the same words of the angel Gabriel and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth.
  3. Matthew 5:3-11. The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the beatitudes by repeating the same first phrase “Blessed are the …. for…” nine times.
  4. Luke 18:1-8. The Parable of The Widow and the Unrighteous Judge. The widow kept coming to the judge (God) repeating the same words, “Vindicate me against my adversary!” The parable concludes that God will vindicate his elect who cry to him day and night.
  5. Luke 11:1-4. According to Jesus, when we pray, meaning every single time we pray, we should include and repeat The Lord’s Prayer. This is the reason in all our prayer, whether personal or communal, we include and repeat the Our Father. In the Holy Rosary, we say the Lord’s Prayer 6 times (or 21 times in the full rosary).
  6. Matthew 26:44. In Jesus agonizing prayer in the garden, he prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” If then the Lord can repeat, it is logical that we also can do the same.
  7. Revelation 4:8. The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.”
  8. Psalm 136:1-26. This is a striking defense we have for the defense of the repetition of the words when praying the Holy Rosary. You may refer your friend directly to this part of the Holy Scripture. Psalms means “psalter” or “book of praises”. The psalmist in chapter 136 repeated “for his mercy endures forever” twenty-six times in 26 successive verses.
  9. Luke 6:12. Jesus went out to the hills to pray all night in preparation of his selection of the twelve apostles. This does not indicate that he prayed using repetitive words but we can speculate that he did. Who can pray without repeating any word or phrases in an eight-hour long night prayer?

No human being cannot not repeat the words used from previous prayer.

No human being cannot not repeat the words used from previous prayer. That’s the truth. The words we use to express our petitions as human beings are limited and we are asked to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). Thus, there is no way a person cannot not repeat what was prayed in his/her lifetime.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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