Fr. Fran Villegas: God Deigned This Country, the Philippines, to Be the Cradle and Bulwark of the Christian Faith for the past 500 Years

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Catholicism has done so much for this country, for our ancestors and which we still now enjoy… What we celebrate this year 2021 is not colonialism, but Catholicism, that is, the Christian faith that our ancestors received and cherished as a gift… God deigned this country, the Philippines, to be the cradle and bulwark of the Christian faith for the past 500 years… The Spanish regime has collapsed, but the cross is still standing — for 500 years now! History proves that indeed the cross is mightier than the sword. Isn’t this a good reason to celebrate?

Fr. Fran Villegas, Archdiocese of Cebu, Catholic Faith Defenders, Inc. (https://archdioceseofcebu.ph/article/63?fbclid=IwAR3IZpS4eil8evbt7-dYtUhmg0p-V5BrmghUqMRMun9iQ8uG9eB5QWCa5rA)
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More Shareable Quotes and Bible Verses:

Four Points in the History That Pinoy Catholics Should Know

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Four points in the history that we, Pinoy Catholics, should know as we celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. This is a quick and an easy history lesson to supplement our belief and to refresh our minds regarding the Catholic Church.

Indeed, despite the many attacks for centuries from the outside (and from the inside too), the Bridge of Christ (Eph 5:23, 2 Cor 11:2, Rev 19:7, 21:2, 21:9, 22:17) will remain One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic because Jesus Christ (her groom) who built this Church is one, holy, universal, and an apostle (meaning “sent”) by God.

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

    Although this is biblical, many do not believe this simple fact. They refuse Peter’s primacy and tweak the meanings of the verses in the Sacred Scriptures to accommodate their own reasoning. The truth is that Jesus left one singular Church through Peter. “And so I say to you, you are Peter (means stone or rock), and upon this rock I will build my church (one not many), and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

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  • 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.

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  • 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 2021 – The Philippines Celebrates 500 Years of Christianity

    The Philippine Church, despite the many problems inside and outside the church, continues to help the poor and the needy. She continues to proclaim and defend the Gospel of Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

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Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

Pope Francis’ Message on the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines

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For those who were not able to witness the celebration of the Holy Mass by Pope Francis in the Vatican for the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, here are two audio files I recorded from the live coverage of the Vatican Media. The first audio is part of the Holy Father Pope Francis’s homily and the second is Cardinal Tagle’s message to the Pope. This took place in the Basilica of Saint Peter on Sunday 14Mar21 5pm PH time. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was streamed live online for the universal Church.

Pope Francis’s Message on the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines
Cardinal Luis Tagle’s Message to Pope Francis on the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines
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The actual homily in English is now available in the official page of the Holy See at http://www.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/homilies/2021/documents/papa-francesco_20210314_omelia-cristianesimo-filippine.html.

If you find this article useful, share it to your friends and if possible follow my blog. Thank you!

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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Jesus Words “I Will Build My Church” Fulfilled in the Catholic Church

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In a previous post, I mentioned there that everything that Jesus did during his ministry was for our salvation. Jesus never did anything unnecessary and one of the most important things he did was the founding of one singular Church (Matthew 16:18). His Church is essential to our salvation because she is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Let us see if this Church is really the Catholic Church.

In English grammar, the word will is a modal. According to the British Council, we use modals to show if we believe something is certain or possible. We also use them to talk about ability, ask permission, and make requests and offers. Will is used to talk about what is going to happen in the future, especially things that you are certain about or things that are planned (Cambridge dictionary). And as per Collins dictionary, we use will in order to make statements about official arrangements in the future.

So, when Jesus said he will build his church, he was very serious about it. He was certain that Peter can lead his church as he planned. He was officially arranging a construction of his church upon Peter! Here is the full text of the story in Matthew 16:13-19:

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (“petrus”) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Many of the people claim to know Jesus Christ but only Peter-through God’s revelation-really knew who he was. Nowadays, many churches claim to know Jesus Christ but only the Catholic Church-through the Holy Spirit’s guidance-knows him best.

The Catholic Church by definition is the society of all baptized persons united in the one true faith under the authority of the Pope, the successor of Saint Peter. The Catholic Church is the only Church that God built in fulfillment to Jesus’s promise “I will build my Church”. Here are some reasons why:

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  1. The Catholic Church’s first leader after Jesus is Peter. For me this is not debatable because the Holy Bible and the world history can prove this fact. There is an unbroken link between our current leader, Pope Francis, and Peter.
  2. The Catholic Church is the only bride of Christ. The letters of Saint Paul and the book of Revelation puts the Church as the bride of Christ (Eph 5:23, 2 Cor 11:2, Rev 19:7, 21:2, 21:9, 22:17). There is no mention of a plural brides of Christ. That only bride in no doubt is the Catholic Church. It is nonsensical for other churches to claim that theirs is the bride of Christ, even worse, that theirs is another bride of Christ.
  3. The Catholic Church is the only Church who continues the full mission of Jesus. Jesus started his mission of salvation and his mystical body (the Church) continues his mission. Through the Catholic Church; Jesus continues to forgive sin through the Confession, cast out demons though the Exorcism ministry, baptizes through the Sacrament of Baptism, heals and cures the sick through the Church’s charitable institutions, appoints priests to minister his flocks, etc.
  4. The Catholic Church is the only Church who enjoys the binding and loosing authority. This is obvious because the other churches do not have Peter. Jesus delegated his authority to Peter, then that authority was delegated to the next popes. It is the same authority that our current supreme pontiff possesses. If Peter can exercise his authority to settle the issues about circumcision of non-Jews in Jerusalem, Pope Francis can also exercise his authority to make death penalty inadmissible.
  5. The Catholic Church has the surest way to heaven. The Sacraments are a big deal for our souls. The sacraments sanctify our souls so that we become ready for when the Lord comes or if we die prematurely. Without the sacraments we will have unhealthy souls. We all know that only those who washed their robes (Revelation 22:14) enter the gates. That means we should have healthy souls without any stain of sin upon entering the gates of heaven.
  6. The Catholic Church’s doctrine of Purgatory. Since nobody can enter with unwashed robes, the Catholic Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory as final purification of the elect based on the Sacred Tradition of the Church and reference to certain texts of Scripture that speaks of a cleansing fire (CCC 1031, 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7), which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.
  7. The Catholic Church is a visible Church with marks. Many non-Catholic churches claim that a real church should be an unseen group of saved people studying the Bible privately and that a visible Church with a hierarchy is not necessary. The Catholic Church is a visible Church with a hierarchy following Jesus’s examples. He, the master, chose twelve apostles and other disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations. One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic are the marks of the Church not because she earned them by herself but because her founder, Jesus, is one, holy, universal, and an apostle (meaning “sent”) by God.

The Catholic Church, being the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) is necessary for our salvation. Let us then make efforts and pray that Jesus’s Gospel be made known to the whole world. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:3-4)

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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“Christ Is Enough and We Don’t Need the Church”, My Quick Defense

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Christ is the head who rules over his body which is the Church. Paul mentioned this inseparable union of Christ and his Church many times in his letters as we read in these verses:

Ephesians 1:22-23. [God] put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Ephesians 5:23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Colossians 1:18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Romans 12:5. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
1 Corinthians 12:27. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Therefore, the saying “Christ is enough and we don’t need the Church” contradicts the Bible and is simply not logical. It is “anatomically” impossible to be part of the existing head (Christ) without being a member of an existing body (Church). In fact, Paul’s analogy about “Christ-Church=Husband-Wife” in Ephesians 5 simply means that their is a special and inseparable bond of love between him and his Church. But, did Jesus really build a Church of his own? How many?

Everything that Jesus did during his ministry was for our salvation. Jesus never did anything unnecessary and one of the most important things he did was the founding of one singular Church (Matthew 16:18) to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). And he continued to guide this Church through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). This Church of the living God became the “household of God” and the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

Since Christ found a Church or a house of God, any churches that were founded by humans are not part of the salvific plan of God and are “purposeless”. They will pretend to be new bodies of Christ which is simply impossible because there is already an existing body that Christ built through Peter (Matthew 16:18, John 21:15). So, if a new church in a neighborhood could not trace its beginnings back to Peter, then that church has no purpose at all. Why? Because only the house that the Lord himself builds has a purpose. Any human being who builds his own church labour in vain (Psalms 127:1).

“I will build MY church” means this singular Church is owned by Christ. Paul would call her as “Church or God” or “Church of Christ” in his letters. The naming does not matter because it does not affect the fact that she is the only Church owned by Christ. The truth is that Jesus did not specify the name of his Church. We only know it’s the Catholic Church because she is the only Christian Church we can trace back from the time of Jesus’s ministry until now.

In Acts 5, after Peter performed miracles and converted many, the Jews wanted to put an end of the early Church. But a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, defended the first Church and said “let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” These texts prove that the Church is not work of men but of God because she continues to exist today–the Catholic Church. Gamaliel’s words also implies that those who attack the Catholic Church are obviously “fighting against God”.

They fight against God and use his name in vain. Yes! Human beings who established churches using Christ’s or God’s name “speak against God wickedly”, making him “his enemies” because they take God’s name in vain (Psalms 139:20, Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11). “Lo, here is Christ!”, they would say! But we should not believe them because they are false prophets shall even show great signs and wonders to deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:23-24).

This blog post is inspired by one of Cedar media‘s seminar videos conducted by Atty Marwil Llasos.

Try this simple quiz!

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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A Necklace Tag Designed for Catholics

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After my conversion years ago, I have been wanting to wear something that is designed by myself, something of religious significance that is wearable in public. I also thought of having something unique that I could give as gift to my Catholic friends who are passionate about their faith. So I ended up with a simple dog tag design with features you see in the photos.

Thoughtfully designed for Catholics, this dog tag comes with a dose of apologetics and part of the creed we profess at Mass. So not only that I have important bible verses handy with me but I also can show the world the joy of being a member of this One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The tag has the emblem of the papacy with the crossed keys that symbolizes the keys of Peter – our first pope. The three crowns in the emblem represent the power of the Pope as “father of kings”, “governor of the world” and “Vicar of Christ”. The gold cross on a globe surmounting the crown or tiara signifies the sovereignty of Jesus. You can read more about the emblem here.

These are the important Bible verses and Catechism paragraph numbers that are engraved in black at the back of the tag:

  • Matthew 16:18 – “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
  • Matthew 28:18-20 – “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
  • John 21:15 – When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
  • CCC 811-870 – The Catechism paragraphs that explain the Church in detail.

This dog tag is made of nickel plated stainless steel. The texts are engraved while the logo is printed directly on the tag. It comes with one stainless and one regular iron ball chains in its pouch.

You may message me if you like this design and you want to have one or if you want to give it to someone as a gift. It’s a perfect and a unique piece of gift you can give to anyone regardless of the occasion. Items are limited and are only available in few areas such as Singapore, Manila, and Lucena.

Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!

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