Two nights ago, I was chatting with a young chap from UPLB. He was practising his Spanish with me. Our conversation then shifted to Catholicism. And this young man impressed with me with his knowledge of the Catholic Church.
I was born a Catholic, but wasn’t really a devout one. But my father is. He comes from a very religious family. Anyway, my dad is from a generation whose elders were brought under a strict Spanish Catholic environment. I was what you’d consider a Catholic by affiliation, and that is all. I was nonchalant about my religion, and even ignorant about most of its teachings.
When I stepped into the world of college life, I was exposed to a myriad of ideas, precepts, beliefs: Iglesia Ni Cristo, Marxism, Freemasonry, atheism, born-again peeps, etc. Since I’m a person who reads a lot, I explored and researched about other creeds. In the end, this (mis)led me to believe that the religion I grew up with is a false one. =(
After brief stints with other groups, the funny thing was I ended up as an atheist for the next two years or so!
But as they say, God works in mysterious ways.
I was brought back to the Catholic fold last 2003 due mainly to personal researches about my country’s Spanish past. Along the way, I was able to discover and realize the leyenda negra (black legend) being hurled against the Spanish clergy. Ironically, I ended up defending the Spanish friars against everyone attacking them although I was still an atheist! Little by little, my “reconversion” was on its way. I soon became an agnostic. And one September night of that year, as I was pondering whether to have my wife abort our second child or not, God gave me a sign.
You see, 2003 was the worst and arguably one of the best and memorable years of my life. I was jobless, disowned by my folks and various relatives, living in a decrepit bodega, penniless, you name it. It was during this year when I did nothing but read, write, ponder, steal books, ponder some more, dream. And since I was (surprisingly) having difficulty in getting employed, I thought that having another baby was too much (I was already then an agnostic during this time). I was goading my wife for days to give up the baby. I was giving her horrible scenarios of what might happen to us if she doesn’t accept abortion as a solution: poverty, poverty, and lotsa poverty. Finally, I was able to make her say yes. We planned of going to Quiapò to buy an infamous pill (Cytotec) to kill the fetus.
I admit, however, that I felt uncertain and very afraid of doing it. So before committing the crime, I prayed to God for the very first time in years. While walking desolately along Chino Roces Avenue one night on my way home, I muttered, “Lord, if you are indeed real, show me a sign —any sign— that you disapprove of this abortion”.
The sign came that very night. Upon arriving home, I talked again to my wife (without telling her that I prayed). I told her that we have to abort the fetus soon, the next day, while the it is not yet in human form (an infamous argument by “pro-choice” advocates). Quietly, she agreed. And as we slept together, I thought of my prayer – I had no idea what kind of sign I would receive… if God were ever real. After a few minutes, we drifted to sleep.
But moments later, my wife woke me up. I was surprised — she was crying! In between sobs, she said she’d rather not have an abortion. She said she’s willing to face anything —EVERYTHING— just to keep the baby. I embraced her, and broke into tears as well.
It was no coincidence or anything like that. It couldn’t have been any clearer: that was the sign I’ve been waiting for…
GOD IS REAL.
And so a few months later, a very handsome José Mario Guillermo II P. Alas —Momay— was born. And my stupid fear of poverty-ridden-days-ahead was just that: plain stupid. Because now our kids are four, and we’ve never been better than before!
Fast forward to today. Me and my wife will have been married for a decade this coming September 13 (our anniversary). Although we’ve been married civilly, we haven’t had a church wedding yet.
It’s every Filipina’s dream of being walked down the aisle. As a Catholic husband, it’s everything for me as well. The rite of marriage for devout Catholics is very sacred. And so we’ve decided to be wed under Church ceremonies. It is never enough to remain married only in pen and paper or in the eyes of the law.
And since it’s going to be our tenth year together, we decided to marry under Church ceremonies. And my wife even went a step further by suggesting that it should be a Latin/Tridentine Mass wedding.
My wife has always known my passion for everything Catholic. In fact, she learned about the Tridentine Mass only from me. But although it was I who taught her about the Latin Mass, I’ve never even thought of marrying under that rite!
I’ve learned about the “reality” of the Latin Mass during those bleak days of 2003 when I was deep into Philippine history. Although renowned Philippine historian Fernando Ziálcita will not agree with me (he once told me that one shouldn’t interrelate Christianity to Philippine history), one cannot help studying Philippine history vis-à-vis Philippine Christianity (because I firmly believe that the Philippines is a Christian creation; Spain was but a tool). One particular book which really grabbed my attention was Till The End of Time With the Mass of All Time written by the late Atty. Teodoro R. Domínguez (A.A., L.L., B.), himself an ex-atheist who converted to Catholicism. Funds for the publication of this controversial book was from a certain Therese Villanueva de Vargas.
It was from this book where I learned about the brief history of the Tridentine Mass, the alleged “Lefebvre schism”, the crisis within the Vatican, the Society of St. Pius X, even Canon Law (I wasn’t really familiar with it before). In this book I was also introduced to then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI; he was then Prefect of the highly important Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now headed by William Cardinal Levada). And through this book, I instantly became a fan of Cardinal Ratzinger (that’s why when our beloved Pope John Paul II passed away, I was rooting for Cardinal Ratzinger to take his post — and my prayers were answered!).
I got this book from my mentor, the eminent Filipino scholar, linguist, and historian Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. And I was even intrigued when Señor Gómez told me that he once contacted Atty. Domínguez for a telephone interview. Señor Gómez said he had a hard time in doing so because he had to go through a lot of people and a tedious verification process before finally being able to speak to the erudite lawyer. Señor Gómez also mentioned to me that Villanueva de Vargas’ various businesses were ruined, and that she went bankrupt.
The reason behind this? Señor Gómez had an accusing finger on Freemasonry, the nemesis of our religion (but that’s another story). I am not so sure if all this information is correct. Well, I’m not saying that Señor Gómez was exaggerating or something to that effect (he’s not that kind of person). It’s just that I’m surprised about the intriguing nature and controversiality of this issue (I just hope I could contact Ms. Villanueva de Vargas).
I tried contacting Atty. Domínguez myself (I think it was also 2003 or early 2004). I found his number in the phone directory (because Señor Gómez lost his contact number) and dialled him. The person who answered the phone was Mrs. Domínguez herself! She was a very polite lady (quite young if you ask me), but I could easily tell from the suspicion from her voice. She asked me how I got their number, what my agenda was, and all that verification stuff. I simply told her that I had the opportune chance of reading her husband’s book and had wanted to attend a Latin Mass. She said that her husband was already too old and weak to accept calls (by then, he was already receiving the Holy Communion privately at their house), but politely told me that I can attend one of their services in a church somewhere in Quezon City (Our Lady of Victories Church in New Manila). I didn’t ask anymore, but apparently she’s hiding her husband against some form of “threat”. She also told me briefly about her husband’s tiff against the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin who was the first to oppose the Society of St. Pius X, calling the members schismatic (the Domínguez couple were members of this Catholic Traditionalist group).
Although I wasn’t allowed to speak with Atty. Domínguez, I learned a lot from his nice spouse.
Then a few years later, as I was searching his name in the internet, I found out that he already passed away… =(
I won’t go into details of the book lest this blog post becomes a book review. But all I can say is that it opened my eyes to the crisis —the current crisis— that the Holy Catholic Church is currently facing. And that is one major reason why I no longer attend Sunday masses in churches near us (although I stop by to pray and pay my respect). Because such masses are orchestrated by the “Conciliar Church”.
Let me add a sixty-third reason: Facebook and the internet!
That was a joke.