Cristos, ang Ampayre

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

on the modern Church



Cristos- ang Ampayre



The title roughly translates to my native Filipino as ‘Christ- the Umpire’, because that what He was, is, and will continue to be until He comes again- and even after His victory over death, this umpiring voice finds interpretation, conclusion, and articulation in His vicar- the Pope, and His mystical bride- the Church. Theologians, those truly orthodox and truly devoted to serve Christ and His mystery, write with the Holy Spirit as if It flowed like the ink from their pens, as if It was woven to the fibers of their parchment. Unlike Christ, and however unfortunate the fact may be- the servants He entrusted with the Church are wholly human, and not at all divine, save for that trace divinity within our souls from the breath of the Creator- our Heavenly Father, that He too shall one day tear away from us all. 


Why bring up this? It is a clear fact that the Church was established, along with the sacraments, to drive on the message of Christ and Christ himself throughout the ages, so that they may one day meet Him in the end of times. And when that happens, all those who have come to believe in Christ, all those who are to be saved- will find their path to the right side of Christ’s judgement; under His vicar, the Pope, and their feet towards His Church in Rome. And the earth shall split, fragment, and fall around the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica- the whole world will be plunged back to hell around the feet of those who call Christ their brother, by having the Church as their mother. 


The metal of Rome has been tested, time and time again: the stones that cobble the Via Dolorosa are still fresh and fragrant with Christ’s blood, the bravery of the martyrs and their death are solidified in hymns and offices, her bishops once fled to Avignon, her priests lulled and seduced to heresy, her members torn away from her and beaten for their faith- like a mother cat seeing her kitten being run over. And yet through all of this, the Church sustained and outlived her rivals. This is all because she promises the promise of Christ to those who will persevere in the perversions of this world: the promise of eternal life. This promise however is a promise for something beyond anything that can be promised to someone here on earth. It is a promise of eternity, therefore one’s conduct cannot be that of which is suited for the world and its luxuries, and will continue to be so. In that case, one denies himself Christ’s responsibility for His end of that promise. After all, a shepherd cannot save his lamb who so willingly plunges off the cliff. This promise is once again a promise of eternity, and therefore one’s conduct and whole life of something that is and will continue to be suited for eternity. 


This conduct, this path in which the faithful must take to uphold their end of Christ’s promise, and the guidance of which and the responsibility it entails naturally falls on the curates, prelates, and cardinals- sons of the Apostles, the generals of Christ, lieutenants and commissioners of the Church militant. And this is where the title and expression, ‘Christ as Umpire’, takes precedence in my stance. The church is not a country, not a culture that can be, for the sake of other cultures, be intertwined and bent to be braided into other cultures. For two millennia, the Church has and has always been,since Christ's death and ministry, described as counter-culture. Counter-culture to the culture of pagan Rome, counter to the culture of the Northern Pagans, counter to to the culture of the Heretics, counter to the culture of the Schismatics, counter to the culture of the Mohammedan Ottomans, counter to the culture of the Reformists, counter to the culture of the Communists, counter to the culture of the Nazi’s, counter to the culture of the Modern world and so on. That is because the umpire does not join in the chaos of an unfair game gone awry, but instead comes in to fix it and dispense fair rule. The Church does not come to join the chaos and bedlam of the lavisciousness of pagan Rome, the barbarism of the Vikings, the stupidity of the heretics, or he faithlessness of the Communists and Modernists- but instead, the vicar of Christ and all the sons of the apostles under his employ are sent to set this world against the grain of sin, against the withering current of the times- for following the current leads down to the waterfall whose tumults cascade and crash in to hell, but swimming against it leads to the spring of the bleeding Heart of Christ. 


Our curates, prelates, bishops, and cardinals must be, first and foremost, brave enough to tell the weaker of the faith that the path to Christ is a path through stormy and craggy mountains, that the a path to Christ by default, as was His own path as He lived, a path that leads to three nails and a cross- in which we would all be eventually nailed to. Curates, prelates, bishops, and cardinals will never reap a bountiful harvest of souls unless it is made clear that the path to Christ and His promise is a path that faces towards torrential waves and surges of deadly water. One aspect of  Christ's promise is that should we die going against these currents, we shall not be consumed by the abyss behind us, but would rather wash ashore on the oasis of His Paradise.


This in mind, the Church and her sons, the sons of the Apostles, must provide First and Foremost; their faith in response to all things. Not their political beliefs, not their philosophical or logical answers or arguments- but their faith. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says of this- 

17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus.” (Ephesians 4:17-21)


In all things and even in things seemingly unrelated, their faith must cover or line their response to any matter. Look at the writings and thought of Aquinas, from which many a secular doctrine was derived from and from which many a secular argument finds its citation, they find such citations in writings and meditations originally aimed to explain and defend how a piece of white bread becomes Jesus Christ. To speak for Christ the Umpire, one must get rid of the mentality that there are just some topics that can be done without relation or guidance to and from Christ. Aquinas put Christ in the center of his thought- in all his fields of interest, he made Christ not only applicable, but central, to his theology, philosophy, sociology, politics, anthropology, law, and aesthetics. What of the fruits of Aquinas’ interest now? He remains to be unanswered and sufficiently refuted by all who dare to attempt. This in itself finds itself to be cited in Aquinas’ great articulation of the principle of noncontradiction- that ‘Nothing true of faith can at the same time be false of reason, and nothing true of reason can be false of faith’, (Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Lecture 20, Aquinas) this in his attack against the Averroists. Curates and prelates who sell the centrality of Christ in all things (doctrinally known as Christocentrism) in exchange for leverage in appearance and prestige amongst the common age’s opinions and perversion unknowingly sell their place and right as a son of the Apostles and as a servant of God- just as someone would take gold to be no longer a Christian, and to abandon Christ’s promise for Nero’s coffers.


Secondly, they must suggest their faith in bringing back lost sheep. The church is a company of shepherds under the employ of Christ, as seen in the crooked crosiers of bishops. You do not, under the pain of eternal fire, lead your flock of sheep to the wolves’ den for the sake of the wolves appetite. And just as such, prealtes must not ever, under the pain of death and eternal damnation, lead his flock away from the Church for the sake of the very perversions and ungodly modernities the Church seeks to correct. You have a responsibility, as sons of the Apostles of Christ, to reap as many souls as you can in the harvest of souls for “a slack hand impoverishes, but the busy hand brings riches. A son who gathers in the summer a credit; a son who slumbers during harvest, a disgrace.” (Proverbs 10:3-5). In this timeline, in this reality measured and cut accordingly by the second-hand of the clock, every year’s end is a second passed towards the end of the harvest season- and the weight of every priest will be weighed on the souls he has wrenched free from the grasp of Satan, weighed and accounted for by the landlord- who is Christ himself. 


You do not join these youth in their error for the sake of foolishly thinking that in that pit they can climb over your shoulders- that only works in missionary and charitable vocations, where missionaries delve into the literal poverty of their new flock to live their missions along with them. As for specifics on this, refer to a missionary manual. But to think that by joining their sin a curate will be able to save them is, to a lay man, a joke at best and  tactic of the devil at work. I am not a priest, but as a layman I see that a good and uprightly, but humble, curate does much better in his ministry, whereas those curates who divulge in the luxuries and laxaties of the sinners they are supposed to serve as counter-model to, who is also likened to the Pharisee in terms of pride and pomposity, will retroactively herd and lead his flock to the Devil’s den. If your flock are to hate you for insisting on their wrongs and suggesting what is right, to bear their hatred of Christ’s truth and be required to convince them of it anyway is simply the pastor’s lot in life. Bear this Cross for Christ, both yours and that of your parishioners. 


Consider this example from my own country's history. The most famous novel to have come out of the Pearl of the Orient was Jose Rizal’s ‘Noli Mi Tangere’, which talks about, amongst other things, the abuses of clerics and friars. Such were the terrible abuses they inflicted on the Filipinos that clerics nowadays seen as greedy and immoral are typecast as ‘Padre Damaso’s’ the antagonist of the first book. But to look past internet memes and twitter essays and delve deeper and further into history is to rid yourself of a manufactured ignorance. The first Bishops of Manila were opposed to the Conquistador’s abuses of the natives, and one bishop who rose to the rank of Governor-General- Fransisco de la Cuestas, oversaw a time of relative quite that the natives had not heard or felt since the time of Legazpi as Governor-General. No, the typecast of ‘Padre Damaso’s’ exists because men of the cloth then did not get ordained to become pastors and harvesters of souls, they did not get ordained then to become servants of God- but they took the habit to be influential professors and powerful pseudo-politicians. There lack of Christocentrism, they’re abhorrent and sinful lack of Christ as center of everything they do is why “” have and will continue to exist. Unless the priesthood returns to God, no one will. 


As for questions on de la Cuestas spearheading the assassination attempt on Bustamente, the Governor-General before him- as depicted in Félix Resurrección Hidalgo’s masterwork ‘the Assasination of Fernando Bustamante’, Fidel Villarroel, a Spanish historian and Archivist of Santo Tomas University says that Hidalgo was misled by the freemason Antonio Regidor, who held anti-clerical sentiments, and fabricated the story of de la Cuestas and his friars murdering Bustamante. As a matter of fact, the bishop and his friars were still imprisoned hours before the alleged assassination. This was featured in an article in the 10-volume national anthology; ‘Filipino Heritage: the Making of a Nation’. 


The conflict and context of this gives us more understanding and a clearer picture of the difference between a good prelate and a bad one. A good prelate stands by and acts by the law of Christ, and not by state. The weak of mind, or at least those who skim their information from the tops of online tabloids, seem to think the separation of church and state was to prevent church law from enclosing upon state law, when in fact, the opposite was intended from the start. An example of this is the situation which led to the scenario above, captured in imperfect interpretation by Hidalgo’s brush. This started when Bustamante’s troops broke into Manila Cathedral to arrest the opponents of the corrupt former governor-general and then Supreme Court judge, Jose Torralba, as they were seeking sanctuary there. In the Catholic Church, the ‘right to sanctuary’ prevents any state or secular law enforcement from apprehending any criminal who goes inside a church, since any church house under the Church as a whole is seperate from the state, and therefore the state and her enforcers have no jurisdiction over it. de la Cuestas opposed Jose Torralba and his appointment, whoas governor-general, violated the right to sanctuary by arresting his political opponents and whistleblowers to his corruption while in sanctuary and was guilty of massive kleptocracy that crippled the government financially. De la Cuestas sent messengers to carry out Torralba’s formal censure and excommunication, the most prelates in power could do then. Torralbas promptly threatened the messengers with Bustamante’s troops and issued arrest warrants against them, and chased them into Manila Cathedral, which they entered and arrested the Archbishop, the Dominican friars, the messengers, and all the clerics who opposed Torralbas and supported the Archbishop. Torralbas had not only violated the right to sanctuary, but unlawfully arrested innocent clerics and the archbishop in an act of political terrorism.


Lay supporters and government officials, enraged by this final act of indignity by Torralbas, stormed the Gubernatorial Palace and murdered Bustmante and his son on October 11, 1719, being unable to find Torralbas. Toralbbas was later investigated in Bustamante’s place for charges of embezzlement and violation of canon law. Due to popular acclaim, de la Cuestas soon became de facto Governor-General after the untimely murder of Bustamante and the trial of Torralbas. In such turmoil, de la Cuestas upheld the right of his faithful flock to sanctuary and safety amidst corruption, political instability, and coercion. Through it all, he protected the believers of Christ entrusted to him from the evils of the secular world, as all prelates should. Bustamante’s death was an unfortunate and commonly inaccurately told story that reflects the true dynamic of the separation of church and state- that the state should stay away from the Church, and our prelates and laymen must face the cold cell and or the lions to defend it.


Thirdly, I suggest that the curate must keep in mind who his Master is and who his Master speaks through. Let you, who guide gentle and delicate sheep through pastures of sin, let nothing stand in your way. You do not bend to politicians, politicians bend to you. For the highest power in all of the land is Christ, and as his servant- his duly ordained servant, you do not cite the prince in your actions and ambitions concerning your flock, but the prince should cite you in theirs. That is not a very immanent reality today in this godless world, but the truth of the matter still holds- a curate’s principal responsibility is not the ballot box, but the believer. Should the believer, however, come unto sin by the ballot box- then you should intervene, as much as any curate can intervene through sermons and preaching, with Christ as much in the center of it all as he should be. For in this and all things, Christ is central and all are subservient to Christ. And when that is fully realized in not only the curate, but also the parishioners, no matter what valley they tread across- the sheep will be well fed and cared for under the guidance of a wise shepherd. 


Again, I made reference to the Church being a company of shepherds, all under the employ and direction of Christ. However, the only people who ever talk to Christ directly seem to be the mystics and virgins, whose private revelations of such contact with Christ are treacherous as to practical application in doctrine. No, the wholeness of truth has already been revealed. Christ died because of our sins primarily, but not even in His death did His teaching cease, for everything that can be taught and what's left to be taught- what needs to be taught, has already been said. A lot of people misuse St. John Henry Cardinal Newman’s quote “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” In misunderstanding this, one misunderstands and misinterprets Newman as a pathetic relativist, which he is not. In this he speaks of one of his most important ideas- the development of doctrine, wherein the immutability of God’s word is preserved while also allowing for there to be positive advancement in doctrine from the intrinsic truths of what is revealed by God directly. The whole reality of Divinely revealed truth has already been established, only our understanding of it changes. In this, Newman realizes the importance of Christ’s vicar- the Pope who serves on behalf of Christ as the umpiring voice that discerns and makes canon the doctrinal conclusions brought forth from divine revelation to be either intrinsically true or corrupted, and therefore keeps the unity of the Church and the wholeness of Christ’s Mystical Body. Of course, I am not ultramontane. This power vested upon the Supreme Pontiff can only be used so very sparingly, with much deliberation, debate, and prayer and  can only ever be pronounced from the chair of St. Peter- ex cathedra.  But the idea still stands, and in matters of things pronounced from the chair- in rebelling against the earthly umpire- the Pope, you rebel against the Divine Umpire, Christ. No one has any use for a schismatic. 


And in this, I end and pray that all curates, prelates, bishops, and cardinals stay true to their responsibility to the Church.


Submitted: June 12, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Hugo de Santa Catarina. All rights reserved.

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