October 15-16, 1946

Introduction

Beloved Brethren in the Lord:

It is barely a couple of years since we regained the freedom of life we are now enjoying.  It is but yesteryear, so to say, that we were freed from that constant dread and terror from a ruthless conqueror who did not respect sex or age, rank or state.  For over three years many of our countrymen were hunted down like animals, submitted to exquisite and prolonged tortures or condemned to a horrible death.  For over three years the country suffered from hunger; and the memory of famished children and adults, dying or dead in the streets of this our once beautiful Capital City is still fresh in our minds.  Our hospitals still care for physical wrecks, our unfortunate brethren, who have survived privations or the loss of limbs.  Ruins of hearths and temples, of homesteads and factories –mute but eloquent proof of the extent of our sufferings– are still to be seen everywhere.  Knowing “that the scourges of the Lord, with which like servants we are chastised, have happened for our amendment, ” 1 we sent you on the occasion of our last year’s plenary meetings, the first we had since the outbreak of the war, a joint Pastoral Letter in which we manifested our joys and sorrows, our fears and consolations, our instructions and admonitions for your moral and material rehabilitation.  In that solemn missive, we have shown the causes of war, which are our personal and common sins; we deplored the sudden and inexplicable frivolity which appeared everywhere, especially in cities and bigger towns; we denounced the growing disregard for the rights of life and property.  To attract the mercy of God and appease His wrath towards us we appealed for a return to the traditional modesty and religiosity of our people.  We reminded you that “the only thing eternal and defiant of all powers of destruction is religion, our Christian religion, instituted by God Himself and against which all the evil powers of earth have hurled themselves for twenty centuries and will continue to hurl themselves unto the end of days.”  We have done this to offer a cure for the then growing levity and covetousness, the philosophy of life of those whose “god is the belly, their glory is in their shame.” 2 To our dismay, our mild reproofs were unheeded, our admonitions were spurned, and our hopes of a chastened and humbled generation of Christian Filipinos after the war were miserably frustrated.

I.  The evils of Materialism

1.  Materialism in Life

We observed to our great sorrow that “borne down by the weight of fleeting things and immersed in the pleasures and delights of life”,3 many have fallen into the tenets and morals of materialism, “the most grave disease by which our age is oppressed, and at the same time the fruitful source of all the evils deplored by every man of good heart…  that levity and thoughtlessness which carry men hither and thither through devious ways.  Hence comes the constant and passionate absorption in external things; hence the insatiable thirst for riches and pleasures that gradually weakens and extinguishes in the minds of men the desire for more excellent goods, and so, entangles them in outwards and fleeting things that it forbids them to think of eternal truths, and the divine laws, and of God Himself, the one beginning and end of all created things”4.  In other words, materialism has spread over the country during the last fourteen months.  It caused the increase of immorality and the insane pursuit of pleasures, which in turn caused the deadening of conscience, whence proceed violence and disrespect for the rights of life and property of others, so that we can rightly exclaim with the poet:

“Oh God, that bread should be so dear
And flesh and blood so cheap!”5

2.  Materialism in Religion

What is more deplorable is the fact that materialism has crept even into sacred matters.  We can cite two instances:  the reception of sacraments such as baptism and matrimony, and the preparation of some religious festivities or the erection of God’s altars or temples.

It is a fact known to many that the baptism of children is oftentimes deferred for months and even years for no other cause than the absence of the desired godparents, chosen because of their position, influence, or the material good they may bring to the child or to the family.  At times God’s complete and rightful possession over the child as its Father is impeded by the lack of funds for the celebration of baptismal parties.  Matrimony oftentimes is shamefully reduced to the lavish display of vanity, which even forces condescending Pastors to violate the laws of Liturgy.  The cross of Christ, the symbol of our Redemption, is mocked by orgies, disorders and the display of anachronistic and ridiculous pageantry which accompany the celebration of the so-called “Santa Cruz de Mayo.”  In many places the singing of the Passion of Our Lord, especially on Good Friday, has been the occasion of drunkenness and the violation of the laws of fasting and abstinence, for the simple reason that the singing has been reduced to a contest between the participants.

a).  Gifts for God

During these days when a feverish effort for the construction or repair of churches is everywhere displayed, we note the lack of that understanding of that distinction made by the Apostle when he said:  “All things are lawful, but not all things edify”.6 The house of God or His altar must be the work of love since it is “a house of prayer”7 and the “Gate of Heaven.”8 The edifice itself must be a “prayer in wood or stone.”  The means of raising funds and the collection of materials must therefore be worthy of the omniscience and the holiness of Him Whose divine Eucharistic Majesty is intended to dwell in it, because “holiness becomes the house of the Lord unto length of days.”9 No one feels honored by a bouquet of flowers when he knows that the nosegay presented to him was made of flowers that had been taken from a wreath already used in a funeral.  So we cannot expect God to accept  as He accepted the sacrifice of Abel,10 the offering we make with money which has not been given from pure motives.  The money you offer for God’s temple or altars is, as that offered by the children of Israel for the use of the tabernacle, “a memorial of yourselves before the Lord that He may be merciful for your souls.” 11 The Apostle said that we must give “not grudgingly nor from compulsion, for ‘God loves a cheerful giver’.”12 Thus the people gave their offerings for the temple built by Solomon “willingly… with all their heart.”13 It must be so, for all things are the Lord’s; whatsoever we give Him, we received from His hands14.  An offering is grudgingly given when it is procured at the price of vanity, of dangerous and worldly pleasure, and of risking the purity of one’s soul.

Beauty and popularity contests, box-social and fashion shows foster vanity and whatever funds are derived from them are the price of vanity.  When children are forced to take part in these contests or shows, there is that added aggravating circumstance which prompts one to say that it is the price of the “sacrifice of the innocents” because by them vanity is instilled in the minds of the children. Modern dances are, according to most moral theologians, either sinful or at least risky for the majority of souls.  Obviously the funds raised through them are either the price of sin or of risking one’s purity.  Gambling games, theatrical and cinematographic shows which glorify the vices even cannot be considered by any man of true piety to be good means for honoring his Lord.  “Do not offer wicked gifts, for such He will not receive.”15 “Thou shalt not offer the hire of a strumpet, nor the price of a dog, in the house of the Lord thy God, whatsoever, it be that thou hast vowed; because both these are an abomination to the Lord thy God.”16

b).  Hidden Donors

Another worldly manifestation of the lack of spirituality is the practice of broadcasting to the whole world the little alms that one has given for the erection, beautification or furnishing of a church and forgetting the words of Christ, “Take heed not to practise your good before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you shall have no reward with your Father in heaven”17.  We refer to those who insist or cause their names to be painted or carved on walls or arches, windows or pillars, benches, pews or presses, on paintings or pedestals of statues, as if they were billboards for advertisements.  To them who act thus that they may be honored by men, the Lord said:  “Amen I say to you, they have had their reward”18.  “The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  For the Father  also seeks such to worship Him.  God is spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth”19.

3.  Materialism and Morality

Confronted with so much materialism in the social order we cannot refrain from raising our voice against that materialism in the treatment of spiritual things of which we have just mentioned a few instances.  Equally anxious for the good of souls and the honor and strength of our country, we decry with all apostolic vehemence the growing immorality and laxity of customs.  We cannot expect the Lord of Purity, Who has carved two Commandments for the sanction of purity on the Tables of the Law20, to bless our nation, our race and our generation, if we do not obey them.  “For God will judge the immoral and adulterers”21.  By baptism we became in a special manner the temple in which His Spirit dwells.  Now, “if any one destroys the temple of God, him God will destroy”22.  It is a known fact that we are already suffering from the natural punishment of this vice.  Our good name, more particularly the traditional good name of our women,  is mocked at and questioned across the seas.  Those social diseases which produce a mentally and physically deficient race are fast spreading.

a).  Immodesty in Dress

Our appeal against immorality would not be efficacious if we would not denounce immodesty in dress which is an incentive to immorality.  It is hard for a Christian to understand how maidens and ladies who call themselves Christians can indulged in such immodesty in dress.  In the first days of Christianity it was considered a terrible martyrdom for maidens and matrons, like St. Agnes, to be exposed to the lustful gaze of the populace.  While the laws of morality have not changed, it is difficult to understand why maidens and matrons who call themselves Christians deem it an honor to be ogled at by lewd eyes and measured like prize cattle at a fair.  And it is truly lamentable when such costumes or lack of costumes are encouraged by people who call themselves Catholics and who have known a stricter code of morals, more in accordance with the tender conscience of Cecilia, Agnes, Agatha and Lucia whose names are daily commemorated in the Holy Sacrifice.  “Woe to you,”  says the Prophet Isaias, “that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”23  “Woe to you,” if you dare to call Christian morality, evil, and the present tendency, good; and consider the consciences of the said virgin Saints, darkness, and your modern paganism, enlightenment.

We urge you once again to return to that traditional modesty by which our womanhood was unique in the Far East and the consequent respect given them was unequalled in the whole Orient.  Remember “God has not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness”24.  And this is His will, “our santification; that we abstain from immorality”25.

4.  Covetousness Source of Crime and Unhappiness

St. Paul usually decries immorality and covetouness in the same breath26.  They are two forms of idolatry, the worship of living clay which is the flesh and the worship of silver and gold which are also extracted from clay.  We cannot close this protest against immorality and immodesty without admonishing you to war against covetousness, which is the cause of violence so often perpetrated these days.  In His Sermon on the Mount the Lord said:  “Seek  first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these (food and raiment) shall be given you besides”27.  “No man can serve two masters…  You cannot serve God and mammon”28.  St. Paul said, “The desire of money is the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith and have entangled themselves in many sorrows”29.  St. James analyzed:  “Whence do wars and quarrels come among you?  Is it not from this, from your passions, which wage war in your members?  You covet and do not have; you kill and envy, and cannot obtain.  You quarrel and wrangle, and you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions.  Adulterers, do you not know that friendship of this world is enmity with God?”30  We can repeat with the late Pope Pius XI of happy memory:  “It is a grave error to believe that true and lasting peace can rule among peoples so long as they turn first and foremost and avidly in search of sensible, material, earthly things”31.  Because those who are “solely concerned with adding their wealth by any means whatsoever and seek their own selfish interests above all things, they have no scruple in committing the gravest injustices against others”32.

II.  Remedies Against Materialism

a.  Positive Means

a).  Intensive Preaching, Doctrinal Instruction, Missions, Retreats

We could be poor physicians if we were to give a diagnosis without giving a cure.  We, therefore, enjoin parish priests to stem the tide of materialism, immorality and violence by arranging missions and retreats.  Since ignorance and forgetfulness of the eternal truths and doctrines of the Church are the causes of levity which slides into materialism, we order systematically arranged catechetical sermons for Sundays and holidays as once prescribed for the years 1939-194133.  A new list of topics will be published in the January number of the Boletin Eclesiastico.  “Faith depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ”34.

b).  Catholic Action

We recommend the organization of the Catholic Action.  We have observed that the Legion of Mary has done and is doing a great deal by persuation and example, in bringing back many a prodigal son not only to the faith of his forefathers but also to the devout practice of his religious duties, which he not only neglected but spurned during his wayward years.  Catholic Actionists and Legionaries, we appeal to you to continue your fruitful endeavors.  More effort must be directed towards the organization of means of employment and recreation to forestall falls and to redeem the fallen.

c).  Catholic Education

In a radio address to the Catholics of the United States on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the Catholic University of America, on Nov. 13, 1939, our Holy Father Pope Pius XII said:  “The Christian education of youth was never of more decisive or vital importance than it is today, when we are faced with the bewildering errors of naturalism and materialism which are plunging the world into war and evidence in themselves hollowness of a philosophy built on purely human standards.  As we see these calamities multiplied and intensified, we might well lose heart were we not sustained by trust in the loving Providence of God which gives strength and solace more abundantly as worldly confidence fails.  But our chief hope, after God, rests in the schools of Christian culture, old and new, among which stands your Catholic University as a typical example…”  It is superflous to say that the same words are applicable to us in this new Republic under the present circumstances.  “Catholic youths in Catholic schools!”, wherever these exist, must therefore be the slogan, because it is only in these institutions that the teaching of the Church is maintained; that the Church “is divine institution, the sole depository and interpreter of the ideals and teachings of Christ; that she alone possesses in any complete and true sense the power to combat effectively the materialistic philosophy which has already done and still threatens such tremendous harm to the home and to the State”35.

d).  Intensive Catechetical Instruction

Since not all children and adolescents can attend Catholic Schools, we insist, as in our previous letters, on more catechetical instructions in and outside other schools, especially the public schools.  Parents should know by now the results of bringing up children without religion.  Those youthful criminals now plaguing our cities and towns should arouse parents and guardians to the fulfillment of their primary duty of teaching catechism to those under their charge.  Pastors should redouble their efforts to feed the young of their flock as well as the older ones.  They should call on religious of both sexes to honor their King by bringing His friends, the children, nearer to Him by teaching them the Christian doctrine.  Everyone who has time and talents should take part in the teaching of religion as nothing else will redound so much unto peace and safety of the community.  And you, who have been blessed with the fortunes of the world, we charge you in the name of Him Who has lavished upon you such gifts to return thanks to Him by equally generous support of the spread of the knowledge and fear of Him; knowledge and fear which will afford protection for yourselves, even in this life.  Support catechetical instructions of your own and other children, by helping the pastors and their catechists to form and conduct classes as well as to provide books and other objects attractive to children.

e).  Cooperation of Civil Authorities

We appeal to our civil authorities not to hamper but rather to encourage and to allot ample time for religious instruction in all schools.  For the assurance of peace and prosperity they must remember that there are only two ways left to them for the successful government of the nation; firstly, by force, then there must be a policeman for every citizen and again others to watch the policemen.  No state on earth can afford such expensive form of government.  There remains therefore the second way, that is, through the conscience which means acknowledgement of duties and responsiblities, mutual respect and solicitude among citizens, solidarity and strength, mutual understanding, and therefore peace and happiness.  But conscience, a righteous conscience cannot be had without religion, for conscience means the acknowledgement of the existence and all-pervading dominion of God and His laws.

f).  Catholic Press

Man’s religious education at present cannot be complete without the Catholic press, whose primary object is to teach the truth and to counteract the errors circulated by avowedly anti-Christian or anti-Catholic periodicals.  Every Catholic should read and support Catholic publications, especially those  which have our official sanction and encouragement.  And we want to mention particularly The Philippines Commonweal which is once again being published after five years in abeyance.  Let every home take and read the Commonweal, which is our only national Catholic newspaper.

b.  Negative means

a).  Avoidance of Forbidden Societies or Associations

As a corollary to the obligation of a real Catholic upbringing we must warn you of the insidious propaganda of the enemies of your holy religion.  The Holy Fathers, our predecessors, and we ourselves have repeatedly warned you against forbidden societies and sectarian associations36 whose religious and philosophical tenets are opposed to your religion but outwardly or vociferously declare themselves non-sectarian and use as bait lavish philanthropy.  Your Lord and Master once said to your common enemy, the devil:  “Not by bread alone does man live”37 so that you may know how to escape the temptation of philantropy.  And you who may be tempted by vanity due to the publicity which such societies make for your name and the connections they offer you, remember that Our Lord and Master was tempted once to the same lines.  When Satan offered Christ “all the kingdoms and the glory of them,”  He staunchly said, “Begone Satan!”38  Thus He can tell you:  “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?”39

b).  Campaign against Dangerous Publications

It is superfluous to remind you of the sinfulness of keeping or subscribing to books and other publications which by the very nature of their contents are forbidden by natural and positive laws.  Such books are those which assail or ridicule by word or picture the natural virtues and the teachings of religion, those which are immoral or which glorify immorality.  Remember that “he that loveth danger shall perish in it”40.

c).  Avoiding Dangerous Shows

For the same reason we warn you against immoral shows and representations.  The cinema and the theater are recognized as powerful instruments for the promotion of evil or good.  Alas, more often for evil!  For the sake of your souls you must avoid those which are marked dangerous by the Legion of Decency or duly appointed censors and also shun those very films which, although passed by such censors, you deem subjectively dangerous for your souls.

Conclusion

The daily meditation of the Rosary which is the compendium of the life and sufferings of our Savior for our salvation should remind you all, dear Brethren, to return to Him by avoiding all immorality, covetousness and lawlessness.  He then will reward you, giving you all the blessings of His peace which the world cannot give.41

As a pledge of these heavenly favors, with paternal affection we impart to you, dear Brethren, our pastoral benediction.

Given at the City of Manila, the sixteenth day of October, Feastivity of the Purity of Our Lady, in the year 1946.

(Sgd.)+MICHAEL J. O’DOHERTY
Archbishop of Manila

(Sgd.)+ALFREDO VERZOSA
Bishop of Lipa

(Sgd.)+SANTIAGO C. SANCHO
Bishop of Nueva Segovia

(Sgd.)+CONSTANCIO JURGENS, CICM
Bishop of Tuguegarao

(Sgd.)+MARIANO A. MADRIAGA
Bishop of Lingayen

(Sgd.)+PEDRO P. SANTOS
Bishop of Nueva Caceres

(Sgd.)JOSE BILLIET, CICM
Prefect Apostolic of the Mountain Province

(Sgd.)ENRIQUE EDERLIE, SVD
Prefect Apostolic of Mindoro

1  Judith 8:27.
2  Phil. 3:19.
3  Pius XI, Encycl. letter “Mens nostra,” Dec. 20, 1929.
4  Pius XI, Encycl. letter “Mens nostra,” Dec. 20, 1929.
5  Thomas Hood, “The Song of the Shirt.”
6  1 Cor. 10:22-23; 6:12.
7  Matth. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46.
8  Gen. 28:17.
9  Psalm 92:5
10  Gen. 4:4; Hebr. 11:4
11  Exod. 30:16
12  2 Cor. 9:7
13  1 Par. 29:9
14  1 Par. 29:14
15  Eccus. 35:14
16  Deut. 23:18
17  Matth. 6:1
18  Matth. 6:1
19  John 4:23-24
20  Exod. 20:14, 17; Deut. 5:18, 21.
21  Heb. 13:4
22  1 Cor. 3:17
23  Isaias 5:20
24  1 Thes. 4:7
25  1 Thes. 4:3
26  1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5
27  Matth. 6:33
28  Matth. 6:24
29  1 Tim. 6:10
30  James 4:1-4
31  Allocution to Cardinals, Dec. 24, 1930
32  Encyclical letter, “Quadragesimo anno,” May 15, 1931
33  Boletin Eclesiastico, Dec., 1938, pp. 790 ss.
34  Rom. 10:17
35  Pius XI, Encyclical letter “Ubi arcano Dei” Dec. 23, 1922.
36  Boletin Eclesiastico, Feb., 1925, pp. 105-108
37  Matth. 4:4; Luke 4:4
38  Matth. 4:8-10
39  Matth. 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25
40  Eccus. 3:27
41  John 14:27

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