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Love That Leads to Life July 14, 2019 Fifteenth Sunday  in  Ordinary Time Father Shawn Aaron, LC, Luke 10: 25-37 Th...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 31, 2019 – Let Christ’s Light Shine

Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest

Mark 4:21-25 

He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me today of my dignity as a Christian. By your grace in baptism and by your teaching in the gospels and in the Church, you have put light in my soul. Lord, you are my light.
Petition: Christ, help me to be a sincere witness of your light.
  1. Transparency in Our Lives: God sees us. This is a simple truth—an extremely powerful truth. God looks at us with love. We cannot hide from God. We cannot hide from ourselves. We cannot even hide from others. We need to live in the presence of God. God lets light shine on our lives so that we can see the truth about ourselves, and so that we need not be ashamed that others see the truth about who we are. True happiness is preserved and increased by the tenacious living of sincerity.
  1. Light for the World: Our life is not just for ourselves. We are called to be a gift for others, a gift that leads them to God. This is the greatest thing about our life: We are called to give life. We are called to participate in the fruitfulness of God. We give life by enlightening others. We help other people come to the light by trying sincerely to go clearly towards the light and by not fearing to show people the truth. The light shed by our lives produces a real effect in souls. Vatican II reminds us that modern man needs reasons for hope. A Christian carries hope. Will I keep it hidden; perhaps even kill it by being afraid to share it? Or will I let the world receive hope? Will I let the world see that we all can be much greater than we think because our Father is greater than we think?
  1. Standing up for the Light of Truth to Be Lived: Moral relativism seems to be the norm for our times. Many people think that they can decide what principles they will live by, instead of seeking to form their consciences by principles in accordance with God’s loving design for the human person. Am I content merely to follow what I know to be right, or do I also look to enlighten the consciences of others, prudently and charitably? Have I ever given the impression of condoning actions that are wrong? Do I take an interest in promoting the value of life in all of its stages? Am I courageous in nobly defending others when people criticize them behind their backs?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for this calling. You have given light to my soul so that I can be a light for others. Lord, help me to have confidence in the power of your light: the power of your truth and grace. Let me be brave enough to allow this light to penetrate my soul even more today. Let me be brave enough to not hide from your light; let me be brave enough to give it to others.
Resolution: I will  enlighten my conscience better about a point of our faith or morals by looking it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (It can be found on-line at http://www.vatican.va if needed).

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019 – Fertile Ground for the Harvest

Wednesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion he began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.’” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I want to spend these moments close to you. I believe that you are here with me. Take over my life more and more and make it what it was meant to be. Lord, I put my trust in you.
Petition: Jesus, make the soil of my heart open to your word, so that it will bear fruit for eternal life.
  1. A Sabotaged Plan: What the Father has planted in our lives is good. Goodness can bear fruit. But Christ has shown us that there is someone who does not want us to bear fruit. The devil tries to take goodness from our lives through enticing us with evil, filling our hearts with selfishness, and making us insensitive to the movements of grace in our soul. We need to renounce Satan every day by fixing our will on the goodness of Christ. This is done through sincere prayer and generosity of spirit.
  1. Make Your Furrows Deep: The strength of our resolve is tested by the difficulties we face. If we go deeper in our prayer each day and build up the habit of letting go of our own ego, we can face the bad times with peace and trust. When our spiritual roots are not deep, we find ourselves disoriented, even defeated by the tribulations that are part of an authentic Christian life. Christ teaches us to dig deep. With him as our friend, difficulties become a way to show our love and to do something that has eternal value. If I don’t fight, how can I merit a crown of victory?
  1. Docility, Not Passivity: In order to bear fruit we must be docile to God’s word. But being docile does not mean being passive. For a Christian, docility to Christ and the Holy Spirit means willingness to work and serve. We are followers of the One who came to serve. The Spirit that is self-surrender moves us. To hear the Word of God and accept it means to make our lives an imitation of Christ’s total self-giving—day in and day out. God will grant fruit to our lives if we are willing to be other Christs in the here and now.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for showing me how to bear fruit in my life. I want to imitate your self-surrender to the Father and to souls. I know that this requires a constant effort to go deep in my life and be docile to the Holy Spirit. Help me to live as a giver, not a taker. Your love will always be there to accompany me.
Resolution: Today I will offer up a small sacrifice to ask God for the grace of acquiring the virtue that I need the most.

Manila Bay clean-up: ‘Broken windows’ theory on a grand scale


IT is not an exaggeration to say that President Duterte’s dramatically termed “Battle for Manila Bay,” his grand project to clean up what has been the polluted-landscape symbol of the Philippines, will be a watershed in our nation’s history.
Its impact on our culture and institutions will go beyond simply the physical accomplishment of cleaning up the bay and its waterfront.
That area had been the Philippine version of the mythical Augean stables of ancient Greek legend; the cleaning of centuries of horse shit there seemed an impossible task until the demi-god Hercules did the job — cleverly rechanneling a nearby river to flow through it. (Duterte and Environment Secretary Frank Cimatu’s version of that: Get a wave of over 5,000 people to “flow” through it, and clean it up.)
One dimension of realizing the impact of this Duterte project would be in terms of the famous sociological and criminological “broken-windows” theory. First proposed in 1982 by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, the idea became renowned when the New York police head and Mayor Rudi Giuliani used it as their framework to restore peace and order in the metropolis that had become so crime-infested that mugging was a commonplace occurrence.

One of many similar comments on social media.

In simple terms, the theory says that “visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.” To change that situation, prevent those visible signs from being created.
Climate of lawlessness
The theory’s name is from the illustration that if a broken window in an abandoned building isn’t fixed fast, it would attract vandals to break its other windows. A building with all its windows broken would portray a climate of lawlessness, which would then create a culture of impunity in the area, so that more and more crimes will occur.
The theory says that it is not only fear of police enforcement that prevents people from committing crimes. People look for signals in their environment on how they would behave. If an environment is filled with things that suggest criminal or anti-social behavior — windows shattered by rocks, graffiti, and litter — people would be emboldened to commit not just similar crimes, but even worse.
The cesspool that Manila Bay had become, starting roughly in the 1960s, has been a colossal, feces-filled building with broken windows. What made it so is a microcosm of almost everything that’s gone wrong in our nation.
We have a capitalist class with no sense of responsibility to the community they live in and generate their profits from. It is not just the restaurants along the bay (one of which is reportedly the famous Aristocrat restaurant owned by the family of Sen. Bam Aquino’s wife) that polluted it.
The filth also came from the numerous factories and squatters along the Pasig River that had been discharging their wastes there which eventually end up in the Bay.
Corrupt political class
We have a political class that is not just incompetent but corrupted by our kind of capitalists. Those enterprises polluting the Pasig River and Manila Bay would have been closed overnight with the power of city governments to issue business and even sanitary permits. But they weren’t, for millions of reasons of course.
It is not just graft money that has made our political class look away from the hideous picture of a bay world-famous for its sunset that had become a cesspool. The urban poor squatters along the Pasig River who throw their wastes there that end up in the bay are there because mayors and other politicians protect them, since they have made these communities their electoral bases that deliver the crucial votes on election day.
It is a condemnation of our political system that the capital of the country, the City of Manila, has been governed by mayors who proved to be either incompetent or corrupt that they have allowed its bay to be turned into a cesspool. Manila even has a mayor who is a former President of the Republic, whose popularity and therefore political base has been enormous yet who hasn’t lifted a finger to clean up Manila Bay.
A clean Manila Bay with clear waters, without squatters and petty criminals, will create a culture of peace and order and of responsibility to the community we live in. It will have a chain effect on the things that the nation needs to clean up – the esteros of Chinatown that have become garbage dumps, the whole length of the Pasig River and its estuaries, the squatter areas along the river.
More importantly perhaps, this drive to clean up “things” will evolve into cleaning up our institutions. Indeed, the histories of societies involved a single precedent, which was then replicated.
As corrupt before
The US bureaucracy was as corrupt as any developing nation before. The reform of its Department of Agriculture which had been notorious in its corruption due its power to give subsidies to farmers. was the precedent that led to the anti-graft campaigns in most of its other federal departments.
Hong Kong’s bureaucracy in the 1960s was also a graft-ridden one. It was the cleanup of its police department in the late 1970s by a newly established Independent Commission Against Corruption (funded by income from its world-renowned horse races) that became a precedent for the transformation of its entire bureaucracy into a graft-free and efficient machine.
The following are from my book Debunked*:
“Note the following descriptions by scholars:
— ‘Patronage-oriented political parties and free-spending corruption dominated…’ ‘The political system consisted of a ‘distinctive complex of a weak national administration, divided and fragmentary public authority, and non-programmatic political parties.’
— ‘The nation-state had a weak hold on the imagination and consciousness of a people who were now forced to think of them as one community. Most identified themselves with their province of birth, not with the nation.’
Apt descriptions of the Philippines today these may be, but these referred to different countries. The first described the USA in the 1930s. The second described Italy in the 1920s. Yet these two countries were able to build strong nation-states within a generation.”
For the sake of our children’s children, I hope Duterte does build a strong nation-state. Wouldn’t it be dramatic if the Manila Bay clean-up signals the start of such a strong Republic?
*Available at National and Popular book stores, and amazon.com
Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Archives at: www.rigobertotiglao.com


Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Opposition bets for Election 2019 further DOOMED following successful Manila Bay Clean-up

January 29, 2019 - by benign0

The successful clean-up of Manila Bay has certainly created a lot of buzz online and, very likely, a publicity bonanza over traditional media channels. There is the question, of course, of on-going maintenance — the spotty record of which is something Filipinos are renowned for. Nonetheless, an abundance of photos, memes, and testimonials are making the rounds on the Net and the results will likely be felt in the remaining months leading to this year’s congressional elections.
Normally, the Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) will have lots of negativity to serve as fodder for their sneers at what they will regard as a mere stunt to “distract” from, guess what, the “tyranny” of the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. This time, however, the Opposition seems to have yet again been stunned into a deafening silence — a silence that sounds like the one beheld following the opening of Boracay Island after a similar “clean-up”. Who, after all, would dare criticise an initiative that had created the sort of buzz delivered by this and the previous Boracay project? That’d be political suicide — specially in the midst of a campaign on a critical election year.

Say what one will, but both the Boracay and Manila Bay clean-up projects made Duterte look good. Oh yeah, and those beaches too (yes, Manila Bay has a beach)! There is, of course, lots to quibble over — that these may all be publicity stunts to distract the population from the usual stuff Opposition “influencers” shriek about, that this does nothing to “address” the “plight” of the “poor”, that Big Bad Corporations continue to maintain contract workers. Blah blah blah. But, see, politicians are only as good as the seats in government that they win. You may, for example, be the “good” former Solicitor General who grew up in ihc-ihc kadiri-to-death Tondo. But if you are unable to win an election your “goodness” is worth jack squat.
Filipinos signed up to this system — the popularity contest that is Pinoy-style democracy executed pursuant to the 1987 Yellowtard Constitution. Filipino leaders and representatives are not Academy Award winners chosen by an esteemed team of scholars. Nor are they Golden Globe Awardees chosen by a body of those media types. Filipino execs and reps are People’s Choice Awardees — selected for their chops at attracting the popular sentiment and the raw numbers at the polls.

It is all a win-win. Boracay and Manila Bay are visible national artifacts that one — regardless of political affiliation — cannot help but marvel at now that their respective beauties shine through. These and other ways the incumbent administration has captured the hearts of the broader Filipino public exhibit virtuouso winning strategies at play. On the other side of this spectrum of competence — the losing side — is one that makes use of exclusive rhetoric as only the Yellowtards can deliver. The Yellowtards have doomed the Opposition thanks to their obsolete “good” versus “evil” polarisation of their audience, the blatantly intelligence-insulting inconsistency and hypocrisy in their messaging, their foolish latching onto a relic of medieval aristocracy that the Roman Catholic Church had become, and the uppity way that they mouth notions like “human rights” and “equality” that are hopelessly abstract to the average Filipino voter.
It turns out, the astounding loss of an entire nation on the back of Yellowtard rhetoric in 2016 was just Phase 1 of what is looking like a three-phase phase out — no, eradication — of the Yellowtard narrative. Phase 2 will be the crushing of all remaining semblance of Yellowtard presence in the Senate. Phase 3, if the political trajectory is maintained, will be the long-overdue junking of the 1987 Yellowtard Constitution and the dawn of a new epoch in Philippine politics.
All this could be gleaned from the genius behind the Boracay and Manila Bay clean-up initiatives as well as the sniper-like consistency with which the Duterte government has so far remained on-point with its campaign promises. Indeed, these were no secret weapons nor strategies that require rocket scientists to implement. The lessons were all for the taking. The only thing that prevented the Yellowtards from picking up and running with these abundant lessons is their fatal arrogance, their regimented inbred thinking, and their shallow bench of sophomoric bloggers, attack “journalists”, and wet-behind-the-ears “thought leaders”.

About benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.


Fake News Crybabies have TAKEN OVER social media!

January 27, 2019 - by benign0

“Fake news” is nothing new. Attempts to mislead people on a large scale have been around as long as human civilisation itself. A branch of this axis of disinformation — advertising — has become a legitimate billion dollar industry. Indeed, smoking, for example, was made cool on the back of this industry for decades before the scientific truth about smoking caught up.
When the truth about the fatal health effects of smoking emerged, the tobacco industry paid dearly. But, guess what: the advertising industry got away scott free without even a slap on the wrist.
There is a reason the 21st Century notion of “fake news” became the trendy “activist” outrage fad that it is today — because social media’s spurned lover, corporate mainstream media, put it up as the modern day “Satan” against which today’s righteousness flock are obliged to rail against.

What has happened is that Big Corporate Media’s travesties have since been buried under a mountain of “fake news” hysteria. The fact is, the falsehoods propagated by so-called “journalists” have caused far more damage to society than “fake news” ever will. Whereas the arbitrary lot who are presumed to fall within the blanket “fake news” accusations of these “activists” of “press freedom” compete for dominance as free agents in the free market of ideas, the chi chi oligarchs who own today’s Big Corporate Media organisations are in a desperate frenzy pulling authority, citing rank and credentials, and deferring to their “institutional” place in society to prop up the remaining semblance of relevance they enjoy within their little cliques.
We can see today how every other item on the social media feeds of politically-attuned Netizens involve some form of gripe over the “proliferation” of “fake news” coming from a who’s-who of “thought leaders”. What is missing, however, is a wherewithal to compete. Rather than step up to the battlefield with bigger and better guns, Mainstream Media have opted for the Victim Card and be the pathetic crybabies that they are today.

Indeed, it is evident today that the beleaguered traditional news media industry are banding together into victim support groups. Look no further beyond the way TIME Magazine have gathered together a band of these victim cardholders to lionise on their quaint “Persons of the Year” pedestal. All of them “journalists”. All of them are either employed or partnered with or otherwise colluding in some way with industry captains.
Only healthy and competitive discourse on social media (the way, ironically, many early social media “experts” trumpeted it as) or any other platform where anyone can get up upon and speak her mind, will prevail as the most efficient and non-biased means to tease out the truth. It’s messy, yes. Noisy, yes. But the alternative is a landscape dominated by self-described “fact checkers” who owe allegiance not to the spirit of free inquiry but to oligarchs who know nothing beyond furthering their personal and clan agendas to the extent of branding these as the straight and “righteous” paths.
It’s time real people take back the discourse and speak their minds — speak their minds as competitors in a free market and not as the pitiful crybabies traditional “activists” have become.

About benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.


A conspiracy of tolerance


THE vigor by which Robert Mueller goes after people who may have tainted the US 2016 presidential election, notwithstanding the fact that these are people very close to US President Donald Trump, can easily mesmerize any political observer. The boldness acquires impressive levels when it appears that the process doesn’t spare even Trump himself. To date, some like Michael Cohen have even been convicted and sentenced to serve jail terms. And the fact that the issues surrounding the controversy are not even on matters directly involved in the conduct of the elections, but instead are anomalies related to the Trump campaign and the role that Russia allegedly played in it, should further impress us.

And you contrast that with what has happened in our country in relation to the conduct of our own 2016 elections, and you won’t have any choice but to gnash your teeth and weep. We have a congress that initially wanted to acquit former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andy Bautista from being impeached on counts of unexplained wealth, some of which bore evidence of somewhat being election-related. It has been revealed that there are documents suggesting that Bautista had links to Smartmatic, the chosen service provider for the automated election, and which may have even involved some monetary consideration. This was revealed while an election protest filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo is being heard, where allegations have been made about massive fraud ranging from the conventional methods of pre-shading ballots and tampering with election paraphernalia to the more sophisticated possible tampering with scripts and algorithms.

Eventually, Andy Bautista was impeached by the House of Representatives in a dramatic reversal of the recommendations of its justice committee, even as some Smartmatic personnel were also indicted, leading to a live ongoing case against them stemming from the tampering of scripts done by Venezuelan national Marlon Garcia on election night.

But then Bautista and Garcia are nowhere to be found, having apparently left the country even if their possible knowledge and/or involvement in fraud remains unresolved. Congress and the courts appear to be clueless and helpless, unable to take hold of these two men to provide relevant information that can shed light on the allegations of fraud that marred the 2016 elections.

Worse, the Comelec has retained Smartmatic as the service provider for the 2019 midterms, without any objections from any sitting member of Congress, or even from the President himself.

And the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) composed of senators and representatives tasked to review the conduct of the automated elections, and to ensure that the law is followed and that elections are clean, honest and credible, despite being presented with compelling evidence and testimonies not only from losing politicians but from election watchdogs and experts, appears toothless.

Worse, it was even obvious on several occasions that there was an attempt, though unsuccessful, to stifle the testimony of anti-election fraud crusader Glenn Chong. There was also an attempt to hold executive sessions on matters that are supposed to be transparent, the conduct of which was fortunately outed by an eager commissioner who tweeted and posted a picture while the meeting was being held. It behooves us to ask how anything remotely related to the conduct of elections, the cornerstone of our democratic processes, could be held away from the public view. How can an oversight committee allow this to happen?

But apparently, it is no longer surprising. The Comelec has changed the minimum threshold for shading ballot ovals not only once but twice without informing the public and the parties concerned. And this was even countenanced by no less than the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on the protest of Marcos against Robredo.

Had the killing of Chong’s personal assistant Richard Santillan happened in the US, the FBI would have been mobilized by now to look into a possible link to election fraud. But not in our country. And yet we call ourselves a democracy.

A democracy is what is happening in the US, where at least institutions work. There, the political opposition, the Democrats, perform their jobs as a necessary check and balance to the powers of the Republicans in the White House and in Congress. The legal process does not rely only on ballot recounts to overturn election results, but goes after people who may have tainted the electoral process. The system works there, where special counsels are not intimidated to investigate the conduct even of people close to the White House.

It would be nice if the vigor the political opposition shows in calling out President Duterte every step of the way can be matched by their own vigor in castigating him for allowing Andy Bautista to simply fly away, or to call out Comelec for sitting on the job, or denounce their own colleagues in the JCOC for not doing enough, or to demand that Smartmatic be fired.

But how can the Liberal Party, and their allies in the political opposition, even dare raise these issues when the possible beneficiary of the biggest election fraud in our country’s political history is one of them. How can they even object to Smartmatic when it is a child of their own time in government, and from where many of them probably benefited?

If there is one person from which we should demand action to take the lead in cleaning up our elections, it would be the President himself.

President Duterte rode on the image of change, and he promised to sweep our political landscape of corruption. Electoral fraud is definitely the worst corruption of all, since it undermines the very foundation of our democracy. It is understandable if we do not hear anything from the political opposition on the issue of electoral fraud. But one has to keep asking and wondering why the President has not come out swinging, with his usual air of bravado, cursing and all, against election cheats, with the same level of colorful language that he uses against the bishops and the Catholic Church. It behooves us to ask why, given the opportunity, he did not appoint reformists in the Comelec.

The President has focused his ire on criminality and drugs with so much precision and vigor on the argument that they eat away the moral fiber of the Republic. But it must be argued that election fraud is a worse crime against the Republic, for it does not devour its victims selectively, but inflicts itself on all of us. The President turned juvenile delinquency into a crisis even if data shows otherwise. Much rancor has been created and our political capital has been eroded by focusing only on the 2 percent of the totality of offenses attributed to children. This, even as his stance towards election-related controversies remains tepid at best.

We see people who keep on condemning election anomalies while they accuse Robredo of electoral fraud, but won’t call out the President to pressure him to be a leader in cleaning up the mess. That is how much they worship him. We have a President with phenomenal trust and approval ratings, who can take on anyone, even God Himself. If only he can spare some of his cursing, and aim it towards the election cheats and fraudsters.


January 29, 2019 – Stronger Than Blood

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 3:31-35

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Introductory Prayer: Today I want to encounter you as a friend and brother, Lord. I believe that you want to encounter me and transform me. Thank you for working in my heart, calling me to a deeper identification with you. I trust that you will lead me along paths of growth and fruitfulness.
Petition:  Lord, help me to put my will in conformity with yours.
  1. Maybe He Needs a Break: Jesus was very busy. Perhaps he was tired. Perhaps his mother arrived to give him a bit of food or a word of encouragement. But we find in today’s Gospel a Christ who is strong. He has strengthened himself through intimate contact with the Father. He has filled his heart with a love for souls. He finds nourishment in doing the Father’s will. Surely his mother was encouraged by what she found. Do I let the will of God be my strength? Does prayer transform me to the point where charity and evangelization become my natural way of being?
  1. Closeness for the Right Reason: As Jesus taught and healed, people were naturally attracted to him. Yet simply being physically close to him did not count. One had to open one’s heart to receive his message of conversion. He was looking to transform people, to make them capable of living as sons and daughters of God. If I am willing to learn Jesus’ standards and act as he does, then I can be close to him. He will allow me into his intimacy if I make God’s will mine.
  1. Accompanying Christ: There is a mysterious reality here. I can actually bring consolation to Christ’s heart. I can accompany him on his divine mission. I must be willing to renounce my will and do only the will of the Father. Can Christ point to me and say, “He is my brother; she is my sister; she is my mother”? I must look at my life and see what is not in conformity to his will. I must make a firm resolution to show my faith and love in the very thing that is most difficult for me.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you give me this short life in order to become part of your family. I want to make the Father’s will my own as you did. Help me to put God’s will above everything else, so that it becomes what I most deeply desire. Then I will truly be yours.
Resolution: Today I will make an act of charity towards someone with whom I find it difficult to get along.

Malcolm is a little unwell: The story of a deadly yellow fever vaccine

by Natasha De Sousa      January 8, 2019

A journalist for 43 years, Malcolm Brabant has been in war zones, unharmed, with bombs going off around him, however one little jab of Stamaril, a yellow fever vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, almost killed him.
It has been 8 years since Malcolm Brabant, a BBC foreign correspondent for over 30 years and a multi award-winning journalist was shot with a vaccine that made his head spin, sending him into a dark abyss of psychosis, to a secure psychiatric ward in hospital for 15 months.

Malcolm Brabant, Trine Villeman and son Lukas at Cambridge Film Festival

The News Tribe contacted Malcolm in the UK to talk about his extraordinary story, which is due to be released in a hair-raising documentary filmed by himself and his wife Trine Villeman, also a journalist, during his struggle with the vaccine imposed madness.
The vaccine was a requirement to go into West Africa, for an assignment commissioned by UNICEF to do a series of films on child soldiers.
“I was given the vaccination at a clinic in Athens. I was told by the nurse that I might experience flu like symptoms but nothing worse. Within eighteen hours of receiving the shot, I was burning up. For thirteen days, my temperature was consistently around the 40-degree centigrade mark. The doctors were unable to bring down the fever. I was unable to sleep. According to the doctor treating me, the live virus in the vaccine caused the fever, which led to the psychosis.” Malcolm recalls.
Many of us cannot comprehend what it would mean to suddenly go insane. We asked him to describe some of the darkest moments of the nightmare that even his 12-year-old son Lukas had to witness.
“Initially I thought I was Christ. I could hear voices of my friends who had died tragically covering the Siege in Sarajevo with me. They were giving me instructions to prove that I was the Messiah. They ‘made me’ drink my own urine, clean my teeth with a toilet brush. They even told me to eat my own excrement, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I made my wife dress me in a sheet like a loin cloth so I could look like Christ,” Malcolm explained. An agnostic in his beliefs, this was totally out of character for him.

Malcolm Brabant and Trine Villeman at hospital

“Six months after receiving the vaccine, the madness flipped from the euphoric mania of believing I was Christ, to the depression of being convinced I was the Devil. This was the most painful period. I was convinced that my transition to being Lucifer had condemned my family to death. The depression was so deep at this stage that it almost killed me. The mental health professionals were powerless to stop my decline. At one stage, I was convinced that the Devil had impregnated me and that I was going to give birth to his child. Just before New Year’s Eve in 2011, I started hearing voices telling me that the world was going to end at midnight, and the only way I could save the world and my family was to kill myself. So, I tried to hang myself with a shoelace in secure ward 811 of Copenhagen’s main psychiatric hospital. But a nurse came in and found me, and I was sedated and placed under guard,” Malcom said while speaking to The News Tribe.
As Malcolm’s insanity took over their lives, Trine had to hold the family fort. “I still cannot find the words to describe what it was like watching my once healthy and robust husband disintegrate mentally before my very eyes. Having worked on the documentary, I have at times been overcome by profound sadness, almost like a physical pain, when I had to re-visit that desperate time in our life. And the scene in the documentary where Lukas witnesses Malcolm’s psychotic collapse is still very, very hard for me to get through. I cry every time I watch it.”
Trine also investigated the vaccine, and found it came from a faulty batch. The World Health Organization, born to protect consumer health and supposedly to document adverse events involving medication, did not offer her much information except that over a 10-year period there were more than 400 cases of mental problems resulting from the Stamaril vaccine. None from Africa, suggesting that there were no measures in place to document vaccine accidents there.
Sanofi Pasteur the vaccine manufacturer took no responsibility for Malcolm’s descent into insanity, despite extremely well documented evidence. “From the very first to the very last doctor involved in my husband’s care, they have all stated that the vaccine caused my husband’s psychosis. We have shared his medical records with the vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur and yet they continue to hide behind carefully worded statements and won’t even meet with us,” Trine said with anger.
Their struggle is more than just a show of strength and resilience, it is an inspirational love story. “My love for my husband, and the fury that no one would take responsibility for what happened to him, made me furious, and kept me going on days when Malcolm was sitting in a locked-up secure psychiatric ward rocking back and forth insisting that he was the Devil.”
Though Malcolm has completely recovered and back to himself again, Trine and Lukas are still mentally and emotionally shaken by the episode and are still suffering. “I dare not look forward to anything anymore and Lukas is still not ready to talk about his mental health. I do hope that the film helps to de-stigmatize mental illness.”
Malcolm hopes the film will inspire people to fight against overwhelming odds and to embarrass Sanofi Pasteur into investigating the fault with the yellow fever vaccine and correcting it.
The film Malcolm is a little unwell, will be available for download on iTunes on the 8th of January.

Monday, January 28, 2019

January 28, 2019 – Identity Confusion

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Mark 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are the source of all goodness. I know that your goodness is both a challenge and a promise. I trust that your goodness will envelop me if I allow myself to be found by you. I love you for wanting to fight the battle against evil for my sake.
Petition: Lord, help me not to be afraid of the battle against evil.
  1. Not Indifferent: With Jesus on earth, another world becomes evident around us: the world of evil spirits. Jesus has come to take control of the kingdom. The devils are in a panic and begin to lose ground. Jesus is a threat to evil. His goodness, truth and holiness are capable of putting the devils into submission. When Christ takes a stronger hold on my life, things begin to change. Do I let Christ challenge evil in my heart? In the world around me?
  1. Not One of Them Jesus brings change: But change is not evil per se. The change that Jesus brings is good, since he comes to put demons in their place, bringing about good. This awakening of the good worries the devil. The conquest over evil is not always done in peace and tranquility. Does the spiritual opposition I face as I try to overcome evil in my life cause me to hesitate in the fight or to wish that Jesus and his teachings would not be so demanding? Do I realize that facing difficulties is a sign of growth in Christian authenticity? Do I let the goodness of Christ radically define my life? Even in the face of opposition?
  1. Only Good: Think of the joy that people experienced when Jesus freed them from the power of the Evil One. Think of the joy we feel after making a good confession, attending a good retreat or progressing in virtue. Jesus comes into our life to bring the joy of freedom from evil. He is God’s goodness made flesh. Do I rejoice to have Christ as my friend? Do I try to listen to his teachings with a willing heart, thankful for the chance I have to abide in God’s heart by living the life of grace? What an amazing friend I have! I can trust in his power to lead me along the path of life.
Conversation with Christ: Christ, I know that you are more powerful than evil. Help me to face up to evil in my life, encouraged by your friendship and strength. In your name Lord, I will walk with confidence.
Resolution: I will do something to share my faith with others today.