Friday, March 26, 2010

Temporal Background of the Church in the Philippines

Part I

Temporal Background of the Church in the Philippines

The Church in the Philippines is essentially one that proves itself to be another attempt at proving the mission of the Roman Catholic Church to save mankind. Christ instructed his apostles to, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The temporal events that led to the foundation of the Church in the Philippines greatly highlight the divine purpose of every action in the world. From the monarchs to the individual efforts, it is clearly seen that the Hand of God is at work in bringing all men to salvation. The events that transpired in Europe prior to this century all contributed to the definitive moment when the Church would be introduced into a new culture in the Pacific. With the 333 years of Spanish occupation, the Filipinos imbibed many characteristics and virtues that now define who they are; the most significant contribution would definitely be the foundation of the Faith in the Philippine Archipelago.

Spain and Portugal

Spain thrived from the 15th to 17th century, undergoing its golden age first under Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille. Spain was able to establish colonies outside of Europe, establish a permanent military force, and establish a one-currency system. Much of its intellectual life flourished. Spain earned world recognition as a center of learning, literature, and art, as several of Europe’s leading universities were in Spain. Support from the king, church, and nobles stimulated creative work. Different universities in Spain became well-known such as the University of Salamanca in central Spain which was at the forefront in the new fields of economic and political theory and the University of Alcala, founded by Isabella I, which became a center of Renaissance scholarship on the Bible.

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spices and other fine goods to the Mediterranean. Tied to these expansionist aims were the aspirations of Portuguese kings to spread Christianity and extend the crusade against Muslims.

Spain and Portugal, which are neighbor countries and were both capable world powers at that time, had always disputed over territories in the world. Both engaged in exploration, aiming to expand their influence and their territorial ground. Also, in their different voyages and endeavors to trade, they also competed in terms of wealth. Spain and Portugal’s rivalry later on resulted to the formation of the Line of Demarcation and the Treaty of Tordesillas (which will be discussed later on).

On May 4, 1493, a boundary was established by Pope Alexander VI to define the spheres of Spanish and Portuguese possessions in the New World. This line, which was called the Line of Demarcation, ran due north and south 100 leagues (about 483 km/about 300 mi) west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. Lands east of this line were to belong to Portugal while all those to the west to Spain.

Due to the dissatisfaction of Portugal with the agreement, a new treaty between Spain and Portugal

Line of Demarcation

Portugal was established. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas provided a new line of demarcation. This line, which was sanctioned by Pope Julius II in 1506, was set 370 leagues (about 1770 km/about 1110 mi) west of the Cape of Verde Islands. As a result of this change, Brazil became a Portuguese possession. The Line of Demarcation, and all agreements based on it, were abrogated in 1750 by a treaty settling a dispute over the southwestern boundary of Brazil. The 1750 treaty was in turn abrogated in 1761. Further disputes between the two countries were settled by a new treaty in 1779.

Philip II of Spain

Philip II of Spain was the king of Spain for whom, the Philippines was named after. Philip was born in Valladolid, and was the son of Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. He was a great king who led Spain into its golden age during his reign. Philip, along with his wife, Isabella, funded the famous voyage of Magellan and thus he contributed to the first circumnavigation of the world. The voyage which he funded paved the way for the discovery of the Philippines and therefore aided in establishing the Faith in the colony.

Philip II was the King of both Spain and Portugal; due to this he was essentially king of the Iberian Peninsula and was the king when he brought this empire to its highest points in history. Philip came into conflict with England and he sent his Invincible Armada to attack the forces of the then monarch, Elizabeth I. However due to some natural and temporal causes, he was defeated and the armada was destroyed. Philip owed much to his father who firmly established the good nature of their family’s rule; but this image was tainted after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Philip was a devout Catholic who sought to suppress all forms of heresy and moved to firmly establish Catholicism in Spain and his colonies. This devotion to the Faith contributed to the evangelization of the Philippine Islands. However, Philip came into conflict with the papacy despite his firm devotion; his relation to the pope was something to be desired due to the fact that the Pope then feared the growing Spanish power.

Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to have landed in the Philippines. However he claimed the new land in the name of Spain because Portugal did not support his voyage to the Spice Islands. This journey was meant to circle the globe; unfortunately, Magellan never made it but his expedition continued even after his death. Through his journey he set foot in the Philippine islands and was killed in the Battle of Mactan against the Filipino Datu Lapu-Lapu. Magellan’s discovery of the Philippines started the Spanish conquest of the Philippines for more then three hundred years. During these years the Philippines changed drastically and one positive effect was the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines.

Magellan is mistakenly credited all over the world as the first person to circumnavigate the world as he did not really circumnavigate the world due to his death in the Battle of Mactan; his involvement was only such that he led the said expedition before his death. The journey was simple task; many of his men were sick and hungry and had to fight many undesirable factors in the sea, particularly on the journey back to Spain. The journey began with five ships sailing and towards the end, only one was left.

The Mass held on the Shores of Masao

Right after the arrival of Magellan, he befriended the locals and the Raja of Cebu in order for him to spread and convert as many of them as possible to the Catholic faith. Magellan and his crew used ways in influencing the natives, and one of the ways that they used was that to celebrate Holy Mass in the place. This was also a good reason for the crew of Magellan and Magellan himself to celebrate mass because they were guided by God through the horrific and dangerous threats of the seas throughout the voyage. Through this mass, the natives, including the Raja himself, were impressed and were very diligent in the new culture and religion they have learned from the crew.

To make this new friendship and relation official, Magellan and the Raja made a Sanduguan in order to honor the each other and also it was a form of showing respect by Magellan to the natives. A sanduguan is a local ritual that was common at that time and it was done with two or more parties that show their respect to the agreement they made by exchanging their ‘blood vows’.

Monument in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Philippines.

The Legazpi Expedition

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was a faithful and noble voyager who was under the Spanish king. Since he was a well experienced explorer and voyager, he was entrusted by the king to explore and conquer land to enhance the life style and economic status of Spain. The spread of the Catholic faith was also relevant to this event. As the Spaniards befriended the locals and Rajas, there influence grew and soon the locals started to see light in the new ideas that they have learned from them. Along with Legazpi’s journey, he encountered many leaders or Rajas who wanted to learn more about the innovative ideas that they have brought with them and so a bond between them began to unfold. The Spaniards gave gifts to the members of the Royals and in exchange, the local’s traded valuable materials such as Herbs and Spices.

He also brought with him five Augustinian fathers who taught the natives and locals encounters about the faith and due to this they are to be considered missionaries as they spread the word of God through their voyages and explorations with the crew and Legazpi. Legazpi was respected by the people he meet because he was a kind person who helped them in ways that he is able to do so. In order to show respect for the Rajas he met, he offered them reasonable and manageable things such us protection and in return they offered their lands to the Spanish king.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

As far as religious matters are concerned, the Catholic faith spread across the Philippines through the Spaniards who invaded and influenced the tribesmen to regard the Catholic Faith as their belief. Trade between the two sides started due to the bond between Spain and the tribes that the Spaniards influenced and because of this event, they were able to develop as a people through the new ideas that they have learned.

Formal Occupation of the Spaniards

Following the previous expeditions of the Spaniards to the Philippine Islands, the new territory attracted the Europeans to establish their new colony in the Pacific in order to exhaust it of its wealth and of its resources; both natural and human. On April 27 1565, the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in the Philippine Archipelago with a force of five-hundred soldiers to conquer the natives who had attracted much attention in Spain. With the new desire for lands and wealth, the Spanish monarch sent an expedition led by Legazpi to conquer the Filipino natives. Despite the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the invasion of Legazpi marked what is known as the formal occupation of the Spaniards in the Philippines.

Upon arriving, Miguel Legazpi came into conflict with Rajah Tupas, the son of Rajah Humabon who was formerly the ally of Ferdinand Magellan. The conflict with the tribal head led to the defeat of the natives and the occupation of the Spaniards in that area of the Philippines. After the conflict with the Rajah, Legazpi moved even further into the mainland with his forces and succeeded in conquering the neighboring tribes with his

Intramuros. “Walled City”

armed force that possessed superiorly advanced technology to that of the Filipino natives. After defeating another tribal head, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi occupied a settlement which came to be known as Manila. After some time of his occupation, he transferred the capital of the Philippine colony from Cebu to Manila bringing with him the Augustinian friars that accompanied his journey and establishing the Philippines as part of another diocese belonging to Mexico.

During this formal occupation, the Spaniards did not allow the new colony to have direct trade with the Spanish Mainland. Towards this, the Philippines came into direct contact with Mexico, the other prominent Spanish colony wherein the Catholic Faith is pre-dominant. The relationship of the Philippines to Spain enhanced the presence of the Catholic Faith in the new colony and thus led to the further spread of the Faith. The presence of both soldiers and clergymen in the formal occupation allowed the efficient occupation of most of the archipelago by the Spaniards.

Crux et Gladius

The occupation of the Spaniards in the Philippine Archipelago brought about the conversion of many Filipino natives to the Roman Catholic Faith. As the European settlers brought with them not only soldiers but also priests and friars, it is understandable that the conquest of the colony was not only a matter of strength of arms but also of strength of Faith. It is such that the Spaniards were able to conquer the archipelago through the Crux and the Gladius, the Cross and the Sword. The sword symbolizes the military power of the Spaniards and the Cross the missionary work of the religious orders that came along with the expedition. Through these combined efforts, the Spaniards firmly established their rule in the Philippines.

A prominent example of the effort exerted to promote the Cross is that of Fr. Juan de Placencia, a Franciscan missionary who transliterated the Roman characters in the Christian doctrine into Baybayin characters so that the native Filipinos could better adjust to the teachings presented. The Society of Jesus also spared no effort in their missionary efforts; Fr. Antonio Sedeña helped to establish the Colegio de Manila which eventually became the Universidad de San Ignacio, the first pontifical and royal university in the country. Another important religious order that firmly established the importance of religion was the Dominican Order who established the University of Santo Tomas, which is credited as the university having the oldest extant charter in the whole Philippines.

Relations With Mexico

Spanish Galleon docked at bay

The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico is led by their Mexican Episcopal Conference. They also built a Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady which was built by Martin Casillas. This shows us that Mexico and Philippines is Catholic also because both countries have cathedrals and they continue to believe in Catholicism.

The being part of the diocese of Mexico gave a relationship with the Philippines when Pope John Paul III established a diocese in Mexico. With this establishment it continued to spread to other parts of Mexico like North Mexico where Pope Paul V established. As to them they do not see money to find happiness and they are responsible with their administration to other people. They also have pastoral care which they give food to other people.

Portrait of Martin Casillas

The Government of Church and State

The Government of Church and State implies the direct relationship between the State and the State Religion. During the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, the Church held more authority than any government official as the officials feared the act of God. It became such that friars and clergymen controlled the government officials who ran the colony. The direct involvement of the Church in state affairs was not only evident during this particular period in time; it had been observed in other countries in the previous centuries and as it went, history repeated itself.

The Church in the Philippines then was given her authority in the archipelago by the monarch of Spain. Spain was then a Catholic country led by Catholic rulers and therefore the influence of the monarchs would be felt in the colonies. The Spanish King also wanted to assure that what was happening in the colony was according to his wishes and so he put men who were supposed to be morally upright in character to watch over his new colony.

The present-day implications of the Government of Church and State are evident in the Philippines today. Although there is a separation of powers, the Church still holds a very influential grip in Philippine politics, as will be discussed later on in this chapter. This effect is the result of the 333-year rule of the Spaniards and today, the Philippines still feels the Church is a growing institution in the country.


Through the temporal background of the Church in the Philippines, one would be able to determine that all the acts of men are truly related to the mission of salvation. All men have a part in the establishing of the Faith and all have a hand in leading others to the saving grace of God. The presence of the Spaniards in the Philppines was by no mere coincidence; as was mentioned, the Philippines should have rightfully been in the territory of the Portuguese however through some divine intervention, the country was put under the Catholic Spain. This ought to truly serve as concrete examples of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men.

Map of Magellan’s Around the World Voyage, 1519 – 1521

Study Questions

  1. Who were the Spanish monarchs that funded the voyage of Magellan in 1521?

  2. Which Pope divided the world between Spain and Portugal in the year 1493? Which other Pope sanctioned a new line to be drawn in 1506?

  3. What university is credited as having the oldest extant charter in the Philippines? What religious group founded this school?

  4. What is the given date for the Formal Occupation of the Spaniards in the Philippines?

Practical Exercises

1. Do you believe that the presence of the Spaniards in the Philippines brought absolute good to the country by establishing the Roman Catholic Faith? Are all their actions justified because they claimed that they did everything in the name of God? If you were a native living in the Islands during this time, would you have easily accepted the Roman Catholic Faith? Draw a table listing the pros and the cons regarding the presence of the Spanish conquerors in the Philippines and the religion that they brought with them.

2. Write a reflection regarding the implications of having a Catholic background to the present-day situation of the Philippines. What are the Catholic practices that define a Filipino? How are the ideals presented by the Church reflected in the Filipino society? Is the presence of the Church in the Philippines absolutely essential to salvation?

From the Catechism

The evangelization of the Philippines is a concrete Catholic response to Christ’s command to, “make disciples of all nations”. The purpose of which is highlighted by the very words of Christ.

849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men":339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340

The colonization of the Philippines and the events that led to it are clear manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit as the leader of the missionary work. The precise actions of men that led to the discovery, colonization, and evangelization of the Philippine Archipelago are more than obvious signs of the very act of God.

852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347


Agoncillo, Teodoro A. Kasaysayan ng Bayang Pilipino. City of Manila:

Navotes Press, 1981. and wikipedia


Arbilo; Joseph Michael, N.

Sub-Sections: Spain and Portugal; Line of Demarcation

Study Questions 1 and 2

Practical Exercise 2

Barzaga; Arnold Dominic, A.

Sub-Sections: Formal Occupation of the Spaniards; Crux et Gladius

Practical Exercise 1

Study Question 3

Significance of Catechisms 1 and 2

Introduction and Conclusion

Ceballos; Andre Paolo, T.

Sub-Sections: The Mass held on the Shores of Masao; The Legazpi



Montemayor; Juan Miguel, __.

Sub-Sections: Philip II of Spain; Ferdinand Magellan


Manabat; Peter Josemaria, G.

Sub-Sections: Relations with Mexico; The Government of Church and



Study Question 4

Answers to Study Questions (Part I)

  1. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille

  2. Pope Alexander VI; Pope Julius II

  3. University of Santo Tomas; Dominican Order

  4. April 27, 1565

Lay Ecclesial Movements

Lay Ecclesial Movements

This section of the book discusses the differing lay ecclesiastical movements that spread in the Philippines during the 20th century. Although many members of society may assume that there is a large lack of lay ecclesiastical movements in the country, this is actually quite far from the truth as the Philippines, being a mostly Catholic country, does have many of these movements present with some of their headquarters situated in the country, as is with the Couples for Christ movement. Unlike other lay movements Couples for Christ, commonly known as CFC, spreads the word of God through emphasizing the importance of family and the role that parents have in shaping the family’s bond with our Lord and the Church. As it’s headquarters may be located at the country’s capital city of Manila it’s influence has spread to the various parts of the country and has even branched out to other countries around the world.

Its influence may be somewhat compared to that of the Legion of Mary which, though founded initially in Ireland, has a major contingent of it’s members situated in the Philippines. It’s membership is also on a voluntary basis and evangelizes indiscriminately, old and young, rich and poor, Catholic and non-Christian, and serves God through what are known as “Spiritual Works of Mercy” under the banner of the Blessed Virgin.

Also discussed in this section is the Knights of Colombus, which is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization which is named after Christopher Columbus of which many saints have come from as well as the growing movement known as Opus Dei. It is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity and although initially Opus Dei was only open to male members it has grown to include women and clergymen. As many of their members take on jobs as lay officeworkers, married couples and others in the social hierarchy their advocacy of having a strong relationship with God through the work one does by offering these up to God seems more believable and attractive. This section thus discusses the lay ecclesiastical movements which are found in the Philippines as well as the basic information surrounding them such as their mission, vision, history and membership as well as their position in modern society.

Couples for Christ

There are many other lay groups that may be found in the Philippines, but there are not as many of these that were formed primarily in the country with it as its original base of operations. One of these is the charismatic group known as Couples for Christ otherwise known as CFC.

Couples for Christ was founded in 1981 in the Philippines’s capital city of Manila. It was begun by 16 married couples who then belonged to another Catholic charismatic group known as Ligaya ng Panginoon. It was initially formed as an extension of the group towards the evangelization of married couples but soon spread. It became a movement intended for “the renewal and strengthening of Christian family life” and grew to become a means for married couples to rekindle their relationship with our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Text Box: the 16TH Handmaids of the Lord International Conference  that was held at the Philsports Arena (ULTRA) in Pasig City from April 17-19, 2009. A total of 4585 delegates attended.DSC_3148.JPG Initially the group began by initiating a new method of evangelization which consisted of bringing together small groups of couples in a private home where they had discussions and prayer meetings in such a way that they were brought to what was called “a living relationship with Jesus Christ”. They were also brought into a renewed life through the power of, and in the presence of, the Holy Spirit through a series of informal discussions of the gospel which was occurred once a week in very a social yet holy environment. As the years passed the group grew larger easily becoming nothing short of what became known to be a Christian family life renewal program. It was soon made available to parishes and numerous other groups of married couples who wished to “live out their Christian life in an active supportive relationship with one another.”

Couples for Christ finally severed its ties from Ligaya ng Panginoon in 1993 and is now one of 122 International Associations of the Faithful which has official Vatican recognition. It was on March 11 of the jubilee year that the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of CFC as an international association of the faithful. An International Council leads this group working in the Philippines under the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, otherwise known as the CBCP. It may report directly to the Vatican due to this recognition and is mainly made up of three distinct groups; the family ministries, the social arms group, and a pro-life ministry.

Membership in the group does not appear to be relatively difficult as any validly married Catholic couple can become members of Couples for Christ as well as non-Catholic Christians although it is indeed a Catholic movement/organization. Couples for Christ remains open to having these different types of members as it is known for drawing its membership from all parts of the community. As such, it may be understood that Couples for Christ, as an organization of faithful Christian laity, does not discriminate based on cultural, economic, educational, social background or any other such distinctions. The organization has some 960,000 members and is present in over 76 countries around the globe with their headquarters at 349 Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills East, Mandaluyong City 1554, Philippines. They also distribute exclusively published works such as In His Steps, a quarterly publication of Biblical reflection; Mothers, a fortnightly magazine and Ugnayan, a fortnightly newsletter.

Though membership may seem to be simple staying in the organization may not be as simple as getting in. This is so because devout members of the organization are those who have taken up Christ’s call to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world”, as well as to spread the Gospel. In doing so they promote peace and justice, defend the poor and oppressed, and promote the Christian unity. The organization reaches its objectives through family programs aimed at making the family a “domestic church”. They promote individual renewal, family renewal and church renewal in everything they do and aim towards 4 main global goals; evangelization and formation, family renewal, total Christian liberation and effective/efficient governance.

As is stated in their mission and vision; “We are Couples for Christ. We are committed to live in God’s righteousness and holiness, evangelizing people through a life of love and service; we shall work for the renewal of families that will serve God and build generations of Christian leaders; and, we shall pursue Total Christian Liberation through social justice, respect for life, and work with the poor.”

Legion of Mary

This foundation was founded by Frank Duff. He is known for bringing the attention for the Second Vatican Council. September 7, 1921 is the date wherein the Legion of Mary was founded in the city of Dublin. This organization willed to give service to the Church voluntarily. They put spiritual welfare of an individual an important part of their ministry. They are willing to work for the Church and for Mary. This organization is open to all, Priest, Religious and lay people.

Text Box: Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary

This organization is mainly for the women and Frank Duff himself. His original system continued until 1929 where in this organization was opened to everyone who is Catholic. Their first mission was to help out in hospitals and enlightened the patients and strengthens them in their fate. They then gradually evolved to outreaching to the prostitutes of Dublin. As their mission grew they got more committed members and had more audience to preach. By 1928, Frank Duff wrote down the system of their organization in the book “Handbook of the Legion of Mary”. This organization has two divisions, the active members and the auxiliary members. The active members are the ones who attend a Legion meeting once a week and would perform works of service at least 2 hours a week. On the other hand, the auxiliary members pray the rosary and prayers of the Legion of Mary for the intentions of the Blessed mother.

In 1931 the Pope, Pius XI, recognized the works of the Legion and trusted fully by the clergy. After which people started working harder to strive for their goal. Example for a hard worker would be Edel Mary Quinn. She died at a young age of 29. She was very active in the borders of Africa during the 30s and 40s. Since she worked hard in spreading their mission in Africa, she got sick and passed away.

Text Box: Legion of Mary The Legion of Mary went across the globe and then sooner or later landed in the Islands of the Philippines. 1971 was the year when the first presidium, meeting, of the Legion of Mary was organized in Fairview. During that time the Legion of Mary was affiliated with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Project 6, Quezon City. This happened because there were no parish in the Philippines yet. The first officers of the Legion of Mary of the Philippines are Fr. Nico Bautista, known to be the Spiritual Director, Sis. Eden Vergara, President, Sis. Jean David as the Vice-President, Bro. Mel Abanilla as secretary, and Bro. Felino Vargas, Bro. Pepe Erestain, and Sis. Marina del Rosario. Today the Legion of Mary Still stands and there are five Senior and two junior Praesidia and their Spiritual Director is Msgr. Romy Rañada. They continue to seek for Mary and follow her in serving God.

Knights of Columbus

“On Oct. 2, 1881, a group of men met in the basement of St. Mary’s Church on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut. Called together by their 29-year-old parish priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, these men formed a fraternal society that would one day become the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. They sought strength in solidarity, and security through unity of purpose and devotion to a holy cause: they vowed to be defenders of their country, their families and their faith.These men were bound together by the ideal of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the Americas, the one whose hand brought Christianity to the New World. Their efforts came to fruition with the incorporation of the Knights of Columbus on March 29, 1882. They were Knights of Columbus.

The Order has been called "the strong right arm of the Church," and has been praised by popes, presidents and other world leaders, for support of the Church, programs of evangelization and Catholic education, civic involvement and aid to those in need. Father McGivney’s founding vision for the Order also included a life insurance program to provide for the widows and orphans of deceased members. The Order’s insurance program has expanded substantially to serve more effectively the Knights’ growing membership.

Year after year, the Knights of Columbus has earned the highest possible quality ratings for financial soundness from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The Order provides the highest quality insurance, annuity and long-term care products to its members, along with many other fraternal benefits.

The Supreme Council is the governing body of the Knights of Columbus and is responsible for the development of the organization as a whole. Supreme Council duties include establishing the Order in new regions and setting up regional authorities, defining and advancing its values and goals, undertaking organization-wide initiatives, promoting awareness of the Knights’ mission worldwide, and protecting the families of members through its extensive insurance program. Members working in local, or subordinate councils, however, carry on the majority of the Knights’ beneficial work.”

Opus Dei

The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, otherwise known as Opus Dei, is an organization of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. People that are in Opus Dei are lay people, with secular priests under the governance of a prelate appointed by the pope. “Work of God”, which is the Latin for Opus Dei hence the people and supporters of Opus Dei are known as the “Work.”

St. Josemari de Escriva founded Opus Dei on 1928 in Spain, and it was given its final approval from the Vatican, under Pope Pius XII on 1950. Later on it became into a personal prelature under Pope John Paul II, which is the jurisdiction of its bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses.

Opus Dei is spread worldwide in 90 different countries with 87000 members. About 65% of the members live in private homes and they live a traditional Catholic life continuing on with their secular lives. The rest 35% are celibates, priests and nuns, and they, unlike the rest, leave in Opus Dei centers.

Opus Dei trains its members to apply Catholic spiritually in daily life. They are not only involved in personal charity and social work but are also involved in running universities and residences, schools and technical and agricultural training centers.

When there is good, there is always the absence of it. Opus Dei is also known for being the most controversial force in the Catholic Church. People consider Opus Dei as a sign of contradiction. Several popes and other Catholic leaders have endorsed what they see as its innovative teaching on the sanctifying value of work, and its fidelity to Catholic beliefs. Later on, Pope John Paul II, a pope loved by Catholics and non-Catholics, canonized Josemaria Escriva to a Saint, and called him “the saint of ordinary life.” This sort of settled down the issue whether Opus Dei is a contradicting force or not but nevertheless, the idea of Opus Dei being a controversial remains. Also, it is criticized for allegedly seeking independence and more influence. During the recent years, Opus Dei received its attention in a not nice fashion because of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. This only misleads the non Catholics believing that Opus Dei is indeed a controversial force against the Catholic Church.


As the Church grows, there will be people who will be inspired by the Holy Spirit to commit their time in ministry. The Church gets all the help she can get from the Holy Spirit and her fellow members. The organizations formed during this century goes really helped the church in spreading the faith. These people didn’t have to join these groups but through their own will that they will suffer for others. And because of these self-less people the Church still stands mightily today in protecting and telling others about the faith.

Study Questions

What is the importance of Lay Ecclesial Movements to members of modern society? How does this allow them to be closer to God? In what ways can they still serve the Lord while being part of the laity?

How was Couples for Christ founded and for what reason was it founded? What then is its mission and vision in modern society?

Who is eligible to join the Legion of Mary? What different types of Legion membership exist?

What is the mission of the Knights of Colombus? How is this similar or dissimilar to that of Opus Dei?

Practical Exercises

Seeing as Couples for Christ is a movement which emphasizes family and the role of parents, make a list of problems that face modern families and, together with a partner discuss how the mission of CFC could solve these.

From Knights of Columbus to Legion of Mary, how does each of these organizations differ from one another? Compare and Contrast them and add notes as well. May members of one join the other? And if not how would they know the right one?

Catechism of the Catholic Church

855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity. Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."

1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: "And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'"



Raphael Mutuc – Legion of Mary, Study Questions, Practical Exercises, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Conclusion, Organization

Angelo Santiago – Couples for Christ, Study Questions, Practical Exercises, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction, Organization

Vinny Layog – Knights of Colombus

Allen Joo – Opus Dei