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Steve Ray`s Open Letter To Filipinos

Steve Ray is a friend. Several times now, we’ve invited this brilliant American Catholic Apologist to speak here in the Philippines. His inspiring articles on the Filipinos have been circulating for some years now, but a KFAM member requested that I post it here, and I guess there might be some people who haven’t read it yet–so here goes… For more information on who Steve Ray is, you can go to his great website at www.catholic-convert.com

STEVE RAY’S LETTER TO FILIPINOS
We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front. We didn’t know what to expect here in Istanbul, Turkey. I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was not-I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me.

The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries. Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God.

What are the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed personal observations as I have traveled around the world, including visits to the Philippines.

FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did not sit apart from each other in different isles. They sat together, closely. They didn’t just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words. No, they raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.

SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When most of the world’s citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to have joy and peace, a deep sense of God’s love that overshadows them. They have problems too, and many in the Philippines have less material goods than others in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of neighbor.

THIRD, there is a love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous with the word Filipino. There is also something that Filipinos are famous for around the world - their love for the Blessed Mother. Among the many Filipinos I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always hear from their lips is “Mama Mary.” For these gentle folks Mary is not just a theological idea, a historical person, or a statue in a church.

Mary is the mother of their Lord and their mother as well, their “mama.” The Philippines is a Catholic nation - the only such nation in Asia and this wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to be missionaries, not official workers of the church. No, they are workers and educators, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to the far reaches of the earth,and everywhere they go they take the joyous gospel of Jesus with them. They make a somber Mass joyful when they burst into song. They convict the pagan of sin as they always keep the love of Jesus and the Eucharist central in their lives.

My hope and prayer, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people will continue to keep these precious qualities. I pray that they will continue loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving Jesus, His Mother and the Eucharist. As many other religions and sects try to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give the wisdom to defend the Catholic faith. As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to Christ and love for God is far more important than all the riches the world can offer.

May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the Gospel to the whole world!

35 Responses to “Steve Ray`s Open Letter To Filipinos”

  1. Each one of us should learn of our Catholic Faith. Each of us should share that faith and live it.

  2. although many are losing hope here in the philippines, it is always my pride and my joy that i am a filipino. never did it crossed my mind to venture somewhere else. filipinos maybe poor, but we have hope, we have a special kind of joy that might come from our constant communication with God. i love it when i go to church and everyone sings the same songs and proclaim the same sentiments.. it makes me feel proud of being a catholic. ;) :grin

  3. hopefully, filipinos who go to our church will do the same. other than the choir, i feel most of the time im the only one singing.

  4. baka naman they don’t know the songs. our church is equipped with humongous white screens and the choir, thy know how to hype up the crowd. i love the Bukas Palad songs.

  5. It’s always wonderful to read/hear people from other nation’s touching Filipino stories/experiences/observations. It lightens the heart and gives us hope. May we continue to prove them right, stand strong and faithful, Filipino Catholics! May we continue to be an inspiration to each other and give praise to God thru the way we live our lives! :)

  6. It’s heartening to see such observation coming from a Roman Catholic - a “converted” Roman Catholic at that - who is not a Filipino. It is quite common to see Caucasians roaming around “evangelizing” for alternative christian faith. If there is anything that brings home the point it is that the steadfast Roman Catholic faith is being continuously challenged with “progressive faiths” around that are already enticing not a few of us. Hey, if somebody from a protestant faith comes “home” to Roman Catholic faith, it is a much welcome information - something that would even make Mama Mary smile about! :-)
    I share also to everyone prayers and praises to the Baby Jesus of Prague!

  7. yes its true that the filipinos have a strong faith…
    when i first visited the church here in the land of the windmills, u could count the people hearing mass. what makes it more sad, their churches only have two services during sundays, are closed during weekdays and lastly most of it are turned into a museum coz nobody visits them….how i truly miss my country….

  8. I should admit I cried over Steve’s letter. But I am happy because it made me feel human again. Living under present conditions in this country could make us callous and indifferent, thereby testing our faith in God, country and ourselves.
    Sometimes, it takes a foreigner to remind us who we, Filipinos, really are.Thank you Steve, Bo–we keep your love and admiration to our hearts. GodLove and keep the flame of faith burning!

  9. Steve’s observations are so true. Am proud to be Filipino and Catholic here in the Isle of Man (British Isles). When locals ask me why Filipinos seem to be ever joyful, I say it’s because of our faith and our love - for our families and friends back home, for the patients and clients it is our job to serve, even for the new country we happen to be in. I only wish we Filipinos loved the country God has given us first, the land of our birth, the Philippines. May we be united in the task of nation-building. And may our faith be translated into actions esp in our love for the poor.

  10. Steve remarkably described the commonality of Filipinos. I have been in countries such as Australia, Singapore, Canada, the US, Hong Kong, Macau,and truly Filipinos fill the Catholic Churches and most of the time, they are the lay ministers, the choir, the ushers, the bulletin board makers, and have been making so many lives experience the love of God even out of the Philippines. It may be sad to note that Filipinos are out there in the world to employ themselves for better income, but God must have designed our hearts to withstand the test of loneliness and being far from our families when we travel, for us to be able to share God’s Love to more people of the world. We are all missionaries of the Church without us even knowing it! May God be praised!

  11. Filipinos are made to bring Joy to the World. There’s no country like Philippines. No matter how far I travelled, I’d always always undoubtedly go back to my country. We have the widest smile on earth.

  12. We, Filipinos, should not only thank God and the Church for such distinct and beautiful traits that we have, but we have to continue nurturing this through prayer and testimony of life. Yes, let’s continue to love . . . all our humanity and spirituality. May we deepen in “treauring all these in our hearts” as Mary did when she saw the goodness of God’s works.

  13. I love reading stories of conversion of people from protestantism to catholicism because reading their stories makes me firm in my conviction in staying catholic..many have tried to convert me before to their churches but the call of GOD is stronger in the catholic church.. it makes me want to be a catholic apologetic myself but i dont know where to start since i dont have a complete reference (especially books) that i can read for me to be ready in defending catholic faith.. hope that mr. steve ray’s letter will serve as a wake up call that we already have what we have been searching for all it takes is a heart for discernment :)

  14. thank you son, for this message that would reminds me, it seems I’m just like a sheep sometimes we’ve lost,,,

  15. after reading steve’s comment about filipinos, i’m again “revived” to put my trust on our kababayans. and our sense of humour is unmatched, esp. during hard times when we all have these calamities, fightings, bickerings of politicians, etc. yung ating attitude na “dinadaan lang sa tawa” is therapeutic. unlike in some countries, did you know that they could not cope w/ a little inconvenience? like brownouts? some of the rich kids/people in first world countries will curse their leaders, or resort to looting like in new orleans, coz they are so used to having everything w/c they take for granted. while sa pilipino na sanay sa hirap, gagawa at gagawa ng paraan para kumita or makakain man lang, kahit pa magpalimos. yan ang pinoy! mabuhay tayo! mahal tayo ng Dios na buhay!

  16. Type your comment here.

    thank you steve ray for your faith in the filipinos. you’ve buoyed our spirits with your observation and comment.

    and congratulations to your conversion. welcome to the catholic faith.

  17. Type your comment here.
    This a clear affirmation from the Lord. Pope John Paul II prophecied this when he said that the Filipinos will be a light to Asia and to the world. This is very consistent with the Gospel’s teaching that God will use the foolish of this world to shame the wise. Filipinos need to continue to remain prayerful and humble, again it is written that the Lord humbles those who exalt themselves and exalts those who humble themselves. Let’s continue to evangelize our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters,Catholic renewal movements allow us to discover how wonderful our Roman Catholic faith is and appreciate more the Holy Eucharist,this is the true source of our strenght and joy.

  18. hi to all Filipinos

  19. Banaue rice terraces imprints who we are as Filipinos. It was
    It was made from generations to generations through
    bayanihan and sweet labor of every family.That is
    who we are. Bayanihan because there is heroism in
    one of us. Ani because we share the little things that
    we have. In Egypt, the pyramids were built through
    slavery, force labor.

    though we are financially poor, we are rich spirit-
    ually, we are joyful people and we are blessed with
    talents which we are proud of among other nations.

    Mabuhay!!

  20. This one makes sence “One’s first step in wisdom is to kuesstion everything - and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”

  21. I like what Nelson S. Uy said in reference to Pope John Paul II’s prophecy that Filipinos will be a light to Asia and to the world. I was almost teary eyed there.

    When you come to think of it, it might not be a coincidence when the Spaniards taught our ancestors catholicism. For even if our country now is struggling with economic problems, this faith is what gives each one of us hope amidst everything. For me it’s really a blessing how filipinos are a happy people, just imagine how many would commit suicide if ever we cannot handle problems in this country? And to think of it, other countries might even be shocked if they knew how the poorest people in the phils. survives but still have smiles on their faces.

    Well our country might really be destined to be poor, third world at that. And yeah now I know that by being poor, we are able to send missionaries in the form of nurses, house helps, teachers, care givers etc. and be of help to all people of the world and in turn being able to give their families better lives in the Philippines.

  22. yes indeed youre correct, catholic very much alive all over the world especially with filipino expat am here in kuwait right now and filipino very much active in profession of our faith.

  23. Re Steve Ray’s letter, how heartwarming and true.I was home for Christmas 2007 and was lucky to be able to attend Misa de Gallo in our parish St. Vicente in Urgello Pvt, Road,Cebu City and I questioned my sister why we were bringing with us stools when the church is so big and full of pews and chairs and we were 30 minutes early(it being across the street), I got my answer, the church was packed and lots of people standing even in the hallway,,,this was the case til Christmas Eve .I was always able to sit with awe. Hi Bo how’s the going?

  24. Materially rich but spiritually poor … not good;
    Spiritually rich but materially poor … good;
    Let us Filipinos jump over the “either/or ” mindset to the “and” mindset …. Spiritually rich and materially rich (because we are spiritually rich) … better/best , di ba ? Look at Bo, he’s having the time of his life …… God bless the Philippines , totally .

  25. I totally agree that Filipinos have precious qualities in terms of our faith in God. I am now living in a first world country, a country where there had been many apparition stories but each time me and my husband attend mass you can count by the finger how many people are there, I totally miss the ambiance of church services in the Philippines and the immense faith the Filipinos have for God, Jesus and Mama Mary.

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  27. Your preaching served as our family guide, Brother Bo. And now that I am far away from home, I joined the filipino community here who sang during the Sunday mass. And you know what? I am so proud that I am PINOY. Since we started being the choir during the 6pm Sunday mass here, we have gathered British and other English people during the mass - the attendees doubles! (That’s according to the parish priest here) Whooooaw! The British parish priest always commends and prouds of us Filipinos. \(”,)/ Mabuhay ang mga Pinoys - all over the world! :)

  28. Mr. Bo Sanchez,

    I would like to inform you that some atheists/intolerant secularists at a facebook group called The AP Lounge have sent a call to arms in order to troll this very page. They seem to be threatened by Mr. Steve Ray’s open letter. Below is the clarion call of one of their members named “Tikboy Tigas”…

    Tikboy Tikas12:11pm Aug 4
    POTANG ENA! MASSIVE MOBILIZATION NEEDED FOR 69TH TAVERN TROLL DIVISION AND ALL RESERVE UNITS! Da Pinoy is spreading this link and liking it. It is time to troll it. Thank you!
    Sultan General Grand Marshall Tikboy De Madrigal De Zobel De Ayala Alabang De La Tikas
    Commanding Sultan General (A Certified Fake Sultan) - 69th Tavern Troll Division
    http://www.facebook.com/l/QAQCf5MqdAQCiRXfFZ00ouZpzrKZpkbH664mDVc_xjNZTfQ/bosanchez.ph/steve-rays-open-letter-to-filipinos/

    Please be on the lookout for trolls who are intolerant of religion.

    Best,
    Ivana

  29. I love being a Filipino Catholic. Sana lahat ng Pinoy pahalagahan ang pagiging katoliko at mananampalataya. We are one of a kind country. And I beliv n d biblical prophecy that a the great evangelization in the east will start in the fareast in the mniddle of a war. And i trully bliv 8 is Magellan who brought it hundreds of years ago when spain s in a struggle in the midst of rivalries w/ other countries. Every Filipino has d mission of evangelizing Asia. Proud to be a 100% Katolikong Pinoy.

  30. Bo, I bought some of your books a few days ago in NBS.iloilo.I wonder how you speak like an angel..But with your confession being a Roman Catholic I understand.
    I’m inviting you to our facebook groups to comments related to traditional catholic now a days.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/127443130689277/

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  32. Hi Brother Bo,

    I was browsing through your archives ’cause I just love reading about God and you and myself. I am learning a lot about myself when I read your entries. This letter to Filipinos has touched me and made me see things I have taken for granted before. It’s so great to know that a foreigner appreciates us Filipinos and can only say good things about us. I am proud to be Pinoy, but this has made me even more proud. God really is the center of our lives even without realizing it. Thank you again for inspiring and letting us recollect just by reading these articles. May you bless more lives. Thanks. _edz

  33. A greater percentage of Filipino Catholics have little knowledge of the Catholic faith and the reasons behind church practices.This is the reason why they can easily fall prey to protestantism and once they got indoctrinated into their movement they find it hard to go back to Rome even if they find that protestantism is in error, just like deprogramming a religious cult member.

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