Miscellaneous Letters Exchanged Between José Rizal and Fr. Pablo Pastells in 1892 and 1893

NOTE: These letters are a compilation of the English translation of the Epistolario Rizalino (no copyright notice is shown) with added portions of the translation of Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., whose research found missing portions of these letters and the last letter of Rizal to Fr. Pastells.  While his book, The Rizal - Pastells Correspondence [ISBN: 9715501230] was copyrighted in 1994 by Ateneo University Press, the modifications to the English translation of the Epistolario are for the sake of scholarly inquiry only.




095.  Rizal, Dapitan, 3 September 1892  ||  To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal thanks Fr. Pastells for his gift of a book by Sarda – Replies to Fr. Pastells' message sent through Fr. Obach of Dapitan. - Expresses his opinion frankly and sincerely - "Self-esteem is dignity" - Thanks him for his advice.


096. Fr. Pastells, Manila, 12 October 1892

Father Pastells goes into lengthy philosophic-religious disquisitions – Sends him a booklet, Contemptus Mundi – Reminds him of his Ateneo days at Manila.


098. Rizal, Dapitan, 11 November 1892 || To Father Pablo Pastells

Rizal is grateful for a copy of Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, of Fr. Chirino, Fr. Delgado, and Cartas de las Misioneros – Brilliant defense of his espousal of the Philippine cause – Noli me tangere is not inspired by any resentment or by the Germans – He is not a Protestant – He prefers “light” to “shade”  He bears his misfortunes philosophically.


099. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 8 December 1892

Fr. Pastells is deeply interested in Rizal’s eternal salvation.  He claims Rizal has expressed Protestant ideas in his books – Quotes the Bible, St. Augustine, etc.


103. Rizal, Dapitan, 9 January 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal explains his concept of God.


104. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 2 February 1893

Acknowledging Rizal’s gift of an image of Saint Paul, carved by him – A long letter much like a sermon on subjects such as God, Revelation, faith, and the like.


107. Rizal, Dapitan, 4 April 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal’s opinion of Mgr. Bougand’s book – Reiterates his concept of God, his belief in revelation, and his attitude toward miracles.


108. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 28 April 1893

Father Pastells discusses Rizal’s religious views.


108-a. Rizal, June (?) 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal asks that he and Fr. Pastells end their correspondence.




095.  Rizal, Dapitan, 3 September 1892  ||  To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal thanks Fr. Pastells for his gift of a book by Sarda – Replies to Fr. Pastells' message sent through Fr. Obach of Dapitan. - Expresses his opinion frankly and sincerely - "Self-esteem is dignity" - Thanks him for his advice.

The letter in Spanish is a transcription of the draft of an unfinished letter of Dr. Rizal.

NOTE: For a different translation go here: http://www.geocities.com/cavitesu/pastells.htm

Dapitan, 1 September 1892

Very Reverend Fr. Pastells

My ever esteemed Father:

Though I have not had the honor of meriting a letter from Your Reverence, the precious gift that you have deigned to send me through my beloved professor, Fr. Sanchez, and all the lines that you devote to me in your letter to Fr. Obach place me under obligation to write you, for I have no one in Manila whom to ask to thank Your Reverence on my behalf. I have known for a long time the writings of Mr. Sarda for having read them in college and in my humble opinion he is the most skillful polemicist in diffusing in a certain social class the ideas he upholds. You may judge then if his works will be of great value to me. This is with respect to the works themselves, but with regard to their sender, would that the tomes arrive blank, it is enough that Your Reverence had sent them for me to profess them consideration and affection. I only regret that being an exile in a poor town like Dapitan, I have nothing with which to return your kindness, but I hope I shall have an opportunity to do so some day if we shall still be alive and if not, I will say to you like the Bisayos: Dios magbayad! (God repay you!)

Now I take up the lines that Fr. Obach read to me which to me are as interesting as or even more so than your precious gift. They begin thus: "Tell him to set aside the foolishness (majaderias) of looking at his affairs through the prism of his judgment and self-esteem - nemo judex in cause propia. (No one is a judge of his own cause.) Here what greatly attracts my attention is not the word majaderias, which I fully deserve, though it seems rather strong for the fine pen of Your Reverence. I have been accustomed for sometime now to the most acrimonious criticisms and harshest accusations of friends and strangers, of superiors and inferiors, but for Your Reverence to consider majaderia the desire to regard one's affairs through the prism of one's judgment and self-esteem, really I cannot see your meaning, I must be mistaken in my interpretation of your words. Though I am completely ignorant of the acts in my life to which Your Reverence refers nevertheless it does not seem to me so censurable for one to look at his affairs through the prism of his own judgment and self-esteem for God must have given these faculties to him for some purpose. Because if we have to do it through another's prism, besides its being a little impractical, there being as many prisms as there are individuals, we would not know which one to choose; and in choosing we would have to make use of our own judgment, unless we should choose endlessly which will turn out that we would be wise men in one another's house, they directing our actions and we theirs and everything would be in confusion, unless for the sake of the others we renounce our own judgment and self-esteem, a thing which in my humble opinion is to offend God and to disdain His most precious gifts. And I speak thus because I imagine that when God gave each one the faculty to judge that he possesses, He did what was most convenient and He did not want that he who has less think like the one who has more and vice versa, in the same way that one should not digest with his neighbor's stomach but rather like perfect machines, varied and adapted to the purpose that He must know, each one ought to consume so much coal in its boiler, to run so many miles and at so much velocity and He should know why He made it thus. The faculty to judge is to me like a lantern that a father gives to each one of his children before their pilgrimage through rugged and tortuous paths. To one who has to pass through dells and precipices He will not give him an oil lamp that will spill; if he has to go through tempests, a lamp with thick glass will protect him; if through inflammable gasses, wirecloth like that of the miners; if the bearer suffers from photophobia, smoked glass, if on the contrary he has cataracts, electric light and especially if he has to go through very dark roads. Unlucky is he who on the road, through caprice or madness, should exchange his lantern for that of another! That each one endeavor to preserve and improve his own; that he may not envy or despise any one, without nevertheless failing to take advantage of the reflections of the others or of the signals and advices that those who have preceded him have left behind them.

With regard to self-esteem, I confess candidly that I have for a long time asked God very sincerely to deprive me of it, but He who knows better what suits us, has left it to me. Now I understand that a man never should be deprived of this sentiment, though it must never be exaggerated. In my opinion self-esteem is the greatest good that God has endowed man with for his perfection and purity saving him from many unworthy and base acts when he forgets the precepts he had learned or had been inculcated in him. Precisely for me self-esteem is dignity when it is not passionate and it is moderated by judgment. It is like the sap that impels the tree to turn upward in search of the sun, the force that launches a steamship on its course. 'To me man is the masterpiece of creation, perfect within his conditions, who cannot be deprived of any of his component parts, moral as well as physical, without disfiguring him and making him miserable.

I do not know how Your Reverence will take these ideas of mine, perhaps as very independent, but I am so, I have been educated thus, and I would offend you if in writing you I should fail to be sincere. I do not believe that they are dictated by pride, nor do I know if I am proud or not. Only God who cannot make a mistake in His judgment will be able to say it.

The letter of Your Reverence continues: "Daring to give him this advice is one who guided his mind in times very much better for him without any exaggeration than the present ones... " Your Reverence can and should give me all the advices your good heart may prompt you, for it is the duty of men to help one another and do believe that I will always listen to them with gratitude and attention, weighing each one and reflecting deeply on its meaning, for I esteem greatly all that comes from Your Reverence not only for what you have been to me but also for what you are and I would not want that some day when God should ask me what I had done with your advices I would not be able to reply. With regard to whether those times were better than the present ones, I cannot say so absolutely. I consider myself fortunate to be able to suffer a little for a cause that I believe sacred. I do not accuse myself of any act that humiliates me before my conscience. I admit that at first I was grieved by the change of my fortune, but afterward I consoled myself by thinking of others more just and more worthy who had suffered greater injustices and one cannot make everything run according to his desire. If this is fanaticism, may God forgive me, for however much I search myself I cannot see it thus.

"Whose advices I hope he will receive gratefully inasmuch as they are now the only efficacious redeemers that might return to him his old tranquility as prefect of the congregation of students of 1875 that he now lacks," adds Your Reverence.

Not only now, but always I will receive with pleasure your advices be they redeeming or not, for I always appreciate what is given sincerely, but it depends upon my cri­terion whether to follow them or not. It is for this reason that one is responsible for his acts, but gratitude always remains underneath! As to tranquility, I believe I have it as ever. Many in truth pity me and regret my fate; many regard me as a fallen tree.  Perhaps, to many people, my spirit is what heaven is to observers; pardon me the comparison. Heaven gets clouded, in heaven there is tempest, they say, but in reality it continues the same. It is our atmosphere that is clouded, that becomes tempestuous. Some kilometers higher up absolute calm prevails. I should like to clear the lands of my country; why should it be strange that the reptiles whistle upon seeing themselves thrown out of their burrows, that rocks leap and crush me in their fall? Am I doing wrong? It is possible that I may be mistaken, but if I am, it will never be for selfish interest or egoism.

Now it is another thing with respect to consulting you about my doubts. Willingly I would state here three or four of the many I have, if this letter were not already too long, in the certainty that Your Reverence will give me great light, but I shall leave them for another occasion.

I remain very grateful to Your Reverence for your prayers. I too pray now and then, but really when I do so, it never occurred to me to ask for anything. I believe I have everything and as all that happens to me is His will, I am contented and resigned. Is this oriental fatalism? I do not know, but indeed I always say to myself: I will work and I will do this and that, for God will always have His way. Therefore, forward!



096. Fr. Pastells, Manila, 12 October 1892

Father Pastells goes into lengthy philosophic-religious disquisitions – Sends him a booklet, Contemptus Mundi – Reminds him of his Ateneo days at Manila.

Manila, 12 October 1892



I received your very affectionate letter of 1st September last. In it I admired the brilliant endowments of your privileged genius and the adorned phrases that naturally slip from your correct and well-made pen; yet I could not help but exclaim upon reading it: What a pity that such an excellent young man had not lavished his talents on the defense of better causes! How much better it would have been for him to have imitated the skillful polemicist Sarda, spreading among his compatriots the lofty redeeming ideas of the Catholic religion, the only true religion, and of the only legitimate Mother Country of the Philippine Archipelago, the noble Spain! ... Oh, and how the precious natural faculties of my dear friend would have gone up in weight had he supported such doctrines in the Noli me tangere, El Filibusterismo, and his Anotaciones a la Historia de Morga, and his other writings!

Then jure meritoque [01] for his works Rizal would have achieved immortal laurels and his name would have been borne on the wings of fame throughout the world and extolled by good men and his memory blessed by future generations. However, unfortunately for us and to the greatest detriment of the good cause, this holy coffer fell into the Philistines, as another man would say, and he has not been rescued yet.

There was a critical period in the story of his youth that decided his departure for abroad. He went away from the Philippines personally embittered and resentful for reasons or motives that I do not wish nor can I now judge. The thorn that he carried stuck in his heart irritated and intoxicated his mind, leaving deep scars in all his faculties, and creating prejudices which were rooted by remembrances and feelings of his own dignity which in his opinion had been wounded. That exaggerated self-judgment and this extreme self-esteem finally prepared him to cross the great bridge of inconsequence or to take the great leap or great fall in Germany that submerged him into the deep abyss of prevarication, separated him from the Catholic religion and Spanish nationality, and raised the standard of filibusterismo.

This, in fact, was foreseen by the foreign enemies of our religion and our mother country and since then they worked ceaselessly with the greatest perseverance and skill to muddle his clear intelligence with reformist and separatist doctrines, inoculating his already wounded heart with sectarian virus; and you having drank unwarily the lethal poison that they offered you in a golden cup, the inevitable happened. A certain Austrian professor, very friendly with you, had already predicted, namely, that the Protestants took possession of you and shortly after the Freemasons, the result of the first captivity being Mr. Rizal of the Noli me tangere and of the second, Mr. Rizal of El Filibusterismo. Here is, my most beloved Pepe, the explanation in a few words of the generating cause of your present adversity. If I could erase those premises with the blood of my veins, do not doubt, my dear friend, that I would be the first one who will work with the most ardor to save you from their worst consequences. In what a bad position are you in! Believe me. Draw near with sincerity to better trees so that better shade may henceforth shelter you. Foreign heretics sowed in your soul those bad winds from which you are now reaping tempests. And how dark and cloudy is the weather that is glimpsed for you in the future!

Ah, my dear child! For this sole reason and not for another and for the great confidence and affection that I have for you, never –

God save me - with the intention of reproaching you in the least, did I dare write - perhaps with a certain indiscretion or disrespect towards you - Father Obach these words: "Tell him to set aside the foolishness of wishing to look at his affairs through the prism of his judgment and self-esteem: Nemo judex in causa propria."

You interpreted the meaning of the phrase perfectly, paying more attention to its substance than to its literary style. In the same sense, taking for granted in advance what is aforesaid in this letter, I wished by means of a simple hint to exhort you to stop now your stubbornness of desiring to emancipate the Filipinos from the gentle yoke of the Catholic religion and the Spanish nation, advocating and propagating among them the spurious doctrines of reform and separatism that only a wounded self-esteem (which I call a misunderstood sentiment of personal dignity) that adulterates your own judgment, could suggest to you. Because such stubbornness, even granting you the greatest good faith in the world and you have acted at the impulse of a mistaken conscience and even dispensing still with the moral responsibility consequently incurred by voluntary act, does not cease to be in itself at least a great madness or blind fanaticism.

Now then, limiting to these matters the proverb Nemo judex in causa propria, which is pertinent to the case, I say: That you cannot be guided with respect to them by the prism of self-judgment and self-esteem for the reason that these are obstructed and adulterated by erroneous principles and inordinate inclinations.

A modern author has very well said that truth is to intellect what light is to polarization. Polarization as you know very well is a phenomenon of the reflection or refraction of light by which light is diminished or augmented or extinguished according to the angle it forms and the refracting medium or isotropy upon which the ray of light falls.

Light, continues the said author, is not to blame for what happens to it when it is subjected to the experiences of polarization whose law Brewester proved so brilliantly.

The same then happens to truth and to good faith when they go through the refracting medium of certain intellects and hearts: There takes place a kind of spiritual polarization by virtue of which truth and good faith diminish or disappear and error and bad faith reach the maximum intensity according to the angle from which things are seen. And has not your intellect suffered from such angles of reflection or refraction of ideas, at least a kind of spiritual polarization that does not let you see the truths such as they are in themselves?

What happens to the intellect happens also to the senses, which in order that they may function rightly, it is necessary that the object, medium of transmission, and the subject or animated organ should be in proper conditions. Furthermore. Just as the will still loves the bad under the concept of the good, so also the intellect though it may err, always errs under the appearance of truth.

For this reason, the truths in every science should be derived from their first principles, which are evidently true though indemonstrable, in order to pass from them, by means of demonstration, to other unknown truths. For the demonstration reasoning has its laws and it is composed and discomposed according to the strictest rules of logic and method; but as in this entanglement of truths, at times most difficult to understand, man proceeds by way of faculty to action, from here it follows that there is something that determines the power or cognitive faculty on the act itself of cognition. Intelligence is determined by what is perceived by the senses according to what Aristotle says, Nihil est intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensibus, [02] and for this reason it is said that mind is an attribute of the soul that in its decisions and acts externally depends on the senses. Giving the value that corresponds to the rest of the senses in their external influence so that the mind may be able to elaborate its ideas, the best medium for their transmission is the word. For this reason the professor is the great prop or factor of our intelligence, so much so that a great many times we would not know fully the truths without the written word in the book or the spoken words of the professor. From this is deduced that never shall we be able to know in this life all the truths that can form the object of understanding nor even one sole truth from all its knowable points of view; because, as it is desired that understanding be a power, it needs something that determines it, so that it may be converted into an act, and working within limits and successively, by gradation and occasionally, it cannot know successively many objects with perfection. From this is derived that aphorism that should be applied to our faculties as well as to the senses: Pluribus intentus minor est ad singula sensus. [03] For this reason, though our knowledge may be relatively very vast, for having acted on them profitably many times, our intellect, however, speaking absolutely, is extremely limited in extent as in scope and never shall we know in this world all the objects with objective and subjective evidence that on the strength of the objective, is produced in our soul. Therefore, however learned we may be, we shall never be so learned that we shall not need to make use of the knowledge of others ... From all of which I infer that in many of the truths we have to abide, and in fact we do abide, not by our own criterion or judgment but by the criterion or judgment of others. And if this is a fact and a manifest truth in scientific and artistic matters, it is even more so in moral and historical matters in which external authority comes to constitute a true criterion that draws from our soul an assent of certitude which is in reality infallible.  So you see, my dear friend, how many times one's own criterion is a little blind person who has to let himself be led by the lantern of another or by the locomotive of foreign ownership, and even if one cannot digest with the neighbor's stomach, he can however think and discuss, taking advantage of the fruit of the ideas and of the ratiocination of others; and it is not offending God nor disdaining His most precious gifts to recognize humbly how limited are our faculties, and well may one commiserate with one who is ignorant in his own house and sensible at the same time for helping himself with the light, guidance, and good counsel of his friendly neighbor. It is a great truth that the Great Father of families has given to each one of His children during his pilgrimage in this life his corresponding lantern or own judgment; but it may also happen that this lamp as a result of the poor oil that our disinherited forefathers provided us throw little light and that on account of our indolence, its glass gets soiled or the wick gets wet, or its content is spilled and we prefer then fugacious and phosphorescent light that dazzles us suddenly, afterwards leaving us in the middle of the road in a terrible and desolate gloom.

And bear in mind, my dear Rizal, that in the darkness of this life, we need in addition another lantern to guide us; we need a supernatural light to provide us with light and point to us like a bright beacon the reefs of this life and the port of salvation. Habemus, St. Peter tells us firmiorem prophetieum sermonem, cui benefacitis attendentes quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso loco, donec dies elucescat, et Lucifer oriatur in cordibus vestris; hoc primurn intelligentis, quod omnis prophetia Scriptura propria inter­pretatione non fit. Non enim voluntate humana allata est aliquando prophetia: sed Spiritu Sancto inspirati, locuti sunt sancti Dei homines. [04]

Even clearer and more refulgent than that of the lantern with which Jesus Christ illumines us: Multifarium, multisque modis, St. Paul tells us, ohm Deus locuens patribus in prophetis, novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio.  [05] Consequently, we have besides the lantern of our own judgment, which frequently is uncertain, two other lanterns fed by the oil of external authority and correlative of the two orders of truths or diverse knowledge with which human intelligence is illumined, one natural and the other supernatural or revealed. This aforesaid double order of knowledge is distinct not only in the principle from which it is derived but also in the object that it pursues. In the principle, because in the first we know by means of straight natural reason and in the second by means of divine faith. In the object, because besides these things that can be reached by means of natural reason it proposes to us the belief in the mysteries hidden in God which cannot be known except through divine revelation.

Such are the mysteries God reveals to the humble who voluntarily submit their own judgment out of reasonable respect for the faith and which He hides from the learned who are infatuated with their knowledge, who do not recognize other horizons than those their limited human knowledge can reach by themselves.

I have said that the gift of our faith subjecting our own judgment to revealed truths is reasonable. In fact, as man depends entirely on God as his Creator and Lord, created reason is subject for everything to the uncreated truth; we are obliged consequently by means of our faith to render full tribute or gift of our intellect and will to revealing God. This faith which is the beginning of our justification and salvation is a supernatural virtue by means of which, aided (as you know very well) by divine grace and God's aspiration, we believe as true all the truths revealed by Jesus Christ, not by virtue of the intrinsic truth of things, known by the light of natural reason but by virtue of the authority of the same revealing God who cannot deceive Himself nor deceive us. And so that this faith mad be rational God wished that to the internal aids of the Holy Ghost be joined the external and irrefutable arguments of His revelation that theologians call Motives of Credibility, namely, divine deeds done by the infinite omnipotence and wisdom of God in confirmation of those revealed truth, and as most certain signs of divine revelation adapted to every kind of intelligence. For which reason, Moses, as well as the prophets and above all Jesus Christ, performed numerous and most patent miracles and made prophecies, and we read that the apostles, obeying God's mandate, went out to preach everywhere, the Lord cooperating and confirming their words with the miracles.

All the truths revealed by God constitute the material object of faith. The formal object of faith is formed by the authority of the same revealing God who by virtue of his infinite wisdom and kindliness cannot deceive himself nor deceive us.

Notwithstanding, even if faith may exceed reason, there cannot exist between the two any true disagreement, because God himself who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith has endowed the human soul with the light of reason. It is thus that God cannot deny Himself to Himself, consequently one truth cannot contradict another truth. In case then that some apparent contradiction may exist, it should be attributed rather to the fact that the dogmas of the faith have not been understood nor expounded in accordance with the mind of the Church or rather to the fact that the ravings of opinions have been considered axioms of reason. Consequently, a priori, any child who has learned the dogmas of the faith, with the torch of his faith can reject as false whatever proposition is evidently contrary to these dogmas. Here indeed comes fittingly that blow that Jesus Christ dealt the wise and prudent persons of this world: Ita eater quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te: abscondisti enim haec a sapientibus et prudentibus et revelasti ea parvulis. [06]

This faith in revelation has been like the standard raised by Jesus Christ and his Church before the face of the nations in order to attract all men in this manner to Him, to the understanding of supernatural truth, to the observance of divine law, and to eternal salvation. And in this sense, it must be said that revelation is necessary, inasmuch as God in His infinite kindliness ordained man for a supernatural end, namely, to share in the divine possessions that surpass entirely the intelligence of the human mind; since neither eye saw nor ear heard nor in the heart of man will ever penetrate what God has prepared for those who love Him.

And believe, my beloved Mr. Rizal, that there is no act of man on earth that is really deserving of eternal life except that which is clothed in the habit of the living faith that by another name is called habitual charity. Faith without charity is dead, and faith and hope in God without the same charity cannot obtain eternal life for you for whose acquisition we have been created in this world. Consequently, this is the will of God, our own sanctification and as its abiding fruit, eternal life.

You tell me that sometimes you also pray. Who prays hopes, and who hopes in God, believes in God. If this hope is supernatural, your faith is also supernatural. You say that it does not occur to you to ask for anything. Ask Him for the supernatural gift of faith, of hope, and of charity, and of the ultimate perseverance in these virtues, and thus the will of God will be done in you, for thus He tells us in behalf of St. Paul: Haec est voluntas Del sanetificatio vestra. Deus volt homines salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritatis venire. [07] Obey it, my dear Rizal, for it is the most holy will of God, procuring in all earnestness your own sanctification and eternal salvation. There are many who do not obey the most holy will of God. With them God himself will justify his ire on judgment Day, and then indeed God will have his way after all in spite of the regrets of His enemies. In God there are two wills: One antecedent and the other consequent. With the antecedent will He wants us all saved; with the consequent will He gives to each one after this life his just reward. While we are on the way, let us work to win the game for heaven with our own merits aided by divine grace: for the hour will come and then no one can deserve it because the end of our merits had already arrived. The graces that God grants mortals are sufficient or efficacious according to whether man profits from them or not. Let us make use then of the talents that God has given us while we live, because our course or career being ended, having arrived already at the limit of this life, the disillusionment would be irremediable if we had to sing at that sad hour the eternal public recantation, the ergo erravimus [08] of the condemned.

The new man in us may vanquish the old man with all his erroneous judgments and inordinate inclinations; let us work, as St. Ignatius says in his book of Holy Exercises until he is overthrown... This self-esteem and self-judgment of the old man that is sought to be knocked down has certainly not been given to us by God but we have inherited them from our first parents as fruit of their original fall. There I send you the little golden booklet, Contemplus Mundi or Contemptus sui.

Read it often, especially when you find yourself desolate or upset; and believe me that to whatever page you may turn by chance, you will see there indicated the remedy for your ills; be guided by the light of this lantern; nourish yourself with the sap of its doctrine, and run swiftly aided by this locomotive towards the place of eternal peace and happiness that I ask God for you, interpreting faithfully by it the most holy will of God; Not the peace of the godless who says, Pax, pax, et non erat pax, [09] but the true peace of the children of God.

Count me as your sincere friend, especially at the present hour when you are sucking the bitter cup of deportation.

I should like to enlarge on some more considerations especially to refute your ideas on separatism for whose triumph you believe yourself sent almost by God when you say: "I consider myself fortunate to be able to suffer a little for a cause that I believe sacred; I do not remember having committed any act that humiliates me before my conscience; I admit that at the beginning I was grieved by the change of my fortune; but afterwards I consoled myself by thinking of other men more just and more worthy who have suffered much greater injustices, and as no one can make everything run here on earth in accordance with his desires, one must resign one's self. And I believe moreover that when a thing is undertaken, its success is more assured the more one suffers for it. If this is fanaticism may God forgive me for it, for my poor judgment does not see it thus.”

And in another place further down, you add: "I have planned to be useful to my fellowmen and to my country; I have wished to combat old errors and abuses; the forest that I would like to clean was very old; what is strange if the reptiles should whistle upon seeing themselves disturbed in their burrows, if the rocks should leap and crush me in their fall? It was an old muddy pit; what is strange if in stirring it, I catch a fever that may kill me? Am I mistaken? It is possible, but let my good faith and disinterestedness serve as my justification."

All of which deserves a careful reply, but in order not to prolong the present letter, I promise you, God willing, a reply by the next mail.

You know how dear you are to your friend and former director of the congregation.

Pablo Pastells


       [01] Right and merit.

       [02] Nothing enters the mind which has not been previously felt by the senses.

       [03] Literally, he who attempts too much accomplishes little! Or “All covet, all lose.”

       [04] “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  2 Peter 1:19-21 (“Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” New American Bible translation)

       [05]  God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son… Hebrews 1:1-2 (In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe,…” New American Bible translation)

       [06] O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast thou revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. Luke 10:21 ("I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.” New American Bible translation).

            [07] This is the will of God to make you holy.  God wishes men to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (“This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” – New American Bible translation).

       [08] Therefore we erred.

       [09] Peace, peace, and there was no peace.  Jeremiah 6:14 (“’Peace, peace!’ They say, though there is no peace.” – New American Bible translation).



098. Rizal, Dapitan, 11 November 1892 || To Father Pablo Pastells

Rizal is grateful for a copy of Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, of Fr. Chirino, Fr. Delgado, and Cartas de las Misioneros – Brilliant defense of his espousal of the Philippine cause – Noli me tangere is not inspired by any resentment or by the Germans – He is not a Protestant – He prefers “light” to “shade”  He bears his misfortunes philosophically.

Dapitan, 11 November 1892

Very Reverend Father Pablo Pastells

My very reverend Father,

Before answering your precious letter, I must thank you for the Kempis that you have presented to me. I had already leafed through the French translation and I have liked it so much that I consider it no little luck to have it now in Spanish, though they assure me that it is even better in its Latin original. Pearls abound in its pages and scarcely do I come across an axiom that my imperfect discernment cannot comprehend. With justifiable reason it has been translated into almost all languages, even into Tagalog by Fr. Vicente Garcia, one of the canons of the Cathedral.

I appreciate likewise the works of Fr. Chirino and of Fr. Delgado and the Cartas de los Misioneros that you present to me, according to Fr. Sanchez. I have asked for these works as a purchase, otherwise I would not have dared to ask for them for I do not believe I deserve from any one so many proofs of kindness nor do I have anything with which to return them. But Your Reverence, being of a lofty mind, will say that you give without ulterior motive, guided more by the goodness of your heart than by the merits or gratitude of the recipient and because you know that all that is done for a selfish end becomes odious, because it is converted into a kind of inescapable bond.

I shall overlook the forbearance with which Your Reverence received my previous letter and I will tell you nothing of the admiration that your letter inspires me in every respect. The time of Your Reverence is precious; it is not to be spent in listening to praises however deserved they are. I will pick up the phrases that have impressed me most and I am going to comment on them with due respect.

Your Reverence exclaims on the first page: "What a pity that such an excellent young man had not lavished his talents on the defense of better causes!"

It is very possible that there may be better ones than those I have embraced, but my cause is good and this is enough for me. Others undoubtedly will yield more profit, more renown, more honors, more glories, but the cane, on being born in this land, is for the purpose of supporting nipa huts and not the heavy bulk of the buildings of Europe. I do not regret neither the humbleness of my cause nor the meagerness of its rewards but the little talent that God has given me to serve it. If instead of weak cane I had been solid molave, better service I would be able to render. But He who has arranged it thus sees what the future brings, does not err in any of His acts, and knows very well for what use are even the smallest things.

As to honor, fame, or benefit that I might have been able to reap, I agree that all that is especially tempting to a young man like me of flesh and blood with so many weaknesses like anybody else. But as no one chooses the nationality or race in which he is born and as at birth, privileges or advantages inherent in both things are already in existence, I accept the cause of my country in the firm belief that He who has made me a Filipino would know how to forgive me for the mistakes that I commit, considering our difficult situation and the defective education that from birth we receive. Moreover, I do not aspire either for eternal fame or eternal renown; I do not aspire to equal others whose conditions, faculties, and circumstances could be and are in effect different from mine. My sole wish is to do what is possible, what is in my hands, the most necessary. I have glimpsed a little light and I believe that it is my duty to teach it to my countrymen. Others more fortunate, Sarda or anybody else, may soar to the summit.

Your Reverence does very well in limiting yourself to the philosophic-religious question laying aside politics for future discussion; I would ask you to reserve it ad kalendas graecas. The subject is very delicate and it is not to be touched on in the conditions in which I am in, as Your Reverence can understand. Without liberty, a somewhat independent view would be provocative and another that is affectionate would be considered baseness or adulation, and I cannot be either a provoker or base or flatterer. In order that politics may be discussed luminously and may produce results it needs, in my opinion, large spheres of freedom.

Concerning the genesis of my works and writings, Your Reverence suggests to me an idea that I did not suspect when you allude to certain resentments and my wounded dignity. I do not deny the possibility that such might have happened with respect to my latest writings, but with respect to the first... With the sincerity and impartiality that a man is susceptible in examining his past, I have turned back my eyes to the fresh years of my youth and I have asked myself if sometimes resentment had moved the pen with which I wrote the Noli me tangere and my memory answered me in the negative. If on various occasions they have treated me with marked injustice; if my works had been passed over in silence with marked disdain; if against all reason, my complaints have been ignored, I was very young yet I forgave more readily than I do now, and however deep were the wounds, they healed at last, thanks to the good crust with which nature has endowed me. There were not therefore swollen wounds; there were no thorns that had deepened; what there was a clear vision of the reality of my motherland, the vivid memory of what was happening, and a sufficient dexterity to judge the etiology in such a way that not only could- I paint the event but also divine the future, inasmuch as even now I see being realized with such accuracy what I called novel that I can say that I attend a performance of my own work, taking part in it.

With regard to German inspirations, Protestant, etc. etc., I will tell you that I am sorry to see the erudite Fr Pastells being confused on this point along with the populace who believe all they hear without previous examination. It is true that I have read German works and I also discussed what I read. But to suppose that Germans had inspired me is to be totally ignorant of the German people, their character, and their pursuits -- half of the Noli me tangere was written at Madrid, one fourth at Paris, and the other fourth in Germany. Witnesses were my countrymen who saw me working. The populace when they find themselves with something that surprises them, having no patience or calmness to analyze it, attributes it immediately to causes that preoccupy them most -- if it is good, to friendly spirits, if it is bad, to enemies. In the Middle Ages everything bad was the work of the devil and everything good, of God or of His saints. The French of today see the hand of Germany in every misadventure and so are the rest.

However, for the sake of truth, I will say that in correcting my work in Germany, I retouched it a great deal and shortened it further. But I have also tempered the fits, softening many phrases and reducing many things to their just proportion as I acquired a more ample vision of things seen from afar, as my imagination cooled off in the midst of the calm peculiar to that country. I can add more: no German knew about my work before its publication, neither Blumentritt, who always extolled the Catholic religion in his letters to me, nor Virchow, nor Jagor, nor Joest with whom I dealt in the societies to which I belonged, nor Schulzer in whose clinic I worked. Nevertheless I do not deny that the environment in which I lived might have influenced me especially on remembering my native land in the midst of that free people, industrious, studious, well governed, full of confidence in their future, and master of their own destiny.

As to being a Protestant... If Your Reverence knew what I had lost for not accepting Protestantism, you would not say such a thing. Had I not always respected the religious idea, had I held religion as a matter of convenience or an art of getting along in this life, instead of being a poor exile, I would now be a rich man, free, and covered with honors. Rizal, Protestant! There bursts in my breast a laughter which I suppress only out of my respect for all that Your Reverence say. Your Reverence should have heard my discussions with a Protestant curate in the long summer twilights there in the solitude of Odenwald. There, in calm and slow conversation, with freedom to speak, we talked about our respective beliefs, of the morality of peoples, and the influence of their respective creeds on them. A great respect for the good faith of the adversary and for the most contrary ideas that must necessarily arise due to the difference in race, education, and age, led us almost always to the conclusion that religions, whatever they might be, should not make men enemies of one another but rather brothers and real brothers. From these conversations, that were repeated almost every day for a period of more than three months, I do not believe I obtained anything, if my judgment does not deceive me, but a profound respect for every idea sincerely conceived and practiced with conviction.

Almost every month a Catholic curate of a little town on the banks of the Rhine went there to visit him, and this curate, intimate friend of the Protestant, gave me an example of Christian fraternity. They considered themselves two servants of the same God and instead of spending their time quarreling, each one fulfilled his duty, leaving it to their Lord to judge afterwards who had interpreted better His will.

I am very grateful for your immense charity when you say: "If with the blood of my veins I could erase those premises, etc., etc…  It is true that my situation is not very pleasant, accustomed as I am to live under other atmospheres, to enjoy the liberty necessary for man to be responsible for his acts; it is true I have to deprive myself of many things, nay, to repress myself; that the loss of the family, the destruction of a future prepared during my whole youth, the seclusion from the social world -- all constitute a great penalty, but who does not have regrets in this life? A bit of philosophy and another bit of resignation will make me bear my little sorrows. What is my misfortune compared with that of many others? I know too well that there are better trees that provide better shade, but in the midst of the gloom that reigns in my country I do not look for the shade, I prefer light.

"And what dark and cloudy weather is glimpsed for his future!" Thus Your Reverence ends the paragraph in which the kindness of your heart can be seen. What can we do about it? The tempest will pass away and at the worse, I shall pass away with it. There are the beautiful pages of the Kempis that will tell you that "in this world there can­not be perfect security nor complete peace", that the life of man on the earth is miserable," etc. It is so brief and the happiest is so full of bitterness that in truth it is not worthwhile to sacrifice a conviction for round pieces of metal or in the form of a cross. And besides, it is all a question of temperament -- some seek happiness in riches, in honors; others in humiliating and bending their fellowmen; others in making the rest believe in what they themselves do not believe in or in believing in what nobody else believes; others are contented with their self-respect, with directing themselves cautiously, etc. Affaires d’ education as the French would say; of the nervous system, the physicians would say; egoism, the philosophers would say ... And who knows if the tempest that Your Reverence foretell, besides pulling out this weak plant, will not knock down century-old trees or at least shake them and tear off their branches, clear the air charged with the miasma that the stagnation of so many centuries has been exhaling in ominous silence? Who knows? Who can foresee all the consequences of an act? Let the tempest be welcome if it will produce something good, the advancement of my native land, if it can attract the favorable attention of Mother Spain to her eight million subjects who entrust their future to her!

Beautiful and accurate I find the similes that Your Reverence adduces from the genesis and conception of truth by the human mind. I will not deny the possibility that truth might have polarized in passing through my understanding. Polarization is a phenomenon presented by crystals when they have been pressed and compressed in their manufacture. How can I deny moreover since I am a man and am fallible. I agree that our intelligence cannot em­brace all knowledge nor all truths principally those that can be known only through time and manifold experience and I believe more, I believe that, with the exception of mathematical truths, scarcely have we a few, more or less pure, more or less imperfect. In social, moral and political questions we move in such darkness (I speak for myself) that many times we confuse the truth with our convenience, if we do not gag it in order to let our passions speak. I also agree that our judgment is often deceived, our reason errs, but Your Reverence will also agree that only reason knows how to correct its blunders, only reason knows how to rise each time from its falls that it must suffer perforce in its long pilgrimage through the earth. Humankind in its greatest madness has not been able to extinguish that lamp given to it by God. Its light has dimmed at times and man has erred on his way but such a condition passes, afterwards its light shines more brightly, more powerfully, and the errors of the past are recognized in its rays and the abysses of the future are pointed out.

Of course I admit with Your Reverence that supernatural (divine) light is much more perfect than human reason. Who will doubt that Torch when we see in this world the effects of the tiny spark bestowed on mankind? What will God's reason be like when that of the inhabitant of tiny world is flung by Him into space like a snail among the giants of the sea surprises me? But, who with justifiable reason can call himself the reflector of that Light on this our little planet? All religions pretend to hold the truth. What religions do I say? Each man, the most ignorant, the most giddy, pretends to be right. On seeing so many beliefs and so many convictions, on hearing the disdain of every sectarian for the beliefs of others and the marvels miracles, testimonies with which every religion pretends to prove its divinity or divine origin at least; on seeing intelligent, honest, and studious men born in the same climate in the same society, with the same customs, with the same desires to perfect and save themselves, profess in religious matters diverse creeds, a simile comes to my mind that I will allow myself to transcribe here so that Your Reverence may understand my manner of thinking. I imagine men engages in the study of the truth like students of drawing who copy a statue seated around it, some nearer, others farther who from a certain height, who at its feet, see it in different manners; and the more they try to do their best in being faithful in their drawings, the more they differ from one another. Those who copy directly from the original are thinkers who differ from one another for starting from different principles, founders of schools or doctrines. A large number, for being very far, for not seeing well, for not being so skillful, for laziness, or for any other analogous cause, are contented with making a copy from another copy of the one nearest to them, or if they are willing, from what seemed to them best or what passes for the best. These copyists correspond to the partisans, the active sectarians of an idea. Others, even lazier and not daring to draw a single line in order not to commit a blunder, buy themselves a ready-made copy, perhaps a photograph, a lithograph, and they are so contented and cheerful. To this group belong the passive sectarians, those who believe everything in order not to think. Well now, who is to judge the drawings of the others by taking his own as the norm? He would have to move to the same place and judge from the same point of view of the other. And even for this, he ought to place his eyes at the same height and at the same distance in which the other had his, eau to have e curves of the retina identical to those of the other, the same conditions in the retracting media, and the same artistic sense.

And Your Reverence should not tell me that the truths, seen from all points will always show the same form; this would be for Him who is everywhere. For us, mathematical truths which are like plane figures present themselves only in one form. But religious, moral, and political truths are figures of extent and depth, they are complex truths, and human intelligence has to study them in parts.

From my way of thinking I infer that no one can judge the beliefs of others taking his own for the norm. Before discussing them the point of departure should be studied in order to see which was preferred, whether the side of the shadows (pessimism), or the part wholly bathed in light (optimism), or the adequate combination of the two to turn out a beautiful chiaroscuro [the use of light and shade to produce the illusion of depth or make a picture more dramatic - rly].

And if it is very difficult to place one's self in the same point of view of others in the material world, how much more difficult it is in the moral that is complex and hidden?

This is not the time or the occasion to tell Your Reverence why I have a point of view different from yours. I could tell Your Reverence what is mine if I knew it would interest you. But this letter is getting already too long and I will lay aside this question for the time. Your Reverence may ask me about it.

I do not wish, however, to close this letter without manifesting to you my surprise at the conclusion of Your Reverence attributing to me more than I give myself when you say: "I should like to go further in some considerations, especially to refute your ideas of separatism for whose triumph you believe yourself sent, etc." I do not wish to suppose that Your Reverence has a tendency to rash judgments or to believe that you are somewhat influenced by the general custom in the Philippines of resorting to filibusterismo, separatism, patriotism, etc„ etc.; I would rather believe that I had expressed myself poorly if Your Reverence would not quote me the paragraphs from which you deduce such a conclusion; but I reread them and I do not find in them such thought. Is the one who believes himself sent by God doubts as I do? Do those who believe themselves predestined waver and err: But in conscience, does not Your Reverence believe that the humblest creature has some purpose to fulfill on earth; If there were useless beings, beings whose existence were absolutely unimportant, knowing that in this world there are more sorrows than pleasures, is it not cruelty to create them? I can very well be the partisan of an idea and I believe I am, but from this to the very envoy of God to make it triumph, there is a distance. Between the soldier who wields a pickaxe and the general who directs the campaign, there is a whole army register; between the advanced guard and the last charge that will gather the fruit of victory there intervenes transcendental time, there intervenes a whole battle. And next, who tells Your Reverence that the welfare of my country, which is all I pursue, can only be found in separatism?

And so that Your Reverence may see that I am always the common and ordinary man who submits to circumstances, I shall inform you that I am engaged in farming. To what else can one engage in Dapitan? Your Reverence sees an envoy of God planting coffee and cacao! Risum teneatis [01] I have bought here from different owners several parcels of abandoned land; I build myself a little house and as the land is a little far, I am intending to ask His Excellency to permit me to live on it in order to farm it better. It is hilly and rocky with some fruit trees which benefit the monkeys of the forests. It is about 25 minutes from the town; or better it can be reached in baroto [02] a thing many do, for sometimes there cannot be found a banca. I intend besides to register the property as soon as all the negotiations are concluded.


[01] Fragment of verse 5 of The Poetic Art of Horace.  It is applied to ridiculous things.

[02] A small sailing vessel.



099. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 8 December 1892

Fr. Pastells is deeply interested in Rizal’s eternal salvation.  He claims Rizal has expressed Protestant ideas in his books – Quotes the Bible, St. Augustine, etc.


Manila, 8 December 1892

Mr. José Rizal


My most beloved in Christ Don Jose:

I received your esteemed letter of 11 November in which you state that you have a point of view in religious matters different from mine; that if I am interested in asking you about it, you will tell me in what it consists even though you do not believe it opportune for the present to tell me why. Why will I not be interested in asking you with all solicitude about the most important business you have at hand -- the sole, necessary, transcendental business of your eternal salvation which can not be defered? Therefore, please indicate to me in the most concrete way and as fully as possible your manner of thinking concerning religious matters.

You assure me that you are not a Protestant and that had it not been for your respect for the religious idea and for holding religion as a matter of convenience or as an art to get along well in this life, you would now be rich, free, and covered with honors. I am sincerely glad for such candid confession. You add besides that had I heard your discussions with a Protestant curate in the long summer twilights there in the solitude of Odenwald, when in slow, calm conversation, having the freedom to speak, you talked about your respective beliefs, about the morality of peoples,, and the influence of their respective creeds, I would not have formed such a hasty opinion.

Come on, my dear friend, what do you want me to tell you? For, even dispensing with all that you had written in conformity with Protestant doctrines in the Noli me tangere, El Filibusterismo, and in your annotations to Morga which books I have read and are now in my possession. What is the significance of the conclusion that you got from the discussions throughout the three months that the conversations tasted? You yourself state it: A profound respect. You for the good faith of the adversary and for the most contrary ideas... which led you almost always to the conclusion that religions, whatever they might be should not make men enemies of one another but brothers and real brothers So that from those conferences you did not get anything else but a profound respect for all ideas sincerely conceived and practiced with conviction?... Well, already you fell into the trap in which the curate of Odenwald put you. Yes, my friend, because this theory of respecting the most contrary ideas that diverse religions ought to unite men in their very diversity, professing profound respect for every idea sincerely conceived and practiced with conviction is thoroughly Protestant, because it is the consecration of the personal judgment of men.

The Catholic curate of the little town on the banks of the Rhine who gave you an example of this Christian fraternity, considering himself with the Protestant as two servants of the same God... if he did such a thing he would be a simpleton, ignorant, who had lost the Catholic common sense because he necessarily must be so to consider the Protestant servant of the God of the Catholics. This can only be affirmed by those who, like you, believe that the differences between Catholics and Protestants are only of opinion and not of faith and that a religious duty can fulfilled without knowing how the will of God is interpreted in it. This is interpreted well and better with Catholicism; neither better nor well but bad and worse with Protestantism.

The moderate Protestants believe that in all sects one can interpret and fulfill the will of God and be saved. The liberal Protestants even more progressive, like Lessing [Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: a German dramatist and critic.  He held a view of evolutionary development in the Judaic, Christian and other religions toward a more rational state. - rly], Reymarus [Hermann Samuel Reymarus: Protestant minister espousing deism basing faith on reason.  He held Christ to be human and questioned all miracles other than the miracle of creation. - rly], those of the evangelical alliance, with all the file of freethinkers of our days at whose head Draper pretends to be [John Henry Draper: British-American author of History of the Conflict Between History and Science which held that religion was incompatible with science and progress.  He was especially critical of the Roman Catholic Church.  Liberal Spanish intellectuals embraced the Spanish translation of his work. -- rly], affirm that in all the religions of the universe and even without any religion, man can fulfill his duty and gain happiness. It is evident that in this way they pretend to place on the pedestal the idol of reason, independent and separate from faith, and constitute it as the supreme judge and final arbiter of all truths. And is this not to pretend to dethrone God and elevate prostituted reason in His place as the philosophers of the French Revolution (supported by Draper in his Conflicts) did in the last century, putting up a statue of the Goddess of Reason, personified by a prostitute?  … If this is admitted, all science and philosophy become unnecessary and the most contradictory principles and the most illogical and monstrous deductions will be respected as axioms of truth. Where shall we end with such absurdities if not in the destruction of reason and its objective which is truth and in universal skepticism? Is this practical and reasonable?... Well, there you have the consequences of that free and independent reason that could very well be called the reason of wrong inasmuch as far from being guided by the inexorable laws of legitimate reasoning, allows itself to be led quite often by the caprices of the madwoman of the house, Lady Imagination.

Such deviations or misbehavior of reason ought to be attacked and corrected decisively by reason itself illumined by faith and this system, the lone savior of true knowledge and of true religion, is what every one who values himself as a Catholic should practice exclusively.

Interficite errores,[01] St. Augustine says to us, et diligite homines from which I deduce that the good faith of the adversary deserves consideration but not any of the ideas contrary to truth. True religion ought to regard the false ones as enemies. Thus Christ said: qui non est pecum contra me est [02], nor can he tolerate their errors however much he may consider their followers as strayed sheep that live outside of the flock and the fold, love them as a Catholic, take an interest in them as fellowmen, attract them solicitously as children of the same Father who is in heaven into whose paternal dwelling he ought to endeavor to introduce them that in serving Him they may glorify Him. Et alias oves habeo, Christ himself said to the Apostles, quae non sunt ex hoc ovili, et illas oportet ad me adducere et vocem meam audient, et fiat unum ovile et unus pastor.[03] He came to the world with such purpose, ut salvurn faceret quod perierat, et ut filios Dei qui erant dispersi congregaret in unum. [To save what had perished and to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. John 11:52 - rly]

With identical purpose therefore we also ought to work, by means of the wholesome teachings of the Church combating error and falsehood in order to bring back those who err to the fold, to the gentle yoke of the law of Christ and perpetuate in this manner among men the extremely abundant fruits of their redemption. The Savior roused his disciples to such heroic undertaking when he told them: Ignem veni mittere in terram et quid volo nisi ut accendatur... Non veni pacem mittere sed gladium... [04]

As a summary of everything said, it is necessary to conclude by establishing the following bases: 1. The greatest benevolence and profound respect, complete acquiescence and even solidarity with every true idea sincerely conceived and practiced with conviction. 2. Profound hatred, implacable and ceaseless war against all false and erroneous ideas. 3. Commiseration towards persons who have sincerely conceived and practiced with conviction false and erroneous doctrines, offering them opportune and even inopportune and efficacious aid whenever an occasion arises in order to banish their errors and make them come out of the mire into which their bad convictions and habits have plunged them. 4. Persecute, isolate, silence, and confuse every erroneous idea maliciously conceived and practiced, especially if it is pernicious so that it will not contaminate society with its harmful purpose. In the latter case, severity is charity and pity would be cruelty.

You tell me that in the midst of the darkness that reigns over your country you do not want shadows but you prefer light. So much the better; however, you should try that this be the true light; Jesus Christ says of himself: Ego sum lux mundi, qui venit ad me non ambulat in tenebris. [05] Of this light the evangelist St. John writes: Erat lux vera quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. [06]  Therefore I add: Ambulate dum lucem habetis et dum lucem habetis credite in lucem ut filii lucis sit is. Jesus Christ said also: Ego sum veritas.[07]  In another part of your letter however you add: "Of course I admit with Your Reverence that supernatural (divine) light is much more perfect than human reason. Who will doubt that Torch when we see in this world the effects of the little spark (?) granted (?) to mankind (?). What will the creator's operates in eternal matter and infinite producer of all the phenomena that develop in the universe.

Theories are all those that like castles of cards have been erected in the erring reason of freethinkers since the supposed reconstruction of philosophy and science owing to the first principle or false supposition of Descartes [René Descartes: French philosopher and mathematician - rly], Cogito, ergo sum; [08] a principle that its author never dreamed would give rise to materialism. idealism, and pantheism in philosophy, liberalism in politics, deism, rationalism, incredulity, and indifference in religion, romanticism and naturalism in literature and fine arts, and positivism and egoism in domestic, civil, and social economy, in all the branches of commercial, industrial, and agricultural life. In all these manifestations it always appears downright conceit and arrogance in the forefront with Satanic autolatria [automatic giving of the glory that belongs only to God - rly] or rather the apotheosis [raising a person to the status of God - rly] of the “I.”

I sincerely congratulate you that you are not a partisan of these systems; for you admit the existence of one God, Creator and Lord of all creation. But do you also admit the divinity of Jesus Christ and the divine institution of his church?

I ask you this question because I see that you continue in your letter thus: "But who with justifiable reason can call himself on this our planet the reflector of that Light? Who? Well... Jesus Christ God and true man. By virtue of his human nature he is the legitimate Reflector and by virtue of his nature and divine personality, the same light and splendor of his Eternal Father.

Credo, the Church sings, in unum Dominum Jesum Christum Filium Del unigenitum et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula, Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lunine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, Consubstantialem Patri per quern omnia facta sent, qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine et homo factus est. Crucifictus et iam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est et resurrexit tertio die secundum Scripturas et ascendit in coelos sedet ad dexterram Patris, et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mnortuos cujus regni non erit finis. [09]

The Holy Ghost comes from the Father and the Son. Nor is the Church made pagan by believing in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity because in it are three persons and one God. You ought to believe this if you are still a Catholic...

But, the following words that I read in your letter make my soul cold: "All religions pretend to possess the truth ... On hearing the marvels, miracles, and testimonies, etc. with which every religion pretends to prove its divinity or origin at least, on seeing intelligent, honest men... with the same desire to perfect and save themselves, profess in matters of religion diverse beliefs ...I imagine men engaged in the study of truth like students copying a statue. Seated around it ... they see it in different ways and the more they endeavor to be faithful in their drawings the more these drawings will be different from one another... And Your Reverence do not tell me that truths seen from all points always have to show the same form; this would be for Him who is everywhere and whose glance embraces everything. To us only mathematical truths that are like plane figures show themselves in that manner; but religious, moral, and political truths are figures of extent and depth ... and this is without speaking of preoccupations, of suggestions, of sympathies!... "

And the divine mission of Jesus Christ, my dear friend, and his divinity itself count for naught and weigh nothing on the disk of your intellectual balance with the object of tilting your assent?

The divine mission of Jesus Christ is more than sufficient, most abundantly proven by his miracles, which if they are true, are the most evident testimonies and constitute a kind of irrefutable proofs, digna infidelibus [convincing even the pagans - rly] ... I will cite you only one that is worth a thousand in order not to tire your attention, Ab uno disce omnes. [10] Who, on seeing a four-day buried corpse, fetid and decomposed, that at the sole voice of one man returns to life, will deny that a true miracle of the first order had been worked there? Well such was the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus Christ. A public act, done before the face of an entire town, a transcendental act that its performance cost Jesus Christ himself his life. Will you deny it perchance? Well, you close all the pages of history inasmuch as from now on they are of no use to me. Either authenticity has no proofs or this is an unimpeachable authentic miracle. . .

Well now, Jesus Christ performed that miracle to prove his divine mission. Already on another occasion he had said to the Jews: St mihi non vultis credere, operibus credite. [If you do not wish to believe me, believe my works – rly (see John 10:38)] In relating the deed St. Luke [actually, the quotation is from the gospel of John 11:42-44 - rly] says thus: Jesus autem elevatis sursum oculis, dixit: Pater gratias ego tibi quoniam audisti me. Ego autem sciebam quia semper me audis, sed propter populum qui me circunstat, dixi, ut credant quia to me misisti. Haec cum dixisset, voce magna clamavit; Lazare vent foras et statum prodiit qui fuerat mortuus, ligatus pedes et manus institis et illius sudario eras ligata. Dixit eis Jesus, solve eum et smite abire. [11]

Let all the leaders of the other religions and other copyists come now and do as much beyond the reach of natural laws.

The miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus proves therefore the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

The miracle of the glorious resurrection of his own body likewise proves the divinity of Jesus Christ.

It is so public and resounding an act, the most transcendental of all for Christianity, because it constitutes the most evident proof of the truth of the religion established by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself had foretold it repeatedly before it occurred. Ecce ascendimus Jerosolyman, Jesus Christ once told his apostles, et consummabuntur omnia quae scripta sunt per Prophetas de Filio hominis. Tradetur enim gentibus et illudetur, et flagellabitur, et consepuetur; et postquam flagellaverint occident eum, et tertia die resurget. [12] On another occasion, after his transfiguration on the Tabor, he had prescribed to his three apostles who witnessed it. Peter, John, and James: Nemine dixeritis vi sionen donec Filius hominis a mortuis resurgat; [13] and at another place Solvite templum hoc et in tribus diebus excitabo illud. [14] Ipse autem, adds the evangelist loquebatur de templo corporis sui. [But he spoke of the temple of His body (John 2:21) - rly] And in other passages when he says, Praecedam vos in Galilea [15] and in the comparison of his burial with that of Jonas in the belly of the whale, etc.

The act of the resurrection of Christ was so evident and clear that St. Thomas himself so obstinately persistent in his incredulity formerly, had to admit it later, not till after he had put his fingers on the scars of the wounds of the hands, feet, and the side of Jesus Christ.

This event was so publicly known, universally admitted, and of such practical and transcendental consequences that I cannot resist copying here all that the Doctor of the Gentiles remarked about it in his letter to the Corinthians,: Chap. XV, v.1-23: Notum autem vobis facio, Fratres, evangelium quod praedicavi vobis, quod et accepistis, in quo et statis per quod et salvamini qua ratione praedicaverirn vobis, si tenetis, nisi frustra credidistis. Tradidi enim vobis in primis, quod et accepi; quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris, secundum Scripturas; et quia visus est Cephae et post hoc undecim; deinde visus est plus quam quimgentis fratribus simul, ex quibus multi manent usque ad huc, quidam autem dormierunt; deinde visus est Jacobo, deinde apostolis omnibus; novissima autem omnium tanquam abortivo, visus est et mihi. Ego enim sum minimus apostolorum, qui non sum dignus vocari quoniam persecutus sum ecclesiam Dei. Gratia autem Dei sum id quod sum et gratia ejus in me vacua non fuit; sed abundantius illis omnibus laboravi; non ego autem, sed gratia Dei mecum. Sive enim ego, sive illi, sic praedicamus, et sic credidistis.... Si autem Christus praedicatur quod resurrexit a mortuis, quomodo quidam dicunt in vobis quoniam resurrectio mortuorum non est? Si autem resurrectio mortuorum non est, neque Christus resurrexit. Si autem Christus non resurrexit, inanis est ergo praedicatio nostra, inanis est et fides vestra. Invenimur autem et (also testes Dei, quoniam testimonium diximus adversus Deum, quod suscitaverit Christum, quern non suscitavit si mortui non resurgunt. Num si mortui non resurgunt, neque Christus resurrexit. Quod si Christus non resurrexit, vana est tides vestra: adbuc enim estis in peccatis vestris. Ergo et qui dormierunt in Christo. perierunt. Si in hac vita tantum in Christo sperantes mus, miserabiliores sumus omnibus hominibus.

Nunc autem Christus resurrexit a mortuis, primitiae  dormientium; quoniam quidem per hominem morn, et Pet hominem resurrectio mortuorum. Et sicut in Adam omnis moriuntur, ita est in Christo omnes vivijicabuntur. [16]

Jesus Christ resurrected by his own virtue, according to his own testimony. When he drove out of the temple the merchants he told them: Auferte ista hint, et nolite facere. domum Patris mei, domun negociationis. [17] Then the Jews asked him to perform a miracle to prove his divinity as the Son of God for he acted with such authority, Quod signum ostendis nobis quia haec facis,[18] to which Christ replied Solvite templum hoc, et in tribes diebus excitabo illud. [“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” – John 2:18-19 - rly] The word in the Hebrew text signifies templum et corpus [both temple and body - rly] Jesus Christ was talking of the resurrection of his own body, through his own virtue, the Jews inasmuch as they were then in the temple, understood it as excitabo illud, [reconstruction of the physical temple - rly] that he was talking about its reconstruction, and so they told him: Quadraginta et sextannis aedificatum est templum hoc, et tu in tribus diebus excitabis illud? [19]  But the evangelist, a witness of the deed, explains afterward the meaning of what the Lord said: Ille autem dicebat de temply corporis sui. Cum ergo resurrexist a mortuis recordati sunt discipuli ejus quia hoc dicebat, et credidierunt Scriptura et sermoni quem dixit Jesus. [20]

Therefore the example that you adduce of the students copying a statue does not apply; because it does not deal there any statues but of the very original and prototype Jesus Christ, God, and true man, author of religion, of revelation, and sanctification, founder of the Catholic church, consummator and object of our hope, cause, and motive of our being, knowledge, and natural inclinations, as God creator, and supernatural as Redeemer, and at the same time the end of our eternal happiness.  Ego sum, he tells us, the principium et finis. [21] With what other point of view then can men regard the supernatural but with that given to them by the very same being and author of the supernatural who is God himself whose gaze embraces all?  He has elevated our faculties and has put them in such conditions of aptitude by means of His divine grace, illuminative and impulsive, that our intelligence aided by it can know the existence of the mysteries and our will to believe them and to wish and act in conformity with the most holy will of God in such a way that all the acts of the virtues will entitle us to life eternal if we perform them invested with the sanctifying grace of habitual charity.

Inspice, ergo, et fac secundum exemplar quod tibi monstratum est. [22]  Et noli vacari Rabbi super terram, unus est enim Magister noster, Christus. [23] At another place he teaches us saying: Ego sum via veritas et vita. [24] Blessed are those who listen to his teachings and keep them.  Let us listen to Christ then.  He has established his church to which he entrusted the body of his revelation and made it the dispenser of his graces, and for this purpose promised the church as well as its head or chief, the visible vicar of Christ himself on earth, His aid until the end of the centuries.  I should like to tell you something of the origin and prerogatives of this divine institution; however I am afraid to prolong myself too much and we shall leave it in any case for the next mail.  As you please, we shall leave the political question ad kalendas graecas [literally: "on the Greek day of Calende" an idiomatic expression such as "when pigs fly." - rly] concerning which I believe you are involved in a paralogism [reasoning contrary to the rules of logic, faulty argument - rly] called fallacy of the heart.  Bear in mind, however, that first, the right of Spain to the occupation and later to the domination of the Philippines was a divine and natural right; second, that the prescription of the fact of Spanish domination over the Philippines with attending circumstances sanctioned her original right; third, that the fruits of the occupation and domination of Spain, secured for the benefit of the Philippines, thanks to the system of legislation, government, administration, and culture adopted and employed by Spain, corroborate the fact and right of her domination, and the abuses committed in all branches of the government by the personnel of the same, even if they ought to be corrected, cannot be used to destroy the fact or right of her domination; fourth, Philippine separatism constitutes, especially at present, the ugliest blot of downright ingratitude; fifth, that separatism in the Philippines is impossible of execution, indefensible in practice, and, in the end, unwise; and sixth and last, that united to Spain, the Philippines will run triumphantly until the end over the course of true progress, but separated from her she will inevitably run headlong into the chaos of anarchy, of slavery, of savagery.

   I pity those people for their wretched condition in their muddy places during the planting season.  Please see how all this could be avoided.  We will try to remedy it as long as it is within my power.  My regards to Mr. Ricardo.

I remain your affectionate friend and servant in Christ.

Pablo Pastells, S.J.


[01] Destroy errors and love men.

[02] He who is not with me is against me.

[03] And other sheep I have which are not of this fold, and them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.  John 10:16.

[04] I am come to send fire on the earth and what will I if it be already kindled?  Luke 12:49.  I came not to send peace, but a sword.  Matthew 10:34.

[05] I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness.  John 8:12.

[06] That was the true Light which enlightens every man that comes into the world.  John 1:9.

[07] I am the truth. From John 14:6.

[08] I think, therefore, I exist.

[09] I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God of God; Light of Light; true God of true God.  Begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by Whom all things were made, who for us, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made Man.  He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried.  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures.  And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.  And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead and His kingdom shall have no end. [From the Nicene Creed]

[10] From one learn all.

[11] Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  And I know that you hear me always; but because of the people who stand by, I said it that they may believe that you have sent me.  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus said unto them, “Loose him and let him go.”  (John 11:42-44)

[12] Behold we go up to Jerusalem and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the SON of man shall be accomplished.  For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spit upon, and they shall scourge Him and put Him to death; and the third day He shall rise again. (Luke 18:31-33)

[13] Tell no one what things they had seen until the Son of man is raised from the dead. (Matthew 17:9)

[14] Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19)

[15] I will go before you into Galilee. (Matthew 26:32)

[16] Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.

[17] Take these things away; do not my father’s house a house of merchandise.  [John 2:16]

[18] “What sign do you show unto us, seeing that you do these things?”  Christ replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:18-19]

[19] It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days? [John 2:19]

[20] But he spoke of the temple of his body.  When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them, and they elevated the scriptures, and the word Jesus had said. [John 2:21-22]

[21] I am the beginning and the end. [Revelation 1:8]

[22] Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,… [Matthew 23:3]

[23] Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. [Matthew 23:10]

[24] I am the truth and the life.  [from John 14:6]




103. Rizal, Dapitan, 9 January 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal explains his concept of God.  Note: This letter is a composite of the English translation of the Epistolario Rizalino by the National Heroes Commission / National Historical Institute (which is incomplete) and that of Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., The Rizal Pastells Correspondence (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994), pp. 161-165  

Dapitan, 9 January 1893

Very Reverend Father Pablo Pastells, S.J.

My very Reverend Father,

I have read attentively your precious as well as profound letter of the 8th ultimo [= December, the last or ultimate month - rly] and I remain very grateful to you for the interest you continue showing me.

These days I have examined my beliefs and their foundations; I have reviewed what little has been left to me by the shipwreck of faith, as my dear Professor Fr. Sanchez would say, or the solid bases that have remained firm despite so many tempests. I should like to be most sincere, the most accurate possible in the definition and exposition of my ideas because I esteemed Your Reverence very much not only for what you are, not only for what you have been to me in my adolescent years (to me always a loved and sacred memory) [Bonoan speculates that Pastells may have been Rizal’s spiritual director or confessor in past years. - rly] but also because Your Reverence is one of the few persons who, far from forgetting me in adversity, has extended his hand to me with so much benevolence.

I reply then with pleasure to your question and I shall un-bosom myself sincerely so that Your Reverence may see if everything has been lost or if there is still something left that may be useful.

I believe firmly in the existence of a Creator more than by faith, by reasoning and by necessity. Who is He? What human sounds, what syllables of language can enshrine the name of that Being whose works overwhelm the mind that thinks of them? Who can give Him an adequate name when a little creature hereabouts with an ephemeral power has two or three names, three or four surnames and numerous titles and epithets? We call Him God, but this only recalls the Latin Deus, the Greek Zeus at most. What is He? I would attribute to him all the beautiful and holy qualities that my mind can conceive in infinite degree, if the fear of my ignorance did not restrain me. Someone has said that each man forms his God according to his image and likeness, and if my memory does not fail me, Anacreon [It was Xenophanes – rly (from note found in the Bonoan translation] said that if a bull could imagine a god, he would imagine a horned bull bellowing in a superlative degree. Notwithstanding, I dare to believe Him infinitely wise, powerful, good. My idea of the infinite is imperfect and confused on seeing His wonderful works, the order that prevails among them, their magnificence and overwhelming extent, and the goodness that shines in everything. The lucubration [laborious work - rly] of a poor worm, the last creature on the little ball of the earth, however crazy they may be, can never offend His inconceivable majesty. His thought humbles me, and makes me giddy. How many times my reason tries to raise my eyes towards that Being as many times it falls stunned, dazzled, crushed. I am overtaken by fear and I prefer to keep silent to being the bull of Anacreon.

Permeated with this vague but irresistible sentiment before the inconceivable, the superhuman, the infinite, I leave its study to brighter minds. I listen in suspense to what the religions say and incapable of judging what exceed my strength, I content myself with studying Him in his creatures, my fellow creatures, and in the voice of my conscience which can only proceed from Him. I try to read, to divine His will in what surrounds me and in the mysterious inner sentiment that I feel within myself whose purity above all things I try to maintain in order to act according to it. Many religions pretend to have that Will condensed and written down in their books and dogmas but aside from numerous contradictions, from the varied interpretation with respect to the words, from many obscure points.  [The older English translation of the Epistolario ends at this point as they had an incomplete manuscript.  What follows is from the Bonoan translation. (Note: the paragraph numbering system of Bonoan is not used.) - rly]  Is it possible that he who makes the sun rise for all and the air to blow everywhere to give life, he who has endowed everyone with intelligence and reason for life here on earth, has also hidden from us what is most necessary for our eternal life? What shall we say of a father who heaps candies and toys on his children, but gives food only to one of them, educates and rears him alone? And what if it so happens that this chosen one refuses to eat while the others die looking for food?

But I do not mean by this that I completely disregard what the sacred books, religious precepts, and religious dogmas have to say. On the contrary, these books are, in the final analysis, the insights of men and whole generations put down in writing, the knowledge of the past on which the future is built. Most of these religious precepts are condensations or formulations of the precepts of the natural law; as such, they are for me God's word.

When there arises a conflict among them, I decide in favor of that which is most in conformity with nature's law; because for me nature is the only divine book of unquestionable legitimacy, the sole manifestation of the Creator that we have here in this life clear, perennial, living, powerful, capable of overcoming our blunders and errors, incorruptible, one that cannot play false in spite of human caprice, with its laws constant and unchangeable in all places and for all times. Your Reverence will object that the page we possess from this book is of little value and that, while we can achieve perfect knowledge of our planet; however we could only have an imperfect knowledge of the Creator, just as we can have no perfect knowledge of the sculptor from a small statue or sketch. I agree, but ex ungue leonem [we know the lion by its claws - Bonoan] and at least the path we pursue is a sure one and universally apt for uniting all inhabitants of the earth into one single religion. And who knows but that the weak mind of man might well explode like Sirius and Aldebaran [two brilliant stars – from note by Bonoan - rly] if we propose to it too great an object?

Therefore in the light of the knowledge of the past and present, I weigh things, try to determine their causes and the finality of their activity, and strive to follow the direction they take. I see in everyone an inborn desire to know; I see the world outside full of colors, qualities and incentives that nourish this desire; I see misery as the chastisement of ignorance, well-being as the prize of knowledge. And I come to the conclusion from my humble reasoning that the Creator desires man to perfect himself by growing in knowledge. Reflecting on the mysterious sentiment of sympathy, its dynamism and transformations, I become aware of the impulse that commands us to love one another, and I take as God's word the religious command that everyone must love the neighbor as himself. Seeing how freedom when overrated destroys and ruins the principle of life in a living thing which can subsist by itself, seeing the daily lesson in all creation of how weak creatures-from nestling birds to young lions in the den-are given support and protection, but as soon as they can get on by themselves, freedom and room for action; I find justification for the precepts of charity and respect for the rights of others. At first glance, after a superficial examination, we get the impression that the law of struggle holds sway and it is might that wins the day. But after careful study, when we contemplate the skeletons of gigantic monsters now gone from the face of the earth, when we read in history the epitaphs of great and mighty empires which lived off the life and freedom of humanity, when we see how the cat lives on as the tiger disappears, how shopkeepers increase in number as conquistadors vanish; we become better aware of the principles of peace, the triumph of the mind and the law of universal harmony -- harmony which follows the world in its rapid course, demanding life for all and freedom for all' Those who consume more than they produce incur the hatred of the world, and victory belongs only to the one who seeks the perfection of others as well as his own.

These are the fundamental principles of my religious ideas. I admit they do not constitute a complete system, because in spite of all the studies we have done, we are still in the slow process of reading from this grand book. But these principles have the advantage of being open to all, of constituting legitimate divine revelation, and of being able to unite one day all consciences, without resorting to quarrels, anathemas and bloodshed. There are no anathemas and prohibitions, but a free forum for discussion; no miracles as proofs, but facts and experience give their verdict. There is no fear of apocryphal accounts or forged manuscripts: death is the fate of everything that does not conform to nature.

Regarding the immortality of the soul and life eternal, how can I believe in the death of my consciousness, when everything around me tells me that nothing is lost but things merely change? If the atom cannot be annihilated, is it possible for my consciousness which rules the atom to be annihilated? To deny eternal life, one would have to come back from the other side of eternity, and this return would be itself a confirmation of life eternal.

Regarding redemption, I have stronger faith in this matter than many of those who perhaps take me for a heretic. I believe in the redemption by the Word which has been decreed from all eternity.  Humanity can fall three or even a thousand times on life's bitter road, but it will always find salvation. And the greater the crisis, the greater the victory will be. In the end humanity will rise again triumphant and glorious, for the work of God cannot perish.

Basically, my religious ideas are perhaps in agreement with yours (I hope you do not mind the company); but if the road I have taken is a great shock to you, I ask for your pardon in the name of the God who has made beauty to consist in variety within unity. Perhaps it will not be so bad a thing if we differ a little bit even as we worship the same Creator. My ideas may be erroneous, but at least I am convinced and sincere, arising as they do from my humble judgment and my heart. Come the day for offering sacrifice, I shall approach the altar with the product of my own efforts, a faith truly my own, the best I can offer. Others will offer hecatombs [An extravagant offering of animal sacrifice to the Greek gods - rly] they have bought or borrowed, foreign ideas, well-studied positions, imposed beliefs -- all stereotyped offerings, more precious and worthy than my own. But he to whom these are directed will be the judge. I submit myself to his judgment.

Let us put aside the religious question and please accept a small gift which I am sending through the kindness of the Fathers. I have nothing here, there are no stores selling art objects. Nonetheless, I owe you so much I thought I ought to send you a small token, however poorly executed, of my gratitude. It is a small statue of St. Paul in an attitude of prayer. If you wish, you can have someone who knows about ceramics to bake and harden it. This would make me happy, for you would remember me always in your prayers.

Concerning the improvement of health conditions in this town, I think the problem ought to be taken seriously. This year, unfortunately, there is a lot of work to be done and I doubt if there are enough workers available. It will be necessary to ask a good number of people to work for some months, and spend some amount of money to build a perfect network of canals and drainage facilities, to disinfect some mangroves and raise the ground at some places. This is not a matter for ten or twenty Pintakasi [Patrons; benefactors of projects – rly (from footnote of Bonoan)] alone, and it will not suffice to dig two or three canals which will fill up after the first few rainfalls. This is a matter of the greatest importance; it concerns the health of the people, on which depends their economic as well as moral well-being. We will need brick, lime, labor and money. I am sure you could do something if you tried; but unfortunately Your Reverence is far away and busy with so many things while out here we lack labor and materials. I am willing in every way to do anything I can for the service of the people. Please do tell me what to do.

We are in good health here. Don Ricardo will write Your Reverence and I presume that in his letter he will thank you for asking me to convey to him your best regards. The Fathers are well.  Father Sanchez has progressed much in his study of the language. We shall meet one day to talk about the formation of the tenses of Tagalog verbs.

A man from Calamba has come here to look over the farmlands with a view to moving to this place the townspeople of Calamba who have been dispossessed of their homes and properties. He was greatly pleased with the lands in Libulad and Duhinob and is now writing Calamba inviting them to come over.  These people are hard-working, peace-loving, but cognizant of their rights; and I have no doubt but that if they are granted some concessions, they will give life to this District. They ask that for at least three years while they are building their town and starting to cultivate their fields, they are exempted from the requirement of personal service. [Mandatory labor required of citizens in Spanish times – rly (from a footnote by Bonoan)] In effect, in the first few years, they need all their resources for one massive effort to clear the forest, build their homes, plant, look for their food, and acclimatize them to the place.

It will be a big help also if the authorities in Laguna don’t place any obstacle to this emigration. His Excellency the Governor can issue a decree to this effect, as Don Ricardo has already said. If this plan pushes through, I will have no difficulty whatsoever remaining in this District forever.

My best wishes for a happy new year and many happy returns on your feast day. I remain always your devoted and loyal servant. Respectfully yours,

José Rizal



104. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 2 February 1893

Acknowledging Rizal’s gift of an image of Saint Paul, carved by him – A long letter much like a sermon on subjects such as God, Revelation, faith, and the like.

Mission of the Society of Jesus

in the Philippine Islands


Mr. José Rizal


My most beloved in Christ Don José,

I received on time your very esteemed letter of the 9th January. I appreciate the gift that in honor of St. Paul you have deigned to send me. The said image will continually remind me that I ought to pray to God for you through such a powerful mediator. Likewise I appreciate the undeserved confidence you place in me which I shall try to return with the same candor.

The shipwreck of faith has been really an act in you after suffering so many tempests on the turbulent sea of your agitated life. Not everything is lost however, for the life preserver of hope is still attached to your soul. Do not let it go, for it will lead you to the port of salvation. You have sucked on the lap of your mother, in your family, and at the Ateneo Municipal the pure doctrine of the true religion, an irrefragable witness being this present writer, and sooner or later you will have to return to the bosom of the Holy Mother the Catholic Church. Adolescens juxta viam suam etiam cum sennerit non recedet ab ea. [Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. – Proverbs 22:6]

In the first place you affirm that more than by faith, by reasoning and by necessity you believe firmly in the existence of a Creator Being. This belief is the basis and beginning of every good philosophical doctrine and the first question required of God in Theology.  Au sit? [“Does he exist?” – rly (Bonoan note)] And I see that by the mercy of God, we agree on this basis of natural philosophy.  Neither is it incompatible that we should have knowledge and faith at the same time from the same natural truth that we know through reason and revelation in the manner that we see distant objects with the eyes and the telescope and we see images directly or through the negative.  We hear and we communicate with one another with the voice by direct hearing or by means of the telephone or the phonograph.  We go to certain places by foot, by horse, or by carriage, or we are driven by steam or electricity.  Knowledge, then, and faith are two kinds of knowledge of a distinct order which can lead us to the acquisition of the same truth through different ways.  Who is God?  What is His name?  You will pronounce it with respect if you call it ineffable.  God is Being by himself.  Ens a se; vel inconmutabilis substantia spiritualis, infinita et se subsistens in actu simplicisimo.  [Being from itself – the unchangeable spiritual substance, infinite and subsisting by itself in a most single act. – Bonoan translation] The names of God that we have are positive and negative, proper, improper, relative, univocal, ambiguous, and analogous, but all inadequate.  Only the Eternal Father is named adequately and names his Son, comprehending or understanding himself adequately engendering from the eternal the Holy Ghost and its adequate naming, inasmuch as with the Father and the Son it has to be equally and jointly adored and glorified.  The person of the Father is distinct, that of the Son is distinct, that of the Holy Ghost is distinct but one in their divinity, essence, substance or nature of the three Persons.  So that in the confession of the true or eternal Trinity, unity is adored in the essence, propriety in the Persons, equality in the Majesty.  Only the Trinity can give to Itself an adequate name.

This is added by theology, revelation, and faith to the idea that sane philosophy conceives of God.  Dogma in this case, without resembling the bull of Anacreon, illumines with the brightest splendor the source of this reason with the luster of this most transcendental truth.  Without any boldness, in what has been said fits perfectly your concept of God, namely, that He is infinitely wise, powerful, good (however imperfect and confused your idea of the infinite may be on seeing the wonders of His works, the order that reigns in them, their magnificence and overwhelming extent, and the kindliness that shines in everything.  I understand that His thought humbles you and makes you giddy, and that as many times as your reason tries to raise itself towards that Being that created so many planetary systems,  so many suns, so many clusters of worlds or nebulae, as many times it falls stunned, dazzled, and crushed. The same happens to me not only on contemplating so many worlds and planetary and astral systems but even before the presence of a single microbe. On seeing the life that shines in the thousands of millions of worlds so invisible on account of their smallness despite their proximity, how invisible are the thousands, perhaps millions, of systems, almost so overwhelming for their magnitude as well as for their distance, on seeing that every drop of water or blood or tiny bubble of air is a world replete with living beings with their own life and every being distinct from one another; on considering that God governs them all by the simplest laws with the greatest peace and repose with regard to their number, weight, and measure that perhaps the entire material combination of the world is governed by a unity of farces created and governed by the only principle or only constant motor in the most simple act that in essence is God, I cannot but exclaim enthusiastically, without fear of resembling the bull of Anacreon: Oh quam magnifica sunt opera tua Domine Deus virtutum! Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei et opera manuum emus anuntiat firmamentum. Invisibilia enim ipsius (Dei) a creatura mundi, per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur, sempiterna quoque ejus virtus et divinitas. [How wonderful are your works, O Lord of virtues.  The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. For since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.  – rly (Bonoan – see Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:20)] If I did not do it that way, I would make myself unpardonable, because knowing God, I had not glorified Him as such, at least in gratitude for the benefits He had bestowed on me through His creatures. However, for the things created from nature we can only know God, as one says, behind the back. When shall we see Him facie ad faciem, sicuti est? (face to face as He is?). For the present, philosophy ought to be contented to prove His existence a posteriori [(inductive reasoning) from effect to cause, reasoning from particular instances leading to a generalization - rly]. It ought not to be silent for this reason, rather, full of admiration, it should exclaim with the great Linnaeus [Carolus Linnaeus, Sweedish botanist - rly] in his Systema Natura: Deum sempiternum, inmensum, omniseium, omnipotentem expergetactus a ergo transeuntem vidi et obstupui. Legi aliquod ejus vestigia per creata rerum, in quibus omnibus, etiam in minimis ut fere nullis, quae vis! Quanta sapientia! Quam. inextricabilis perfectio! [“I saw the eternal, immense, all-knowing, omnipotent God from the back passing through and I was greatly astonished.  I recognize his footsteps in the things he has created.  What power there is in all of creation, even in the most infinitesimal of creatures!  What wisdom! What consummate perfection!” – Bonoan translation]

Let us remove our shoes like Moses before the burning and incombustible mysterious bramble. The place we are going to tread on is holy. Let us not approach then in order to scrutinize the secrets of nature without recognizing first the voice of the Creator that speaks to us through His creatures and without first adoring the majesty of God and give Him thanks for the benefits received.

We should not content ourselves, however, with studying God in His creatures and in the bosom of our conscience. Let us listen with irrevocable faith from the infallible lips of the Catholic Church to the voice of God, who spoke forthwith to man by means of Revelation.

And what? Is Revelation impossible perchance? He who has endowed man with the gift of the word to communicate with one another in society and in a thousand different languages, He alone will be deprived of communicating forthwith with men and shall need the material instrument of mute nature, like a trumpet, to do so? He who made the eyes shall not see? He who made the ears shall not hear? He who enriched us with the word shall not speak? God as the first cause, and ens a se [being from itself - rly] possesses in a most simple, eminent, and independent manner all the virtues that beings inferior to Him possess as second causes. These receive their virtue to act from the first cause as they receive from it also their life. Therefore, if men can communicate with one another a fortiori [all the more (often used by logicians indicating in a concluding argument that what follows is of even greater necessity that what has already been accepted in the argument) - rly] God can do so in a manner even more perfect and forthwith.

And if He can, why will He not do it? Is it perchance because it is not advisable? And in what other way can the Will of God be better communicated to us so that we can fulfill it than through Revelation, entrusting its custody to a magistracy [the position of a magistrate - rly], endowed with an infallible authority, so that it may not be adulterated? Would He who has so wisely and paternally provided His creatures with everything necessary for this life, as you say, bury us among the fog of the most supine ignorance with regard to what is necessary for eternal life? Such a thing should not be feared from a God who is so good, wise, and powerful; on the contrary, granting that God has created us for so noble and supernatural purpose such as deserving Him in this life and enjoying Him in the other, it is but just that the means be proportional to the purposes and therefore supernatural.

But inasmuch as the acts done by free will, left to their own strength, would never be deserving of eternal life if they are not reinforced and elevated by the customary sanctifying grace, for not being proportional to the purpose, therefore, granting that God has destined us for a supernatural purpose, it is necessary that He let us know the supernatural means by which we can duly attain it and at the same time impart to us the supernatural strength necessary to carry them out.

Here is proven the necessity of Revelation and the illuminating and impelling supernatural grace to attain eternal salvation. Does not this path seem to you my most beloved Mr. José, much better and more expeditious, clearer, more logical, and safer than the one you follow when you say: "Permeated with this vague but irresistible sentiment before the inconceivable, I leave the study of the superhuman, the infinite, to brighter minds; I listen in suspense to what other religions say, and incapable of judging what surpasses my strength, I content myself with studying it in His creatures, my brothers, and in the voice of my conscience that can only arise from Him. I try to read, to divine, His will in what is around me, and in the mysterious sentiment that speaks within me, whose purity I try to keep above all things. Many religions pretend to have that Will condensed and written in their books and dogmas; but apart from many contradictions, from varied interpretation of the words and many obscure and indefensible points, my conscience, my reason, cannot admit how He who has so wisely and paternally provided His creatures with everything necessary for this life, would bury what is necessary for eternal life in the fog of a language, unknown to the rest of the world, darkened by metaphors and deeds contrary to His own laws? He who makes His sun shine for everybody and the air to circulate everywhere so that it may refresh the blood, He who has given to all intelligence and reason to live this life, would He conceal from us the most necessary for eternal life? What would we say of a father who showers his children with tidbits and toys and only feeds one, educates him, and maintains him? And if it turned out afterwards that the chosen one refused the food while the others were dying in search of it?"

I assure you, my beloved friend Rizal, that this paragraph of yours that I have just transcribed leaves the soul stiff with cold and forsaken in the darkest of the darkness of an eternal night. All of it smells of systematic naturalism and it cannot satisfy any one, you included: because as Job would say, Celat consilium absque scientia. [It hides counsel without knowledge.  Job 42:3 (Bonoan)] Here you prejudge questions and you shut yourself up in a castle for not wishing to examine them; you leave the study of the superhuman to brighter minds and listen in suspense to what other religions say. (It would be enough for you to say the Catholic religion.) But, if you believe yourself incapable of judging what surpasses your strength, why do you judge in the following line that the voice of your conscience and at most the voice of men can only arise from God? And cannot the voice next to the same God arise also from God? It seems to me that I have already answered sufficiently before this extreme. You ought to join the voice of your conscience then and that of the creatures to the voice of God, revealed and entrusted for its faithful custody, to the Church, endowed with infallibility by Jesus Christ himself for its accurate interpretation. Neither are you required to judge what you do not understand and surpass your mental power but only to admit and to believe the truth and the existence of the mystery that the church proposes to you as credible and revealed. Inasmuch as even if you do not have intrinsic reasons of the mystery, God has them and reveals them and you have them -- Intrinsic or metaphysical reasons of which God cannot be deceived or deceive us -- and therefore for believing the truth of the existence of the dogma. The authority of revealing God is enough to render the gift of the faith entirely reasonable. In order to know that God has revealed What the Church proposes to us as an article of faith, the extrinsic motives of credibility are sufficient that, like a touchstone, will serve you marvelously to judge whether or not what surpasses your mental power is admissible or inadmissible, is true or false, and this is with such strength of conviction that in order to break its certainty, it would be necessary to break likewise the essential attributes of God himself -- his wisdom and his power. Do not be satisfied then, my dear Mr. Rizal, to study God only in the creatures your brothers and in the voice of your conscience that when it is righteous and true comes also from God. It is necessary besides that that conscience and that reason hear the voice of the Lord when he speaks to them through Revelation, legitimately recognized by the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church, established for this purpose by the same God.  And what, was not the said Revelation perchance necessary in the world? Read, for God's sake, the history of the past before the coming of Jesus Christ and you will see until what point mankind, left to its own forces, had reached. How all peoples that dispensed with Revelation fell into the abyss of idolatry, all notions of the most practical and transcendental truths of the natural order being obliterated from their minds: how natural law itself, with respect to morality came to be obliterated almost completely, from the hearts of peoples, families, and individuals, the law that God had engraved in the consciences of men more deeply than in marble.

And this does not assume a grand original fall of mankind, which increasing itself in the course of time, rushed headlong like an immense avalanche, a terrible avalanche, over countries and nations, leaving behind it dismal traces of desolation and moral ruin so indelible that human and natural force would not have been able to lift up mankind from its state of depression and prostration. Only God was powerful enough to rehabilitate fallen mankind and this was precisely what at the fullness of time Jesus Christ did. Therefore, Jesus Christ was God.

I shall not amuse myself here in proving to you the divinity of Jesus Christ for I have already clearly demonstrated it in my last letter.

How unfortunate mankind would have been had it relied on its own forces to read and divine by itself during the period of its idolatry and paganism the will of God. What would it be at this time except a grand temple of Venus and an immense Roman Circus?  Nor do I oppose, rather I urge you, to listen to the voice of your conscience purified of all error and wickedness. However, know at the same time that the sieve through which you ought to sift it cannot be any other than the doctrine and moral of Christ, interpreted according to the spirit of the Catholic Church, established and guaranteed by Jesus Christ on the indestructible rock of Peter and his successors.

"Simon, Simon'', he said to him on a certain occasion, promising infallibility to Peter and the Church confirmed by him, "ecce Satanas expetivit yes 0 cribaret sicut triticum, ego autem rogabo pro to ut non deficiat fides tua, sed to aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos. [01] This promise was fulfilled and realized ever since Jesus Christ said to him "Pasce agnos meos, Pasce over meas.” [02] Whom shall we believe, Christ or Strauss [David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874). A German Protestant theologian and philosopher, whose skeptical interpretation of the Gospel influenced modern liberal biblical interpretation.  See The Life of Jesus (1835) - rly] or Mahomet [founder of Islam - rly] or Buddha [Inspiration of Buddhism - rly] of Draper [John William Draper most famous book, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874), was a vigorous polemic against the persecution of scientists by religious leaders. – rly] and Renan [Joseph Ernest Renan (1823-1892) French philologist and historian of religion who examined religion as a rationalist and humanist. - rly]? Neither Renan nor Draper nor Strauss nor Buddha nor Mahomet is the true God. And Christ, founder of the Catholic Church, is the true God. He is, therefore, the original model that we all ought to follow and whose teachings we ought to practice. On reading in your previous letter the paragraph on the study of comparative religions, giving as an example a statue observed and copied from different points of view, a doubt assailed me that you might have imbibed the superficial and most pernicious doctrines of the unhappy and wicked Draper, for in the last chapter of his book on Conflicts he has a paragraph that is very similar to yours so that I quote it to enable you to appreciate the similarity. It says: "Objects that are presented under identical relations to different persons ought to be seen from the same point of view. In the case that we are now considering the religious man has his special station and the scientist another very distinct one; none of them can demand that his fellow observer admit that the panorama of facts unfolded before him should be the same as the one that appears before the eyes of the other.

"With such deeply separated points of view, it is impossible that religion and science can agree on the representation of things. Neither can any common conclusion be reached except when appeal is made to reason as the final and supreme judge.

"There are many religions in the world, some of venerable antiquity, others that have more followers than the Roman Catholic religion. How can a choice be made among them if one does not resort exclusively to reason? Religion and science ought to submit their pretensions and differences to its arbitration."

True science and religion are not afraid to submit their verdict to reason when reason is illumined by faith and both are subject to God, author of science and religion. However, by no means can they submit to the verdict of reason without faith, because it is an incompetent court; or to independent Godless reason, because it is not a legitimate court; or to the decision of free will when it abuses its right and wishes to dispense with or eliminate the value and efficacy of supernatural and divine grace, emancipating itself from the author of the very liberty that is the supreme authority of God from which its own is derived. It is well and good that the motives of credibility are studied and analyzed; however, we shall always hold that the conversion to God, as a supernatural act worthy of eternal life, just as it cannot be practiced without the free will of the subject neither can it ever be obtained with natural forces alone if these are not accompanied and embellished with the supernatural imparted by the grace of God, actual or habitual, illuminating for the intelligence and impelling to the will.

You add that many religions pretend to have in their books and dogmas the will of God, condensed and written. Very well; but none of them has it really, except only the Catholic religion and I challenge you to cite me one single contradiction in its sacred books or in its tradition relative to faith and customs outside of which the various interpretations either are not essential or religion itself obstructs them, because they are not indispensable to eternal life unless directly or indirectly, intermediately or immediately, then touch dogma and moral. For the obscure points there is hermeneutics [The method of interpreting scripture - rly] with its rules: or will you cite me any indefensible point in religious matters. Ornnis scriptura debet legi eo spiritu quo facta est. [03] Neither Revelation nor religion nor the sacred books have ever pretended to give us lessons on astronomy, physics, or natural history nor arts is and trades but only the knowledge of sanctity and salvation. As to the rest, in order to be intelligible, they conformed to the common way of speaking of the people of those times in which they wrote; as for example, even now we say, that the sun is in the middle of its course, to signify that we are at noon, etcetera.

And who has told you that God has buried the necessary for eternal life in the darkness of a language unknown to the rest of the world, obscured by metaphors and deeds contrary to His own laws? In what language, I ask, were the sacred books published but in the language of the countries of those who wrote them? And in what language did Jesus Christ and the apostles preach? Nonne erce omnes isti qui loquuntur galilaei sunt? [04] said the pilgrims in Jerusalem. Et quomodo nos audivimus unusquisque linguam nostram in qua nati sumus? [05]

Is it perhaps because Latin, Greek, and Hebrew were spoken then and not now? For the present, we know already, and Saint Paul could confirm it, that the Gospel was preached in the whole known world then.  Fides- ex auditu, he said, auditus autem per verbum fidei; sed dico, nuraquid non audierunt. Et quidem, in omnem terrain exibit sonus eorum et in finis orbis terrae verba eorum? [06] Such was the zeal of all the apostles, and even of the missionaries today, to make themselves everything to all in order to win all and therefore they use the language of the natives and they learn their language it, order to save them. And by chance, according as languages and nations have been succeeding one after another, has not the Holy Gospel been preached ill all of them

But, if you treat of the Bible, whenever it is necessary to have a general language to facilitate the universality of the cult, the sacred studies, and the unity of communion in the Church, there is the version of Saint Jerome that circulates in all hands as the Vulgata; nay, there is the version of Scio and Amat in Spanish, like that of many other ap­proved authors lit all the rest of the languages.

Neither is it necessary to know the Bible nor even all the dogmas of the Church in order to save one's self. It is enough to believe explicitly in the most indispensable ones that are called of average necessity and at the most those necessary precepts. The remainder can be included in the general formula of believing all that the Mother church orders as dogma of faith, with which, and by practicing the law of charity imposed by Christ, heaven is gained. It is not therefore necessary for a Christian to go deep into the haze of an unknown tongue, obscured by metaphors and deeds contrary to the very laws of the Creator in order to attain eternal life.

And what can these metaphors and deeds contrary to the very laws of God be that man ought to know in order to be saved? A six-year old boy averagely studious, learns very well in school what he ought to know and practice in order to save himself without such metaphors or acts contrary to the very laws of the Creator. I suppose that you allude to the miracles and prophecies. It will be difficult for you to prove that the miracles and prophecies contradict the laws of the Creator. By chance the one who decreed the law on cases foreseen and determined by Him and one who knows all the future acts as if they were present, even those which have to be performed by the free action of men, can He not foretell them before they occur? Where is the contradiction in the law there? It is enough for God to suspend his aid to the efficacy of the action of a creature for the latter to fail to produce its natural effect as the second cause in that case, and it is enough for Him to let operate the free causes in the circumstances that He has foreseen so that events may occur in conformity with His foresight. He who has so wisely and paternally provided His creatures with all that is necessary for this life, would He deny us the necessary means to attain eternal life? Of course not; and for this the Church says with Saint Peter: Deus vult omnes homines salvos fieri et ad ignitionem veritatis venire; [07] and Isaiah adds: Nolo mortem impii sed magis ut convertatur et vivat; [08] and St. John: Sic Deus dilexit mundum ut filium suum unigeni­tum daret ad nostram salutem. [09] And the Church asserts of Jesus Christ in the Credo: Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis [“… who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven.” - rly]. And it is already a proverb in the Church: Facienti quod est in se, deus non denegat gratiam. [10] And so much is this so that all the theologians, including St. Thomas, agree that any one observes well natural law during his lifetime, will be given before his death by God our Lord the graces necessary to attain his eternal salvation, whether through a missionary who may instruct and prepare him or through an angel or direct Revelation; that is, that even if God has to perform a miracle to save that soul, He will do it considering the order of His actual providence.  This answers your question: "What would we say of a father who showers his children with tidbits and toys but feeds, educates, and supports only one of them?" And if it should turn out afterwards that the chosen one rejects the food while the other ones died looking for it?"

Do you know the story of the Prodigal Son? What a long time he was out of the paternal home? When he returned to it, how did his father receive him? God our Lord wants to save all and gives as we have seen the necessary means in order that they may attain their eternal salvation provided they do their part in obtaining it. If mankind, like the prodigal son, left the paternal home. Jesus Christ came in the fullness of time to bring it to the good way and as a good head of families he wished to receive it with open arms and did what he could to receive it from Calvary; and He is always ready to forgive the sinner so long as he comes before Him sincerely repentant of his sins. He is the Lord of the Land who receives his laborers at the first, third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour, that is, at any time of life that mortal man comes before him to earn the wages of the other life; and He pays, all that they deserve so that no one can reasonably allege injustice against Him. He is the King who orders His servants to seek in the plazas, the streets, and highways even the blind, lame, and cripple of this life in order to present them to the feast of His glory and share His eternal happiness provided they wear the decent wedding dress, that is, His sanctifying grace. If it is true that in order to enter heaven it is necessary to have entered first the pale of the Catholic Church and belong to the soul of the same, it is also true that the door of the Church is open to all and God wishes all to enter it and that the flock be one under one Shepherd. However, not all those inside the Church by the mere fact of being there are saved; in order to be saved it is necessary to belong to the soul of that Church; that is, to enjoy the life that Christ himself infused in it. May the world die in the search for truth and the practice of it!  God would not hesitate to communicate it even amply. The people who you call chosen, if it insisted in rejecting the spiritual food necessary for its eternal health, was in the end a wicked people. The choice of God remains exclusively sealed with the final perseverance.

The sacred books are something more than the minds of men and whole generations converted into pages and human knowledge of the past on which the future rests. They are also something more than pure condensation or formulae of natural laws and from them are enunciated the precepts of the positive divine law. Nor does the Catholic Church say that in that sense the said precepts and books are divinely revealed word but in the concept that having been inspired forthwith by the Holy Ghost they recognize God as their- author. In this sense there will never arise contradiction or any- conflict between the natural and the supernatural and therefore I see no reason in religious matters to favor the truth that is more in conformity with natural laws. You will find contradiction in the foolish pride of the infatuated rationalists.

A while ago I have told you that every writing ought to be read with the same spirit with which it has been written, and the Bible, was it not written in order to get from it the true benefit in the practice of the virtues and in the business of our eternal salvation? Nor is nature the divine hook that serves us as the code or ordinances of good government for our salvation but only one of the pages that serves as its prologue, preface, or introduction. Much more is necessary, I believe of course, for our eternal salvation than this clear, not the only one, perennial, living manifestation that we have here of the Creator, powerful and victorious over our blunders and errors in the natural order, I concede with absolute possibility; with the moral order, I distinguish; in all, I deny, in some I concede; incorruptible if you wish, and cannot be falsified, speaking objectively in spite of human caprice, constant, immutable in its laws in all regions and times in accordance with the will of the Legislator. I ask: And is not the Redeemer also the Lawgiver and are there no established laws so that man may fulfill his duties in the supernatural order which are so clear, definite, and immutable as in the natural order?

It is morally impossible that entire mankind can be united in one sole religion, fulfilling its duties in the natural order in assure and universal way, without the grace of God Supernatural. The experience of all the centuries proves to us this truth.

Weak human mind would crack up, like Sirius or Aldebaran [two bright stars - rly], by giving it a supernatural object superior to its strength, if it were not prepared in advance, elevated, fortified, and strengthened by supernatural grace, just as a clay vase would leak if it were not previously well cooked according to its temper by the action of condensing fire. Today engines of multiple expansion are generally used in steam-boilers. In our case God strengthens the soul with an engine of supernatural expansion.

In the light of philosophy and reason you will find at most the finality of things and causes in the natural order. If you will try to follow its command without going farther, your mind will remain in the dark and your heart empty to desire the supernatural and eternal purpose that God intended when he placed us in this world. To the eagerness to know, innate in man and fostered by the objective and subjective world, one must add another eagerness, instilled by God, to know our ultimate, supernatural end, to wish it, and apply the means conducive to its attainment.

You see poverty as a penalty of ignorance. I discover likewise criminals who are rewarded in the world, the rich, proud, and powerful, the fools and the wicked often taking the reins of government of a nation and at their pleasure dispose unjustly of life and property. You deduce that well-being is a prize of knowledge, but I see, on the other hand, many learned men submerged in poverty and the object of persecution by ignorant men in power. You draw from your reflections that the Author of man wishes man's natural perfection through a pile of knowledge, but I infer that besides the natural perfection of man acquired through the pile of knowledge and natural virtues through divine grace, God also assumes the supernatural perfection of the same man through a pile of revealed knowledge and solid and perfect supernatural virtues, suitable to the status of everyone during his lifetime. From the mysterious sentiment of sympathy, its dynamism and evolution, you pick the impulse that orders us to love one another and in this sense you accept as divine word the religious mandate to love one's fellowmen as one's self. However, reading in my heart this same inscription engraved by God as law and finding it confirmed on the tablets of the Decalogue and publicly claimed by Jesus Christ as his own precept: Hoc est praeceptum meum ut diligatis in vicem sicut dilexi vos. [“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Bonoan translation - rly] I take counsel with God's opinion that natural law and positive and revealed divine law go in harmony and I am doubly convinced that I can follow the second faithfully without contradicting the first.

Seeing how the abuse of liberty adulterates and destroys the principle of life, when this could subsist by itself if it were limited to life, or if it were inscribed within the sphere of its attributes respecting mutual duties and correlative rights, I am convinced that for the common good of society it is necessary to restrain it, requiring individuals to be responsible for their acts through legislative, administrative, coercive, judicial. and executive authority. Consequently I am inclined to the preventive and repressive system. Seeing that through the unconstrained and unrepressed license of men oftentimes the law of the strongest and the majority rules instead of reason and justice and therefore the right of the weakest is left behind without any protection or support of the strongest and ambition for honors and riches together with independence and pride enlarges more and more everyday their horizons, enthroning the spirit of egoism in society and eliminating from it the spirit of sacrifice. I deduce the anti-Christian society with its glorification of the “I” is purely a nominal and agonizing society.

Force ought always to be consecrated to the service of justice and be based upon it, otherwise, however powerful nations may be, they will be overthrown quickly like the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. On account of this, empires fall flat to the ground because force is separated from justice. Then there shall be peace on earth when justice joined to force makes truth triumph, and justice is tempered with mercy. However this can only be attained with the social reign of Jesus Christ, his precepts reigning in the legislation of states and the spirit of the Catholic religion vivifying their codes. Only with Jesus Christ are man and society perfec­ted. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega of true civilization. In quo habemus redemptionem per sanguinem ejus, remissionem peccatorum, secundum divinitas gratiae ejus quae superabundavit in nobis, in omni sapientia et prudentia: ut notum faceret nobis, sacramentum voluntatis suae, secundum beneplacitum ejus, quod proposuit in eo, in dispensatione plenitudinis temporum, instaure omnia in Christo, quoe in coelis, et quoe in terra sunt, in ipso. [11]

Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso soli Deo honor et glori. Amen. [12] This is the idea of redemption that you ought to have through the Incarnate Word, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the transcendence of this ineffable mystery. 'God willing, I shall expand on this matter on another occasion.

See to it that your maxims and habits are irreproachable before the Divine Majesty who is offended by the madness and ravings of his children whom he has endowed with liberty, making them for that mere fact responsible for their acts: Nonne si bene egeris, recipies: sin autem male, statim in foribus peccatum ad erit? [“If you do well, will you not receive; and if you do not do well, will sin not be crouching at the door?” Genesis 4:7 (Bonoan translation), - rly]

Concerning those who are intending to settle in Duhinob, it is necessary that you inform me about the number of families that desire to till new lands there; and as soon as your plan becomes a reality, we shall ask for their exemption from personal services, for five years.

I would be very glad if you would finally decide to live forever in the district of Dapitan. God grant it. Believe me ever your affectionate friend in Jesus heart.

Pablo Pastells, S. J.


[01] “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  Luke 22:31, 32.

[02] “Feed my lambs.  Feed my sheep.” John 21:15-16.

[03] All writings ought to be read in accordance with the spirit of the one who wrote them.

[04] “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?” Acts 2:7.

[05] “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Acts 2:8.

[06] “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  But I say, ‘Have they not heard?’  Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”  Romans 10:17-18.

[07] “God wishes all men to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth.”  I Timothy 2:4.

[08] “I do not wish the death of the impious but that he should be converted and live.”  Fr. Pastells is wrong in identifying this paraphrase Isaiah than from Ezekiel 18:23.  The exact quote: “Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?” (New American Bible)

[09] “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”  John 4:9.

[10] God does not deny grace to the suffering.

[11] “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth even in him.  Ephesians 1:7-10.

[12] “By him and with Him and in Him is to thee God (the Father Almighty in the unity of the Holy Ghost) all honor and glory.  Amen.”  It is taken from the doxology of the Eucharistic prayer at the end of the Roman Catholic Mass.

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107. Rizal, Dapitan, 4 April 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Rizal’s opinion of Mgr. Bougand’s book – Reiterates his concept of God, his belief in revelation, and his attitude toward miracles.

Dapitan, 4 April 1893 [Note: Bonoan shows this letter to have been written on April 5 - rly]

Very Rev. Fr. Pablo Pastells

My very Reverend Father,

I received in time your gift, the work of Mgr. Bougand, which I am reading most attentively and with the greatest interest [Emile Bougand, Le Christianisme et le temps présents - rly]. It is one of the best works of its kind that I have seen as much for its lucidity as for its eminently Christian and conciliatory spirit, as for the light that animates its author as well as for his convictions. If the work of Mr. Sarda is that of a champion of a polemicist, that of Mgr. Bougand is of a prelate in the most beautiful meaning of the word. Let us see if its perusal will modify my faith, or if the faith that Your Reverence misses is reborn; if not, we have to content ourselves with what God furnishes each one.

Your Reverence need not be surprised that I should answer your esteemed letter of 2 February rather late. It is very painful for me to do so and had it been possible, I would have preferred to be taken as discourteous rather than to hurt directly your convictions in this discussion.

With Your Reverence it was more pleasant for me to confine myself strictly to the defense of my ideas rather than to take the offensive. But Your Reverence challenges me and there I go, to my regret, but with naked hand for neither do I want to use weapons nor do I have them, for I lack books to prove my citations.

We are entirely agreed in admitting the existence of God. How can I doubt it when I am convinced of mine? Who recognizes the effect, recognizes the cause? To doubt God would be to doubt one's own conscience and therefore it would be to doubt everything and then for what is life?

Well now, my faith in God, if the result of reasoning can be called faith, if blind, blind in the sense that it knows nothing. Neither do I believe nor do I not believe in the qualities that many attribute to Him. I smile at the definitions and lucubrations [laborious study and writing - rly] of theologians and philosophers of that ineffable and inscrutable Being. In the conviction that I find myself before the Supreme Problem that confused voices want to explain to me, I cannot help but reply: "It can be, but the God that I forebode is very much greater, much better, -Plus Suora! [01]

I do not believe Revelation impossible, rather I believe in it, but not in revelation or revelations that every religion or all religions pretend to possess. In examining them impartially, comparing them, and scrutinizing them, one cannot fail to recognize in all of them the human fang [“imprint” - Bonoan] and the stamp of the time during which they were written. No, man makes his God in his own image and likeness and then attributes to Him his own works, as the Polish magnates chose their king after imposing upon him their will. And all of us do the same and Your Reverence also when you tell me: "He who made the eyes will not see? He who fashioned ears will not hear?"  Pardon me Your Reverence, but now that we have spoken of the bull of Anacreon, let us hear him bellow: He who made horns would he not know how to gore? No, what is perfection in us can be an imperfection in God.

No, let us not make a god in our image, poor inhabitants that we are of a small planet lost in the infinite spaces. However brilliant and sublime our mind may be, it will be a tiny spark that shines and is extinguished in a moment, and alone it cannot give us an idea of that blaze, of that fire, of that immense light.

I believe in Revelation, but in that living revelation of Nature that surrounds us everywhere, in that mighty voice, eternal, incessant, incorruptible, clear, distinct, universal like the Being from which it emanates, in that revelation that speaks to us and penetrates into us from the time we are born until we die. What books can reveal to us better the goodness of God, His love, His providence, His eternity, His glory, His wisdom? Coeli enarrant gloriam Domini et opera manum ejus anuntiat firmamentum. [02] What more Bible and what more Gospel does mankind want? Ah! Does not Your Reverence believe that men have done wrong in searching for the divine will in parchment and temples instead of searching it in the works of Nature and under the august canopy of the heavens? Instead of interpreting obscure passages or obscure phrases that provoke hatred, wars, and dissensions, was it not better to interpret the facts of Nature to adjust better our life to its inviolable laws, to utilize its forces in perfecting ourselves? In fact when have men began to fraternize but when they met the first page of the work of God? Like the prodigal son who was blind to the happiness in the parental home he looked for others abroad, humankind has wandered about miserably and full of rancor during many centuries.

I do not deny that there are precepts of absolute necessity and utility that are found clearly enunciated in Nature but these have been placed by God in the heart, in the conscience of man, his best temple, and for this reason I adore more this God, good, provident, who has endowed each one of us with what is necessary for our salvation, who holds open to us continually the book of revelation, His priest speaking to us incessantly in the voice of our conscience.

For this reason the best religions are the simplest, the most natural, the most harmonious with the necessities and aspirations of man. Here is the principal excellence of the doctrine of Christ.

I do not prejudge when I say that only from God can the voice of my conscience proceed. I judge by deduction. God could not have created me for my injury, because what wrong have I done Him before I was created that He should want my damnation? Nor ought He to create me for nothing or indifference because, for what are my sufferings, for what is the slow torture of my continuous aspiring? He must have created me for some good purpose and for this I have no better thing to guide me but my conscience, my conscience alone, that judges and authorizes my acts. He would be inconsistent if having created me for a purpose. He had not given me the means to attain it, like a smith who would like to make a knife and then did not put an edge on it. All the brilliant and subtle arguments of Your Reverence -- that I shall not try to refute because I would have to write a compendious treatise -- cannot convince me that the Catholic Church is endowed with infallibility. In that also is the human fang [imprint - Bonoan]. It is a more perfect institution than the rest, but human in the end, with the defects, the errors, and the vicissitudes proper to the works of men. It is wiser, more skillfully conducted than many other religions as the direct heir of the political sciences, religions, and arts of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

It has its foundation in the heart of the people, in the imagination of the multitude, and in the affection of woman; but like all religions it has its obscure points that are clothed with the name of mysteries, puerilities [childishness - rly] that are sanctified in miracles, divisions or dissensions that are called sects or heresies.

I cannot believe that before the coming of Jesus Christ, all peoples were in the deep abyss of which Your Reverence speaks. No; precisely there is Socrates who dies for affirming the existence of one God, there is the divine Plato. There are the virtuous Aristides, Phocion, Miltiades; there is Zoroaster, founder of the religion of force, there is Kung Sien [i.e. Confucius - rly] of the religion of reason, China's lawgiver.

Neither can I believe that after Christ everything has been light, peace, and fortune, that the majority of men have become just. No, to belie it there are the battlefields, the fires, the bonfires, the prisons, rapes, the torments of the Inquisition. There is the hatred between the Christian nations for flimsy differences; there is the toleration of sla­very, if not its sanction, during eighteen centuries. There is prostitution and finally there is in short a large part of society hostile to its own religion. Your Reverence will tell me that all this exists because they have separated from the Church. When the Church was dominant, did not these evils exist? Perhaps in the Middle Ages, perhaps when all Europe was a camp of Agramante [i.e. dissention and discord (from a character in the Greek epic poem, Orlando) - Bonoan]? No? During the first three centuries, when the Church was in the catacombs and imprisoned, it groaned and had no power? Then if there was peace it not have it either; it was not due to it for it did not rule. Ah! No, my dear Fr. Pastells; I rejoice to see men like Your Reverence full of faith and virtue maintain a faith and regret the present misfortunes of mankind because that proves love for the faith and generous spirits like that of Your Reverence watch over it; but I rejoice more when I contemplate mankind in its immortal march, always progressing, in spite of its fainting and falls, in spite of its deviations, because that shows me its glorious purpose, it tells me that it has been created for a better end than to be a pasture of flames, that fills me with confidence in God who will not let his work to be damned, despite the devil and all our madness.

With reference to the contradictions in the canon books, the miracles, I confess that the subject is very hackneyed and boresome to repeat. Everything is explained when it is desired and everything is accepted when it is wanted. The will has an enormous power over the imagination and vice versa. So that I will not speak to you either of the contradiction in the genealogies or of the miracle of Cana that Christ performed in spite of the fact that he had said that his hour had not yet come, or of the bread and the fishes, or of the temptations, etc. All these things do not diminish the stature of the one who enunciated the Sermon on the Mount and said the famous: "Father, forgive them..." [Luke 23:34 - rly] What I am going to raise is something more transcendental. Who died on the cross? Was it God or was it the roan? If it was God, I do not understand how a God conscious of his mission can die, how a God can exclaim in the garden: "eater, si possibile transeat a me calix iste! [03]

Again he exclaimed on the cross: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" [Mark 15:34 - rly] This cry is absolutely human; it is the cry of a man who has faith in justice and in the goodness of his cause; except the Hodie me cum eris, [04] the cry of Christ on Calvary. All announce a man in torment and in agony, but what a man! And for me Christ man is greater than Christ God. If the one who had said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing" [Luke 23:34 – rly, see paragraph above] had been God, those who had laid hands on him ought to have been forgiven unless we say that God resembles certain men who say one thing and then do something else.

Another Objection I have to Christ's miracles is the apostasy of his disciples and their incredulity of his resurrection. Had they been witnesses of so many marvels and his resurrection, they would not have abandoned him so cowardly and they would not have doubted his resurrection. Who returns life to others can very well do it unto himself. Concerning the explanation of the miracles that Your Reverence gives that He who has dictated laws does not contradict himself suspending them for specified epochs in order to attain certain purposes. It occurs to me that if He may not contradict himself nevertheless he is inferior to him who can attain the same purposes without suspending anything or altering anything. Only a mediocre administrator goes out of his way suspending the effectiveness of laws; a good one administers in peace without altering or disturbing anything.

Your Reverence calls this the foolish pride of the rationalists. Another question still occurs to me: Who is more foolishly proud, he who is satisfied with following his own reason or he who pretends to impose upon others not what his reason dictates but only what it seems to him to be the truth. What is rational never seemed to me foolish and pride is always manifested in the idea of superiority.

With respect to the people that will settle here [i.e. Dapitan - rly], I can­not order anything nor do I wish to do so. We have written then telling them of the advantages and disadvantages of this place so that afterwards they may not be disappointed. We would like to have them come and see for themselves but until now they have not come. According to a fellow townsman of mine, more than fifty families would like to come from my hometown alone. Perhaps the excessive cost of the passage that the ships ask is making them think twice of the matter. However, with the new state of things, I am very much afraid that the thing may not be realized any more

I felicitate Your Reverence for the relative rest that they give you in diminishing the burden that you used to bear.

As always

José Rizal


[01] Further beyond.

[02] "The heavens proclaim the glory of the Lord and the firmament announces the work of his hands." [Psalm 19:1 – rly]

[03] "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Luke 22:42.

[04] "Today shalt thou be with me." Luke 23:43.

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108. Fr. Pablo Pastells, Manila, 28 April 1893

Father Pastells discusses Rizal’s religious views.

Escuela Normal de Manila

Manila, 28 April 1893

Mr. José Rizal

My most beloved in Christ Don José,

I received your affectionate letter of 5 April of the present year.

A slight indisposition has prevented me from answering it in due time.

I am glad that you are getting to like the work of Mgr. Bougand. May your faith be reborn with its perusal, the faith that we are missing in you. Faith cannot be called the result of rationalization; it is a supernatural gift of God our Lord, because faith, being the beginning and root of justification, cannot be acquired through natural forces only. It needs besides the aid of divine grace. Faith is a voluntary gift for which man freely submits his reason to the authority of revealing God. Neither is it blind on this account because it is propped on evident and unimpeachable motives of credibility that attest to the objective truth or existence of revealed dogmas though their understanding is beyond the reach of our limited rational faculties. And how many truths of whose existence we are certain are beyond our understanding! The physicist perceives the phenomena of nature, the chemist the effects of the combination of the constituent elements of bodies, the astronomer the asteroids and other celestial bodies invisible to the naked eye, the magnetic worker deduces from the variations of his needle the operation of the solar spots and protuberances, the polar lights, the passage of the sun's eclipses, of the earthquakes and hurricanes, and so with the rest of the learned men with their respective sciences. I concede that they know the existence of phenomena; but do they really understand which of them are in themselves comprehensible? Then it can be known likewise with the instrument of divine grace, which is of supernatural range, the truth of the existence of revealed dogmas without understanding the mysteries contained in them. The authority of revealing God confirmed by supernatural phenomena, which are miracles and prophecies, are enough for us to affirm the supernatural existence of the dogmas.

However, as it is desired that the supernatural act of faith be human and therefore deliberate and free, it cannot be blind, because then the will reasonably subjects understanding to the yoke of faith, or rather the authority of revealing God and both faculties aided by divine grace, illuminating and impulsive, give assent to revealed truths of the supernatural order.

You do not deny the possibility of miracles whose existence I demonstrated in one of my former letters by the fact of the resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus Christ, the first being performed as the divine mission of Jesus Christ and the second as proof of his divinity. Signs of unfaithfulness; do you want to see proven the existence of miracles? Go to Lourdes or read the history written by Henry Laserre or the annals of Lourdes and you will be convinced until the last evidence that miracles occur independently of hallucination and imagination and without making illusions, phenomena take place beyond the reach of every human and natural force. There, only eyes are necessary to see, common sense to appreciate the continuity of supernatural phenomena, and knowledge to analyze them and to be convinced as the most intelligent physicians of the world have been really convinced that nature is really impotent to bring about the sudden healing of the chronic caries of a bone with the potable water of that historic spring.

You admit the possibility of revelation and miracles and you deny their convenience; but having proved to you that miracles exist and therefore revelation confirmed by the said miracles, by that mere fact it remains demonstrated the opportunity of revelation and miracles. Any how as these cannot be done except by God, Who never acts superfluously but in conformity with the plan devised from eternity for His external glory, it turns out that what is in conformity with the divine plan is convenient, and therefore so are the miracle and revelation that in this case meet. Therefore all that you say that though God cannot contradict Himself in suspending in certain cases the laws of nature, it occurs to you to say however that in this case God shows Himself inferior to Himself inasmuch as He could achieve the same effects without suspending his laws and in this He resembles a poor ruler that in order to get out of a difficulty suspends the effectiveness of laws substituting for it His will, the opposite of one who governs in peace and strengthens what is established, does not apply in this case; for there is no parity between the example that you adduce and the case before us. Because the ruler as such enjoys an authority shared and limited by God Himself, as St. Paul says Non est protestas nisi a Deo, [01] while God has absolute and unlimited power. Man who governs according to law is not the primary author nor the true factor and arbiter of the same while God, primary author, origin of all law, is the one who points out to him his horizons and course, limits his authority and excludes it in definite cases, when and how He pleases for the sake of the eternal laws of morality and justice or when it is demanded by reasons of high convenience for the glory of God, as it happens precisely in the 'miracles where the order of the physical world is subordinated to that of the moral and supernatural, making a minor force cede its action to a greater and more efficacious superior order for the fulfillment of the sublime ends established by the author of these three worlds that contribute towards the total and complete evolution of the happiness of man who obeys God and serves Him - in the world of nature, in the world of grace, and in the world of glory.

Thus, for example, He agreed that the three boys praise God in the midst of the voracious flames of the oven of Babylonia and that Daniel remain seated in the den in the midst of hungry lions without being hurt. Let the bull of Anacreon stop bellowing and let us not pretend to act as counselors of divinity, limiting its marvels, rather, overtaken by admiration and respect, let us exclaim with the Apostle St. Paul: "Oh the profundity of the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how incomprehensible are His decisions, how inconceivable are his ways! Because, who has known the designs of the Lord? Or who is the one who gave him first something that he may be compensated for it? All things are His and all are for Him, and all exist in Hint; to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen." [Romans 11:33-36 – rly]

Therefore miracles are not ill-used so long as they are performed by God to confirm a truth or to defend a supernatural virtue, because then the author of nature, of grace, and of glory subordinates as He pleases the kingdom of nature to that of grace so that through this that of glory may be reached easier. There you have, my dear Rizal, the explanation of the convenience and even the necessity of the miracles that God performs for the sake of men; and let us not go into scrutinizing the secret intentions of God and in wanting Him to rectify the mistake on pain of bellowing like the bull of Anacreon and for which the Highest can reprimand us from the whirlwind of our tangled lucubrations [laborious study] Quis est iste involvens sententias sermonibus imperitis .... Ubi eras quando poneban fundamenta terrae .... [02] etc.

You say that "in examining impartially, comparing, and scrutinizing revelation or revelations that every religion or many religions pretend to possess, you cannot help but recognize in all of them the human imprint and the stamp of the time in which they were written." Let us lay aside the false religions for which I grant you readily all that you affirm. Dealing with the Catholic religion, I assure you, my dear friend, that you have not examined impartially nor have you been able to compare or analyze the truths revealed by Catholicism to recognize in all of them the human imprint and the stamp of the time in which they were written. What imprint and what stamp? Is it that of the writers who wrote the sacred books through divine inspiration? But do we Catholics at any rate wish to declare that the sacred books have nothing human in them? And by chance for this reason you have the right to affirm that the sacred books were not divinely inspired? Because God has made use of human instruments to communicate with men, we have to deny that He is the Author of the inspiration of the sacred books? When a composer plays on the keys of the organ a piece communicating to him the sounds according to his inclination, will it be denied by chance that he is the author of the harmony rather than the bellows, the air, the pipes, the strings, and the keys that produce the physical sounds? .... Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis [03] the Prophet King said of himself in writing his psalm and he said rightly inasmuch as his language expressing the inspiration of his mind was the pen that the Holy host used to communicate with us its revelation.

The divine inspiration that the Catholic Church recognizes and affirms in the canon books of the Bible enshrines according to Cardinal Ceferino Gonzales a special action of God over the mind and will of the sacred writer by virtue of which He moves and guides him to write definite things, which either they are revealed to him by God Himself if they are unknown to him or are superior to human reason, or in the case when the writer already possesses a knowledge of them, He assists and helps him, sometimes so that he would not incur in an error in writing them down, sometimes so that he would write only what God wants and in the form, conditions, and circumstances that He wants. Not all the contents of the sacred books can be called revealed truths in the strict sense of the word, though all can be and ought to be called inspired.

On the other hand, neither can we say that all the revealed truths are found in the sacred books, because there arc revealed truths that are not recorded in them but in tradition, for as the Vatican Council says, "Supernaturalis revelatio, secudum universalis Ecclesiae fidem, continentur in libris scriptis, et sine scripto traditionibus. [04]

From this gather (1) the canon books do not contain all revelation and (2) all revelation presupposes and embodies inspiration, but not all inspiration presupposes and embodies revelation properly speaking.  Then, provided that the Catholic Church recognizes under the human imprint the divine finger of inspiration is enough to assure that the books of the Old and New Testament recognized as such by the Catholic Church are to be received by the faithful as sacred and canonical. Thus the Vatican Council affirms: Veteris et Novi Testamenti libri, integri cum omnibus suis partibus pont in ejusdem concilii decreto recensetur et in veteri. Vulgata latina editione liabentur, pro sacris et canonicis suscipiendi sunt. Eos vero Ecclesiae pro sacris et canonicis habet, non ideo, quad sola humana industria concinnati, sua deinde auctoritate stint approbati; nec ideo dumtaxat quod revela tionem sine errore contineant, sed propterea quod Spiritu Sancto inspirante conscripti; Deum, habent auctorem, atque est tales ipsi Ecclesiae traditi sunt. [05] In such a case the human imprint will be the divine instrument in the manner that the organ and the orchestra are the human instruments of the original compositions of Verdi, Mozart, and Rossini, with the difference that these instruments are automatic and the first one is free and therefore, in order to know if it is from God, it has to be submitted to a test, or rather to the touchstone, which is the verdict of the Catholic Church, the only repository and infallible teacher who can discern the true from the false revelation.

As to the stamp of the time in which were written the revealed truths that the Catholic Church possesses, it is evident that as men lived in the time when the revelation ought to have taken place and inasmuch as it has to be communicated to men of diverse epochs, the revelations inevitably carry with them the stamp of the times during which they were written.

And what greater proof of the authenticity of a book than that stamp can you wish? It matters only to know that the books recognized by the Catholic Church as sacred and canonical are really authentic and divinely inspired, in which case we have to acknowledge that God is the Author, however much you may recognize in them the human imprint and the stamp of the time in which they were written. Do you want to say that because of the stamp of the time in which the sacred books were written it can be inferred that its primitive content was falsified with myths in accordance with the ideas that prevailed in the society of diverse historical epochs until our times and consequently the sacred trust of revelation contained in the sacred Scriptures and in the tradition of the Catholic Church has not been preserved pure and complete?

You see, my friend, that by no means do I hide from you the weight of the problem. We are then going to solve it and I will do it with the words of the celebrated [Jean-Baptiste Henri - rly] Lacordaire: "There where writing rises, where the immobilized account appears, where the inscribed bronze is placed in front of the generations of men, the mythical power of men immediately vanishes. For then the fact in its true proportions remains before their eyes it remains dominating their imagination and against it a thousand years or one day are of no avail. From Herodotus to Tacitus have you seen myths in history? Was Charlemagne converted into a myth at the end of one thousand years? Had Augustus Caesar, upon being sunk into the depths of the past, assumed any mythical appearance? No. The modern historian tries to discover the myth in the hardest place, as for example, in the beginnings of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Why? Because though it was clear writing, though it pre-existed formerly lit other countries, it had not yet received the custody of Roman history. But once the general plot of history comes to life, the mythical mould is instantly broken.

Whatever transformation might have been fraudulently introduced into the sacred pages during the prevalent period of writing, the authentic fact of interpolation was not written down with impunity, without the unanimous protests of learned Jews and Christians and even of the dissident sects themselves. And why should it not be so when even the number of words, syllables, and letters and accents [The following is missing from the Epistolario and its subsequent English translation but is supplied by Bonoan – rly Note: the Paragraph numbering of Bonoan is omitted.] in the Bible, and even the number of times each word was used; moreover, the many scholarly and saintly commentators on Sacred Scripture had not detected any fraudulent addition, omission, or emendation.

This is likewise true of the revealed truths which are not found in Sacred Scripture, but which have been faithfully handed down to us in the sacred deposit of faith which Jesus Christ entrusted to his Church.

You further state that revelation bears the human imprint, for it shows that man makes God according to his own image and likeness and then attributes to him his own works, much like the Polish magistrates who used to choose their king only to impose their will on him. In the Catholic religion, man does not make God according to his own image and likeness, but the other way around, it is God who makes man according to his own image and likeness. In the pagan religions, it is man who makes nature and the deities take on human flesh; whereas, according to the Catholic faith, God pours into man a living spirit. The human spirit then becomes substantially united with the body, and possesses at the same time three faculties; just as God is one in nature but possesses a triune personality. It is in this sense that we have been created according to God's image and likeness.

Catholicism has never attributed man's works to God in the sense that you mean. Every human activity, except sin, is also God's own insofar as he is first cause and Creator. By his providence, God makes the order of creation endure. In a special way, as the Father of all, he gives his concurrence in the natural order to all human actions. And in a still more special way, in the supernatural order he equips us with prevenient, concomitant, and subsequent graces to enable us to merit unending happiness in heaven, where we shall truly be like unto God as we joyfully see him, not darkly as through a veil, but face to face as he is. Would that I had now come to that most blessed hour and were seeing you among the number of the elect! That would indeed enhance my glorious crown. My poor efforts would then be well spent, and this small work would receive such great reward!

But going back to our subject, I want to assure you that Catholics have never attributed man's works to God in the sense you imply. They are well aware that the first cause acts very differently from secondary causes and that, with God's concurrence, secondary causes are no less the efficient causes of their own activities. Man, a secondary cause endowed with reason, is no less responsible for his freely chosen acts; his actions are no less his own; and he is no less capable of gaining merits or incurring guilt 49 Catholics do not throw responsibility for their actions on God, nor impose their will on him; but rather daily do they say in the Lord's Prayer: "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven [Mt 6:10 – rly]."   [At this point we resume with the English translation of the Epistolario - rly]

In the Catholic doctrine it is God who imposes His will on man: Si ad item ingredi servo mandate. [06] Obedience to God is exactly the great precept of Christianity and Judaism and disobedience to the divine commands has always been considered a kind of idolatry - tamquam peccatum ariolandi est non obedire [“To refuse to obey is as the sin of divination” Bonoan translation]. He who wants to enter the kingdom of Heaven must keep the Commandments and he who does not keep them will be damned. It seems to me that this is not imposing our will on God but that of God on us, the opposite of what the Polish magnates did in choosing their king to which you allude.

You add besides that we all make God in our image and likeness without excepting myself when I said: "He who made eyes will not see. He who fashioned ears, will not hear?" And seeming to you that you had heard in these phrases something like the lowing of Anacreon's bull, you continue with a certain irony: "He who made horns will not know how to gore?" And then drawing the moral, you say: "What is perfection in us can be an imperfection in God". And in the following line: "No, let us not make a god in our image, poor inhabitants that we are of a little planet lost in the infinite spaces. However brilliant and sublime our mind may be, it is scarcely a spark that shines and is extinguished in a moment, and it alone cannot give us an idea of that bonfire, of that conflagration, of that abundant light." I suppose with good intention that in characterizing our mind as a spark that shines and is extinguished in a moment without alone being able to give us an idea of that bonfire, of that conflagration, of that abundant light that is called God, you have not wished to incur in the errors of pantheism or fetishism, for on the contrary the lowing of the bull would be most solemn.

I ought then to conclude that your phrases have been written in an allegorical sense and better still in the analogical sense. Therefore do me the kindness of interpreting mine in the latter sense when I said: "He who made eyes, will not see? He who fashioned ears, will not hear?" For God does not need eyes to see nor ears to hear nor does God see with this physical sight nor hear with ears like ours but He sees and hears with His eternal wisdom and infinite immensity with which attributes He is present to all and comprehending all in such a way that according to the Apostle "In Him we live, we move, and we are." [Acts 17:28 - rly] God possess in essence the positive perfections (called simpliciter tales) in an infinite and absolute degree. Creatures share the perfections of God in finite and analogical degree.

Perfection in us can be an imperfection in God taken in the same degree and sense, but not in what I have just explained. God, author of horns, of course knows how to gore without the need of using horns. Because, as first cause, He produces the effects of the second causes be they horns or whips, famines, pestilences, wars, earthquakes, floods, conflagrations, ruins, and desolations; for without being each one of these calamities, He can cause them all solely with His will, assistance, and providence. Consequently in attributing to God the effects of the second causes, though they are wounds from goring, we attribute to Him in the most eminent, simplest, and foremost way all the virtue and efficacy of the second causes, His workmanship. 

In dealing with Revelation you hold off the subject when you say: "I believe in the revelation of nature that surrounds us everywhere, in that mighty voice, eternal, incessant, incorruptible, clear, distinct, universal, like the Being from which it comes, in that revelation that speaks to us and pervades us from our birth until our death."

Good God! But we are dealing here with that other revelation supernatural, properly speaking, that has been communicated by God to man with regard to his eternal salvation ... And what can the supposed living revelation of nature teach us with regard to our justification, sanctification, and eternal salvation? Not a single word. We would remain completely in the dark with respect to our ultimate end if the luminous beacon of supernatural hope, based on the faith in revealed truths that God communicates to us with His grace, did not shine in our soul.

And even with respect to the moral order, I assure you, my dear friend, that that revelation of nature that dazzles and seduces you so much is very pale, and though it surrounds us everywhere, plays hide and seek with us; quite often we do not succeed in finding it. Its voice, far from being strong, is exceedingly weak and hardly more than a distant echo reaches us, which the majority of men would not even notice, if that luminous and supernatural gleam of Christian morality did not continually pass across mankind. Neither is its voice or the nature that produces it eternal; it is not incessant, because being felt only in the bosom of conscience, how many times are its cries silenced with the scabs of evil that forms over it. How often not even the most tenuous rumor, not even the lightest aura of its beneficent influence will be heard on account of that ignoti nulla cupido? [07]

When darkness reigns in the mind, its opacity prevents truths to have resonance in the heart. And indeed the voice of nature is corrupting for us when our faculties are debased. Let them say it, if not, the infinity of philosophical and moral errors maintained by the greatest sages of the pagan world and modern rationalists who figure sadly on the pages of the history of our philosophy. Consider it certain that that voice of nature by itself in view of the condition of our flagging nature, far from being clear and distinct, obscure and confused enough, and is very far from being universal crier of the law that God since the beginning had engraved in the hearts of men, but had to engrave it afterwards on stone tablets both times and proclaim it amidst lightning and thunderbolts because of the forgetfulness of men themselves. Despite this, you review the pages of the history of countries and nations, races and tribes in diverse times and ages and you will find how in all of them, with the exception of Christianity, all kinds of errors in the natural, ontological, psychological, theological, and ethical order have swarmed. And how many savage peoples exist today, I don't say any more in the jungles of Africa, Asia. America, and Oceania, but even in cultured Europe that ignore the most transcendental and primitive truths of sane morality! How much ignorance of natural law in certain classes of European society! How many savage peoples to be subdued could be formed with those centers of nihilism, anarchism, communism, and socialism!

If in the state of spiritual darkness in which minds are submerged and in the filthy quagmire of vices in which a large part of mankind today vegetates, despite the luminous wake that the Immaculate Doctrine of Catholicism is leaving behind everywhere, capable of illuminating everything and purifying it with its wholesome atmosphere, our society has become a Lazarus covered with the most loathsome moral leprosy, what would it be before the coming of Jesus Christ when the worship of all vices personified in the lewd marbles of the Pantheon deified the overflowing of all passions and the excesses of all crimes? And it nature has not succeeded to make its voice heard clearly, distinctly, and universally by all human minds, hearts, and conscience, how much less will it speak to them and pervade them from the time man is born until he dies.  For the sake of God, read and absorb your spirit with chapters 54 and 55 of book 3 of the imponderable Imitation of Christ. These are his most precious sentences:

Opus est gratia tua et magna gratia ut vincatur natura ad malum semper prona ab adolescentia sua.

Nam per primum hominem Adam lapse, et vitiate per peccatum, in omnes homines poena hujus maculae descen

dit; ut ipsa natura, quae bona et recta a to condita fuit, pro vitio jam et infirmitate corruptae naturae ponatur, eo quod motus ejus sibi relictus ad malum et inferiora trahit.Nam rnodica vis qau remansit est tamquam scintilla quaedam, latens in cinere.

Haec rst ipsa ratio naturalis, circumfusa magna caligine, adhuc judicum habens boni et mali, veri fasique, distantiam sit adimplere omne qoud approbats nec pleno jam homine veritatis nec sanitate affectionum suarum potiatur        niagiia (filigane adiuce jildieiuna haben.s /;oni et mall-, veri falsique distanticcni sat ad?mfplere ornne quod affrohats nec frleno jamm hrnine veiitatis nec sanitate affec!ionum suarunirrotiatur... [08]

Therefore there are other books that, radiating its light at a time over nature, makes it more attainable to our minds and wills and reveal to us better than nature the work and goodness of God, His love, His providence, His eternity, His glory, and His wisdom. These are the sacred books interpreted in the sense in which the Catholic Church receives them and the tradition of the revealed truths that in trust this same Church faithfully preserves and interprets with infallible authority as we are going to prove later on. You affirm rightly that Coeli ennarant gloriam Dominie opera manuum ejus anuntiat firmamentum! [The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament declares His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1) – Bonoan translation] But you must know that these are the works of the finger of God only, opera ,digitorum. suorum., ..Apse digit et facta suet man davit et creata sunt." [The works of his fingers… He spoke and they were made; he commanded and they were created. (no reference as to origin) Bonoan translation] However, there are other works that we could call not of the finger but of the arm and even of the right arm of the Highest because they were achieved by Him eminently and wisely. Such are the Incarnation of the Word and Redemption of mankind by Himself: the Glorification of Mankind of Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church. Mankind needs this Bible and this Gospel in order to reestablish peace with God, to love Him as it is convenient in this life and enjoy Him eternally in the other. Do not look for the code of divine positive law in the works of nature and under the august canopy of the heavens as if from them would shower the manna that will give us the eternal life, but in the divine tradition and in the sacred books filed in the temple of the Catholic Church where the treasures of supernatural revelation are preserved in all their purity and entirety. For him who agrees with the faithful and genuine interpretation of the Catholic Church there do not exist in matters of faith and customs, obscure passages or phrases in the Bible or in tradition. The interpretation of the Bible in conformity with the rules of Catholic hermeneutics, far from provoking hatreds, wars, and dissensions, on the contrary unites the minds and fraternizes the hearts with the same ideas, the same principles, the same purpose, identical tendencies, and identical loves and aspirations. Is this not better than interpreting blindly the mute phenomena of nature with the desperate theories of monism [A doctrine that there is only one ultimate substance or principle, whether mind (idealism), matter (materialism), or some third thing that is the basis of both. -- rly]? Undeceive yourself; in order to adjust our life to the immutable laws of God or rather His positive will, the inviolable laws of nature are not enough, and to utilize its forces for our benefit, it is necessary besides for the perfection of man to subject our life, mind, and will to the inviolable positive laws revealed by God and to utilize supernatural forces that He communicates to us through the medium of His divine graces by virtue of the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the achievement of our sanctification and eternal life. And when, I ask now, have men begun to fraternize in fact except when they have found the second page of the work of God or rather the redemption by Our Lord Jesus Christ and his law of grace? Adam tore off and threw to the ground the first page and mankind of the ancient world found scattered isolated characters that the greatest sages (like Zoroaster, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc,) endeavored to gather together without ever succeeding completely to achieve it and much less to practice it.

Who really achieved this glory was Jesus Christ who, wresting the decree of condemnation from the hands of our common enemy, he nailed it with himself on the cross and erasing it with his blood, sealed with it the integral precepts of natural law, confirming them with the law of grace that before his death and glorious ascension to heaven he proclaimed and ordered to be proclaimed by his disciples to all the peoples of the universe. Until then mankind "like the prodigal son who, blind before the happiness of the parental home, had sought others abroad", wandered miserably and full of rancor during many centuries. Jesus Christ introduced into the world the true peace. He made the men who received it adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven. The precepts of absolute necessity and utility pertain­ing to natural law have been written by God not in the phenomena of nature but in the convolutions of our conscience

The heart is the best temple in which to worship God in spirit and truth and in which His sacred law has to take root. However this inner temple requires another external one to render to God the external cult, the sincere expression of the internal, before men and as men composed of body and soul. For this reason, we are more compelled to worship this good and provident God who endowed us with soul and body, natural and supernatural riches (with which we possess what is needed for our salvation), who opened to us the book of natural law and of supernatural revelation entrusting both to the infallible guardianship of the body of prelates and clergy of the Catholic Church who as such instructs the learner in the canons of the ecumenical councils and in the dogmatic decisions of the Roman pontiffs. For that same reason, we ought not only to listen to the voice of God on the altar of our heart when the priest of our conscience officiates in it, speaking to us as the intermediary of God Himself when he proclaims our natural duties but also to the voice of the infallible authority who has received from the Supreme Being the divine mission of teaching us, supporting us in the duties of natural law and instructing us in the duties of divine positive law so that With its fulfillment, in cooperation with the divine grace and by virtue of the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we attain at most the merited justice of our eternal salvation. In this sense the better religion will be that which can best obtain for us the supernatural and eternal purpose that God intended when He created and redeemed us; because this religion is the one which is more in harmony with the con­stant natural and supernatural aspirations of man, expressed by St. Augustine in these persuasive words: Fecisti nos Domine ad to et irrequetum est cor nostrum donec conquiescat in te. [09] And here is the principal excellence of the consoling doctrine of the religion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, because, besides being the only true religion, it is also the only one that satisfies completely the aspirations of man.

When you say that the voice of your conscience can only come from God, you do not judge by deduction but you prejudge the question as if the only criterion that we could have in fact were the testimony of conscience, as if God could not communicate with us through other channels.

But if you judge by deduction, you judge by reasoning and not by the innermost and authoritative testimony of conscience. Then also right reasoning can derive from God; and it the supernatural is beyond the reach of your reasoning and of the innermost testimony of your conscience, you do not want to examine the motives of credibility of the supernatural fact, how can you venture to deny such facts and for that same reason the supernatural truths without prejudging the question? Well, for the mere reason that you do not want to examine the facts or the supernatural truths you cannot judge them by deduction.

You say that God could not have created you for your own harm; we are agreed. Nor for nothing or for indifference, because otherwise ''for what are our sufferings for the fulfillment of our duties, for what are the slow torture of our incessant aspiring?" Therefore, God must have created man for some good purpose, realizable after this life, because if God is just, where will He reward one who dies unjustly for defending His justice? Where will He punish the sinner that because of his vices has received only pleasures, riches, and honors in this world? God created me so that I may love Him and serve Him in this life and enjoy Him eternally in the next. To attain this purpose, the grace of God, the merits of Jesus Christ, and our good works are necessary. God and Jesus Christ are responsible for the first two so long as we do not put an obstacle with our sin. God would be inconsistent if having created us for a purpose had not provided us with the means necessary to achieve it: and for that same reason having created us for a supernatural purpose, He ought to have endowed us with supernatural means to attain it. These consist of the grace of God obtained by virtue of the merits of the Incarnation and redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I proved to you in one of my former letters that Jesus Christ is true God and true man. This stilted the disposition of redemption inasmuch as this had to take place according to the plans of God with all the rigor of deserved justice to satisfy duly outraged divine majesty, and resulting that the gravity of all offense is measured principally by the dignity and nature of the offended persons, these being infinite in God, the offenses directed to God, as much for the sin of our first parents as for our present ones, are invested with a character of objectively infinite gravity. Well now, just as the gravity of an offense is measured by the dignity of the offended object, the compensation or satisfaction of the same ought to be measured also by the dignity of the person who compensates.

If the value of the compensation is equivalent to the value of the offense, then the compensation is justly deserved. If the value of the compensation is less than that of the offense and the offended party accepts it as satisfactory, the debt is cancelled; but if it is condoned in part and in part satisfied, the compensation given is called congruous: however, if the debt cannot be paid and it is excused entirely, instead of payment it is called condonation [the act of condoning, esp. of implying forgiveness by overlooking an offense. -- rly].

This being understood, it was impossible that man by himself pay satisfactorily for his sins. On the other hand, God, exceedingly just, in Whom goodness, sanctity, mercy, and justice are identified with His very essence, did not want to condone the offense nor that it be paid in part, rather as the offended party, He demanded complete satisfaction with all the weight and rigor of deserved justice that His outraged divine majesty merited. Man, not being able by himself to give this satisfaction, the wisdom of God found a means of realizing the task of compensation. Here is proven already the convenience and necessity of the Incarnation of the Son for the redemption of the human race fallen on account of the original sin of our first parents and the present sins of each one. Mercy et verita obviaverunt sibi, justitia et pax osculatae sunt. [10] Then it was when in the disposition of the divine plan was decreed the Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of Mary for the redemption of humankind and as a consequence of that decree were the divine maternity of Mary, her exemption from original and actual sin by virtue of the future merits of her only Son, her perpetual virginity compatible with her divine maternity, her death, resurrection, ascension to heaven, coronation and glorification of Mary as the Mother of God and Queen of the Blessed. Then it was when the council of the Most Holy Trinity was held before the just indignation of the Eternal Father who rejected as unmerited any other offering, sacrifice, or burn offering. The sacrifice of His Only Son as an expiatory victim was accepted by the Father on account of the zeal of His external glory, of His deep love for men and His desire for their eternal happiness. Though, as soon as the mystery of the Incarnation was realized in the purest womb of Mary, Jesus Christ could timely remind his Eternal Father of the sacrifice that he had made to Him, its merit and its effects, saving: Hostiam, et oblationem noluisti: corpus autem aptasti mihi: Holocantomata pro peccato non tibi placuerunt. Tune dixi: Ecce yen lo: incapite libri scriptum est de me: Ut faciam, Dens, voluntatem tuam. [11] It was desirable therefore that Christ the Redeemer be God so that he would give us sufficient remedy and that he be man so that he would give us sufficient example. The Word took human nature and became Man so that man may be freed by man himself - Christ God-Man mediating between man and God. [The Epistolario Rizilino and the English translation of it are missing a portion of the letter.  The words which follow are from the translation by Bonoan. Bonoan’s paragraph numeration are omitted - rly]  To save mankind, it was necessary for God to take on human nature so that, as man, he might gain merits and, as God, apply these merits to us. This was possible only if the Word took on human nature and united it hypostatically [In Christian theology hypostasis refers to the unique nature of the one God, that the three parts of the Trinity equally share the divine nature, and, particularly in this sentence, that there is a full union of the divine and human nature in Jesus Christ (often called hypostatic union as in the next sentence) - rly] to his divine person. The incarnation of the Word, then, formally consists in the hypostatic union, that is, the union by which Christ's divine and human natures subsist in the one person of the Word, while remaining perfect in themselves without confusion or commingling and while retaining their respective properties and operations.

From this we draw the following conclusions:

(1) The union of the two natures took place immediately in the person of the Word at the moment of the Incarnation. Hence there is in Christ only one person which subsists, that is to say, only one subject to which the natures are attributed.

(2) The human nature did not become a constituent part of Christ's person, which in itself is most simple inasmuch as it is divine. But in a certain sense, after the incarnation, Christ's person may be said to have parts, since it possesses two natures. Therefore, formally considered, Christ's person is simple; materially considered, it is said to be composed of parts.

(3) The human nature is united to the person of the Word, but not in the way accidental qualities adhere to the subject, which sustains these qualities. Rather, the union of the divine person and the human nature in Christ has but one act of existence or subsistence.

(4) When the person of the Word assumes the human nature in Christ, this human nature now belongs truly and properly to the Word. From the moment of the incarnation, the person of the Word as principium quod [an agent or a principle which acts] uses the human nature as his own and acts in and by it; just as prior to the incarnation, the Word acted in and by his divine nature. After the incarnation, he continues to act in and by the divine nature, but only in those instances that depend on the divine nature. The two natures belong to the category of principum quo [a principle by which an agent acts].

(5) Since nature depends on person for its existence, it follows that the human nature of Christ, which depends on the person of the Word for its existence, began to exist only at the moment when the Word assumed this nature and communicated his own subsistence to it. Hence, the humanity of Christ exists only because of the subsistence of the Word who gives it its existence. Otherwise, this human nature would not be Christ's, but somebody else's or would merely be a figment of the mind.

(6) The hypostatic union in Christ should be further understood in the following manner. There is a true and real distinction between the divine nature and the human nature, even after these have become united immediately in the person of the Word. Each one retains its own distinct properties and carries out its own distinctive operations. But the distinction between the divine nature and the divine person is only virtual and rational. The union between the human nature and the divine person was immediate; but the union of the two natures was mediate, hence it is called physical and substantial.

The Son of God took on human nature and the very being of man, [The English translation of the Epistolario Rizalino now continues - rly] and consequently the being of man of the substance of his Mother for which she is and ought to be called Mother of God. It is fitting to observe that in the Incarnate Divine Word, outside of the two distinct and separate natures, there ought to be admitted two wills and two operations, one divine and the other human, each one proper to their respective nature.

This being understood, we now come to the solution of the transcendental problems that you propose_ "Who died on the cross?" Was it God or was it man? If it was God, I cannot understand how a God can die, how a God, conscious of His mission can exclaim in his bitter melancholy: Pater, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste! [“Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass… (cf. Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42 / also see John 18:11) - rly] and on the cross the sorrowful, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” This cry is absolutely human; it is the cry of a man who trusted in the justness of God and in the goodness of his cause and then saw himself a captive of every kind of injustice, without hope of salvation. Except the Hodie mecum eris, [i.e. Christ’s reply to the good thief, “Today you shall be with me” (Luke 23:43) - rly] all the cries of Christ on Calvary reveal a man in torment and in agony, though, what a man! For me Christ Man is greater than Christ God. If it were a God who said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing, those who laid hands on him ought to have been forgiven unless we say that God resembles certain men who say one thing and then do another. All these subtleties of theology in explaining the union of God with man is for me an effort of fantasy. What fragile mould of human clay contains all the weight of God, Creator of the worlds?"

Who died on the cross? I reply, Christ as man; that is, when Christ died, his soul separated from the body and the person of Christ remained united to the soul and to the body. However, as personality is the subject or term of attribution of all operations that are predicated on nature, in saying that Christ suffered and died as man, it can also be said that God suffered and died as the divine person of Christ sustained his human nature at the moment of the separation of the soul from the body which continued being Christ after his death because they were sustained by the divine person. You do not understand how a God conscious of His mission can exclaim in His bitter melancholy, Pater, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste! [see translation above - rly] and on the cross the sorrowful: "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?" These cries are proper of the human nature of Jesus Christ but substantially joined to the person of the Word. The first quotation expresses an act of the human will of Christ. Will is a quality of nature, not of hypostasis, as it consists of the Most Holy Trinity in which, though there are three distinct persons there is only one sole will. Then this expression Pate)-, si possibile est, transeat a me calix isle! [see translation above - rly] is nothing more than an act of the human will of Christ. We all know that power or faculties are specified by their acts or operations. In this case, the act or operation is human. Then the principle or faculty of acting will also be human. It is true that human faculties are proper to nature and not to the person. Therefore this act of the human will of Christ was proper to his human nature. 'Thus the subject or term of attribution or subsistence of the human nature of Christ is the second person of the Most Holy Trinity. Therefore the acts of the nature of Christ can and ought to be attributed to the person of Christ himself and here is the reason why the sacrifice of Christ though consisting of acts proper to his human nature which were the sufferings of' the passion and death of the Redeemer, had however an infinite value or merit and for that reason they were sufficient, abundant, and superabundant for the redemption of all the members of the human species. I would ask that you note that I have said sufficient, abundant, and superabundant for the redemption of the human species. But I have not said effective, because despite the esteem and love that God professes mankind and of the infinite -value of the sacrifice of the Cross, such are the concept. esteem, and love of God for his external glory and the respect four the integrity of our tree will and such is the importance that He gives to the personal merit of the intelligent, rational, and free being that lie subordinates to these considerations the general plan of his Providence and the success of our eternal predestination.

The sorrowful cry in the 4th word of Christ from the Cross is explained in the same way as the Peter. si possible est, transeat a one calix iste! [see translation above - rly] In this occasion the comforting presence and help of his Eternal Father ceased to perceive the humanity of Christ and exhausted until the dregs the pena de dano [12] that the sinner deserves for having abandoned his God to join his fellow creatures preferring their company to that of God Himself. It was right therefore that God should hold off front the sinner who ignores Him in favor of his fellow creatures and these very same creatures worshipped by men should constitute his eternal torment, the pena de sentido. [13] in hell.

However, Christ Our Lord suffering and dying for- men on the cross, expiated for the penalties of daño [loss -rly] and sentido [physical senses - rly] merited by sinners: for the pena de sentido [see footnote 13 - rly] with his physical torments and for the pena de daño [see footnote 12 - rly] with his moral torments, specially for having been abandoned and isolated by his Eternal Father as he indicated in his fourth word. This word was uttered by Christ Man, not as a cry of despair as some heretics allege but as the cry of the humanity of Christ "who trusted in the justness of his Eternal Father, in the goodness of his cause. and found himself at the same time a prey of all kinds of injustice without hope of salvation," (in his physical torments); because having voluntarily offered himself to be sacrificed to expiate the sins of men and to atone fully for them, the Eternal Father made him pay until the last cent. By virtue theft of the abundant reparation of Christ who died for us, we can all share the efficacy of his blood and those who avail of his merits really share it. I say of his merits because the justification of the sinner, though it is the work of supernatural grace, granted by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, however these merits are not applied efficaciously without the freest consent or deliberate will of the sinner.

And thus St. Augustine says: Qui fecit te sinete non slavavit te sinete [“He who created you without your cooperation will not save you without your cooperation.” – Bonoan translation].  The other difficulty that you present is now resolved: "If the one who said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do [cf. Luke 23:34 - rly] had been a god, those who have hid way on him ought to have been forgiven unless we say that God resembles certain men who say one thing and do another.”

The Apostle St. Paul [Note: most modern biblical scholars, both Roman Catholic and Protestant do not attribute the book of Hebrews to Paul - rly] in his letter to the Hebrews, chapter 5 says of Christ that “he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears" [cf. Hebrews 5:7 - rly] to his Eternal Father and was heard and "being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all of them that obey him.” [cf. Hebrews 5:9 - rly] That is, for those who believe in him and obey his law. According to this, the prayer of Christ in the first word that was said as man was listened to and accepted by his Eternal Father. Through this, Christ obtained pardon for those who laid hands on him. However, some of these freely availed themselves of the merit and grace of Christ and actually obtained pardon while the others, on the other hand, did not want to avail themselves voluntarily of such grace and rejected it, and then ample grace to obtain pardon was merited and conceded so that the interested persons could avail themselves of it, but the grace did not produce the desired efficacy, not because of God but for lack of free cooperation on the part of men. Sometimes the same sun ray that softens wax hardens clay, so the grace offered to the good thief, because of its efficacy produces a saint and rejected by the bad thief produces a reprobate. Thus the blood of Christ, shed to wash the sins of men could fall contrary to the intention of Christ himself.  At the demand of the Jews, clamoring for vengeance, he who, according to the prophecy of Simon, was appointed for the rising of many, was made the target likewise for the ruin of others [cf. Luke 2:34 - rly]. For this reason St. Paul exhorts us not to despise the treasures of the goodness, patience, and forbearance of God. Don t you know perchance that the kind generosity of Christ invites you to repent? You, on the contrary with your hardness and impenitent heart are hoarding up wrath and more wrath for the day of vengeance and the declaration of the just judgment of God Who will have to pay each one according to his works, giving the eternal life to those who, by means of perseverance in good works, aspire for glory, for honor, and for immortality, and pouring out his fury and indignation over stubborn spirits who do not surrender to truth but embrace injustice." In this manner those who shun redemption in this life justify the ire of the Supreme Judge of the living and the dead on judgment Day. God is good, but He is not so good-natured that He will allow the entry into heaven of those who willingly die in mortal sin. All the words of Christ except the Hodie mecum eris in paradiso, [“today you will be with me in paradise” - rly] declare his humanity in torment and agony, and in a certain way Jesus Christ during those moments hides his divinity; because then the hour had come of draining until the dregs the cup of passion that his Father offered him. However, Jesus Christ, even shedding his blood on the cross, was true God as St. Paul said to his bishops: Attendite vobis et universo gregi in quo vos Spiritus Sanctus posuit Episcopos regere ecclesiam Dei quam adquisivit sanguine suo.  [14] I pray you not to utter the insubstantial blas­phemy that Christ Man is greater than Christ God because Christ is Man-God and consequently more than man only. Neither is it an effort of fantasy nor theological subtlety to wish to explain the dogma of the union of God with man as if this were impossible, as if this manner of redeeming man and satisfying God were indecorous to God Himself and not convenient or necessary to man. If the Incarnation then was possible, if it was decorous to God, convenient and necessary to man, why should we deny a fact so clearly demonstrated by Jesus Christ in his words, works, doctrines, examples, miracles, and prophecies? What fragile mold of human clay, you object, contains all the weight of God, Creator of all words? And who told you that the Incarnation of the Son of God, the divinity of Christ, comes contained in his humanity? The fragile mold of the humanity of Christ in the Incarnation on the contrary is supported by the personality of the Word, creator with the Father and the Holy Ghost of the visible and invisible worlds. Theology does not appeal to mere subtleties to explain the union of God with man but it illumines philosophy, determines and strengthens the metaphysical truths and with the explanation of the dogmas, it traces the horizons and safe courses of knowledge, and it is the safe guide of learned men so that they may not err in the investigation of truth, as it happens here, in dealing with the hypostatical union of the Word with human nature.  It clarifies and circumscribes the concepts of nature and person, as in the Eucharist, the substance and the accident, quantity and extension, and so in the other treatises of philosophy.

You are presented with another objection with respect to the miracles of Christ. It consists of the "apostasy of his disciples and their incredulity of the resurrection of the 'Master. Had then been witnesses of so many marvels and resurrections, they would not have abandoned him so cowardly and they would not have doubted his resurrection."

Well, this is precisely what ought to convince you of the veracity of the great miracle of the Resurrection of the Lord which was so evident that it dispelled the incredulity of his disciples: and because even with such disproportionate means as the Apostles were, the power and wisdom of redemption shone still more.  Christ chose his disciples from among the common people who were rough, ignorant, weak, and poor, who ate without washing their hands, who rubbed between their hands the grains of wheat to eat them, who were impertinent in their questions so that sometimes the Redeemer said to them: Adhuc et vos sine intellectu estis. [15] There is nothing strange then that such matter-of-fact and timorous people who did not understand quite often the words of Christ and believed that the kingdom of Christ was going to be this world when they were not yet well grounded in the faith should abandon Christ at a critical moment and because of the great novelty of the case they should hesitate before the very evidence of their Master, believing that they were seeing in him a ghost. Christ, on the other hand, knowing that doubt sprang more from the coarseness and weakness of that people rather than from their malice and stubbornness (like the Pharisees) pitied their flight and Peter's prevarication and forgave easily their little faults that came from their bashfulness and little learning.

For this reason, after his resurrection, he visited or appeared to the Apostles frequently. He talked to them of the kingdom of God or the Church that he sought to found. He comforted and cheered them in the faith and sometimes scolded them seriously for their lack of faith, as when he said to them: "Oh fools and dull men to believe all that the prophets already announced!" What? By chance was it not advisable for him, Christ, to suffer all these things and thus enter into his glory? And lastly appearing before the Apostles when they were seated at the table, he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart be­cause they had not believed those who had seen him after he arose. However, when Christ observed that the Apostles were at the beginning preoccupied, believing that tires were seeing in him some ghost, he advised them gently and kindly, telling them: "Touch and look because spirits have no flesh and bones as you see I have'' and he ate with them to convince them of truth of his resurrection. And in fact such was their conviction and joy that followed their first doubts and fears, especially after Jesus Christ had fulfilled his promise to send them the Holy Ghost that, full of enthusiasm and kindled with the sacred fire of charity, they sallied forth into the streets and plazas of Jerusalem, becoming other men, brave and vigorous, preaching Christ dead, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. I believe, said a sage, the witnesses who allowed themselves to be killed and all those poor fishermen, disciples of Christ who, according to you, apostatized against their Master at the moment he was going to be led to the inhuman sacrifice of the cross and who, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ still hesitated, later became persevering witnesses of the incarnation, life, doctrine, Passion, resurrection, and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and until the end of the world. And this testimony was given by the Apostles and disciples who saw Jesus Christ die, rise again, and ascend to heaven and for giving this testimony they were brought to the courts, vituperated, put in irons, imprisoned, whipped, tortured, exiled, and killed in infamous places of execution. However, these men and nevertheless, these men formerly so timid later ibant gaudentes a conspectu concilii quoniam digni habiti sunt, pro nomine Jesu contumelian pati.

Omni autem die non cessabant in templo, et circa osmos docentes, et evangelizantes Christ um. Jesum. [16] These same Apostles formerly apostates and so cowardly, according to you, said to the judges who threatened them so that they would not speak or teach in the name of Jesus: Si justum est in conspectu Dei, vos potius audire quam Deum, judicate. Non enim possumus quae vidimus et audivimus coi loqui. [17] However, for what reason did Jesus Christ choose such humble people as the Apostles were, to spread his Gospel throughout the known world then and insure it until the ends of the world with seemingly so contemptible origins? Why did he not choose the most powerful emperors in the world to perpetuate his work of redemption until the end of the world? Why did he not even use to spread his Gospel the most eloquent orators, the wisest philosophers, experts, and jurists of the world? It was precisely because the work of Jesus Christ was not human and natural but supernatural and divine.

St. Paul said to the Corinthians:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: riot with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh not many mighty, not many noble are called:

But God bath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God bath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

And the base things of the world, the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are;

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

But of him are ye in Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption:

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. [18]

If the religion of Jesus Christ has achieved such a marvelous success in the world with such weak foundations and preaching everywhere the doctrine of the cross contrary to the impetus and unfolding of passions, substituting for them mortification that the practice of Christian virtues engenders; if the doctrine of the Cross, considered a scandal and madness by worldly men, has spread so rapidly and firmly throughout the face of the earth, some supernatural power must be hidden in that mysterious Cross. This cannot be other than the virtue and power of the immense wisdom and infinite fortitude of Jesus Christ that hang from it: Et ego si exaltatus fuero e terra omnia traham ad me ipsum. [19] Such was the work of the Son of God narrated by the Prophets until the smallest trifles and details of his life, passion, death, resurrection, and glorious ascension to heaven. Such was the Son of God, author of so many marvels performed in confirmation of his divinity, divine mission, and heavenly doctrine.

Although the will has an enormous power over the imagination and vice versa, never will it be so great that it will surpass the natural forces of both. Such for example, never shall the will be so powerful that by a simple order it could convert water into the color, flavor, and strength of old wine, as it happened at the wedding in Cana, or of such enormous natural power that it had exerted on the imagination of the governor of the feast who, uninformed of the miracle performed by Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures, scarcely had he tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;", he called the bridegroom, and said to him: "Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou halt kept the good wine until now. [20] That the hour of making publicly the first miracle had not yet come proves only that the prayers of the just, and especially those of the Virgin, are efficacious to move the will of God and achieve what would not be achieved without her previous prayer.

I suppose also that you will easily concede to me even in the midst of the enlightenment of the nineteenth century that by a single act of the plain will and of imagination five thousand men cannot be satisfied with five loaves of ordinary bread and two little fishes.

These prodigious works of Our Lord Jesus Christ giving sight, hearing, and speech to men born blind and deaf-mute, movement to paralytic men, life to the dead and resurrection likewise after death were done in confirmation of his doctrine, in proof of his divine mission and of his divinity itself. Therefore, not only was the doctrine of Christ supernatural and divine, but he was truly sent by God and the only begotten and natural son of the Eternal Father, he is, namely, God Himself. The masterpiece of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth with which he has wished to perpetuate the application of the fruits of his redemp­tion and divine teachings is the Catholic Church, founded on the indestructible rock of Peter and his legitimate successors. This work was original with our Lord Jesus Christ and more wisely and more skillfully conducted than all the other religions for it recognizes God as its immediate and direct Author, it recognizes God as its keeper, and Christ finally is the one that rules it and will rule it, according to his promise until the end of the world. Consequently it is not more wisely and more skillfully conducted than many other religions because it is the direct heir of the religious, artistic, and political knowledge of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.  What has that to do with the Christian religion? The latter has its branches in the heart of the people, its base and root in the heart of Christ where it was born. Neither is it founded in the imagination of the multitude nor in the affection of women but in the will of God and in the efficacy of supernatural grace by virtue of the merits of Christ. Its mysteries are perfectly clear as dogmas of faith with regard to its existence. Its authentic and demonstrated miracles, far from being childish imagination, always presuppose necessity by reason of the truths of a transcendental and superior order. In the Church of Christ divisions or dissensions that are called sects or heresies have never existed because the Church is one, like Christ and the faith he professes.

So that you may be fully convinced of what the Catholic Church is which was founded by Jesus Christ, I promise, God willing, in another letter, to enter fully in the study of the origin, constitution, records, and endowments of this same Church, founded on the indestructible rock of Peter. We shall understand therefore the question of the primate or visible head of the Church, who are the Roman Pontiffs, the legitimate successors of St. Peter. The origin of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ belongs to history and it is recorded in the Holy Gospels. With both documents on hand I hope to prove to you the true doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ and with its help resolve all your difficulties about it.

Your affectionate servant in Christ who does not forget you in his poor prayers.

Pablo Pastells, S.J.


[01] "There is no power but of God . . ." Romans 13:1.

[02] Who is this who is confusing words in conversation with the inexperienced . . . Where was he when they placed the foundations of the earth . . . Job 38:2,4.

[03] The pen of my clerk writing swiftly my language . . .

[04] Supernatural revelation, according to the faith of the universal Church, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions.

[05] The books of the Old and New Testaments, complete in all their parts, are placed in the recent and former decree of the same Council.  Those of the Vulgate, Latin version, must be received as sacred and canonical.  The Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because they have been arranged by human diligence and therefore approved upon its authority nor because they were inspired by the Holy Ghost.  Their Author is God and they were delivered to the Church itself as such.

[06] "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."  Matthew 19:17.

[07] One does not desire what one does not know.

[08] By Thomas a Kempis.  "I stand in need of Thy grace and of great race, in order to overcome nature, always prone to evil from its youth.

"For fallen as it is through the first man Adam, and corrupted by sin, the punishment of that stain hath descended upon all mankind; so that nature itself, which by thee was created good and right, is now taken for vice and the infirmity of corrupt nature; because the motion thereof, left to itself, draweth to evil and to things below.

"For the little strength which remaineth is but as a little spark hidden under ashes.

"This is the self-same natural reason, encompassed with much darkness, having yet the judgment of good and evil, and the discernment of truth and falsehood; though it be unable to fulfill all that it approves; neither doth it now enjoy the full light of truth, nor the former healthfulness of its affections."

[09] "Lord, You made us for Yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in You."

[10] "Mercy and truth meet together, justice and peace kiss each other."  Psalm 85:10.

[11] "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body Thou has prepared one: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.  Then said I, Lo, I come in the volume of the book it is written of me thy will, O God."  Hebrews 10:5-7.

[12] Pena de daño in theology is the penalty of eternal deprivation of the sight of God in the other life.

[13] Pena de sentido in theology is the penalty of perpetual torment of the senses of the body.

[14] "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with is own blood." Acts 20:28.

[15] "Are ye also yet without understanding?" Matthew 15:16.

[16] "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

"And daily in the temple, and every house, they continued to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Acts 5:41-42.

[17] "… Whether it be right in the sight of God to harken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."  Acts 4:19-20.

[18] 1 Corinthians 1:17-31.

[19] "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." John 12:32 (cf. John 3:14f).

[20] John 2:9-10.


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108-a. Rizal, June (?) 1893 || To Fr. Pablo Pastells

Note: This letter was unknown to the Epistolario Rizalino and its subsequent translation into English.  This letter is taken from Fr. Raul Bonoan’s translation who discovered it.

Rizal asks that he and Fr. Pastells end their correspondence.

June (?) 1893

Very Rev. Fr. Pablo Pastels

Director of the Escuala Normal

My dear Very Reverend Father:

[1] I trust you will be kind enough to pardon me for the delay in answering you.  To put a stop to our correspondence, I held off for a while and sent o letter on the last dispatch for the following reasons.

[2] If I am not mistaken, I think I detect in your letters which I ever esteem and in the dignified tone in which you write, a certain impatience, caused perhaps by the shortness of my mind, which is rather slow in attuning itself to your way of thinking, or perhaps by the pity which my religious situation, viewed from your vantage point, arouses in you.

[03] Your Reverence says that we ought to hope that God will restore the faith which I lack.  Let us then hope that he will do so, for this matter seems to me to be beyond our natural capabilities.  Msgr. Bougand no longer convinces me.  I am no longer able to comprehend your arguments and to appreciate their merits.  And I would be doing wrong in the eyes of society, if I were to continue robbing you of your time, which the many people who live under your direction need so much and can use to their great advantage.

[04] Persons like Your Reverence must live in an atmosphere of peace where the air is pure so that you may the better guide the minds and consciences of your subjects.  You can ill afford to suffer the disturbances which other minds may cause in you by their shortsightedness or lack of refinement.

[05] I deeply appreciate your desire to enlighten me and illumine my path.  But I fear it is a useless task.  Lest I make you waste your time, I rather tell you now: let us leave to God the things that are God’s and to men the things that are men’s.  As Your Reverence says, the return to the faith is God’s work.

[06] Again I express to you my sincere gratitude and I beg you to forgive me for not having seen earlier the impossibility of this undertaking.

I remain always your loyal and faithful servant.

Respectfully yours,

José Rizal

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