A Fire of Testing Has Come to the Catholics

In my last posting, I talked about El Shaddai’s brother Mike Velarde and his “seeming” contradiction to the official teaching of the Catholic church regarding statues and images of saints. In his previous message (12/08/2007) he admonished the Catholics of the nation to stop from kneeling and praying before the statues and images of saints because, according to his teaching, it is a cause of curse to our nation.

In his last message (12/15/2007) he continued to talk about statues and images of saints, but this time he was bold and he strongly urged the members of their group to surrender any form of idol they may have kept at their homes and destroy them all by burning them.

His last message was in continuation of his previous message which borders on the theme on generational curses of a nation and the ways of breaking free from them. Brother Mike Velarde believes that the primary reason why our nation is in a seemingly endless cycle of sufferings and hardships is because the nation is under many curses, and one of the major cause of these curses is idolatry that involves the statues and images of saints.

To the Catholics, the statue and image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the most sacred among the saints. They may give up devotion to the rest of the saints but never to Mary. She is so dear to them because she is the mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and hence has become their mother in Christianity. But in his last message, brother Mike Velarde had “found the strength” to dare challenge the rest of the Catholics of the nation and even the priests and bishops by implying that devotion to Mary is unnecessary for salvation, and therefore it needs to be abandoned. He said with a forceful voice of delivery, urging the nation once and for all, to do away with “rebulto at rosaryo” (statue and rosary).

He also mentioned again the name of their group’s spiritual director, Bishop Teodoro Bacani. He said that the bishop would not dare to talk about this matter to the group himself for fear of being rejected -- implying that he (Velarde) was made to do the “heavy lifting” for the bishop concerning this matter. Does this mean that a Catholic bishop is in approval of what brother Mike Velarde is teaching and urging Catholics to do? To say the least, this is shocking and confusing to the mainstream Catholics who are not members of brother Mike Velarde’s El Shaddai group.

Brother Mike Velarde’s word to the bishops: “As the priests and bishops go, so goes the nation.” Implying that maybe the priests and bishops are not doing their supposed job correctly concerning this matter.

In this serious controversy that is slowly starting to burn among the “Catholics” in the Philippines, the lay people deserve an official statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) regarding this matter so that they may be guided accordingly.

Brother Mike Velarde also told that some non-Catholic Christian charismatic groups were urging him to join their group since he no longer believes in the official teaching and tradition of the Catholic church concerning statues and images, but he refused to break away from being affiliated with the Catholic church because, according to him, “Light is needed most in places where darkness dwells, not in places where light already exists.”

If brother Mike Velarde is really true to his conviction on this issue, then at any time soon, his prayer mountain should be blazing with fire from burning of the idols that their members may have owned. Or better yet, fire from burning statues and images should be seen at the wide open grounds of AMVEL business park and fully covered by media for the whole world to see -- or any other action to this effect, otherwise, his talk is cheap.

A fire of testing has come to the Catholic church – to the Philippines for now, to the rest of the world later; for these days is a season of testing.