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Sunday, December 30, 2012
It is said that the Philippines has the longest Christmas season that begins as soon as the “ber” months appear on the calendar. For where in the world could one hear Christmas carols in September? And where else in the world could one see malls bedecked with colorful holiday decors immediately after All Souls’ Day?Christmas is the time of the year in the Philippines when business is brisk brought about by the gift-giving needs of individuals and companies and the seemingly endless gatherings.
Filipino Catholic Family Christmas Traditions
Christmas is also the time of the year when families gather to celebrate. But the modern-day diaspora of Filipinos, either residing abroad or toiling as OFWs, has made this impossible. Thanks to modern technology, those who cannot be home for Christmas can at least share with their loved ones the joy of this season despite the distance. As an ad of a telecommunications company says, “Malayo man, laging 2-gether ang pamilya ngayong Pasko.” Others send “balikbayan” boxes filled with presents for every family member, relatives, and close friends as their way of making their presence felt even in spirit.
What adds more color to this season of joy is the Catholic tradition of “Simbang Gabi” – the nine-day Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in preparation for the commemoration of the birth of our Savior. Although the penitential character of sacrificing hours of sleep is recognized, anticipated “Simbang Gabi” has been allowed in the Philippines. This has given more people, especially families, the opportunity to practice this tradition. One may see families even opting to attend these Masses in chapels inside shopping malls.
The “puto bumbong” and the “bibingka” are Filipino delicacies closely associated with the Simbang Gabi and have become part of the food fare that Catholic families partake of with steaming “tsaa” or coffee after attending Mass. It has been observed that those selling these food items are also families that have made it their tradition to make these delicacies only during the Christmas season.
Filipino Catholic families decorate their homes for Christmas with colorful lights, garlands and the native “parol”. Christmas trees are a common sight. But the most important reminder of this season is the “Belen” which every Catholic home must have for there we find the true reason for this celebration – the birth of our Savior. It has to have a prominent place in the house where the whole family gathers to share each other’s joy and give thanks to the God not only for the gift of family but for his gift to humanity which is his Son Jesus Christ.Every Filipino Catholic family prepares for the noche buena which is shared after attending the Mass on Christmas eve. The food need not be expensive although most families,especially the mothers, make it a point to serve something special. What matters most is that all the family members are present.
The spirit of giving and sharing among family members is what makes Christmas an occasion to look forward to. It is in giving that we are remembered and it is also in giving that we show we remember those close to our hearts.
The Filipino Catholic family extends this spirit to those who are less fortunate. Visiting orphanages, donating toys and necessities to charity institutions and supporting relief drives for disaster-stricken areas, like the provinces ravaged recently by typhoon Pablo, are gestures that give meaning to this celebration.
Celebrating the New Year
Celebrating the New Year
The Philippines welcomes the New Year with so much noise from firecrackers. It is said that we learned this practice of using firecrackers from the Chinese who believe that noise drives away evil spirits. We wake up in the morning of New Year ’s Day with smog (smoke from firecrackers and burned tires and fog) filling the air and the streets covered with all sorts of litter.
For years, the government has been conducting campaigns against the use of firecrackers because of the danger they pose to life, property, and health and the pollution they bring to the environment.
The Catholic Church is advocating alternative ways of greeting the New Year which do not have the adverse effects of using firecrackers. To make noise, our families could play loud lively music or use pots and pans or blow the “torotot” which comes in various sizes.
After all the merrymaking, the Filipino Catholic family could gather and say together a prayer of thanksgiving to God. There is so much to thank God for the year that had just passed – family, health, guidance, friends, and all the other blessings that God had bestowed on us.
The Filipino Catholic family starts the New Year also with a prayer of trust in God’s providence and guidance for the year ahead. And we should not forget to thank God for the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose “yes” to God’s plan inaugurated the accomplishment of the mystery of Incarnation. She cooperated with God and she became the Mother of God whose solemnity we observe on the first day of the new year.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
To be read in all Masses in the Diocese of Pasig this December 16, 2012
Contraception is Corruption!Seeking Light and Guidance on the RH Bill Issue
“What then should we do?” (Lk. 3, 10)
As we begin the nine-day Misa de Gallo today, our thoughts turn to John the Baptist, the one who points to Jesus, the Christ Child. People came to him to ask, “What then should we do?” because their hearts were filled with expectation for the Messiah. (Lk. 3,15) They needed reason to hope. St. John the Baptist told them to share what they had, to act with justice, and shun extortion.
Today, our question as a people of God, regarding the controversial RH bill, may be the same. What then should we do?
On behalf of the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, I reiterate the collective discernment of the Philippine bishops that the RH Bill if passed into law can harm our nation. Contraception corrupts the soul. The RH Bill is being gift wrapped to look like a gift for maternal health care. It is not so. It will lead to greater crimes against women.
The poor are being promised a better life through the RH Bill. It will not be so. The poor can rise from their misery through more accessible education, better hospitals and lesser government corruption. Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care.
The youth are being made to believe that sex before marriage is acceptable provided you know how to avoid pregnancy. Is this moral? Those who corrupt the minds of children will invoke divine wrath on themselves.
The Reproductive Health Bill, if passed into law in its present form, will put the moral fibre of our nation at risk. As we your bishops have said in the past, a contraceptive mentality is the mother of an abortion mentality. The wide and free accessibility of contraceptives, even to the youth, will result in the destruction of family life and in greater violence against women.
What then should we do?
We congratulate the one hundred four (104) congressmen and women who voted NO to the RH Bill. You have voted courageously, despite all pressures, to stand up for what is right and true. The Church will remember you as the heroes of our nation, those who have said no to corruption and who care for the true welfare of the people, especially the poor. May you continue to be steadfast and not waiver in your stand against moral corruption.
What then should we do?
We plead with the sixty four (64) congressmen who have not voted, to be enlightened and stand up for the Truth. As St. John the Baptist directed the people to justice, we call on you also to seek justice for the Filipino people. The Church teaches us to follow our conscience, the inner sanctuary where we are alone with God (Gaudium et Spes #16), but such conscience must be formed and informed according to the universal values that are common to all human persons. The truth is that to be pro-child, pro-mother and pro-poor, we must resist all threats against them. This is justice. Stand up for it; defend it; do not be swayed by worldly pressures, and be the champion of the people who voted for you. God knows and sees what you are doing.
What then should we do?
We admonish the Filipino Catholic faithful to share with those who have less this Christmas, but also share in praying that our congressmen and women will be faithful to their call to serve the true interests of the Filipino people. This means upholding life, saying no to contraception which is corruption, and being faithful to the Christ Child who was pro-woman, pro-child and pro-poor.
From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, December 15, 2012
For the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines currently out of the country,
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan &
Friday, December 7, 2012
Bishop’s homily during the mass for the deceased clergy of Pasig held last November 12, 2012
Magandang Tanghali po sa inyo!
Siguro kayo po’y nagtataka bakit maraming pari ngayon. It’s a concelebrated mass while it’s also our regular 12:15 noon mass in the Cathedral.
Well, when we calendared our 2012 activities, we have designated that this day and also this mass to have a concelebrated mass for the repose of the souls of our departed priests and that’s why it is the day off of our priests, but we are here to offer this Eucharist for all the departed priests of the Diocese of Pasig and also the priests we know who have passed away.
I have been informed because I was just the bishop of Pasig last year that there are four priests who have served here who have passed away: Msgr. Pastor, Fr. Fil, Fr. Ross, and of course, Fr. Buddy. I do not know if I forgot any others, yet it is fortunate also that in this Eucharistic Celebration as we remember them in our prayers we also remember all the priests we know and I think if there is one thing that I’d like to share in this Eucharistic celebration, strikingly, to offer mass for our deceased priests gives us what we call the disposition of gratitude, “pasasalamat”.
Maganda nga ho pag-isipan pag meron pong namatay na isang layko, isang madre - parte ng pamilya po natin yan, tatawag po tayo ng pari at itong paring ito ang magmimisa sa mga burol at sa libing, because we know it is only the priest who can do that function and that service. But you see when a priest dies, true enough, the bishop may be there and also the brother priests may be there. But it is also striking that a priest when he serves the church ages, retires, and later on dies. Dumarating po yung panahon nakakalimutan na po yung pari, totoo po yan.
Two months ago we laid to rest one of a retired and aged priests in the Archdiocese of Manila. His name is Msgr. Marcelino Montemayor. He died at age of 87.
When I was ordained priest in 1990, he was around 65 years old, but he was still functioning because the retirement of a priest is 75 not unless you become sickly or for a special reason. So naabutan ko pa siya nung bata pa po akong pari, bagong ordained na pari. Masigasig pa po kahit medyo may edad na, senior citizen s’ya noon, naglilingkod, light hearted, well-loved, and still serving the way he should and the way he could.
Msgr. Montemayor has been noted to be one who is close also to the catechists. Iyan po’y tagakalampag ng mga parish priest para tumulong sa mga pangangailangan ng katekista. Hindi ko po makakalimutan yung sermon ni Cardinal designate Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle during that mass noting that even though he also came to Manila only last year, Msgr. Montemayor was noted for that gift that’s why he was also close not only to the catechists but also to the priests. Kahit yung mga paring kuripot at ayaw magbigay, basta kinalampag na po ni Msgr. Montemayor, magbibigay at tutulong para sa pangangailangan ng mga katekista.
Well I shared this because since he was already 87 years old when he was laid to rest, a certain expectation, given the fact that he served as a priest for so many years, I’m sure he also reached golden years. Syempre marami mga nakikilala dyan, maraming nabinyagan nya, maraming kinumpilan yan, tapos nandun din yung mga nag-officiate siya sa kasal and in all the sacraments. Siguro nung kabataan pa nya mas popular sya.
Pero alam nyo nung misa ginawa po naming iyun dun sa Loreto Church medyo kahit papaano malaki-laki din po yung simbahan. Nung libing, medyo hapon po yun, di po napuno ang simbahan. At alam nyo paano napuno kasi marami pong paring nakilibing at nakimisa, one third ng simbahan puro pari. Yung mga lay people at mga madre, nandun din. Maaring ang iba hindi alam na namatay siya o yung iba nauna na rin sa kanya namatay ay baka nakalimutan na rin sya. That’s why I think it’s also a good exercise to go through this whole experience yearly to offer mass for our departed priests. Because it’s our way of thanking the Lord for them despite their own sinfulness and their weaknesses that they have been a blessing to us – a blessing to the Church.
Nakikita niyo po nandyan po yung mga pari natin ngayon for the Diocese of Pasig. Almost all of them are here, both incardinated, guest priests and religious. Tignan niyo po kaming mga naglilingkod sa inyo. Dadating po ang araw na mawawala din kami sa mundong ito katulad ninyo. But I hope as we are still living and able to celebrate the Eucharist, let us make it a practice to pray for our priests. Because we know God use them for the special vocation - to celebrate mass daily and to dispense of the sacraments so that we will feel the loving presence of God.
Pray for them to even now those who are living that as we go to the road – the road to eternal life we will also thread the path of holiness. Kailangan po namin ang inyong mga panalangin. Your bishop - Bishop Mylo, and your priests present, we are all weak and sinful. Humbly we tell you, we need sanctification, we need conversion, and we need your prayers so that when our time comes we will see each other in eternal life. /DPOC20121208
log: bishop's homily, headline news