Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pasig Diocese collection for Victims of Typhoon Yolanda

ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PASIG
 2nd collection 
 Victims of Typhoon Yolanda  
 Nov. 17, 2013 
 Grand Total       1,500,000.00

 Sta. Rosa De Lima                    127,517.75
 San Roque                   112,176.00
 Sta. Clara de Montefalco                      94,954.20
 Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara                      42,597.10
 Holy Family                      88,705.25
 Sto Rosario                      68,834.85
 Immaculate Conception Cathedral                      51,759.70
 St. John the Baptist                      43,946.00
 Maria, Reyna ng mga Apostoles                      41,320.00
 Sto. Niño de Pasig                      39,352.00
 Sta. Lucia                      39,317.00
 Our Lady of the Holy Rosary                      38,678.00
 San Antonio Abad                      37,969.50
 Sto. Tomas de Villanueva                      37,086.50
 San Guillermo                      35,867.00
 San Pedro Calungsod Chapel                      34,998.50
 St. Michael Chaplaincy                      29,140.00
 St. Jude Thaddeus                      28,580.00
 Ina ng mga Dukha                      27,516.75
 St. Anne                      24,950.00
 St. Joseph                      20,100.00
 Sagrada Familia                      17,934.30
 Sto. Niño de Taguig                      17,039.00
 Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara                      15,000.00
 Our Mother of Perpetual Help                      12,850.75
 Immaculate Conception Karangalan                      12,389.25
 San Sebastian                      11,431.50
 THE MEDICAL CITY                      10,000.00
 San Agustin                      15,624.00
 San Vicente Ferrer Quasi Parish                         5,750.25
 Sta. Martha                         8,318.45
 St. Ignatius                         4,400.00
St. Peter the Fisher man                        3,028.00
 St. Michael Parish                         2,715.50

 Others: 
 Sto Nino Catholic School                 50,000.00
 Mass Collections at Ynares                 34,292.00
 DONORS c/o Caritas Pasig                 33,282.20
 CBC BATCH 73                 25,000.00
 ROY/EDITH CARINO                 20,000.00
 EMHC - Sto. Nino Parish                 15,000.00
 Jeff/Linda Lue                 13,120.20
 Carmelita Dolfi                 12,347.00
 Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus                 10,458.00
 Asuncion Family                 10,000.00
 Marietta Nadal                 10,000.00
 ICC PARISHIONER                 10,000.00
 JOEL/INA BARADAS                 10,000.00
 Torres Arthur/Ma. Caridad                 10,000.00
 Curia Personnel Budget for Christmas Party                 10,000.00
 Flying Ducks Riders c/o Sta. Martha                   7,200.00
 ALFONSO/TIN AGUILAR                   5,000.00
 Sumilang Sub Parish                   1,653.50
 Tess Carmonas & Friends c/o Sta Martha                   1,500.00
 Kapitbahayan                   1,000.00
 Cel & Michael Del Rosario                   1,000.00
 Conrad & Belen Ferrer                   1,000.00
 Melendrez Family                   1,000.00
 Rodelio Jose                   1,000.00
 BEBONG LUBANGCO                   1,000.00
 Becky Labre                   1,000.00
 Gregorio Mercado                      600.00
 Ester Abelido                      500.00
 Lollit Cordero                      500.00
 ICC PARISHIONER                      500.00
 Elsa Bornay                      200.00

The beneficiaries are as follows:
 Beneficiaries                       1,500,000.00
 ARCHBISHOP. JOSE ADVINCULA   ARCHBP. OF CAPIZ                           122,222.22
 BISHOP JOSE ROMEO LAZO   BISHOP OF ANTIQUE                           122,222.22
BISHOP JOSE CORAZON TALAOC  BISHOP OF KALIBO                           122,222.23
BISHOP CRISPIN VARQUEZ  BISHOP OF BORONGAN                           200,000.00
BISHOP ISABELO ABARQUEZ  BISHOP OF CALBAYOG                           122,222.22
BISHOP JOSE PALMA  BISHOP OF CEBU                           122,222.23
ARCHBISHOP ANGEL LAGDAMEO  ARCHBP. OF JARO                           122,222.22
BISHOP JOSE BANTOLO  BISHOP OF MASBATE                           122,222.22
BISHOP OF FILOMENO BACTOL  BISHOP OF NAVAL                           122,222.22
BISHOP EDGARDO JUANICH  BISHOP OF TAYTAY                           122,222.22
BISHOP JOHN DU  BISHOP OF PALO                           200,000.00
You may wish to continue sending in your donations.  Click on our donation button and indicate that you are giving it for the dioceses mentioned above.  God bless!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pastoral notes on the celebration of the simbang gabi

May we inform and remind Your Reverences of the following in connection with the celebration of the Misa de Aguinaldo/Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi in the Diocese of Pasig.

We will maintain the status quo in the Diocese of Pasig. We will allow the practice of “anticipated” Simbang Gabi Masses or the anticipation of the Dawn Masses on the preceding evening from December 15 to 23.
The practice of “anticipated” Simbang Gabi Masses is already a pastoral accommodation. However, we must consider the following guidelines.

1.   Simbang Gabi is a novena of Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Expectant Mother of God, and in preparation for the commemoration of the birth of our Savior. Therefore, the Mass formularies for these Masses (Opening Prayer, Prayer over the Gifts and Prayer after Communion) should be taken from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent/ Pangkat ng mga Pagdiriwang sa Karangalan ng Mahal na Birhen sa Panahon ng Pagdating ng Panginoon (see Aklat ng Pagmimisa sa Roma p. 687), except for the Preface which will take the Preface of Advent II/Ikalawang Pagbubunyi o Prepasyo sa Panahon ng Pagdating.

2.   With these, we discourage Your Reverences to use the presidential prayers (Opening prayer, Prayer over the Gifts and Prayer after Communion) from the missallete for it uses the Mass formulary proper of Advent and not from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Advent. You can just use the misallete for the Prayers of the Faithful.


3.   The Gloria is sung in Simbang Gabi Masses and white vestment is used even on Sunday (Dec 15 evening and Dec. 22 morning and evening) but for Simbang Gabi Masses only.

4.   There is no Credo/Sumasampalataya during Simbang Gabi, except for Dec 15 evening and Dec. 22 morning and evening Simbang Gabi because we are using the Sunday Liturgy for that Masses.

5.   For the 1st Simbang Gabi on the evening of Sunday (Dec 15); we shall take the Mass formularies of the 3rd Sunday of Advent since we cannot anticipate the weekday Mass for the Sunday Mass. Therefore,  presidential prayers and readings should be that of the 3rd  Sunday of Advent. White vestment is used, Gloria is sung and Credo is prayed.  

6.   For the 1st Simbang Gabi on the Morning of Dec. 16; As approved by the CBCP, readings will be taken from Friday of the 3rd Week of Advent (See Ordo)

7.   For Simbang Gabi on the evening of Saturday (Dec. 21); Morning and Evening of Sunday (Dec. 22); we shall take the Mass formularies of the 4th Sunday of Advent. Therefore,  presidential prayers and readings should be that of the 4th  Sunday of Advent even on the evening of Sunday (Dec. 22) because we cannot anticipate the following day. White vestment is used, Gloria is sung and Credo is prayed during these Simbang Gabi masses: evening of Saturday (Dec 21); Morning and Evening of Sunday (Dec 22).

8.   From the beginning the Simbang Gabi  has always been celebrated at an early hour, from 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning. It is this Mass alone that is considered Simbang Gabi or Misa de Aguinaldo. Other Masses celebrated during the nine days before Christmas are celebrated as Masses of the Advent season, and should follow the norms of the liturgy of the Advent season. If the Misa de Aguinaldo is celebrated from 8:00 o’clock in the evening onwards, it should be motivated by genuine pastoral care for the spiritual benefit of the faithful.
The celebration of the Misa de Aguinaldo at other times,  e.g., morning, mid-day or late afternoon Mass, is not in keeping with the liturgical norms and is to be regarded as an abuse. Therefore, only the dawn and, when pastorally required, the evening Masses are considered Simbang Gabi or Misa de Aguinaldo.

9.   Please refer to the Ordo for other pertinent liturgical notes for your guidance.
We hope that this clarification will help you guide your Christian community.
Thank you very much.

REV. FR. DANIEL L. ESTACIO    
Director                                             

Ministry for Liturgical Affairs

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…Sent Forth as Heroes!

Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for the 2014 Year of the Laity
Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
You already know surely that this coming 2021 we shall be celebrating the 500th year of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. For in 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines, and in Cebu, he, a lay person, catechized King Humabon o fCebu, his wife and their people. The king and his queen were subsequently baptized together with their followers. It was on this occasion that the queen, newly given the baptismal name of Juana was gifted by Magellan with a statue of the Santo Niño, which was later found in 1565 by soldiers of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and is now preserved in the Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu.
In preparation for the celebration of this providential event of the first arrival of Christianity in our shores, the Church in the Philippines has planned nine years of intensive evangelization, with a theme for every year. For the year 2013, we celebrated the Year of Faith provided by then Pope Benedict XVI. The Year 2014 will be the YEAR OF THE LAITY.
Our Situation: The Gospel of Joy 
Pope Francis says “The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity”. (Evangelii Gaudium, 52)
If we were given an opportunity to describe the situation of the Catholic laity in the Philippines, it would be the paradox of poverty and abundance. The devastation that typhoon Yolanda brought upon our brothers and sisters in Samar and Leyte has created surges of pain and anguish all over our land and even beyond our shores. The typhoon left us dazed and lost groping in the dark for answers and explanation. Poor as we are, this pauper among the nations of the earth hides two jewels in her rags. One of them is our music. Our other treasure is our faith. As long as there remains in these islands one mother to sing Nena’s lullaby, one priest to stand at the altar and offer God to God, this nation may be conquered, trampled upon, enslaved but it cannot perish. Like the sun that dies every evening, it will rise again from the dead–Horacio de la Costa, SJ.
The first and most important truth about you Filipino Catholic laity is not poverty but the greatness of your dignity. This dignity derives from God’s unmerited choice of you to belong to God’s holy people. God called you in Christ to be united to his Son. When you were baptized, the Holy Spirit united you with our Lord Jesus the Son of God, and thus you became true sons and daughters of God, partakers of the divine nature. There is no greater dignity on earth or in heaven than that of being adopted children of God, and being made truly his children, and thus co-heirs to eternal life with Jesus Christ. This dignity flows from the love of God, and made the author of 1 John exclaim, “Behold, what manner of love God has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. Beloved we are already the children of God but it has not yet appeared what we shall be, because when we see him, we shall become as he is.” This is what also made St. Leo the Great exclaim, “Recognize your dignity, O Christian . . .” That grace came to you with your baptism which is a true rebirth to eternal life.
The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. (Evangelii Gaudium, 1)
When you were united to Christ by the Spirit at baptism, you were also incorporated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, and you became members of the people of God. Your membership in the Church is a full membership. You belong to the Church as much as any pope, bishop, priest, or religious does. You are not second class members of the people of God. When you live the life of grace, you are full citizens of God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, the Church teaches that “the greatest in the kingdom ofGod are not the ministers but the saints”.
When you were joined to Christ by the Spirit at baptism, you also became sharers of the threefold mission of Christ teacher, priest and servant. You were baptized not only to share in Christ’s dignity as Son of God, but also to share in his mission for the salvation of the world.
You share in Christ’s dignity and mission with all others who are likewise united to him by the Holy Spirit. In uniting you to him, Christ also united you to all those who are united with him. With all those who are united to Christ by faith and baptism, you form one body of Christ, whose head is no less than Christ himself. Thus the whole body manifests and prolongs Christ’s life and mission in the world.
You, our dear lay faithful, have as your particular mission the sanctification and transformation of the world from within. In fact, many of you are called by the Lord to do service in the Church and for the Church. Such is the case of lay liturgical ministers and catechists, for example, who perform an indispensable service in the Church community and its institutions. Such also is the case of lay people who are asked to participate in the administration of Church property and works.
Yet, your own specific task, and the special responsibility given to you by the Lord is to find your own sanctification in the world, and to sanctify the world and transform it so that this world becomes more and more God’s world, God’s kingdom, where his will is done as sit is in heaven. You are called by Jesus to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Lord Jesus told his disciples to preach the Gospel to every creature, and to make all nations his disciples. This command to the whole Church falls especially on you, who are in the world.
As Pope Francis has been repeatedly telling Catholics, you must go into the world of the family, of business, of economics, of politics, of education, of the mass media and the social media, to every human endeavour where the future of humanity and the world are at stake and to make a difference, the difference that the Gospel and the grace of Christ bring to human affairs.
Our Situation: The Challenge of the Gospel 
When we look at our Philippine world with the eyes of faith, there are several areas of special concern which you, our lay faithful should direct your attention and action to.
Pope Francis calls our attention to “the great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. (Evangelii Gaudium, 2).
Poverty 
Poverty is a social and spiritual problem in our country. A great percentage of our people live below the poverty line. They do not even have the necessities for decent human living. It is estimated that twelve million of our people have gone to foreign countries in their search for adequate income to support their families’ needs. While this has brought many material advantages, it has also resulted in great harm to family life. And many of our overseas Filipino workers work in conditions of servitude and are often submitted to humiliations. A still a vast number of our people are without work, and many are forced to live in slum areas and in miserable situations. A vast number of our children are unable to go to school, and those who do go get sub-standard education in poorly equipped schools. Many have been driven by poverty to cater to the lusts of human predators.
Though there have been significant economic gains, the same percentage of our people have remained mired in poverty over the past several years. The wealth of our country has remained woefully maldistributed. This endemic poverty is gravely contrary to the will of God. You, my dear lay faithful are in the best position to creatively work our solutions which will satisfy the demands of justice and charity. What are you doing to create wealth, to preserve wealth, and to share wealth? Do the more prosperous among you feel the sufferings of our poor brothers and sisters, and do you think of ways and means to help alleviate their poverty, and help them towards prosperity?
Politics 
The second is the problem of politics. We say “problem of politics” because, as we have repeatedly pointed out, politics as it is practiced in our country is perhaps the single biggest obstacle to our integral development as a nation. Politics as presently practiced, and as it has been practiced for a long time, is riddled with graft and corruption.
Our elections are notoriously noted for their violence and vote-buying and for the lack of proper discernment in the choice of candidates. Recent developments have highlighted the corruption connected with the pork barrel which those in power are loath to give up despite their blatant misuse for political patronage. It is now clear that our people are poor because our leaders have kept them poor by their greed for money and power. What are you doing to help get worthy people to positions of authority and power? What are you doing to get rid of the politics of patronage, violence and uneducated choices? What are you doing, our dear lay faithful to rid our country of graft and corruption? Do you perhaps participate in corrupt practices by selling your votes, by buying votes, by bribery and acceptance of kickbacks?
Business and Commerce
Corruption in politics is paralleled and strengthened by corruption in business. We know that our tax collecting agencies are notorious for their extortionary practices. Corrupt tax collectors of course imply business people who cooperate in their corrupt activities either to survive in business or to reap bigger profits. It is also known that too many of our tax payers do not pay the correct taxes, while the taxes that are collected are often misspent in over-priced or ghost projects. Corruption in business leads to the further impoverishment of the poor and the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.
Greed and Selfishness
While poverty and corruption are real and great evils; we must search for their causes. Our culture has been contaminated by the twofold greed for money and power that has characterized much of the modern world. In our consumerist and materialistic society, people are valued according to what they have.
Pope Francis says “Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.(Evangelii Gaudium, 53)
The greed for power is the twin brother of greed for money. Those who have money easily get into power, and when they are in power, they can protect and increase their acquisitions. In our country, winning a government position is often the passport to affluence. Politics in the Philippinesis a business proposition.
Truth Suffers 
The first casualty of such greed for money and power is the truth. To get money and power, to keep money and power, to increase their money and power, people have recourse to lies and cheating. The truth is easily disregarded and sacrificed. This is true also in the mass media where what is sought after and broadcast is not so much what is true but what is news; the competition among the networks and the printed media is not so much for accuracy in reporting but for ratings which attract more money and build up greater power.
Common Good is Ignored 
The second casualty is the common good. The sense and responsibility for the common good is sadly wanting in our country. The culture of greed for money and power caters to the selfish interests of individuals, families and economic and political groups. Our families which are characterized by an admirable closeness are also characterized by a closedness that is unmindful of the common good. This being closed to the common good is especially evident in our politics where political dynasties are nurtured and people vote with little consideration for the impact on the country of their votes. But even our mass media are often tools of vested interests rather than instruments for the promotion of the common good. In business, in politics, in the entertainment business, in media, profit almost always has priority over service despite protestations to the contrary.
Pope Francis warns us “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us. (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).
Challenge and Mission 
The renewal of our country thus demands of us all, and especially of you, our lay faithful, a return to truthfulness and the fostering of the sense of the common good. A society that is not founded on truth cannot stand, because a society not founded on truth is either founded on lies or deceit which can provide no stable basis for human relationships and a stable social order. Thus, we must obey the biblical injunction “to do the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15 ). We must seek the truth, speak the truth, do the truth. This means that we must seek what is right, speak what is right, and do what is right; and to do so “in love”, that is, in solidarity with and service of others.
Know the Faith
My dear lay faithful, the greatest challenge for you is to know the content of our faith, and to bear witness to your faith by a life of faith. We wrote to you a few months ago praising your simple but deep faith. Yet we had to point out to you two main deficiencies of the faith of our people: first, that the faith of many is uninstructed and, more importantly that this faith has been separated from life. 
So many of our people do not even know the fundamentals of our faith! They thus become very vulnerable to the seductions of other religious groups who find them easy targets of their recruitment efforts. Many of our Catholics cannot even answer attacks on basic Catholic doctrines like the divinity of Christ, the Eucharist, the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the veneration of images.
Live the Faith 
But more harmful even is the separation of faith from life. It is certainly a shameful proof of our failure to evangelize our country that our churches are filled with people, our religious festivities are fervent, our Catholic schools are many, but our country is mired in poverty and in corruption. Many, perhaps the majority of the corrupt people in politics and in business are graduates of our own Catholic schools and are “practicing” Catholics. The majority of those who cheat in elections and those who sell their votes are also baptized Catholics. This is also true of the bribe takers in public offices and the looters of our public coffers. As we noted in our pastoral letter, the criteria for decisions taken by many in politics do not derive from faith but from other sources inimical to the Christian life. The poison of the greed for power and wealth has already pervaded the political and business systems.
We echo the challenge of Pope Francis “We want to challenge “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”, who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium, 15) 
Thus we urge you to promote a continuing education towards maturity of faith among our people, starting with our Christian families. But even more importantly, we ask you to make your faith bear on your day to day decisions and activities. It is only an integral faith, a faith that believes, a faith that worships, and  a faith that works in love (Gal. 5: 6), that will serve as God’s way “to make all things new” in our beloved country.
Communities of Faith 
Since the corruption in business and in politics that we must fight against is systemic, we your pastors, urge you to unite in groups which through prayer, discernment and concerted action will renew the social and political fabric of our country. Individual goodness is not sufficient anymore.  The good individual will only be swallowed up by the evil system. While individual witness is important, it is in unity that good Christian people will get their strength and attain victory.
To sustain and strengthen you in your efforts, we urge you to read the BIBLE, God’s written word. Read it not only to study it but pray with it. When read prayerfully, the Bible will nourish your life. It will be a lamp to guide you in your journey. It will help you resist temptations; it will help you to know and follow Jesus, our Lord.
Second, we urge you to have recourse to the SACRAMENTS. Value your baptism and prepare well for the baptism of your children. Let parents take seriously the responsibility they undertook at baptism to raise up their children as good Christians.
Christian marriage should be valued not only as a beautiful and solemn ceremony but as a welcoming of Christ into the life of the couple and their future family. Hence, it must be adequately prepared for by pre-marital instructions. Christian married couples should see their marriage as a public commissioning by Christ to serve and protect life and married love itself.
We ask you to have recourse especially to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. The Eucharist, participated in actively in faith, is the source of Christian life and strength. It is the bread of life and of martyrs. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, on the other hand, will help us heal our moral wounds and give us the grace to fight sin in ourselves and in society.
A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way.
At times we have to be like the father of the prodigal son, who always keeps his door open so that when the son returns, he can readily pass through it. (EG, 45)
And finally, we ask you to stand up for Jesus not only in religious activities but in your private and public life. Speak up for Jesus and his Church in public discussions. Do not be afraid to be identified as Catholic Christians. You have been called to be saints; you are sent forth as heroes. Take courage. Choose to be brave! 
May the example of our two lay Filipino saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod be your inspiration for the coming year!
May the Jesus and his Mother be with you and with us all, and make us, a “pueblo amante de Maria” also truly the land of Jesus in Asia.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
CBCP President
December 1, 2013, First Sunday of Advent

Thursday, November 28, 2013

MENSAHE SA ADBIYENTO AT PASKO 2013

Mga Minamahal na Kapatid Kay Kristo,

Kapayapaan mula Kay Hesus, Prinsipe ng Kapayapaan!

Muling nalalanghap ang simoy ng Pasko sa ating paligid. Anuman ang nangyari sa buong taon, patuloy ang pananabik ng bawat Kristiyano sa natatanging panahong ito. Tunay na walang kupas at laging masigla ang diwang Pasko sa puso nating lahat.

Ngayong taon, may kahalong malaking pagsubok sa ating pagdiriwang ng Pasko. Ang pagsilang ng Panginoon Hesukristo ay pinangunahan ng mga kaganapang nakabibigla, nakalulungkot at nakababagbag-damdamin.

Sino ang hindi apektado sa mga larawan ng pagkawasak dulot ng lindol at mga larawan ng kawalan na dulot ng bagyong Yolanda sa ating mga kapatid? Paano na nga ba ang ating pagdiriwang ng Pasko ngayon?

Bilang mga Kristiyano, bilang mga Katoliko, dito umuusbong ang tunay na diwa ng kapistahan natin. Dito natin mas malinaw na mapapansin ang  mensaheng ibinubunyag ng Kapaskuhan.

Ang Diyos mismo ay nakiisa sa kanyang nilikha.  Ang Diyos ay sadyang naghubad ng kanyang karangyaan upang danasin ang kapighatian nating kanyang minamahal. Ang Diyos, kay Hesus, ay nagkatawang-tao at nakipamuhay sa bawat nilalang na naghahanap ng pag-ibig at pagkalinga. “Naging tao ang Salita at siya’y nanirahan sa piling natin…” (Juan 1:14). Naparito siya upang magbigay ng galak.

Ang mensaheng ito ang mag-aakay sa atin sa simple ngunit makabuluhan, sa tahimik ngunit maligayang Pasko para sa lahat. Tayo ay magdiriwang pa rin sa gitna ng pagsubok.  At ang ating pagdiriwang ay lalahukan natin ng ibayong awa at pag-ibig sa ating mga nasalantang kababayan.  Gagawin nating matingkad ang ating pakikipag-kapatiran sa ating kapwa.  Dadamahin natin ang ligaya ng pagbibigay na sisira sa pagkamaka-sarili. Paano man tayo magpasya na magdiwang na may puso para sa iba, sigurado tayong ang Espiritu Santo mismo ang gumagabay sa atin.

Kaysarap ng Paskong malapit sa tunay na pangyayari sa sabsaban sa Belen. Kasama ni Maria at Jose, halina at ihandog ang ating puso sa Sanggol na bukal ng pag-asa, pagbabago at pagbangon ng bawat isa, ng Simbahan at ng bayan.

Ngayon pa lang, sa paghahanda natin sa maluwalhating pagdating ng Panginoon sa ating mga puso, lalo na sa mga kababayan nating nasalanta ng mga matitinding kalamidad na dumaan sa ating bansa ngayong taong ito, at para bang naranasan ang matigas na sabsabang pinagsilanagn ng ating Mesias, binabati ko na kayo ng Mapagpalang Pasko at Mapayapang Bagong Taon,

Mahal ko po kayong lahat

+Mylo Hubert C. Vergara
Obispo ng Pasig

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homily of Pope Francis at the closing of Year of Faith mass

news and photo courtesy of vatican radio

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long. 


I offer a cordial greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price. 


With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord. 


The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ as the centre of creation, the centre of his people and the centre of history. 


1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20). 


This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. When this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves. 


2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them. 


Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny. 


3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of the human race and of every man and woman. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel. 


While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. 


Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom!


Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Amen!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

PASTORAL CHALLENGES TO THE FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF EVANGELIZATION

SYNOD OF BISHOPS

I. Synod: Family and Evangelization
The mission of preaching the Gospel to all creation, entrusted directly by the Lord to his disciples, has continued in the Church throughout history. The social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today’s world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church’s evangelizing mission concerning the family, the vital building-block of society and the ecclesial community. Never before has proclaiming the Gospel on the Family in this context been more urgent and necessary. The importance of the subject is reflected in the fact that the Holy Father has decided to call for a Synod of Bishops, which is to have a two-staged itinerary: firstly, an Extraordinary General Assembly in 2014, intended to define the “status quaestionis” and to collect the bishops’ experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the Family in a credible manner; and secondly, an Ordinary General Assembly in 2015 to seek working guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family.
Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage, and sometimes even excludes the idea of it, to same-sex unions between persons, who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children. The many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care include: mixed or inter-religious marriages; the single-parent family; polygamy; marriages with the consequent problem of a dowry, sometimes understood as the purchase price of the woman; the caste system; a culture of non-commitment and a presumption that the marriage bond can be temporary; forms of feminism hostile to the Church; migration and the reformulation of the very concept of the family; relativist pluralism in the conception of marriage; the influence of the media on popular culture in its understanding of marriage and family life; underlying trends of thought in legislative proposals which devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant; an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire); and new interpretations of what is considered a human right. Within the Church, faith in the sacramentality of marriage and the healing power of the Sacrament of Penance show signs of weakness or total abandonment.

Consequently, we can well understand the urgency with which the worldwide episcopate is called upon to gather cum et sub Petro to address these challenges. For example, by simply calling to mind the fact that, as a result of the current situation, many children and young people will never see their parents receive the sacraments, then we understand just how urgent are the challenges to evangelization arising from the current situation, which can be seen in almost every part of the “global village”. Corresponding in a particular manner to this reality today is the wide acceptance of the teaching on divine mercy and concern towards people who suffer on the periphery of societies, globally and in existential situations. Consequently, vast expectations exist concerning the decisions which are to be made pastorally regarding the family. A reflection on these issues by the Synod of Bishops, in addition to it being much needed and urgent, is a dutiful expression of charity towards those entrusted to the Bishops’ care and the entire human family.
II. The Church and the Gospel on the Family
The good news of divine love is to be proclaimed to all those personally living this basic human experience of couples and of a communion open to the gift of children, which is the family community. The teachings of the faith on marriage is to be presented in an articulate and efficacious manner, so that it might reach hearts and transform them in accordance with God’s will, made manifest in Jesus Christ.
The citation of biblical sources on marriage and family in this document are essential references only. The same is true for documentation from the Magisterium which is limited to that of a universal character, including some texts from the Pontifical Council for the Family. It will be left to the bishop-participants at the synod to cite documents from their own episcopal assemblies.
In every age, and in the many different cultures, the teaching of the Pastors has been clear nor has there been lacking the concrete testimony of believers — men and women — in very diverse circumstances who have lived the Gospel of the family as an inestimable gift for their life and their children. The commitment for the next Extraordinary Synod is inspired and sustained by the desire to communicate this message with greater incisiveness, in the hope that “the treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, more and more fill the hearts of each person” (DV, 26).
The Plan of God, Creator and Redeemer
The beauty of the biblical message on the family has its roots in the creation of man and woman, both made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:24-31; 2:4-25). Bound together by an indissoluble sacramental bond, those who are married experience the beauty of love, fatherhood, motherhood, and the supreme dignity of participating in this way in the creative work of God.
In the gift of the fruit of their union, they assume the responsibility of raising and educating other persons for the future of humankind. Through procreation, man and woman fulfill in faith the vocation of being God’s collaborators in the protection of creation and the growth of the human family.
Blessed Pope John Paul II commented on this aspect in Familiaris consortio: “God created man in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26, 27): calling him to existence through love, he called him at the same time for love. God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8) and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion (Gaudium et spes, 12). Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC, 11).
The plan of God the creator, which was disrupted by original sin (cf. Gen 3:1-24), has revealed itself throughout history in the events of the chosen people up to the fullness of time, when, with the incarnation of the Son of God, not only was the divine will for salvation confirmed, but also the redemption offering the grace to follow this same will.

The Son of God, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14) in the womb of the Virgin Mother, lived and grew up in the family of Nazareth and participated at the wedding at Cana, where he added importance to the festivities with the first of his “signs” (cf. Jn 2:1-11). In joy, he welcomed his reception in the families of his disciples (cf. Mk 1:29-31; 2:13-17) and consoled the bereaved family of his friends in Bethany (cf. Lk 10:38- 42; Jn 11:1-44 ).
Jesus Christ restored the beauty of matrimony, proposing once again the one plan of God which was abandoned because of the hardness of the human heart, even within the tradition of the people of Israel (cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mk 10:1-12; Lk 16:18). Returning to the beginning, Jesus taught the unity and faithfulness of the husband and wife, refuting the practice of repudiation and adultery.
Precisely through the extraordinary beauty of human love — already celebrated in a heightened manner inspired by the Song of Songs, and the bond of marriage called for and defended by the prophets like Hosea (cf. Hosea 1:2, 3.3) and Malachi (cf. Mal 2:13-16) — , Jesus affirmed the original dignity of the married love of man and woman.
The Church's Teaching on the Family
Even in the early Christian community the family appeared as the “domestic church” (cf.CCC, 1655): In the so-called “family canons” of the Apostolic letters of the New Testament, the great family of the ancient world is identified as the place of a profound solidarity between husbands and wives, between parents and children, and between the wealthy and the poor (cf.Eph 5:21-6:9; Col 3:18-4:1; 1 Tim 2:8-15; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Pt 2:13-3:7; cf. also the Letter to Philemon). In particular, the Letter to the Ephesians recognized the nuptial love between man and woman as “the great mystery”, making present in the world the love of Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32 ).
Over the centuries, especially in modern times to the present, the Church has not failed to continually teach and develop her doctrine on the family and marriage which founded her. One of its highest expressions has been proposed by the Second Vatican Council in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, which, in treating certain pressing problems, dedicated an entire chapter to the promotion of the dignity of marriage and the family, as seen in the description of their value for the constitution of society: “the family, in which the various generations come together and help one another grow wiser and harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life, is the very foundation of society” (GS, 52). Particularly striking is its appeal for a Christ-centered spirituality in the spouses’ life of faith: "Let the spouses themselves, made to the image of the living God and enjoying the authentic dignity of persons, be joined to one another in equal affection, harmony of mind and the work of mutual sanctification. Thus, following Christ who is the principle of life, by the sacrifices and joys of their vocation and through their faithful love, married people can become witnesses of the mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by his dying and his rising up to life again”(GS, 52 ).
After the Second Vatican Council, the successors of St. Peter enriched this teaching on marriage and the family, especially Pope Paul VI with the Enyclical Humanae vitae, which offers specific principles and guidelines. Subsequently, in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortioPope John Paul II insisted on proposing the divine plan in the basic truths of married love and the family: “The only ‘place’ in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself (cf.Gaudium et spes, 48) which only in this light manifests its true meaning. The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather it is an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator. A person's freedom, far from being restricted by this fidelity, is secured against every form of subjectivism or relativism and is made a sharer in creative Wisdom” (FC, 11).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gathers together the fundamental aspects of this teaching: “The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament [cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Gaudium et spes, 48;Code of Canon Law, 1055, 1]”(CCC 1660).
The doctrine presented in the Catechism touches on both theological principles and moral behaviours, developed under two separate headings: The Sacrament of Matrimony (nos. 1601-1658) and The Sixth Commandment (nos. 2331-2391). An attentive reading of these sections of the Catechism provides an updated understanding of the doctrine of faith, which supports the Church’s work in the face of modern-day challenges. The Church’s pastoral ministry finds inspiration in the truth of marriage viewed as part of the plan of God, who created man and woman and, in the fullness of time, revealed in Jesus the completeness of spousal love elevated to the level of sacrament. Christian marriage founded on consensus is also endowed with its own effects such as the goods and duties of the spouses. At the same time, marriage is not immune from the effects of sin (cf. Gen 3:1-24), which can cause deep wounds and even abuses to the dignity of the sacrament.
The recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Lumen fidei, speaks of the family in the context of a reflection on how faith reveals “just how firm the bonds between people can be when God is present in their midst” (LF, 50). “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love” (LF, 52). “Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness” ( LF, 53).
III. Questions
The following series of questions allows the particular Churches to participate actively in the preparation of the Extraordinary Synod, whose purpose is to proclaim the Gospel in the context of the pastoral challenges facing the family today.
1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium
a) Describe how the Catholic Church’s teachings on the value of the family contained in the Bible, Gaudium et spesFamiliaris consortio and other documents of the post-conciliar Magisterium is understood by people today? What formation is given to our people on the Church’s teaching on family life?
b) In those cases where the Church's teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice? If so, what are they?
c) How widespread is the Church's teaching in pastoral programmes at the national, diocesan and parish levels? What catechesis is done on the family?
d ) To what extent — and what aspects in particular — is this teaching actually known, accepted, rejected and/or criticized in areas outside the Church? What are the cultural factors which hinder the full reception of the Church’s teaching on the family?
2. Marriage according to the Natural Law
a) What place does the idea of the natural law have in the cultural areas of society: in institutions, education, academic circles and among the people at large? What anthropological ideas underlie the discussion on the natural basis of the family?
b) Is the idea of the natural law in the union between a man and a woman commonly accepted as such by the baptized in general?
c) How is the theory and practice of natural law in the union between man and woman challenged in light of the formation of a family? How is it proposed and developed in civil and Church institutions?
d) In cases where non-practicing Catholics or declared non-believers request the celebration of marriage, describe how this pastoral challenge is dealt with?
3. The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization
a) What experiences have emerged in recent decades regarding marriage preparation? What efforts are there to stimulate the task of evangelization of the couple and of the family? How can an awareness of the family as the "domestic Church" be promoted?
b) How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?
c) In the current generational crisis, how have Christian families been able to fulfill their vocation of transmitting the faith?
d) In what way have the local Churches and movements on family spirituality been able to create ways of acting which are exemplary?
e) What specific contribution can couples and families make to spreading a credible and holistic idea of the couple and the Christian family today?
f) What pastoral care has the Church provided in supporting couples in formation and couples in crisis situations?
4. Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations
a) Is cohabitation ad experimentum a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage?

b) Do unions which are not recognized either religiously or civilly exist? Are reliable statistics available?
c) Are separated couples and those divorced and remarried a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage? How do you deal with this situation in appropriate pastoral programmes?
d) In all the above cases, how do the baptized live in this irregular situation? Are they aware of it? Are they simply indifferent? Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?
e) What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation? Among those persons who find themselves in these situations, how many ask for these sacraments?
f ) Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If yes, what form would it take?
g) Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases? Describe this pastoral ministry? Do such programmes exist on the national and diocesan levels? How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?
5. On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
a) Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
b) What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
c) What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
d) In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
6. The Education of Children in Irregular Marriages
a) What is the estimated proportion of children and adolescents in these cases, as regards children who are born and raised in regularly constituted families?
b) How do parents in these situations approach the Church? What do they ask? Do they request the sacraments only or do they also want catechesis and the general teaching of religion?
c) How do the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children to provide them with a Christian education?
d) What is the sacramental practice in these cases: preparation, administration of the sacrament and the accompaniment?
7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life
a) What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood? Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning? Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?
b) Is this moral teaching accepted? What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?
c) What natural methods are promoted by the particular Churches to help spouses put into practice the teachings of Humanae vitae?
d) What is your experience on this subject in the practice of the Sacrament of Penance and participation at the Eucharist?
e) What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education?
f) How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?
8. The Relationship Between the Family and the Person
a) Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the human person. How can the family be a privileged place for this to happen?
b) What critical situations in the family today can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ?
c) To what extent do the many crises of faith which people can experience affect family life?
9. Other Challenges and Proposals
What other challenges or proposals related to the topics in the above questions do you consider urgent and useful to treat?

top