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Palawan’s IPs celebrate ‘good harvest’ with Mass

CBCP News - 2 hours 33 min ago

Children from the indigenous groups gave symbolic offerings during a Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Arvi Hernandez of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brookes Point, Palawan. SR. MAE JUANITAS, AMP

By Katya A. Santos

Oct. 24, 2018

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Three major ethnic groups in Palawan gathered from Oct. 13 to 14 in thanksgiving for a good harvest, notably by celebrating the Holy Mass.

In a Holy Mass presided over by Fr. Joseph Arvi Hernandez, indigenous peoples (IPs) made symbolic offerings as a show of gratitude for their good harvest.

With a theme, “Indigenous Leadership: A Gift and Task from God,” IPs comprising Batak, Tagbanua, and Pala’wan, including IP advocates, gathered in Brookes Point, Palawan. The Vicariate of Puerto Princesa through the Augustinian Missionaries organized the two-day celebration

“We celebrate with our IPs brothers. They conducted a ritual for the rice wine called Tinapoy in Pala’wan and Tabad for Tagbanua,” said Sr. Mae Juanitas, explaining that October is a time to celebrate the harvest season.

Traditional dances, games and gift-giving activities were conducted to celebrate the IP month with not less than 360 participants and supporters from Puerto Princesa and South Palawan.

Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines, IPs Mission have been hosting the IP month celebration in Southern Palawan since 2003.

The Philippine government declared October as Indigenous Peoples’ Month, while the CBCP declared every second Sunday of October as IP Sunday.

Priest hopes PH bishops emulate Romero, ‘martyr for social justice’

CBCP News - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 21:22

Fr. Amado Picardal (center) rides with other bikers who believe in the dignity of life. Also known as the “Biking Priest,” he has biked for life and social justice all over the country for years. PHOTO TAKEN FROM PICARDA’S FB ACCCOUNT

By Oliver Samson

Oct. 23, 2018


A priest expressed hopes that the bishops of the Philippines can have recently canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero as their model in the fight for human rights and social justice in the country.

“I hope the bishops and priests in the Philippines will follow his example,” said Fr. Amado Picardal in a recent Facebook post.

Romero, assassinated for being vocal against social injustices in El Salvador prior his death in 1980, was “a martyr and a good shepherd,” said the priest in a post on a social network hours after the El Salvadoran prelate’s canonization in Rome.

‘Prophetic vocation’

According to Picardal, Romero, who was canonized on Oct. 14, lived a religious life worth emulating.

The human rights advocate also shared how he has always looked up to Romero as “an inspiration of how to live [his] prophetic vocation.”

Romero was a martyr and a good shepherd, and his life serves today, said Picardal, as “a template for the religious life.”

Champion of life

Picardal recently found himself a target of individuals he believes to be members of the Davao Death Squad, following the assassination of Fathers Richmond Nilo, Marcelito Paez, and Mark Ventura.

The “Biking Priest” noted how Romero strongly denounced human rights violations against the poor and the marginalized during his time. He championed the protection of life, human dignity and opposed all forms of violence.

Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in a chapel at a hospital in El Salvador by suspected right wing paramilitary agents.

October 24, 2018

CBCP News - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 21:00
Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 EPH 3:2-12

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly earlier.
When you read this
you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to human beings in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit,
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same Body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.

Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace
that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Responsorial Psalm ISAIAH 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. (see 3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Alleluia MT 24:42A, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Gumaca’s Youth Cross visits parishes, schools during pilgrimage

CBCP News - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 20:21

The ongoing Youth Cross Pilgrimage is preparing the young people of the Diocese of Gumaca for the upcoming Year of the Youth.

By Mervil Jilo V. Merjudio

Oct. 23, 2018

Lopez, Quezon

In preparation for the upcoming Year of the Youth, the Diocesan Commission on Youth of the Diocese of Gumaca organized the Youth Cross Pilgrimage 2018, which has visited 16 parishes and scores of schools and institutions to date.

The young people of the diocese organized the event as part of a three-year program to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.

With the theme, ‘Who do you say that I am?’, the pilgrimage aims to encourage young people in the diocese “to know Christ better and to deepen their relationship with Him.”

Parish youth leaders, together with the young people of San Diego de Alcala Cathedral parish, gathered on July 17 at Gumaca West Central school to undergo formation during the pilgrimage.

The next day, Gumaca Bishop Victor C. Ocampo, DD presided over a Eucharistic celebration at the said church to formally launch the pilgrimage.

Youth leaders, with the help of their respective Parish Pastoral Councils, spearhead the transfer of the Cross from parish to parish and within the different jurisdictions. They also give talks, facilitate the formation programs, lead dances, and organize prayer sessions and other activities during the Youth Cross’ parish visits.

The pilgrimage will continue until February 2019 just before the 34th anniversary of the diocese and the formal launching of the Year of the Youth.

The Youth Cross was originally brought to the different parishes during the diocese’s celebration of Year of God the Son in 2008, in anticipation of the diocese’s silver anniversary.

Synod members ‘share the journey’ with migrants, refugees

CBCP News - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 13:28

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, middle right, and other participants in the “Share the Journey” walk arrive near the Vatican Oct. 21. The campaign and 1.5-mile walk were organized by Caritas Internationalis to call attention to the plight of migrants and refugees. CNS/PATRICK NICHOLSON, CARITAS INTERNATIONALIS

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

October 23, 2018

VATICAN— Honduran Bishop Jose Antonio Canales of Danli said that, given what is going on in his country and throughout Central America, he had to walk in the “Share the Journey” campaign of Caritas Internationalis.

The 1.5-mile walk Caritas organized Oct. 21 from Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood to the Vatican “is nothing when compared to what migrants are experiencing,” said the bishop, who was in Rome for the Synod of Bishops while thousands of his fellow citizens were in a caravan heading toward Mexico and the United States to flee violence and poverty.

Joseph Moeono-Kolio from Samoa, one of the young adult observers at the synod, also joined the walk because “migrants and refugees are being forced from their homes. They don’t want to leave, but they have to, and once they arrive, they aren’t welcome.”

Nicole Perez from the Philippines, another young synod observer, said that when she was a small child, her mother went to Japan to work. “She returned when I was 10. The feeling of parting from your loved ones, it hurts. We should make migrants and refugees feel they are not alone in that journey.”

Caritas Internationalis launched the “Share the Journey” campaign in September 2017 to encourage every Catholic everywhere in the world to get to know at least one migrant or refugee and listen to his or her story. The campaign also is supporting solidarity walks around the world.

Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of Caritas, led the walk in Rome. Before leading a prayer and setting off toward the Vatican, he told reporters that in many places “there is fear” of migrants and refugees “because there is no personal encounter. It’s natural to be afraid of what we don’t know.”

Although the journey to the Vatican was brief, he prayed that “every step we take this morning would be an act of solidarity with the millions of people on the move who do not know where their journey will end.”

The group reached the Vatican in time to recite the Angelus prayer with Pope Francis, who greeted them after his midday address.

“I encourage this initiative of ‘sharing the journey,’ which is being promoted in many cities and can transform our relationship with migrants,” the pope said.

Later, his Pontifex Twitter account shared the message: “Join Caritas and walk 1 million kilometers together with migrants and refugees. We are all on the Road to Emmaus being called to see the face of Christ.”

Canadian Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, said he joined the walk because migration “is one of the main challenges facing the world and the church.”

“There is so much resistance in so many countries,” he said.

Before setting off for the Vatican, Dominican Sister Helen Alford, vice dean of Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas, told Catholic News Service: “We can solve the migration crisis. We have the means.”

The first step, she said, is for Catholics to pressure their governments to sign the U.N. “Global Compacts” for refugees and for “safe, orderly and regular migration.” An international conference for the adoption of the compacts will be held in Morocco in December.

Adopting and implementing the compacts, Sister Alford said, will make migration “legal, transparent and manageable,” saving lives and disrupting the “business” of human traffickers and smugglers.

Then, she said, “we need to promote the formation of migrants, so they can be part of the solution.” The University of St. Thomas, more commonly known as the Angelicum, will be starting such a program soon for migrants in Rome, she said.

October 23, 2018

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 21:00
Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 EPH 2:12-22

Brothers and sisters:
You were at that time without Christ,
alienated from the community of Israel
and strangers to the covenants of promise,
without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the Blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace,
and might reconcile both with God,
in one Body, through the cross,
putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm PS 85:9AB-10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 9) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Alleluia LK 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Bishop deplores killing of Negros sugar workers

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 17:44

Farmers protest the killing of nine sugar workers outside the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Bacolod City, October 22, 2018. PHOTO FROM NFSW FACEBOOK PAGE

By CBCP News

October 22, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop has condemned the murder of nine sugar farmers in Negros Occidental province and joined in the call for justice for the victims.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said the killings only unmask the long standing violence that farmers under hacienda system have been subjecfed to.

“The tragic incident reveals the ugly face of the prevailing agrarian problem in Negros that remains unresolved,” he said.

The victims were reportedly eating dinner inside the tents when they were shot by still unidentified gunmen at a hacienda in Sagay City’s Bulanon village on Saturday.

The attack claimed nine lives, including four women and two minors.

The National Federation of Sugar Workers, where the victims belong, said the attack occurred on the first night of the land cultivation area or “bungkalan” in the hacienda.

Under bungkalan, farm workers would occupy and collectively cultivate lands covered by the government’s agrarian reform program to help farmers survive the “dead season” in the sugar industry.

The group said that of the 424,130 hectares of sugar lands in Negros Island, 33.99% with 50 hectares or more are owned by only 1,860 big landlords, 30% with 10 to 50 hectares are owned by just 6,820 big and small landlords.

While the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was only at 40%, the NFSW estimates that majority of 53,320 farmers and agricultural workers only own 36% of the sugar lands.

And due to lack of support services, the progressive group estimates that 70% of sugar lands that have been distributed by the government had been leased.

The NFSW also noted how sugar workers in haciendas, on the average, get P80-P120 daily despite the minimum wage pegged at P245 per day.

“It is morally right and just for the sugar workers and peasants in Negros Occidental to undertake their Land Cultivation Areas,” said Alminaza.

How St. John Paul II began his papacy, 40 years ago

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 17:30

Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square circa 1978. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

By Catholic News Agency

October 22, 2018

Manila, Philippines

VATICAN— St. John Paul II used the occasion of his first homily as pope to offer a fervent prayer that God would make him, first and foremost, a servant.

The former Cardinal Karol Wojtyla delivered the first homily of his 26-year pontificate before a packed assembly in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Oct. 22, 1978— 40 years ago this week.

His election was a few days before, on Oct. 16.

John Paul II began his homily by reaffirming the words that had once been uttered by the apostle Peter in the presence of Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“Yes, Brothers and sons and daughters, these words first of all,” the newly-elected pope said. “He who is infinite, inscrutable, ineffable, has come close to us in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary in the stable at Bethlehem.”

The pope exhorted those seeking God, those who already believe, and those struggling with doubt to pay attention to Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus. Peter’s faith and obedience to a higher calling led him to leave his simple way of life as a fisherman and journey to Rome.

“What else but obedience to the inspiration received from the Lord guided him and brought him to this city, the heart of the Empire?” the pope said. “Perhaps the fisherman of Galilee did not want to come here. Perhaps he would have preferred to stay there, on the shores of the Lake of Genesareth, with his boat and his nets. But guided by the Lord, obedient to his inspiration, he came here!”

‘Son of Poland’

On the day he began his new mission as Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul admitted he was “a bishop full of trepidation, conscious of his unworthiness.”

As a self-proclaimed “son of Poland,” John Paul was the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years. In this moment, as he took over the See of Peter, he proclaimed that the unbroken tradition of the papacy had made him a Roman, too.

“Inscrutable is the design of Divine Providence!” he said. “How could one not tremble before the greatness of this call and before the universal mission of this See of Rome!”

To his fellow Polish Bishops and to the many Polish pilgrims present, John Paul II said:

“Everything that I could say would fade into insignificance compared with what my heart feels, and your hearts feel, at this moment. So let us leave aside words. Let there remain just great silence before God, the silence that becomes prayer…Remember me today and always in your prayers!”

Humility and service

John Paul II chose not to wear a papal tiara, or crown; the last pope to be crowned was Paul VI in 1963. He said he didn’t want to return to “an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes,” but rather to immerse himself in “humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.”

The “power” exercised by the popes is service, John Paul II said; service to help all the people of God share in the mission of Jesus as Priest, Prophet, and King. This power expressed itself in “charity and truth” rather than in “the language of force.”

“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power,” the saint said. “Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind.”

“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid.”

Though his homily was in Italian, John Paul II— a famous polyglot— also offered greetings to pilgrims in French, English,German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czechoslovakian, Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian, asking all of them for prayers.

31st Prison Awareness Sunday

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:58

Message of Bishop Joel Baylon, Chairman of CBCP-ECPPC, on the occasion of the 31st Prison Awareness Sunday celebration

I was imprisoned and you visited me.Mt. 25:36

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord of Mercy and Love,

On 28 October next, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we will celebrate the 31st Prison Awareness Sunday. For this year we have for our theme, “Lord, that I may SEE, HEAR and ACT on the plea for help of Your people.”

Once again we are asked to focus particular attention on the plight of our brothers and sisters who are in prison, deprived of liberty and, more often than not, also deprived of even their most basic human rights.

We are all aware, for instance, of the fact that many of our prisons are so congested beyond their normal holding capacity, thereby creating inhuman living conditions. A good number of inmates have been languishing in jails without the benefit of even a preliminary hearing and their right to a day in court. Many prisoners are suffering from many forms of skin diseases, or getting really sick, but do not have the benefit of medical assistance. And there are many more problems that these incarcerated brothers and sisters of ours are facing inside the prisons.

But oftentimes their problems are hidden from our eyes and unheard by our ears. Not many of us have had the occasion to visit a jail for even once in our lives. Some of us are even afraid to do so, our minds and hearts filled with fear and negative impressions, thinking that the prison is a place to avoid. Not too long ago Pope Francis warned “against the hypocrisy of viewing inmates only as criminals beyond hope who deserve to spend their lives in jail”.

“At certain times a certain hypocrisy pushes us to see in prisons only people who have done wrong, for whom the only path is that of the prison,” the Pope said in an interview published on 13 April 2017, forgetting that “we all have the possibility of making mistakes. All of us in one way or another have erred”.

Indeed the prison is a place to avoid, in view of committing crimes. We must never do anything that will make us end up in jail! But it also matters that we get to know, first-hand if possible, about the reality of our prisons and the cries of those inside them. Let us not forget them and their pleas for help because no matter what, these are human beings with inherent rights and privileges.

The Holy Father reminds us further: “when we stay closed in our prejudices, or are enslaved by idols of a false well- being… we do nothing other than stand between the narrow walls of the cell of individualism and self-sufficiency”.

Kung kaya, sa abot ng ating makakaya, let us be aware and concerned of what is going on inside these prison walls. Let us do advocacy work in order to tell our leaders to do something to alleviate prisoners’ living conditions and to respect and uphold their basic human rights. For those of us who can, let us be part of our respective local churches’ prison ministry, and provide a sustained and meaningful program of human, social and spiritual apostolate for these our brothers and sisters in prison.

In the Gospel for this particular Sunday, Jesus heals the blind Bartimaeus and makes him see. Let us ask the Lord to do the same for our hearts, that we may also “SEE, HEAR and ACT” on the pleas of our sisters and brothers languishing in jails, deprived of liberty.

Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of us all, may God bless our efforts with meaning, fruitfulness and success!

Bishop Joel Z. Baylon
Chairman, CBCP – Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care

Cardinal Tagle leads ‘Share the Journey Walk’ in Rome

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:03

By Patrick Nicholson
Caritas Internationalis/CNS
October 22, 2018

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and other participants in the “Share the Journey” walk pose for a photo near the Vatican Oct. 21. The campaign and 1.5-mile walk were organized by Caritas Internationalis to call attention to the plight of migrants and refugees.

Serve with humility, Jesuit priest reminds youth

CBCP News - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 09:09

Hundreds of young people attend this year’s “One Praise” worship concert organized by the Jesuit Communications at the Ateneo High School covered courts in Quezon City, Oct. 20. CBCP News

By Niceforo Balbedina and Prince Czar Ponce

October 22, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Why are you in the Charismatic movement? Whats is our life as Christians about?

A Jesuit priest reminded young people gathered for the “One Praise 3” worship concert over the weekend that they are called to a life of humble service.

At a mass held before the concert at the Ateneo High School Covered Courts, Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso said the path to discipleship is found in sacrificial love towards God and other people.

“Our lives are about that and that alone: humble service,” Alfonso said.

And with the washing of feet, he said the Lord teaches us to be servants.

According to him, service and not power is the true path to Christian discipleship .

“Jesus was very consistent from beginning to the end and yet we always fail to remember that,” he said. “The Cross is nothing but a symbol of loving, humble service, and yet we are distracted by power.”

Now on its third year, Jesuit Communication’s “One Praise” concert gathered hundreds of young people from different Charismatic communities.

The concert featured performances from The Lord’s Flock, Feast Worship, Christ’s Youth in Action, CFC-Youth For Christ’s Liveloud, the Elim Music Ministry and Simply4Him.

Fr. Roseller Atilano, former JesCom Ministry director, said the worship concert aims for people to “pray together as one Church, to pray together as one community because we only have one God”.

JesCom’s “outstanding contribution to the emerging sound of Filipino Christian contemporary music” was recognized when the first One Praise album bagged the Catholic Mass Media Award for Best Inspirational Album in 2016.

The new One Praise 3 setlist has already been released over digital music service providers Spotify, Deezer, iTunes and Apple Music a few weeks before the free concert while the complete third album is set to be out by April of next year.

‘Year of Clergy’-themed retreat set for priests

CBCP News - Sun, 10/21/2018 - 22:25

In celebration of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, the Theological Centrum is organizing a retreat for diocesan priests to be held from Nov. 12 to 15 at the Tagaytay Conference Center in Mendez, Cavite.

In line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) 9-year spiritual journey, the theme adopted for this year’s retreat is “The clergy and consecrated persons: Renewed servant leaders for the New Evangelization.”

Pope Francis, in his Letter to the People of God, dated August 20, 2018, called for “a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does… to experience a conversion of heart in his presence.”

‘Prayer and penance’

Theological Centrum retreat organizers hope the retreat will offer priests an opportunity for “prayer and penance… to feel involved in the ecclesial and social change” that the Pope stressed, “we so greatly need”.

Activities for each day include the celebration of the Holy Mass, guided meditations, a talk on practical topics on the life and ministry of priests, personal examination of conscience, Rosary, and Eucharistic adoration.

Other priests will facilitate the retreat by giving talks and by being available for spiritual guidance, confession, and consultation.

Universal call to holiness

Established in 1985, Theological Centrum is an initiative of priests of the Prelature of Opus Dei, with the support of professional men and women, which aims to support the ongoing formation of priests and seminarians in the local churches.

Theological Centrum organizes activities for priests and seminarians all over the country, such as retreats and recollections, conferences on philosophy and theology, and yearly seminars for priests and seminarians.

The Centrum also offers publications such as newsletters and books for spiritual reading and the ecclesiastical sciences.

For more information, interested priests may contact Noriezhen John Basilio, administrative assistant, at Theological Centrum email or tele-fax (02) 634-85-90.

October 22, 2018

CBCP News - Sun, 10/21/2018 - 21:00
Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 EPH 2:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
You were dead in your transgressions and sins
in which you once lived following the age of this world,
following the ruler of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.
All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh,
following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses,
and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest.
But God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love he had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;
it is not from works, so no one may boast.
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them.

Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4AB, 4C-5

R. (3b) The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

R. The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.

R. The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise.

R. The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Give thanks to him; bless his name, for he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.

R. The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Alleluia MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”

The circus is back in town: an ordinary priest looks at Philippine elections

CBCP News - Sun, 10/21/2018 - 17:01

“Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.”
— Daniel O’ Connel


A Clue From an Icon

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of America whose administration lasted from 1861 to 1865, the year he was assassinated. He never had any idea his country would have anything to do with this country. He lived and led at a time when the Philippine revolution and our sense of nationhood were, at best, nascent. But he could just as well have described our election politics when he said: “If ever this free people—if this government itself is utterly demoralized, it will come from this incessant human wriggle and struggle for office, which is but a way to live without work.” Lincoln must have been equipped with a sharp mind and a great sense of humor, as we might notice here. But I do not share his view that the “wriggle and struggle for office” could “demoralize” us or the government that rules us. On the contrary, election politics in the Philippines has a way of boosting the people’s morale. There is this brisk business of buying and selling principles, or the lack of them, in search for votes that become themselves objects of commerce, and all of this springs from a much-anticipated brew of showbiz and rhetoric, aside from the staple news on assassinations—of character or of persons.

Local politicians would probably take Lincoln to court for saying that what they do is just “a way to live without work”. They are that sensitive. After all, they could turn the tables on Lincoln by simply pointing out that he himself went into politics and got himself elected. Still, they cannot accuse Lincoln of not working after he won, something that could be extremely hard to say of many Filipino politicians. After all, Lincoln ushered in what most civilized human beings consider today as quintessential America: “a nation…dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”—and democracy: “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”.

A Free People?

I have doubts, though, about calling Filipinos “a free people”. The trouble with Philippine democracy is that to say Filipinos are free is highly debatable. They are not, for instance, free from foreign powers interfering, however subtly, in their (economic, political, socio-cultural) affairs. They are not free from poverty which singlehandedly drives many of them away from making wise choices. They are not free from political predators who take advantage of their dire economic and social conditions by the bread and circus of promises, payoffs and/or well-played-out-but-often-unsubstantiated acts of principled standpoints, feigned solidarity with the poor, and many such other forms of gimmickry.

They are not free from their own tendency not only to not learn from their mistaken choices but also to not take seriously the consequences of such choices until it is rather late. For example, Martial Law should have taught us a thing or two about not being too friendly with autocratic visions of a “new society” and “tunay na pagbabago (real change)” only to fall hard and flat, again and again, into trampled human rights, an ever burgeoning national debt, soaring inflations and the further descent of the poor into ever lower levels of misery. “When will we ever learn?” is indeed a question that cannot be sneezed at.

A Game Poor People Play

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that Filipinos are gullible or intellectually challenged by nature. If at all, they know and understand how politics and politicians can and do actually hoodwink whatever dreams they have of better lives. They too see how politicians have used power to aggrandize wealth at their expense. Many times, especially in rural Philippines such as my home province of Eastern Samar, the poor simply choose to pretend to play the politicians’ game so as to make the most benefit for themselves while they are being wooed for their votes. “We know you are out to get our votes and, ultimately, the taxpayers’ money as a reward for having bought our votes. But, heck, rather than allow you to get all the aces, better recognize that elections are ours. Yes, our way of at least milking something out you who, in one way or another, will fleece us. You want our votes? Be the highest bidder!”

This cynical view of the electoral privilege confounds so many priests, pastors and ordinary faithful who take to heart the sanctity of the ballot. But it is a reality that we have to confront and recognize as a response by the poor to the continuing crisis in Philippine politics that theoretically mouths service but practices self-interest and self-promotion, preaches the common good and justice but thrives on party, family, business or personal goals. For many poor Filipinos democracy is experienced as a farce; and thus their sometimes farcical treatment of elections could be understood in this light. Of course, this is a gross moral wrong that has until now spawned many other wrongs with it.

A Way Out

St. John Paul II in his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of Man) observes that true change of society and its structures, politics included, is impossible without “a conversion of hearts”. In the Philippines the chronic poverty of the masses, the basic symptom of a failed political, social and economic system, needs a conversion of hearts that must also be massive.

But how is this possible? The role of the Church is inevitably called into question. That after almost five hundred years of Christianity the Philippine Church cannot yet speak of a truly Christian political landscape in the country is a living testament to our collectively missing the mark of evangelization. After all, the summons to genuine conversion of hearts has to be first heeded by the shepherds of the flock. Is not the flock in disarray when the shepherds themselves are?

A Spiritual Tool, an Unspiritual Goal

Perhaps we should begin with the words of the Master: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). Considering that both Caesar and we the governed are God’s, then to arrive at a transformed society, both shepherds and flock, which includes candidates and voters, must recognize, and live by, total submission to God and his ways. Unless we do so, it is nigh impossible to observe the Master’s summons: “The is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Good News” (Mk 1:15).

Right Ending Means the Right Beginning

Next, I suggest that we follow St. Paul and permanently pray for our own conversion and those of our actual and potential leaders. “I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and the giving of thanks be rendered for all men (and women); for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may all lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of our God and Savior” (1 Tim 2:1-3). I often wonder why this prayer is often confined to the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass when it should, by necessity, be made an integral part of prayers in homes, offices or marketplaces. Perhaps we priests and pastors are often embarrassed about, or are tired of, praying in private places for public purposes. We should not be. It is far more embarrassing when we are not familiar with our own strengths because we do not scout and explore the depths and potentials of our own terrain. We could find answers there that are not even imagined elsewhere.

But, to me, the overriding and compelling truth is: We cannot attain a just society without the help of God, who is best reached not by the flower of words or flurry of activity but by the “surge of the heart”, to borrow from St. Therese of Lisieux. Through heartfelt prayer, individually and communally, we could join Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan in begging of God for every candidate to become a “politician who listens to the people before, during and after the elections, and who listens to God in prayer…, who has no fear of the truth or the mass media, because at the time of judgment, he will answer only to God.”

We may not completely achieve our goal only through prayer. In fact, it would be extremely naive, and erroneous, for us to think of Christian prayer as isolated from action; in fact, they are mutually inclusive. One leads to the other and vice versa. But, with our ever-constant prayer for the “conversion of hearts” of “sinners” that we ALL are (the call at Fatima too), we shall not have erred on where to begin right.


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