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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 8 min 28 sec ago

December 17, 2017

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 21:00
Third Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 IS 61:1-2A, 10-11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Responsorial Psalm LK 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

R. (Is 61:10b) My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

R. My soul rejoices in my God.

Reading 2 1 THES 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Alleluia IS 61:1 (CITED IN LK 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Homilies Today's Readings

Cardinal Tagle: Stop hatred, discrimination

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 19:52

Photo. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presides over the traditional “Misa de Gallo” at the Manila Cathedral, December 16, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has called for an end to bickering and discrimination against people of different cultures and beliefs as he celebrated the first of nine predawn Masses that usher in Christmas.

In his homily at the Manila Cathedral, the cardinal focused on overcoming division and pointedly talked about the anti-Muslim sentiments fuelled by the recent Marawi crisis.

He said Filipinos must tear down barriers to peace, stressing that Christians should look with hope to unity, not bickering and division.

“Let’s build relationships to destroy the wall that divides and often leads to violence and indifference,” said Cardinal Tagle, who also heads the Rome-based Caritas Internationalis.

“Let’s correct out tendency to discriminate against others who are different from us. I hope that the relationship of Christians and our Muslims brothers and sisters will improve for the better,” he said.

Catholics flocked to churches around the country on Saturday to attend the traditional Misa de Gallo, locally known as “Simbang Gabi”.

In Manila, thousands of Catholics filled the cathedral to attend the Mass introduced by Spanish friars in the 17th century.

Cardinal Tagle further told the churchgoers that what the country needs today is “witnessing to Jesus.”

This means that Christians, according to him, are called to imitate Jesus in their daily lives and lead others, especially the poor and neglected, directly to Him.

“It’s time for more people who would bear witness the love of God that embraces all humanity,” the Manila archbishop added.

“And one way of witnessing to Jesus is through reconciliation and unity by addressing misunderstanding and individualism that sometimes result to violence,” he said. CBCPNews

Pope Francis: Music opens our hearts to the true meaning of Christmas

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 13:52

Pope Francis meets with members of the Vatican’s annual charity concert in Vatican City on Dec. 15, 2017. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

VATICAN— Music and art are especially suited to helping us more deeply comprehend the true meaning of the mystery of Christmas, said Pope Francis in remarks on Friday.

“Art is an impressive means of opening the doors of the mind and heart to the true meaning of Christmas. The creativity and genius of artists, with their work, music and singing are able to reach the innermost depths of the conscience,” the Pope said Dec. 15.

“Art enters precisely into the depths of the conscience.”

“Christmas,” he continued, “is a feast that is heart-felt, participatory and capable of warming the coldest of hearts, of removing barriers of indifference towards our neighbors and encouraging openness towards others and a free gift (of self).”

“This is why today we need to spread the message of peace and fraternity proper to Christmas; we need to represent this event by expressing the authentic sentiments that animate it.”

Pope Francis spoke to those involved in the organization and performance of the 25th edition of the Vatican’s annual charity concert: “Christmas at the Vatican,” which will take place Dec. 16.

This year the concert supports two children’s projects: The Pontifical Foundation “Scholas Occurrentes” and a program to free children enslaved in the coltan mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It includes performances by Italian and international musicians and vocalists, including a children’s choir from Rome.

Scottish singer Annie Lennox and American singer-songwriter Patti Smith will also perform, as well as Suor Cristina, the young Ursuline Sister of the Holy Family who captivated millions when she won the 2014 edition of The Voice Italy.

Upon entering the Clementine Hall, the Pope was greeted by the sounds of a Christmas carol sung by various singers, including the children of the Italian “Small Choir of Piazza Vittorio” and members of the Art Voice Academy and Hallelujah Gospel Singers.

Pope Francis thanked all those who will take part, including performers and audience members, for showing concern for those in need of help and solidarity.

He said that he hopes the Christmas concert can be an opportunity to sow tenderness in the world, a word that is, he said, “much forgotten today.”

“Sow the tenderness, the peace and the welcome which spring from the cave of Bethlehem,” he said. CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

‘Misa de Gallo’

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 12:52

Catholics attend the first of nine daily Masses, or the Misa de Gallo, before Christmas Day at St. Joseph Parish or the Bamboo Organ Church in Las Piñas City, December 16, 2017. LORENZO ATIENZA/CONTRIBUTOR

December 16, 2017

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 21:00
Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Reading 1 SIR 48:1-4, 9-11

In those days,
like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2AC AND 3B, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Alleluia LK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 17:9A, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Homilies Today's Readings

Vatican communications department will soon unveil new website

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 15:14

Msgr. Dario Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, April 5, 2016. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

VATICAN— Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals met this week to continue discussions on reform of the Roman Curia and unveiled a new communications system for the Secretariat for Communications.

Taking place at the Vatican Dec. 11-13, all members were present for the meetings, apart from Cardinal George Pell. Pope Francis was present except for Wednesday morning during the general audience, as is ordinary.

Fr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, presented the new communications system, including a new website and logos, during the 22nd round of meetings.

According to a Dec. 13 statement, the “the Vatican media system adopts a new production model based on integration and unified management, in full harmony with the reform desired by Pope Francis.”

The center of the communications system will be new multimedia publishing center, which will present a unified structure for the daily production of content, including audio, text, video, and graphics, in multiple languages.

This system is the result of consolidation on both an economic and technical level, and will be available soon (in a beta version) at vaticannews.va, the press release stated. This replaces the previously used informational websites and aims to streamline the image and channels of communication.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s photo service, and the Vatican Typography will merge with the secretariat.

It will start with a team of 70 people divided into six language divisions – English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese – in four thematic areas: Pope, Vatican, Church, and world. It will all be overseen by an editorial directorate in coordination with other support groups.

The new system draws its inspiration from the words of Pope Francis to the Secretariat for Communication during their first plenary earlier this year: that “reform is not ‘whitewashing’ things: reform is to give another form to things, organize them in another way.”

Viganò also reported on the final stretch of the reform of Holy See communications, including the achievement of goals to reduce costs and consolidate personnel.

The meetings also included an update from Cardinal Kevin Farrell on the work of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which is preparing for the 2018 synod on youth.

The cardinals also listened to presentations by Fr. Michael Czerny and Fr. Fabio Baggio, the under-secretaries of the Migrant and Refugee section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The section is developing a global strategy to implement in cooperation with the Secretariat of State, bishops’ conferences, NGOs, and religious congregations.

As usual, Cardinal Sean O’Malley also provided an update on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Members of the commission are appointed for a term of three years, which may be reconfirmed. The terms of the present 15 members of the commission end Dec. 17. Pope Francis will decide whether to reconfirm current members and whom to appoint as new members.

Peter Saunders, founder and former Chief Executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood and a member of the commission since Dec. 2014, told the Tablet Dec. 13 he plans to step down from the commission at the end of the week. He has been on a leave of absence from the advisory body since early 2016.

Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the Council of Cardinals – also known as the “C9” – serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution which governs the Roman Curia.

The council’s next round of meetings will take place Feb. 27-29. CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

Historic Homonhon Island gets its first priest

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 21:28

Fr. Jonathan Pading hugs his father during his ordination at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Borongan Cathedral, Dec. 13, 2017. ALREN JOROME BERONIO

BORONGAN City— An island off Eastern Samar province where Christian faith first arrived in the Philippines almost 500 years ago received its first Catholic priest.

On Dec. 13, Jonathan Pading became the first priest native of Homonhon Island in Guiuan town at the ordination rites officiated by Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan.

Despite the bad weather, hundreds of people showed up at the ceremony, overcrowding the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in the province’s capital of Borongan.

The ordination was supposed to be held in Homonhon but the diocese later decided to have it in Borongan anticipating the rainy season which means strong wind and big waves.

“I’m happy and humbled with this occasion in my life,” Pading said. “I do not claim as the first priest from Homonhon but I’m thankful to the Lord for sharing His very self, especially His priesthood.”

In his homily, Bishop Varquez spoke of the joy that should come in assisting others to understand and follow God’s teachings.

“We have to be happy in proclaiming the Good News. If you’re not happy in proclaiming the Gospel you will be for other pleasure that you will regret later on,” he said.

The prelate also admonished Fr. Pading of the “material possessions, pleasure and power” that could “destroy” his priestly ministry, the Church, and the people’s faith.

“We must constantly be aware against being enslaved to these three things because I’m sure that these will destroy our priesthood,” Varquez added.

The prelate said that the ordination is also “timely” as the Church gears up for the 2018 Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

The celebration is part of the local Church’s nine-year “spiritual journey” that started in 2013 towards the 500th Jubilee of Christianization of the Philippines with a catechetical theme for each year.

Homonhon is the spot where Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men first landed in the Philippines and took a weeklong respite on March 16, 1521.

Some theorists even claim that the first Mass may have been celebrated in the island.

The Philippine government, however, declared Limasawa, an island off the nearby province of southern Leyte, as the site of the first Mass on March 31.

Pading, 30, grew up in Casuguran, one of the eight barangays comprising the island, where he spent his elementary years before going to Borongan for his minor and college seminary formation.

Although his parents are originally from Guiuan, they moved to Homonhon because his mother works as a teacher, while his father is a utility worker at a hospital there.

On December 15, Fr. Pading will celebrate his first Mass of thanksgiving in Homonhon.

“I praise God with humble heart while praying that I could be a gift also to His people,” he said. WITH REPORTS FROM ALREN JEROME BERONIO/CBCPNews

Bishop slams martial law extension

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 21:11

A Catholic bishop slammed the extension of the martial law in southern Philippines for another year, warning against the “intoxicating effect” of power.

In an overwhelming number of votes, the lawmakers on Wednesday gave President Rodrigo Duterte a green light to extend the military rule in Mindanao for the whole of next year.

Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law due to supposed threats posed by communist rebels and Muslim extremists since a five-month conflict ended there in October.

He hinted the possibility of imposing it nationwide should terrorism threat spread and the communist insurgents intensify their attacks.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who formerly chaired the Church’s social action, justice and peace ministry, said Duterte is “boasting” it again now that he got the support from a “subservient” Congress.

“This is what we get when we toy with power. One is never contented with enough power. It gobbles more power—unless people stand up and voice out—it is enough! This is not right!” Pabillo said.

“Once one has tasted power, it is hard to say it is enough. This is true for Duterte, this is true for the police and this is true for the armed forces,” he said.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 due to attacks by terrorists of the Islamic State-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups on the Islamic city of Marawi in Lanao del Norte.

The country’s worst security crisis in decades killed more than 1,1000 people, mostly militants, and displaced about 350,000 residents.

Creeping authoritarianism

Although Marawi was declared “liberated” last October, military officials said threats remain in Mindanao.

Martial law critics, however, argued that an extension requires actual rebellion; and without it is unconstitutional.

“They give a veneer of legality to martial law but they are making the abnormal normal, the extraordinary ordinary,” Pabillo added.

The bishop also warned that the extension is “conditioning the minds” of the people that martial law is alright and normal.

“Authoritarianism is creeping surreptitiousness among us—unless we react and say ‘do we really need it?’” said Pabillo.

“We cannot remain silent in front of the machinations of Congress who are acting not as representative of the people but of the one in power. Congress can no longer be trusted that they serve the interest of the people,” he said.

‘No need for martial law’

Earlier, two other bishops in Mindanao voiced opposition to the martial law extension.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro said that another year of military rule could affect the business environment in the region.

“Martial law will only affect the economic standing of Mindanao. There are less investors because of that,” he said.

The Jesuit prelate said the security concerns of the government should be handled by the “normal” police and military system. “There is no need for martial law,” he said.

Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi also stressed the need to hear the voices of the Maranao people on martial law.

He said that if it had to be extended based on the assessment of the military, it should be limited to areas of tension like Marawi to facilitate the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city.

“But the people of Marawi themselves should be asked, not me, what is of their best interest,” he said.

“As Duyog Marawi, our mission is to accompany the Maranao and be a supporter to their struggles. Theirs is the power to make the decisions,” Dela Peña said.  CBCPNews

December 15, 2017

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 21:00
Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Reading 1 IS 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord will come; go out to meet him!
He is the prince of peace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Power never says enough

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 17:08

WE have experienced once more the intoxicating effect of power. Martial law was declared in Mindanao last May 23 in Mindanao due to the Marawi debacle. It was extended by congress till December 31 on July 22, now with the excuse that the situation cannot be controlled without extraordinary powers.

Today December 14, it is again extended by the same subservient congress for one full year. Once one has tasted power, it is hard to say it is enough. This is true for Duterte, this is true for the police and this is true for the armed forces. Even if congress has extended it – does this make it right? Martial law is supposedly an answer to an extraordinary situation, like the case of rebellion. With this extension – and for one year! – are we making the extraordinary situation ordinary? Can the police and the AFP not address the situation with the ordinary powers that they have? Or is martial law now being used as a tool to oppress dissent, and not even dissent – just divergent views?

It cannot be said that because we are not from the military, the people can no longer know what is happening in the country. It cannot be said that because we are not from Mindanao we can no longer speak about what is happening in Mindanao. Suppression of the rights of a part of the people is suppression of the rights of all. We cannot remain silent in front of the machinations of congress who are acting not as representatives of the people but representatives of the one in power. Congress can no longer be trusted that they serve the interest of the people. They give a veneer of legality to martial law but they are making the abnormal normal, the extraordinary ordinary!

Not only that! This extension of Martial Law is conditioning the minds of our people that Martial Law is alright, that it is normal. Authoritarianism is creeping surreptitiousness among us – unless we react, and say teka…kailangan ba talaga natin iyan? Can our police and AFP not maintain peace and order with the normal mandates of civil law? Do they need extra powers to do their job? But they have been set up and are supported by the people to do their job not with extraordinary powers but with the ordinary powers of the law.

Now that Duterte has tasted support from the subservient congress, he is boasting again. It can be done all over the country. All the cards are on the table! He can declare Martial Law all over the whole country. This is what we get when we toy with power. One is never contented with enough power. It gobbles more power – unless people stand up and voice out – it is enough! This not right! Tama na! Sobra na!

STOP THE KILLING. ARREST THE KILLERS OF FR. TITO PAEZ

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:50

(NASSA/ Caritas Philippines Statement on the Killing of Fr. Tito Paez)

“Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel”  (Justice in the World # 6)

The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace/Caritas Philippines of the Catholic Bishops’ of the Philippines vehemently condemns the brutal killing of 72-year-old priest, Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez from the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, by men riding in tandem last December 4, 2017 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. The brutal killing is an attack to the Church and her mission for social justice and empowerment of the poor. It slowly creates social awareness among Filipinos that no one who is working for social development in the community level is safe anymore in the present socio-political situation in the country. It also reflects the deterioration of values and respect of human life, especially those who are mandated to protect the human rights.

Fr. Tito Paez, who earlier facilitated the release of political prisoners in the Provincial Jail in Cabanatuan City, was on his way home at 8 PM when he was attacked and shot by motorcycle-riding in tandem while driving his vehicle along the road in Jaen town of Nueva Ecija. He was immediately brought to a nearby hospital, but died hours later. The assailants are suspected to be state security forces or their assets.

Perhaps, Fr. Tito’s mistake, in the eyes of the persecutors, was his passion in his ministry for social justice and development of the life of the farmers, fisher folks and workers. He was very active in the social action programs of the Diocese of San Jose, particularly in the Justice and Peace Office which the primary goal is to uphold the human rights of the poor. Facilitating the release of a political detainee may be the cause of his death.

Fr. Tito is one of the many clergy and religious people who offered their lives for the cause of social justice. He heeded the challenge of Pope Francis: “The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might. In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: You yourselves give them something to eat, it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote development of the poor…” (EG #188). His engagement with the poor expressed his desire to address inequity of “enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses” (Rerum Novarum #1). All peoples, especially the pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor.

For the sake of justice and rule of law, NASSA/Caritas Philippines calls upon the Duterte government to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and arrest the perpetrators to give justice for the death of Fr. Tito. NASSA/Caritas Philippines also demands the government to stop its security forces from acts of violence on Church people who commit themselves to serve and work with the poor towards empowerment and development. Church people are only complimenting the government’s task in promoting, defending and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipinos for common good. As long as the government only serves and works for and with the “few”, conflicts of interest may fuel government to attack anyone or groups who work for social justice and common good.

NASSA/ Caritas Philippines also calls upon all peoples of faith and goodwill to stand up and unite in promoting social justice and in denouncing the latest killings and all brutal and senseless killings in the name of change. Let us not put in vain the life of Fr. Tito and all others who died for the sake of justice. Let us stop these acts of violence and denounce any attacks against human life, human dignity and human rights. Pope Francis says, “None of us can think, we are exempt from concerns for the poor and social justice.” God requires all peoples: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before him” (Micah 6:8). Action on behalf of justice is our mission.

(signed)
FR. EDWIN A. GARIGUEZ
Executive Secretary

(signed)
MOST REV. ROLANDO J. TRIA TIRONA, OCD, DD
Archbishop of Caceres
National Director

13 December 2017

Pope Francis: Think ‘being good’ is enough? It’s not. Go to Mass

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:14

Pope Francis during his Oct. 25, 2017 general audience in St. Peter’s Square. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

VATICAN— According to Pope Francis, a Christian can’t just be a good person and skip Mass on Sundays, because it is the Eucharist that provides the nourishment needed to truly live the Gospel well in our daily lives.

“How can we respond to those who say that there is no need to go to Mass, not even on Sundays, because what is important is to live well, to love our neighbors?” the Pope said Dec. 13.

“It is true that the quality of the Christian life is measured by the capacity to love,” as Jesus says in the Gospels, he said.

“But how can we practice the Gospel without drawing the necessary strength to do it, one Sunday after another, from the inexhaustible spring of the Eucharist?”

Pope Francis spoke during his Wednesday general audience, during which he continued his weekly catechesis on the Mass and Eucharist, focusing on the reasons why we must go to Mass every Sunday, besides the fact that it is a law of the Church, which he said is important, but “not enough alone.”

Instead we must go deeper: “We Christians need to participate in Sunday Mass because only with the grace of Jesus, with his living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice his commandment, and thus be his credible witnesses,” he said.

The Eucharist and Mass, he said, are where we find our strength for daily life.

Without it, Christians “are condemned to be dominated by the fatigue of everyday life.” Often consumed by worries and fears, this weekly meeting is where Christ gives us the strength to live each day with courage and with hope.

He explained how participating in the Eucharistic communion with Jesus here on earth helps us to anticipate heaven, where it will be “Sunday without sunset”: no more tears, grief, or pain, but only “the joy of living fully and forever with the Lord.”

At Sunday Mass we rest from the busyness and work of the week, which teaches us to place our trust in the Father, not in earthly things, the Pope said. In this same way, abstaining from unnecessary labor on Sundays helps us to live out our identity as sons and daughters of God, and not slaves.

The Pope also noted an important distinction about Mass, which is that Christians do not go in order to give something to God, “but to receive from Him what we really need.”

This teaching is evoked in a prayer from the Roman Missal, which addresses God, saying: “You do not need our praise, but for a gift of your love you call us to give you thanks; our hymns of blessing do not increase your greatness, but they obtain for us the grace that saves us,” Francis said.

Pope Francis then noted that there are some Christian communities which are not able to celebrate Mass every Sunday, but they are still called to gather together in prayer, to listen to the Word of God, and to nurture their desire for the Eucharist.

Alternatively, there are many secularized societies which have entirely lost the Christian sense of an “illuminated Sunday,” he said.

In this case we must help revive and recover the meaning of the day, he said, which should be celebrated with joy, with community, and with solidarity; as a day of rest “that restores the soul and the body.” CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

Liturgical ministry volunteers told: ‘We are here to be holy’

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 13:23

Palo Archdiocesan formator Fr. Raymund Sotto urges Mass servers to pursue vocational holiness. EILEEN BALLESTEROS

TACLOBAN – A priest formator in the Archdiocese of Palo reminded volunteers of various liturgical ministries in a parish here that they are serving in the church not for superificial motives but “to be holy.”

“We are not here for show or for self-affirmation or make others know the strength of the number of volunteers of the parish,” said Fr. Raymund Sotto, now a seminary formator in the diocese.

“We are here in the church because, foremost, we want to be holy,”said the priest, eliciting an “amen” from members of the various liturgical ministries of Sto. Niño Parish in this city.

‘Total submission’

Over a hundred volunteers gathered at the newly-constructed Training Center of the City government in Kanhuraw Hill for the annual Advent recollection, a requisite for the commissioning of new members and re-commissioning of incumbent members.

Sotto said church volunteers should likewise make a “total submission” of their lives to God.

“It should not be separate lives, having a different personality outside the celebration of the Holy Mass,” he stressed.

“If that will be our attitude, the [Holy] Mass will be a ‘Maskara Festival’,” Sotto said.

Stressing that the highest form of love is service, Sotto likewise called on Mass servers to serve God “in union with one another.”

He urged all church volunteers to be a “source of unity in your group.”

Finding one’s vocation

“Our passion, our gifts, talents, and personality are for the greater glory of God,” he said.

The priest underscored that “communion, commission, consecration bring us to unity and service.”

Acknowledging that serving in the Holy Mass and other liturgical services is a vocation, Sotto also called on the volunteers to “encourage and inspire one another towards their vocation.”

“Follow your passion, your gifts, your talents, your personality and the voice of God to the place [you] where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. There is where you will find vocational holiness,” he explained.

Prior to Sotto’s talk, SNP parish priest Fr. Wilson Chu talked about the proper spiritual disposition of a liturgical minister or church volunteer. CBCPNews

Gov’t urged: Stop violence against church people

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 23:18

Mourners carry a banner bearing the words ‘Justice for Fr. Tito Paez’ during the funeral march for the slain priest in San Jose City, Dec. 11, 2017. JUN SANTIAGO, CSsR

MANILA – The Catholic Church’s social action arm called on the government to stop the attacks against church people following the killing of a 72-year old priest.

The National Secretariat for Social Acton – Justice and Peace (Nassa) in a statement said authorities must take immediate actions against the violence and hold those responsible to account.

The said letter did not name names but urged the government to stop its “security forces” from lodging attacks against church leaders and workers.

“Nassa demands the government to stop its security forces from acts of violence on church people who commit themselves to serve and work with the poor towards empowerment and development,” said its head Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona.

The prelate stressed that as long as the government only serves the few, “conflict of interest” may push the institution to attack anyone who works for social justice.

“Church people are only complementing the government’s task in promoting, defending, and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipinos for common good,” he said.

The archbishop’s statement came more than a week after the cold-blooded murder of Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija by still unidentified gunmen.

The Dec. 4 attacks occurred hours after Paez, a coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, facilitated the release of a political prisoner in Cabanatuan City.

Government critics believe the priest was executed by government security forces because of his advocacy.

“For the sake of justice and rule of law, Nassa calls upon the Duterte government to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and arrest of the perpetrators to give justice for the death of Fr. Tito,” Tirona added.

Militant groups said at least two religious leaders were killed in the country since last week.

Last Dec. 3, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones of the King’s Glory Ministry was killed in Mindoro by a police regional mobile force because of his alleged link to the New People’s Army. CBCPNews

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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