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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 33 min 30 sec ago

April 20, 2018

2 hours 30 min ago
Friday of the Third Week of Easter

Reading 1 ACTS 9:1-20

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.

He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1BC, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 6:56

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood,
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 6:52-59

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food,
and my Blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Today's Readings Homilies

Religious superiors call Sr. Fox’s detention ‘harassment’

3 hours 1 min ago

Activists hold images of Sr. Patricia Fox as they protest harassment and intimidation of human rights advocates during a rally in Manila, April 17, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

April 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

An influential group of church leaders has assailed government authorities for using their power against Sr. Patricia Fox, an Australian missionary in the Philippines.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines said the detention and possible deportation of Fox are forms of “harassment” against people pushing for social justice.

“But we in the AMRSP stand our ground,” said co-chairpersons Franciscan Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM, and Sr. Regina Kuizon of the Religious of the Good Shepherd in a statement.

“We continue to obey God’s mandate to quench the thirst for justice and peace in our country,” they said.

The 71-year-old nun who spent a day detained for “illegal political activities” has been released on April 17.

But the immigration bureau held her passport as her case has not been dismissed and will be investigated further.

The AMRSP urged the government to respect the rights of Fox and their mission partners who work for justice in the country.

“Sr. Pat is a missionary for life, human rights and justice. She can only be considered undesirable alien to those who seek to muzzle the truth and foist tyranny upon us,” the church leaders added.

“Even in her old age, Sr. Pat is fulfilling her prophetic mission to be in solidarity with the poor and powerless. And for this, she should be commended, not deported or harassed,” they also said.

The AMRSP has been at the forefront in all the political upheavals in the country.

The group also played a crucial role during the martial law years when it opened the doors of its seminaries and convents to provide refuge to victims of human rights.

Biblical inspiration of BECs expounded in new book

3 hours 32 min ago

The author (center) Fr. Deogracias Aurelio V. Camon,Ph.D., with Dr. Ma. Mercedes Joson (Dean – Graduate School La Consolacion College Bacolod), Dr. Dennis Madrigal (President – PACRE, Inc), Mrs. Rosabella Erillo (Vice President – Center for Biblical Literacy and Education), Mrs. Ofelia Cayiteles (Secretary –PACRE Inc.)

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

April 19, 2018

Bacolod City, Philippines

The Philippine Association of Catholic Religious Educators, Inc. (PACRE), in collaboration with the Center for Biblical Literacy and Education (CBLE), published a new book titled “Shemot: A People Remembered”.

The author, Fr. Deogracias Aurelio V. Camon, Ph.D., described the book as “a socio-historical analysis of the Book of Exodus correlating it with the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) as an experiment of social liberation.”

In demonstrating the book’s significance in relation to the Church and the country in the present time Camon said, “There is an emerging need for us to engage in forming a narrative of how we understand ourselves as Filipinos.”

“The book of Exodus (“Shemot”) teaches that there is a need to share in a story that would direct how a people remember the past, influence how it acts in the present and provides guidance to its future,” he pointed out.

Danger of “fake narratives” to national, Church identity

Camon explained that nations are truly liberated if its historical identities are made relevant to the present and transmitted effectively to the succeeding generation through stories and rituals that embody their aspiration as nations.

“Nations are narratives. The stories we tell and circulate about ourselves form us into who we are. If we are not able to do so, our national narratives will be held captive by those who are in power, socially or politically,” the Bible scholar warned.

To illustrate this affirmation with an historical fact the book showed that in the 1980’s the diocese of Bacolod, during the episcopacy of Bishop Antonio Fortich, established the Basic Ecclesial Communities (Kristianong Katilingban) as a response to the socials ills of the time.

“These grassroots movements are commonly called “church in the neighborhood” because they are commonly composed of families that belong to the same locality.

“These communities proved to be an effective response to the needs of that era,” the priest disclosed.

First of a five-part series

“This is the first volume of a projected five-part series that will cover the entire Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch) in the Old Testament,” Camon revealed.

The book launching of “Shemot: A People Remembered” was held in Felicia’s Café in Bacolod City attended by members of the academe, students and other representatives of the lay faithful on April 8, 2018.

For those who are interested in obtaining a copy of the book, may email the author at rev.deocamon@yahoo.com.

Name given at baptism gives sense of identity, belonging, pope says

4 hours 4 min ago

Pope Francis smiles as a papal security guard holds up a baby during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 18. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

April 19, 2018

Vatican City

Naming a child is an important task for parents, because it gives children a sense of identity and belonging to their family and to God, Pope Francis said.

“Without a name, we remain unknown, without rights and duties. God calls each one of us by name, loving us individually in the concreteness of our history,” the pope said April 18 during his weekly general audience.

“Therefore, the name is important. Parents think of the name to give to their child already before birth,” he said. “This, too, is part of the expectation of a child who, in his or her name, will have an original identity, including for the Christian life linked to God.”

Continuing his series of Easter-season talks on baptism, the pope said that a person’s name, asked during the welcoming rite of the sacrament, “takes us out of anonymity” and is the first step in a person’s journey as a Christian.

“Baptism ignites the personal vocation to live as Christians, which will develop throughout one’s life. It implies a personal response and not a borrowed answer that is ‘copied and pasted,'” he said.

Another important designation given to children and adults who receive baptism is the sign of the cross, the pope said.

Making the sign of the cross, he added, “is the badge that shows who we are: Our way of speaking, thinking, looking and working is under the sign of the cross, that is, the love of Jesus until the end.”

Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis once again asked parents and grandparents to teach their children how to properly make the sign of the cross, which at times “is not done well.”

“To make the sign of the cross when we wake up, before eating, when facing danger, to defend against evil and at night before going to sleep means telling ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to become,” the pope said.

Church’s social teaching always a ‘work in progress,’ archbishop says

4 hours 21 min ago

While some fundamental principles of the Catholic Church’s social teaching are permanent, there are ever-changing social and political conditions that can change how it is applied, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. He is pictured in a 2014 photo. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

April 19, 2018

Vatican City

While some fundamental principles of the Catholic Church’s social teaching are permanent, there are ever-changing social and political conditions that can change how it is applied, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.

“The social teaching of the church is part of the discipline of moral theology, but moral theology cannot produce a handbook with all the answers to the social challenges of the times,” Archbishop Martin told journalists April 18 during a news conference on an upcoming conference sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation.

Established in 1993, the foundation seeks to promote the teaching of St. John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical on social and economic justice.

Business leaders and experts in Catholic social teaching attending the May 24-26 international conference will reflect on “new policies and lifestyles in the digital age.”

The international conference, Archbishop Martin said, is designed to promote a dialogue with experts in the fields of economics, ecology, social sciences and politics in order to revitalize and enrich the fundamental principles of the church’s social teachings.

Current economic and social policies must be grounded in ethics, which is a “real dimension” that “is not a sort of embellishment of social reflection that we can either take into account or ignore,” the archbishop said.

“The Centesimus Annus Foundation has, since its establishment, been a bridge between ethical principles and the teaching of the church and the day-to-day challenges that policy makers and practitioners have to make in their decisions in the area of reform and governance of the international finance situation,” Archbishop Martin said.

Finding ways to apply ethical and moral principles “requires pathways of application” that answer Pope Francis’ call for “an urgent process of correction in the way the world economy works” through a more inclusive economy, he said.

The Irish archbishop said that while many countries have registered sustained economic growth recently, “this growth is accompanied by increased inequality and huge and ever-growing differences between the richest and the poorest.”

“A fundamental principle of economic activity must be to allow the poor to have voice,” Archbishop Martin said. “Having voice is the key to inclusiveness and is also the key to a healthy, sustainable and participative economy.”

Work, family and migration are “special areas of reflection on economic life” where the church’s social teaching can make a positive contribution toward economic development, he said.

‘Seamless garment’ revisited: Pope insists all life deserves defense

4 hours 25 min ago

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is pictured after an interview in his office at the Vatican April 17. Archbishop Paglia said Pope Francis, in his recent exhortation, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” was not trying to shift the focus away from abortion to poverty but rather was trying to show they are part of the same battle. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Cindy Wooden

April 19, 2018

Vatican City

When Pope Francis insisted that the lives of the unborn and of the poor are “equally sacred,” he was not trying to shift the focus of Catholics from fighting abortion to fighting poverty, he was trying to show they are part of the same battle, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The life of the unborn must be “promoted and defended with great determination and given an effective priority,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service April 17.

“At the same time,” he said, “we must keep in mind that the dignity of every human being is equal and inviolable at every stage throughout his or her life.”

In “Rejoice and Be Glad,” his apostolic exhortation on holiness, Pope Francis wrote that living a Christian life involves the defense of both the unborn and the poor, and he criticized what he termed the “harmful ideological error” of thinking one’s own cause is the only important one.

“Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred,” Pope Francis wrote. “Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”

Pope Francis’ words reminded many people of the “seamless garment” approach to life issues promoted by the late Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago. While applauding its recognition of the sacredness of all human life, some people criticized the approach, saying it could give people a mistaken impression that, for example, the church teaches abortion and capital punishment are equally serious sins. Others worried that some Catholics would claim their defense of life in one area meant that they did not have to pursue the protection of life in other areas.

But “Pope Francis has reaffirmed that abortion is evil without mincing words,” Archbishop Paglia said. At the same time, he asks that “the pro-life commitment be enlarged.”

The pope’s words in the exhortation reflect the same vision the pope had in renewing the statutes and membership of the Academy for Life, he said; the pope believes “true support for life cannot be limited to isolated moments of its existence, but also must promote the conditions of justice and peace” life needs to thrive.

What Pope Francis is telling Catholics, he said, is “to be pro-life always, in every situation and everywhere, not only in one moment, in one country or one aspect. We must rediscover the prophetic call to defend life in its concrete situations, not as an abstraction, by defending human beings from the very beginning of life to its end.”

Rather than watering down Catholics’ commitment to ending abortion, the archbishop said, attention to defending life at every stage and in every circumstance “should make us stronger, including in effectively combatting the absurd prospect of abortion.”

By putting together abortion, euthanasia, hunger, immigration, the death penalty, weapons trafficking, war and other serious issues, he said, Pope Francis makes it clear that all human life always must be defended.

A prophetic pro-life stance, Archbishop Paglia said, “has no limits,” while an “ideological approach” zeroes in on particulars. “Ideology moves the mind, while prophecy moves the mind, but also the heart and the hands because it dares to dream of a future that is beautiful for everyone.”

“We must never do death’s job,” the archbishop said. “Never.”

Church rallies behind Australian nun facing deportation

5 hours 3 min ago

Priests and nuns visit Sr. Patricia Fox at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila where she was detained for a day, April 16, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

April 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Church people from around the world have rallied behind Australian Sr. Patricia Fox who was freed after a day in detention, but still faces looming deportation.

The arrest simply shows President Rodrigo Duterte “cannot take criticisms”, said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.

“His (Duterte) actions and words are not beyond criticism. A public figure cannot be onion skinned,” he said.

Duterte yesterday admitted ordering an investigation against Fox, a 71-year-old missionary of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion, for “disorderly conduct”.

The president accused the nun of badmouthing his administration in protest rallies, supposedly violating the conditions of her stay in the Philippines.

Fox has denied engaging in “partisan political activities”.

For 27 years, the nun devoted her missionary work in the Philippines defending the rights of farmers, indigenous peoples, workers and other victims of social injustice.

Duterte said he can take criticisms from Filipinos but not from foreigners, especially those staying in the country because these constitute “a violation of sovereignty”.

For Bishop Pabillo, however, “Duterte is lying!”

“He cannot even take criticisms from the Filipinos,” he said, citing the case of Senator Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of Duterte, who was jailed over drug-related charges.

Fox’s confrere in Rome appealed to the Philippine government to spare her from possible deportation just for helping “those in need at the peripheries of society”.

“We ask the government of the Philippines to allow Sr. Pat and other fellow church people to continue their missionary work in the Philippines,” Sr. Mary Babic, NDS Superior General.

She also urged respect for church people’s rights and response “to be present among the poor, the sick and the prisoners”.

“We believe that Sr. Pat and other religious and church people like her are a blessing and are blessed be able to work with and be among the Filipino people,” Babic said.

The Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in Australia also condemned the arrest and detention of Fox “without due process and respect for her fundamental rights”.

They called on church people to “stand their ground” and assert their rights to preach the Gospel and to be in solidarity with the poor.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said it will look into the matter to ensure Fox’s rights were not violated during her detention.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President, also assured the nun of the Church’s assistance and support as she faces investigation.

AMRSP statement on Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS illegal arrest and detention by the Bureau of Immigration

5 hours 55 min ago

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines expresses its solidarity with Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS, in her work of proclaiming the good news of salvation and liberation to the poor and powerless. As religious and consecrated persons, we stand with her and all who do God’s mission of care and compassion for His anawim, the poor of the land.

We are shocked that after 27 years of dedicated service to the poor, Sr. Pat was unduly arrested and detained for allegedly being an “undocumented alien” and for participating in “political activities.” It is simply unacceptable that in the age of computerization, the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation could not verify that Sr. Pat had a valid missionary visa. This to us is harassment of an advocate of the rights of the poor.

We demand that the rights of Sr. Pat be respected, and so the rights of our mission partners, foreigner or Filipino, who truly work for justice in our country. Let the government agencies, especially the BID, not hamper the prophetic work of our foreign missionaries to alleviate the lives of the poor and powerless.

Moreover, Sr. Pat is a missionary for Life, Human Rights and Justice. She can only be considered undesirable alien to those who seek to muzzle the truth and foist tyranny upon us.

We stand with Sr. Pat and all human rights defenders. Even in her old age, Sr. Pat is fulfilling her prophetic mission to be in solidarity with the poor and powerless. And for this, she should be commended, not deported or harassed.

Once again, we in the AMRSP, stand our ground. We continue to obey God’s mandate to quench the thirst for justice and peace in our country.

Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM (SGD) Sr. Regina Kuizon, RGS (SGD)
AMRSP Co- Chairpersons

DOWNLOAD STATEMENT

CBCP Statement on the recent detention of Sr Patricia Fox, NDS

7 hours 8 min ago

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is very much concerned with what happened recently to a Catholic Missionary sister, Sr. Patricia Fox of Notre Dame de Sion (NDS) Congregation – that she was taken into custody and detained by the Bureau of Immigration. She is now released.

I have requested our Secretary General of the CBCP to get more information from the Sister’s community in Quezon City, from the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) and from the Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations Between Bishops and Religious (ECMR). All of the information I now have about the incident is from the newspapers.

I presume and hope she was treated well, that there was nothing irregular about the procedure done in her detention, and that her rights under our laws are respected.

We will continue to pray for her, as I am sure, we did as soon as we heard of the news.

The CBCP would like to assure Sister Patricia Fox and her community that the CBCP is willing to extend any assistance and support we are able to give her and her community with regards to the situation.

 

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, 19 April 2018

 

+ ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

 

P.N. 004/2018

DOWNLOAD OFFICIAL STATEMENT

CBCP Monitor Vol 22 No 8

8 hours 7 min ago

CBCP Monitor – Vol 22 No 8

Duterte admits ordering probe vs Sr. Fox for ‘disorderly conduct’

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 21:12

Sr. Patricia Anne Fox speaks to the media after her release from the custody of the Bureau of Immigration in Manila, April 17, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

April 18, 2018

Manila, Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed “full responsibility” for the temporary detention of Sr. Patricia Anne Fox as he did not mince words in criticizing the 71-year-old nun.

Speaking at the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command ceremony on Wednesday, he admitted ordering the Bureau of Immigration to investigate the Australian missionary.

But the president clarified that he only ordered the BI to invite the nun for questioning, and not to detain her.

“I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct,” he said.

A fuming Duterte accused the nun of attacking his administration in protest rallies, an action, he said, that is tantamount to “violation of sovereignty”.

As a politician, Duterte said he had endured attacks for almost 40 years. He said, however, that only Filipinos are entitled to criticize him.

“But if I will be insulted, in the cloak of being just a Catholic priest [nun] and you are a foreigner, who are you?” he said.

As the president, Duterte boasted his power to order the deportation of any alien violating the country’s immigration law.

“Don’t let her in because that nun has no shame! You do not have the right to criticize us,” Duterte said.

Social justice

Atty. Jobert Pahilga, Fox’s counsel, said the complaint came from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency’s regional office in Davao City.

Using photographs as evidence, he said that the agency accused Fox of joining anti-government demonstrations in the cities of Davao and Tagum, both in Mindanao.

The nun, however, said that one photo was about her visit to farmers and political prisoners detained at the Tagum city jail.

Another image, she added, was when she joined a protest of workers who were fired by a beverage company for trying to unionize.

“We work with organized groups who are working for social justice. Often, groups working for justice are labeled left,” Fox said in an interview over ANC’s April 18 episode of “Matters of Fact”.

“Like if you want, land rights, you’re Left. But to me it’s just basic human social justice issue… It’s very consistent with the teaching of the church,” she said.

‘I will order your arrest’

Instead of hitting the government, he advised her to attend to the Church’s own problems and criticize Australia government’s own failures, including how it rejected refugees.

“You are too presumptuous about looking at the Philippines. You have human rights violations there and it’s worse. At least here I only kill criminals,” he said.

“Who are you? Just because you are a nun? You go back to your country and try to ponder the enormity of your problems,” added Duterte.

The missionary of Sisters of Sion was released yesterday after she was held for 22 hours under the custody of the BI.

According to Duterte, the only reason for Fox’s release is because she was not caught berating the government.

“If you begin to try to malign the government in any of those rallies there, I will order your arrest,” he said.

April 19, 2018

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 21:00
Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Reading 1 ACTS 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
“Get up and head south on the road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”
So he got up and set out.
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,
a court official of the Candace,
that is, the queen of the Ethiopians,
in charge of her entire treasury,
who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.
Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit said to Philip,
“Go and join up with that chariot.”
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
He replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.
This was the Scripture passage he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth.

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply,
“I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?
About himself, or about someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage,
he proclaimed Jesus to him.
As they traveled along the road
they came to some water,
and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water.
What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop,
and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,
and the eunuch saw him no more,
but continued on his way rejoicing.
Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news
to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Responsorial Psalm PS 66:8-9, 16-17, 20

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Bless our God, you peoples,
loudly sound his praise;
He has given life to our souls,
and has not let our feet slip.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 6:51

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven,
says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowds:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:

They shall all be taught by God.

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my Flesh for the life of the world.”

Today's Readings Homilies

They were going to get married. Now he’s a priest and she’s a sister

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 19:01

Father Javier Olivera and Sister Marie de la Sagasse. Courtesy photo

CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

April 18, 2018

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before discovering their vocations, Fr. Javier Olivera and Sister Marie de la Sagesse were engaged and planning their wedding. God had other plans.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Fr. Olivera said that they both grew up in Catholic families and that “our parents knew each other when they were young.” They saw each other frequently when they were children.

“I had really left the practice of religion. When I was 19, I came back from a back-packing trip to Peru and I met her. I asked her if she believed in virginity until marriage, because for me this was kind of an invention by the Church. She laid out the principles so well about purity, from faith and reason, that it impacted me. I met a woman who knew how to defend what she believed and who was at the same time very intelligent,” Olivera commented.

Soon after that conversation, they began dating. At that time both of them were studying law. He was at the National University at Buenos Aires and she was at the National University at La Plata.

Fr. Olivera said that “it was like any other courtship but we tried to take advantage of cultural life through music, literature and philosophy. We read books together, we’d go out for coffee. We had a group of friends with whom we attended conferences of Argentine Catholic authors.”

“I started to practice the faith, to pray, to go to Mass on Sundays. All in large part thanks to her, to God mainly, but to her as an instrument,” said the priest. He added that they also prayed the rosary together.

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse, whose baptismal name is Trinidad Maria Guiomar, told ACI Prensa that what she most appreciated about her then-boyfriend was “his sincere search for the truth without fearing the consequences.”

The couple got engaged when they were 21 and decided to get married after college, two and a half years away.

The discovery of a vocation

One day Trinidad Maria’s older brother broke the news that he would be entering the seminary, and she remembered, “we were reeling from it because we weren’t expecting that.”

“I had a car and with my fiancée we decided to take him to the seminary, which was in San Rafael, Mendoza Province,” she said. They both decided to stay in the area a few days so Javier could visit some friends who were in the seminary, and Trinidad Maria could visit some friends in the convent.

“When we got back, we talked about how crazy all that was, that her brother had left everything, the possibility of having a family, an important career. We began to ask ourselves, ‘What would happen if God called us to the religious life?’ The first thing we said was ‘no’ and that that was crazy because we were having a really beautiful engagement and we were already buying things to get married,” Fr. Olivera recounted.

Weeks went by “there was this constant thought in my soul about what would happen if God called me, if I had to leave everything, why not be a priest? How to know if the best way to get to heaven for me is the priestly life or the married life? Where can I do the most good?”

After so many doubts he decided to tell his fiancée about his vocational concerns, who confessed to him that she “was thinking the same thing” after her brother entered the seminary.

However, neither one of them made a decision. “Since we still had two years before finishing law school, that was a great excuse to not yet enter the seminary or the convent,” Fr. Olivera said.

They had “a very prudent monk” as a spiritual adviser, who told them: “Look, that is an issue between each one of you and God. No one can interfere with souls.”

For her part, Sister Marie de la Sagesse told ACI Prensa that “it was a long period of discernment, at least two years, until God clearly showed me the consecrated life, and I could not doubt that he was asking of me this total surrender.”

After finishing their studies, both embraced their vocations. In 2008, when they were 31, he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of San Rafael, and she made her final vows in the congregation of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus.

Fr. Olivera is currently a university professor and has a blog called “Que no te la cuenten” (Find out for yourself). He has written a book on vocational doubts entitled “¿Alguna vez pensaste? El llamado de Cristo” (Have you ever thought about it? The Call of Christ).

Sister Marie de la Sagesse lives in southern France and has an apostolate in Saint Laurent Parish in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon.

Regarding their story, she said that “I consider it a special grace that both of us were called almost at the same time. So kind and thoughtful of Divine Providence, who doesn’t miss a detail . And what I really appreciate is that we’re still friends and not just us, but our families too.”

Manila basilica to host 1st religious rust-art exhibit

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 16:47

Religious artist Pia Soriano prepares a rough sketch of the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which will be painted  with oil pigments incorporated with pulverized rust. SAN SEBASTIAN BASILICA CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC.

By Niceforo Balbedina

April 18, 2018

MANILA

As part of the preparations for the quadricentennial celebration of the arrival of the image of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the country, the basilica that houses it will be featuring a religious exhibit of artworks made from the rust the all-steel church accumulated during its existence.

The San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc., in partnership with Reredos artists, will host Belleza Del Carmen, a free religious exhibit with original artworks that utilize the rust collected from the ongoing restoration of the San Sebastian Basilica.

“An exhibit that is able to evoke something in the viewer that points to the divine, and one that can contribute to the restoration of the basilica is where passion and purpose meet,” said Pia Soriano, a religious artist who used oil pigments incorporated with pulverized rust in her featured works.

In a release, the foundation said the challenge of working with such unusual and historic material made the task more appealing to Reredos, a group of professional artists that specializes in religious art, often in the form of ornamental screens covering the back walls of an altar.

Leading the Reredos is Micheal Muñoz, a recipient of the prestigious 13 Artists Award by the Cultural Center of the Philippines

The Belleza Del Carmen exhibit will run from May 5 to July 16 this year at the first floor of the San Sebastian Convent, Quiapo, and admission is free.
Sales of the artworks, which will be available for purchase until December 2018, will directly fund the restoration of the Basilica’s columns.

For more information about the art exhibit, interested parties may contact the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation Inc. at savesansebastian.org@gmail.com or through landline at (632) 708-5122 and may also visit http://www.facebook.com/savessbasilica for more updates.

Couples told: ‘Marital crisis is an opportunity to grow in love’

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:10

Pastoral team, Fr. Bobby Sta. Cruz as well as one of the presenting couples, Belar and Cynthia Cruz, gave sessions on marriage and family at this year’s marriage encounter weekend seminar, held in Meycauayan City, Bulacan from April 13 to 15. RAINIER POLICARPIO

By Myraine Carluen-Policarpio

April 18, 2018

MEYCAUAYAN, BULACAN

This year’s marriage encounter weekend seminar (MEWS) presenting priest, Fr. Ricardo “Bobby” Sta. Cruz of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, Aborlan, Palawan, told couples to “see the moment of crisis [in marriage] as a moment of grace.”

“When you and your spouse are facing a very tough situation, consider this ‘crisis’ as God’s way of making your relationship stronger,” added the priest. “Pray and discern as you get reconnected to each other and put God at the center of your lives.”

Love, a decision

In an interview, Sta. Cruz told CBCP News that problems in marriage are normal, but couples should understand that divorce is “never an answer.” He stressed, “Remember this: what’s important is not what’s lost but what’s left. Let the hands of God do the work for you.”

He also reiterated that what the world needs now are “God-centered marriages and prayerful couples”. “Always find time to pray together as a family and as a couple,” said Sta. Cruz.

The priest also shared insights about understanding oneself, one’s spouse, marriage and family, as well as the importance of putting God at the “center of their relationship.”

Every marriage is sacred

The event also emphasized the divine nature of marriage.

“Each union is blessed by God and every couple must value the sanctity of marriage,” said one of the presenting couples, Belar and Cynthia Cruz. “It entails huge responsibility, deepens genuine love, and requires absolute understanding.”

The said MEWS for Class 17, organized by the Marriage Encounter Prayer Community of the Parish of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan, was held at St. Joseph House of Serenity in Meycauayan, Bulacan, from April 13 to 15, 2018.

April 18, 2018

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 21:00
Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

Reading 1 ACTS 8:1B-8

There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem,
and all were scattered
throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria,
except the Apostles.
Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.
Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church;
entering house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment.

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Responsorial Psalm PS 66:1-3A, 4-5, 6-7A

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia SEE JN 6:40

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 6:35-40

Jesus said to the crowds,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
But I told you that although you have seen me,
you do not believe.
Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Australian nun freed after arrest for ‘political activity’

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 20:37

Sr. Patricia Anne Fox walks free from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) office in Manila where she was held for almost a day, April 17, 2018. CBCPNews

By Roy Lagarde

April 17, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A 71-year-old Australian nun has been released by the Philippine authorities on Tuesday after being held for 22 hours.

Sr. Patricia Anne Fox, a missionary of Our Lady of Sion, was released at around 3:30pm and was brought back to their convent in Quezon City.

She was arrested yesterday afternoon by operatives of the Bureau of Immigration because she was deemed an “undesirable alien” for joining “political activities and anti-government demonstrations”.

“Actually, I thought I was coming only to answer questions,” Fox told the media shortly after her release. “I have been here for 27 years and this happened only now.”

The nun was freed on Tuesday afternoon after it was established that she holds a valid missionary visa making her a “properly documented alien”.

The BI said that Fox is not covered by inquest proceedings as the latter will only apply to aliens arrested after being caught in flagrante violating immigration laws.

But the missionary will still be under investigation to determine if deportation charges should be filed against her.

Under the immigration law, foreigners are barred from joining mass actions or political activity as the act amounts to violating the conditions of their stay in the country.

Fox admitted joining demonstrations in solidarity with peasants groups but “not anti-government rallies”.

“I would call it religious because we are called to stand beside the poor,” she said. “I haven’t joined partisan political rallies but I have been active in human rights issues.”

The BI legal division recommended Fox’s release yesterday evening provided that she surrenders her passport, pending further probe.

At that time, however, her passport was with a travel agency arranging her trip back to Australia next month.

Atty. Jobert Pahilga, Fox’s counsel, said that the nun was released because there is no sufficient basis to hold her in continuous detention.

“The case is not yet dismissed. We are required to file our counter affidavit in 10 days from today to answer the allegations that she participated in anti-government rallies,” he said.

Retired pope celebrates 91st birthday

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 17:58

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015, file photo. Pope Benedict had a “peaceful and familial” 91st birthday April 16, celebrating with his 94-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who was visiting from Germany, the Vatican said. CNS/STEFANO SPAZIANI, POOL

By Catholic News Service

April 17, 2018

Vatican City

Retired Pope Benedict XVI had a “peaceful and familial” 91st birthday April 16, celebrating with his 94-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who was visiting from Germany, the Vatican said.

Pope Francis offered his early morning Mass for his predecessor and then sent his personal best wishes to the retired pope, who lives on the other side of St. Peter’s Basilica in a refurbished monastery.

The birthday evening plans, the Vatican press office said, included a visit and performance by the Swiss Guard band.

Pope Benedict was elected in April 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II. He stepped down Feb. 28, 2013.

St. Martin de Porres parish in Cebu granted special ‘Year of Grace’

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 12:45

The only Roman Catholic St. Martin de Porres Parish in the Archdiocese of Cebu will be celebrating its 50th founding anniversary on May 6, 2018.

By CBCPNews

April 17, 2018

TABOGON, CEBU

With the celebration of half a century of existence on May 6, the only Roman Catholic St. Martin de Porres Parish in the Archdiocese of Cebu has granted a special “Year of Grace” by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

In connection to this, the prelate has also declared the parish a “place of pilgrimage” by from May 6, 2018 to the same date in 2019.

Members of the faithful who attend the liturgical celebrations and other parish activities will receive a plenary indulgence, said Palma, if they pray for the intentions of Pope Francis and pray one Apostles’ Creed, Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be, under the usual conditions being: having a complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Established by the late Archbishop of Cebu Julio Cardinal Rosales y Ras on May 06, 1968, the church boasts the following priests and religious as “fruits [of] the 50-year of [its] existence as parish”:

  • Fr. Frederick Malinao;
  • Fr. Reymilo Talaugon;
  • Fr. Lyle Cono;
  • Fr. Adolfo Bonghanoy, Jr., MSP;
  • Fr. Bernard Monteron, MOLA;
  • Fr. Expedito “Junjun” Torrevillas of Brgy. Ilihan;
  • Msgr. Jemar Vera Cruz of Brgy. Sab-a;
  • Fr. Candido Saladaga, OSA of Brgy. Don G. Antigua;
  • Fr. Euselito Tulipas of Brgy Caduawan;
  • Sr. Cristine Aroa;
  • Sr. Rose Dahuya, and
  • Sr. Jenny Cortes

Fr. Aquino Padilla was its first parish priest. He was then followed by the following priests: Fr. Nicolas Batucan (1976), Fr. Jose Mamites (1984), Fr. Constantino Navales (1989), Fr. Manuel Tan (1994), Fr. Virgilio Paras (2001), Fr. Joseph Gabriente (administrator), Fr. Aeulos Villar (administrator), Fr. Nestor Soriano (2009), and Fr. Nestor Atillo (2013-present).

Located 80 kilometers from Cebu City in Barangay Ilihan, Tabogon, Cebu, the parish comprises 13 barangays such as Brgy. Ilihan, Managase, Caduawan, Libjo of Municipality of Tabogon, Cebu; Brgy. Don G. Antigua, and Brgy. San Jose of Municipality of Borbon, Cebu; Brgy. Calambua, San Miguel, Bagtik, Sab-a, Libaong, Kanagahan of Municipality of San Remegio,Cebu; and Brgy. Kanluhangon of Tabuelan, Cebu.

Immigration bureau detains 71-year-old nun

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 23:29

Sr. Patricia Fox (in checkered white blouse) is prayed over by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo at the Bureau of Immigration office in Intramuros, Manila where she is currently detained, April 16, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

April 16, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Authorities have arrested a 71-year-old Australian Catholic nun and known human rights advocate over allegations that she is an “undesirable alien”.

Sr. Patricia Fox, superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines, was nabbed by six personnel of the Bureau of Immigration at their mission house in Quezon City at around 2:15pm on Monday.

Wearing a checkered white blouse and a gray skirt, the nun was detained at the BI intelligence division in Intramuros, Manila.

Sr. Fox has been under medication for a spinal cord illness.

BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said that Fox was arrested in pursuant to a mission order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente.

“We await completion of the investigation before we issue our official statement. Thank you,” said Mangrobang.

Atty. Jobert Pahilga, counsel of Fox, said the nun faces deportation for her alleged participation in protest rallies.

But the lawyer said the fiscal in charge of the inquest recommended for Fox’s release once she’s able to produce her passport, which she gave to travel agency arranging her trip back to Australia next month.

This means that the nun will have to spend the night at the BI headquarters while waiting for her travel document.

Pahilga said the BI will hold Fox’s passport while an investigation is pending.

Sr. Fox has worked in the Philippines for 27 years helping farmers and indigenous peoples.

She recently joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission that investigated alleged rights abuses against farmers and lumad in Mindanao.

“I’ve been in and out of the country several times but I’ve never been questioned,” Fox said. “The immigration bureau has not said anything on what to do with my missionary visa.”

Human rights advocates and church people including Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo raised alarm over the arrest of Fox.

The prelate, who visited the nun at the BI on Monday evening, said the nun’s arrest may be part of a crackdown against government’s critics.

“There’s no martial law yet but they are already going after people who oppose them,” Pabillo said.

In December last year, a retired priest and known human rights advocate was killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija province.

Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was gunned down by still unidentified men after he facilitated the release of a political prisoner.

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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