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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 45 min 7 sec ago

March 26, 2017

17 hours 15 min ago

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 1 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A

The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2 EPH 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

Verse Before The Gospel JN 8:12

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel JN 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
Or JN 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

PPCRV says ‘legitimate’ reason needed to reset barangay polls

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 01:59

MANILA– The proposed postponement of the barangay elections this year would need a valid reason determined thru a proper process, a Church-backed poll watchdog said.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting did not make a categorical statement on the matter but said the proposal would need careful study.

PPCRV chair Rene Sarmiento said there is no substitute to periodic elections in a democracy to check the accountability of elected officials to get fresh mandate and that includes barangay polls.

“For reasons that are legitimate, I see no reason why barangay elections be not postponed, as was done a number of times in the past,” Sarmiento said.

“(But) Congress should hold hearings to determine the gravity and its impact on barangay elections,” he said.

The National Movement for Free Elections, on the other hand, disagreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to reset the elections because of alleged involvement of drug money during such exercise.

NAMFREL Secretary General Eric Alvia said elections should have “regularity” and should push through.

“Postponing elections undermine a democratic process instituted to ensure every individual citizen’s right to choose their leaders and make them accountable,” he said.

The election was supposed to be held last year but it was rescheduled for October this year.

Instead of holding elections, Duterte said he wants handpicked appointees to rid the country of drugs.

For Alvia, the Duterte administration should use the electoral exercise to advance its war against drugs and narco-politics.

“Conducting the elections this October 2017 will enhance their anti-drug campaign and aid in putting a stop to narco-politics by replacing those compromised and entrenched unfit local leaders using narco-money to perpetuate themselves in office,” he said. CBCPNews

March 25, 2017

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 00:01
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Reading 1 IS 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm PS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.

R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 HEB 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before The Gospel JN 1:14B

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

Gospel LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Vatican abuse prevention event ‘extremely important’ for Church

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 18:19

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. CBCPNews

 

VATICAN— On Thursday a Vatican event on the prevention of child abuse narrowed in on the importance of education in schools and parishes in the safeguarding of children – not only for teachers, but for parents and children – and on the Church’s role.

Led by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, he told CNA at the March 23 event that Catholic schools are, of course, a very important part of the Church’s and Commission’s ministry.

There are “60 million children in our care in Catholic schools and so this kind of a conference is extremely important for the ministry of the Church,” O’Malley said. “And we were very gratified that so many cardinals made time to be a part of this.”

The seminar was attended by five different cardinals in addition to O’Malley, including Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, were also in attendance.

Additionally, every Vatican department was represented in some way.

Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, who heads the Center for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is also a member of the commission, told CNA that it was a “very successful event, in drawing many high ranking members of the Curia, including a number of cardinals…all the dicasteries represented.”

“This is taking shape and the formation that we have offered to dicasteries has also been very fruitful.”

Sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection, the day-long educational seminar focused on what the local church and institutions are doing to combat abuse of minors specifically in schools and the home.

It included a presentation by Kathleen McCormack, Chair of the PCPM Working Group on Education of Families and Communities, and presentations by representatives from the South American countries of Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, as well as Australia and Italy.

One participant, Fr. Luigi Gritti, a graduate of a CCP course on child abuse, told CNA that it was important that South America was a focus of the seminar, since the Western world is usually the focus when discussing this issue.

“It tells you that the problem is present and acknowledged by the people, but also that something is being done to address the problem. So I think it’s a good development,” he said.

The presentations on South America all highlighted the importance of including children: speaking with and listening to them, teaching them about what is safe and appropriate behavior from adults, as well as becoming familiar with the visual and verbal signs that could indicate the occurrence of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual.

The presenters for each country explained the unique cultural challenges they face in preventing abuse and in handling allegations, as well as what policies are currently in place.

In the presentation on Australia, Francis Sullivan, CEO of Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said that in the end, the question of why the sex abuse crisis happened in our Church comes down to cultural problems and to corruption.

Australia’s sexual abuse crisis has been one of the most shocking and widely known in the Church. Feb. 6, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its final three-week review of how the Catholic Church in Australia has responded to sex abuse allegations.

Referencing a quote from Pope Francis where he said that we don’t only need to reform the Church, but also the heart, he said that “child sexual abuse has broken the heart of the Church.”

“We have never fully appreciated that the decisions that our leaders made in order to facilitate and cover up (abuse), actually broke the heart of what it means to be Catholic, and we need to go back and fully confront that,” he said.

“Let’s not distract Church leaders from recognizing that this is a Church problem. Sure, it might happen in other institutions, sure, it happens in families. But the fact that it happened within the Catholic Church says something about the corruption within our Church… That we are not true to what we are meant to be.”

Friday the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors begins their next Plenary Assembly, and one of the central topics will be how to ensure that survivors and victims are always the first priority, O’Malley said in his introductory remarks.

“The assembly begins tomorrow and of course that is one of the things we’ll be talking about,” he told CNA. A meeting of survivors is planned for June that the commission will also be involved in, he said.

Regarding the participation of survivors, Fr. Zollner told CNA that “we need to be informed by survivors and victims, we need to listen to them, and we need to take into account what has been and is their experience.”

Other topics at the Plenary Assembly will include how the commission will continue after the mandate concludes at the end of the calendar year, he said, and “we will see what are the structural steps, or the development, we will need so that our journey continues,” he said.

Pope clears way for canonization of Fatima visionaries

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 17:56

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto. PUBLIC DOMAIN

VATICAN- On Thursday Pope Francis approved the second and final miracle needed to canonize Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the shepherd children who witnessed the Fatima Marian apparitions.

The Pope approved the miracle in a March 23 audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he advanced six other causes, approving one other miracle, two causes for martyrdom and three of heroic virtue.

In addition, the Pope also approved a positive vote from members of the canonization causes for six martyrs who are already Blessed, but do not yet have a second miracle attributed to them.

However, the most significant of the causes approved is that of Francisco and Jacinta Marto. With the approval of the second miracle, the two may now be canonized Saints. It is likely Pope Francis will preside over their canonization himself while in Fatima May 12-13 for the centenary of the apparitions.

Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, were the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church.

The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.

During the first apparition, which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. The children did, praying often, giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their daily crosses and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.

In October 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu. Our Lady appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon.

Bed-ridden, Francisco requested his first Communion. The following day, Francisco died, April 14, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness as well. She was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital and operated for an abscess in her chest, but her health did not improve. She died Feb. 20, 1920.

Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, teaching us that even young children can become saints.

In addition to Francisco and Jacinta, the Pope also approved a miracle for Bl. Angelo da Acri, a Capuchin priest who died in October 1739, allowing for his canonization.

Causes for martyrdom approved by the Pope – meaning they can be beatified – include Fr. Giuseppe Maria Fernández Sánchez and his 32 companions, who were priests and coadjutor brothers of Congregation of the Mission, as well as six laypersons from the Association of the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who were killed in hatred of the faith in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

Another martyrdom cause approved by the Pope was that of Servant of God Regina Maria Vattalil, a Poor Clare nun killed in hatred of the faith in 1995.

The martyrs who were already Blessed but may now be canonized based on the Congregation’s vote are: Andrea de Soveral and Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, diocesan priests, and Matteo Moreira, layman, killed in hatred of the Faith in Brazil in 1645, and Cristoforo, Antonio and Giovanni, teenagers, killed in hatred of the Faith in Mexico in 1529.

He also declared the heroic virtue of the following people: Daniele da Samarate, a Capuchin priest; Macrina Raparelli, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Basiliane Daughters of St. Macrina; and Daniela Zanetta, a laywoman.

Watch this little girl steal Pope Francis’ hat

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 17:51

A little girl at the general audience greets Pope Francis and tries to take his zuchetto in St. Peter’s Square on March 22, 2017. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

VATICAN— A cute moment was captured on camera Wednesday, as a 3-year-old girl “stole” Pope Francis’ zucchetto – or skull cap – at the papal general audience.

Little Estella lives in Georgia. She was in Rome with her godfather, Mountain Butorac. Waiting in St. Peter’s Square at the general audience, she was invited by a member of the papal security team to go greet the Pope as he came by.

Took my Goddaughter to meet the pope. She stole his hat! pic.twitter.com/SdSorop3uN

— Mountain Butorac (@MountainButorac) March 22, 2017

Pope Francis offered the young girl a kiss on the cheek, and she reached up and grabbed his zucchetto. A moment later, she returned the hat to a laughing pontiff.

Meanwhile, Butorac captured the incident on his phone camera, and posted it to Twitter, where it quickly received more than 8,000 likes.

“It’s exciting!” Butorac told BuzzFeed News. “I’m sure every godparent would love for their godchild to meet the Holy Father. Mine just did and it was not only a special holy moment, but hilarious too!”

Church voices solidarity with Britain after attack

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 17:20

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People. ANALYN PERUCHO

MANILA— The Philippine Catholic Church joined world leaders in condemning the terrorist attack at the heart of London and have expressed solidarity with all those affected by the tragedy.

Caritas Philippines, the Church’s development, advocacy and humanitarian arm, deplored the attack at Westminster on March 22 in which four people, including the assailant, were killed.

“While we hope that justice be served, we also pray that peace reign in our hearts and in the world,” it said.

The attack outside the Parliament building also left 30 others injured.

No Filipino was injured or killed in the attack, according to the Philippines’ foreign affairs department.

“We pray for peace, grateful to God no Filipino casualty, and eternal rest to the victims,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Church’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.

The prelate also reminded Filipinos there to be vigilant and closely monitor the situation “and reject anything and anyone harboring false and violent ideologies”.

“We beg our God for change of hearts, contrition and conversion for those nursing hatred and destruction,” Santos said.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis also voiced his grief and offered his prayers for the victims and their families.

The Pope “was deeply saddened” to learn of the loss of life and the injuries caused by the attack.

March 24, 2017

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 00:01

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Reading 1 HOS 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”–
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

Responsorial Psalm PS 81:6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 AND 17

R. (see 11 and 9a) I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

An unfamiliar speech I hear:
“I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you.”

R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

“Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?”

R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”

R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”

R. I am the Lord your God: hear my voice.

Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gospel MK 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Paulines Tacloban marks TV programs anniv

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:24

TACLOBAN CITY– THE Daughters of Saint Paul (FSP) and the Association of Pauline Cooperators (APC) celebrated the 11th anniversary of TV program “An Pamilya Nga May K, Ok,” and the 10th anniversary of another program, “An Binhi” last March 12 at the Robinsons Place in Tacloban City.

The celebration began with a motorcade from the Daughters of Saint Paul convent towards the Robinsons Place where a thanksgiving Mass was officiated by Fr. Ivo Velasquez, one of the regular homilists in the program “An Binhi”.

A thanksgiving program was held following the Holy Mass. Sr. Gemmaria, FSP, who is also the Coordinator and formator of the Association of Pauline Cooperators served as Master of Ceremony.

Leonila Sedanza, a member of the Pauline Cooperators and the pioneering host of the talk show “An Pamilya…” praised God for his continuing guidance and the graces that have kept the show running since it began 10 years ago.

“God is great that even if we started poor, we are now garnering audience, as the quality of the program has developed,” she said.

The program “An Pamilya Nga May K, Ok” is a weekly talk show that features families who strive to live like Christ in their own little way. The show drums up local and national church programs by inviting bishops, priest, religious, and laity to expound on these initiatives.

“An Binhi” on the other hand, is another weekly program that caters to everybody in search of enlightenment through the Word of God.

These two locally produced shows are aired over PRTV12, TV Maria, and CTV13 Borongan City.

“An Binhi” can also be viewed on youtube and facebook. (Sr. Gemmaria Dela Cruz, FSP)

Gov’t told: ‘Filipinos aren’t a lost cause’

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:15

Some 4,700 young people attend the CFC – YFC International Conference 2015 in Surigao. CFC-YFC

MANILA – With the death penalty bill still at the Senate committee level, a youth group has objected to what many perceive as the Duterte administration’s seemingly unstoppable push for the reimposition of the death penalty, saying it can mean only one thing: Filipinos are hopeless cases.

“Passing the death penalty is as good as saying that the Filipino people is a hopeless case—that we are not capable of conversion,” said the international youth group CFC – Youth for Christ in a statement released March 22.
In statement entitled “Life-giving justice not deadly revenge”, the youth ministry arm of Couples for Christ (CFC) challenged the Duterte administration to bring about “positive and influential change in the country.”

‘Sworn mandate’

CFC-YFC, which boasts thousands of members in 110 countries all over the world, wishes to direct the government’s focus away from pushing what many believe to be the Duterte administration’s pet bill and towards rehabilitation of erring members of society.

According to the international youth group, it is should be the government’s “sworn mandate to improve the quality of life rendering death penalty unnecessary.”

“It is … more becoming of a government to help their citizens in their moral transformation rather than putting an end to their life,” added the group. “Killing a person through capital punishment will take away the opportunity of the person to repent and change.”

Justice not revenge

Not overlooking the need for justice, CFC-YFC noted, however, that capital punishment is a “call to revenge” and not justice.
“We want the young people to continue in valuing life no matter how deformed and depraved it may be. We want to teach the young people not to [seek] revenge but to promote transformative justice for everyone,” said the group.

The “culture of life-giving justice,” said CFC-YFC, and not of deadly revenge, is the culture young people should learn and live by. “If we focus on revenge, we can never find peace.”

CFC-YFC is one of the Family Ministries of CFC, along with CFC-Kids for Christ, CFC-Singles for Christ, Handmaids of the Lord, and Servants of the Lord. CBCPNews

CDO archbishop opposes new casino

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:07

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan De Oro. CBCPNews

MANILA— Concerned over its potential negative effects, a Catholic archbishop is speaking out against the possibility of a new casino in his community.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the negative effects that gambling institutions will create in our society,” saidArchbishop Antonio Ledesma.

The prelate’s objection to the move comes on the heels of Limketkai Sons Inc.’s reported plans to build a new gaming site within its commercial complex in the heart of the Cagayan de Oro City.

And because it is in front of an educational institution and near places of worship, he warned “it could result in the erosion of the value system of our young people”.

Claiming that it could have “negative effects” on the community, he said he would also oppose any gaming site set up anywhere in the province.

The Catechism of the Church, he said cautions the faithful against the “gambling culture” which leads to various problems and “immoralities”, from which many people and families suffer.

Emphasizing that gambling is a moral issue, the local Church opposes all forms of gambling, legal or otherwise.

Echoing the statement issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in 2015, Ledesma said the archdiocese is also against the expansion of casinos in the country.

Ledesma also enjoined the faithful and local officials to help create a “just and humane society”, where recreation is for the “integral growth of the person”.

“…And tourism will showcase the innate beauty of the city without resorting to any means that would degenerate the values and dignity of our people,” he said. CBCPNews

Catholics urged to join Earth Hour

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:43

MANILA– The Catholic bishops encouraged the faithful to switch their lights out for this year’s Earth Hour, reminding them to help protect the planet.

The bishops urged Catholics to join millions of people across the world who will show they care about the future with global lights out on Saturday, March 25, for an at least an hour starting at 8:30pm.

“We your bishops ask all Catholics in the Philippines — and wherever they may be — to join in observance of earth hour,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“This way, we will also be reminding ourselves of how needlessly wasteful we can be — of electric energy, water, and other resources that we thoughtlessly believe we have in abundance but of which we are, increasingly, in short supply,” he said.

Villegas said the people need to act together to protect the planet from the impacts of climate change.

“For too long now, we have dealt with earth as a treasure-trove to be plundered at will, exploited to the hilt. We have been sufficiently warned: There is only so much abuse the environment can take before it pays us back in full,” he said.

Organized by the World Wildlife Fund, the yearly event is marked by governments, citizens, and environment activists who turn off the electricity for an hour.

Now on it’s 10th year, the campaign seeks to remind people of the need to cut the use of fossil fuels and protect the earth.

The archbishop also said joining the Earth Hour is a way for the people to supplement the efforts of the government to combat climate change.

“Government’s commitment is not enough. It takes a renewal not only of our commitment to care for the earth, but of our faith, to be able to recognize the world we live in as God’s gift, our common heritage as his sons and daughters,” he added.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, for his part, called on his flock to take the opportunity when they turn off non-essential light to offer prayers.

“We are being called to bring the rosary and pray in that one hour, where we allow Mother Earth to conserve energy and get some rest,” Tagle said.  CBCPNews

Repentance essential to conversion – Archbishop Soc

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:40
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan. CBCPNews

MANILA– A Catholic archbishop reminded the faithful that genuine repentance is a necessary step to conversion.

In his Lenten message, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said that repentance and conversion go together, both need for forgiveness and a desire for a new life.

“Everybody touched by God is changed. The start of change is repentance. When repentance is sustained, it leads to new life,” Villegas said.

The archbishop went further by citing the stories of supposed self-confessed killers “Edgar” and “Art” who confessed their sins and beg for mercy.

“Edgar and Art are true stories of conversion. They want to pay for the murders they got paid for,” he said.

He said that Edgar was an illiterate “who did not know God too” and had no guilt at his first murder and was only afraid to be caught.

“His fear of getting caught became less and less because a voice was always there to assure him ‘You will not be caught,’” said Villegas said.

“Killing was not a sin. It was not a crime. It was livelihood. He fed his family from killing people. He killed to earn a living,” he said.

But Edgar’s slow path to conversion began when he felt his former bosses wanted to get rid of him and make him a scapegoat.

“He escaped and fled for his life. At that moment, the God of mercies rescued him,” said Villegas.

On the other hand, the prelate said that Art was a policeman, who who had killed criminals in the hundreds believing that he was serving humanity by “removing” bad people from society.

“He was a fanatic follower of the vision of a peaceful and orderly society no matter what the price,” he said.

But the policeman was “disturbed” when he was already being used to kill even innocent people.

“Like a good Catholic in his childhood years, he asked for mercy confessing his sins. He knew his soul was clean and he was ready to die or get killed. He didn’t care. He was touched by mercy,” Villegas added.

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance,” he also said. CBCPNews

CASINOS FOR WHOM?

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 18:33

For the Clergy, Religious, and Lay Faithful of Cagayan de Oro

In the past weeks, we heard the news about the putting up of a Casino within the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, which disturbed our lay faithful. Supported by objective data and in the light of the Christian faith, they have expressed themselves in a statement against it.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that “Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement.” (CCC, 2413) The Church therefore warns us of the “gambling culture” which leads to various problems and immoralities; to a culture of enslavement of money and pleasure as a form of addiction, from which many of our people are suffering today and families are victimized.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the negative effects that gambling institutions will create in our society: to our people, to the young, to families, especially those who are poor, or those who have just enough for their survival.  As the planned location for the Casino is at the heart of the City it will be highly inviting for Cagayanons to enter it. And because it is in front of an educational institution and near places of worship, it could result in the erosion of the value system of our young people.

Pope Francis in his Lenten Message of 2015 reminded us all, “How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person – is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope!” Our lay faithful have seen and recognize this problem creeping in our society and destroying lives of persons and families. During the World Youth Day 2016, Pope Francis urged us to recognize that gambling is a form of pessimism succumbing to luck and chances, with the mask of recreation, “depriving people of the ability to determine their own fates.”

When he visited the Philippines last January 2015, in His homily at Luneta he said, “The devil is the father of lies.  Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern’, ‘like everyone else’.  He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.  And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves.  We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.  We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.”

Therefore, may I bring us back to the 2005 statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on gambling. It warns us that, “applying the general moral principle to the specific Philippine situation… gambling that is organized, widespread, and systemic, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable. It is creating a culture of gambling that is seriously eroding the moral values of our people. In its illegal form, especially jueteng, gambling has bred a clandestine network of corruption that feeds itself on the hundreds of millions of pesos lost to gambling especially by the poor.”

Together with the CBCP and other religious leaders, the local Church of Cagayan de Oro stands:
To denounce illegal gambling in all its forms and prevent its legalization;
To combat the expansion of organized and systemic legal gambling such as the putting up of casinos; and
To refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling.

May the Lord of life renew in us the trust and hope in Love, and the capacity to go against any form of a Culture of Death as seen in the pessimism of the Culture of Gambling. May He rekindle in us the passion to create a just and humane society, where recreations are for the integral growth of the person, and tourism will showcase the innate beauty of the city without resorting to any means that would degenerate the values and dignity of our people.

+ Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D.
Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro

February 2017

Edgar and Art and God’s Mercy

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 14:41
Meditation of Archbishop Socrates B Villegas for the Season of Lent 2017

 

I believe in conversion. Touched by grace, we cannot remain the same. Everything King Midas touched became gold. Everybody touched by God is changed. The start of change is repentance. When repentance is sustained, it leads to new life.

Edgar was almost illiterate. He only knew how to scribble his name kahig ng manok at its best. He could not read English. He could not write a straight sentence. Sadly, he did not know God too. He had heard of God and the Ten Commandments but nothing more. He had no guilt at his first murder. He was just afraid to be caught. He was so sure he would not get killed because somebody had assured him repeatedly “Sagot kita!” His fear of getting caught became less and less because a voice was always there to assure him “You will not be caught.” Killing was not a sin. It was not a crime. It was livelihood. He fed his family from killing people. He killed to earn a living.

Art was educated. He could speak English. He could write. He was policeman. He was alagad ng batas. He was paid to enforce the law. People feared him. He intimidated his neighbors. He had a gun. He had killed criminals. He believed he was serving humanity by “removing” bad people from society. He was a fanatic follower of the vision of a peaceful and orderly society no matter what the price. He had a vision not his own. Superman gave him his life mission—it was to rid society of the drug menace. He allowed the murder of his two brothers. He had killed in the hundreds. The mission is clear—a peaceful community without criminals. But why was he killing innocent people too? His numbed soul was disturbed.

Edgar’s slow path to conversion began when he sensed he was no longer safe. His life was at risk. He was now dispensable. He felt his former bosses wanted to get rid of him. He was to become a scapegoat. He was beaten up. He escaped and fled for his life. At that moment, the God of mercies rescued him and Edgar believed. Edgar held on to God for love of his life. He asked God for security. He asked God for safety. Did God confront him or rebuke him for the murders he was paid for? Not at all! God just embraced him like the returning younger son in the parable of the prodigal son. Edgar did not even say “Lord have mercy.” He just said “Lord save me they will kill me.”

Art had a visit from the devil. He saw his life in a flash. He saw the whole mural of his life painted with the innocent blood of his victims. He could have died from the kidney ailment. God saved him from death although he had brought hundreds to their brutal death. Like a good Catholic in his childhood years, he asked for mercy confessing his sins. He knew his soul was clean and he was ready to die or get killed. He didn’t care. He was touched by mercy. He was not Superman but he received Super Love. He sobbed. He rose up ready to soar the skies.

Edgar asked for a safe house. In the safe house, he did not only get safety. He met the Divine Mercy. He knew he was loved but he was not sure if his sins could still be forgiven. He was assured by the priest of God “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Edgar had found himself, his real self. Edgar rose to repair his harm. He could not bring the dead back to life but he wanted to stop more murders. He told the truth. The educated sneered at him. He admitted his crime. The authorities mocked him.

But the accused was quiet and dumbfounded; speechless for days.

Art was struggling to change his life but he was taken over by fear. Like Peter, he denied. He lied. And he wept quietly in the dark. He was back to darkness again. The man who was brave enough to kill hundreds did not have the courage to tell the truth. How ironic! He did not give up. He returned to his knees and sobbed tears of shame and guilt. He heard a voice again “Do you love me? Feed my people. Feed them the food of truth. Set my people free. I will wait”, the Lord assured Art.

Art was back to admit his sins of murder and lying. He was now ready to die for the truth. He was now ready to pay his life for the murders he had done. But his kind did not believe him. They dismissed him. They turned him upside down. He was firm and clear and consistent.

Edgar and Art are true stories of conversion. They want to pay for the murders they got paid for.

It is not necessary. Jesus had paid the price on Good Friday. On the charge sheet for the sins of Edgar and Art, Jesus had stamped in clear words “PAID”.

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

 

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, March 23, 2017

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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