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CBCP-ECBA in the Diocese of Sorsogon

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (1)

Upon the invitation of Fr. Rondel John Sioson, the Bible Apostolate Director of the Diocese of Sorsogon, Dr. Natividad Pagadut, Ms. Remy Alberto and Ms. Ning Llarenas went to Sorsogon for the Bible Orientation Seminar Workshop. It was attended by 146 Bible Animators from the different parishes and ministries of the diocese. The CBCP-ECBA team gave the participants the necessary tools and developed their skills in using the Bible personally in their reflection and prayer and in conducting Bible sharing in the BEC sessions with families and communities. They introduced different approaches in Bible Sharing and variations on the Lectio Divina.

The following day, the ECBA team together with some members of the Diocesan Mission Team went to St. Vincent Ferrer Chapel in Monbon, Irosin, Sorsogon to observe the monthly Bible sharing of the BEC clusters in that Barangay. Both young and old were there for the Bible enthronement and sharing. It was interesting to note that even the children were able to share spontaneously their faith-life experiences during the BEC Bible sharing session. It ended with a simple merienda shared among all those who attended.

The ECBA Team is very grateful to Bishop Bastes, the former Chairperson of ECBA who warmly accommodated them at the Clergy House and who shared with them stories during mealtime. We congratulate Fr. Rondel Sioson for organizing the Bible Seminar Workshop and also thank the Diocesan Commission Mission Team members for their hospitality. Dios Mabalos!

 

CBCP ECBA Joins Walk for Life

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Walk for Life, organized by Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas was joined by different religious groups, students and different parish organizations. The staff of CBCP-ECBA participated in the said event. The activities started at 4 a.m. with sharing of people about their experiences in promoting human life and ecology. At around 4:30 a.m., the Walk for Life started with Bishop Broderick Pabillo and the Laiko Board leading the group around Quirino Grandstand while praying the rosary. It culminated with the Holy Mass officiated by Cardinal Tagle concelebrated by Bishops David and Pabillo and some priests. In his homily, Cardinal Tagle stressed that life is a precious gift from God and must be treated with utmost respect and safeguarded by all of us.

CBCP-ECBA joins the Diocese of Pampanga in their Celebration of the National Bible Month

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

In celebration of the Bible Month, Fr. Jess Layug, the Regional Bible Apostolate Director of Central Luzon, invited CBCP-ECBA to share a Basic Orientation on the Bible and about ECBA to the Bible animators and Catechists of the Diocese of Pampanga. Ms. Ning Llarenas gave the orientation about the Comiision on Biblical Apostolate while Ms. Remy Alberto gave a basic orientation on the Bible and shared about some tools for Bible Animation like BFAST, Biblialangin, Biblianilay and Sayawlangin which the bible animators can use in their Bible activities.

The seminar was capped with an open forum where the participants asked questions relevant to their ministry.

 

BEC Meets ECBA for Collaboration in the Apostolate

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Pope Francis calls all Church workers to collaborate each other in the different apostolates. In response to this call, Msgr. Gabriel of BEC and his staff together with Dr. Nati Pagadut and the EBCA staff had their meeting last January 18, 2018.

During the meeting, Dr. Nati Pagadut mentioned how ECBA can collaborate with the other commissions and ministries like BEC. Msgr. Manny Gabriel said that BEC is in the heart of the Word of God. The effectiveness depends on the community building, that is sustaining the life of the community. The centrality of the Word of God and the Eucharist shapes BEC. He also said that he met with some priests and is trying to organize units for basic formation based on the Word of God. On-going formation is biblically based but he would like to have programs that would really answer the needs of the people based on research: to see their economic needs, services, education, etc. This can be done through a parish mapping by some volunteers.

In BEC there are different methods/approaches used but mentioned that he would like to have a data base to be able to make an assessment and evaluation and make logistical units to answer the programs, each unit answering the different needs. Research and development are always important. He further mentioned his desire to re-organize the set-up of the BEC, have an updating and deepen the spiritual life of BEC.

Dr. Nati shared that she observed different religious groups collaborating in their apostolates and are very effective and expressed that ECBA can help and collaborate with BEC in their formation by sharing their bible formation modules which can be adapted to the needs and different levels in the parishes and also help in the training of formators.

 

Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur Celebrates Bible Month

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (0)

In January 12, 2018 Ms. Remy Alberto was sent to the Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur by Dr. Natividad Pagadut in lieu of her who can’t make it due to health reasons for a series of talks in celebration of the Bible Month. Rev. Fr. Roniel Dueñas, the Diocesan Bible Apostolate Director, spearheaded the kick off of the Diocesan Bible Month Celebration with three major events: Bible Crusade, Bible Caravan and Bible Seminars. The first venue was in St. Theresa College, Tandag City where students and teachers from different schools attended the Bible Symposium in the morning.

After lunch delegates from different parishes arrived to attend the Bible Caravan that started to move at 1:00 p.m. from Tandag City to Carrascal, Surigao del Sur. The said activity awakened the consciousness of the people of the importance of the Bible in their life. In every municipality a Police escort leads the caravan up to the last barangay of the town where the caravan passed and the next police escort of the town takes over until the caravan reached Carrascal where the caravan was met with students, teachers and parishioners waving their flag lets and a school band and some schools drum and lyre were performing in the street in front of their school while the caravan was passing by.

Upon arrival at the Carrascal Sports Center, Most Rev. Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Tandag, officiated the Opening Mass with some priests of the diocese concelebrating.

After the Mass, there was a welcome dinner and short program where the Mayor of the town welcomed the delegates. Afterwards, there was a talk by a Benedictine sister on the theme, “The Word made Flesh in the Life and Ministry of Priests and Consecrated Persons” in line with this Year’s theme on the Year of Priests and Consecrated Persons.

The next day, there was the Seminar facilitated by Ms. Remy Alberto of ECBA-CBCP. She gave an orientation about ECBA, shared about the importance of the Bible and the celebration of Bible Month. In the afternoon, she introduced some modules that Bible Animators can use in their different Bible seminars and activities like Bible Enthronement, Lectio Divina, B-FAST, Biblianilay, Biblialangin and Sayawlangin.

The celebration was a success because it was well-organized by Fr. Roniel and his Team. Congratulations to the Team and the whole Diocese of Tandag for such an impressive Bible Month Celebration! May the Word of God continue to be alive in your Diocese.

 

Reports from the Assistant to the Executive Secretary Ms. Remedios Alma Alberto

Posted on November 10, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (2)

Formation and Spirituality Course Attended by Some ECBA Formation Team Members


The ECBA executive secretary, Dr. Natividad Pagaduttagged along Ms. Remedios Alma Alberto to attend a 5- Session Course on Formation and Spirituality at the Don Bosco Center for Studies in Parañaque from Sept. 5 – Oct 3, 2017. She emphasized the importance of updating ourselves as members of the ECBA Formation team. It was actually another member of the team, Pat Herras who alerted us on the existence of such course. Ms. Alberto was instructed to make a report on the course for the consumption of others especially in the ECBA family.

Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB was the one who handled the course. He made reference to the fact that formation is a life-long process. It is not something that is given and received only once as some people are wont to believe. It is a journey with God that has to be discerned and reviewed periodically. The initial formation is supposed to happen in the home where one is formed to love and be loved. It is there where basic values are learned. In baptism one is called to be a loving person like Christ. Therefore his/her character is honed to be like that of Christ, obedient to the Father. The formandee is made aware of who she/he is and be convinced that he/she is God’s beloved and as such, he/she responds to this love of God and is willing to follow Christ. The person’s experience of the love of God impels him to respond in a spirit of self-giving to work in His vineyard.

Fr. Francis also pointed out that all baptized Christians are called to be part of Jesus Christ’ mission by virtue of their baptism but each one must discern what lifestyle he/she will choose to best serve the Lord. This is why he cautioned us not to use the phrase “ex- seminarian” or “ex-sister” for those who discerned and chose to live as lay people rather than pursuing priestly or consecrated lives. Formation is affected by the kind of environment a person is exposed to which is why it is important for formandees to have good role models for their human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation.

These basic concepts and reflections from this five-session course is a great help for us in ECBA as we move on with our formation program especially because we came in contact with classmates from different congregations who shared with us their concrete courses of action in their respective congregations. Of course our basic source and inspiration for formation is the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

 

ECBA Attends ICCAG Meeting for the Finalization of Plans for the National Bible Month 2018


Last Sept. 22, 2017 1-5 pm Dr. NatiPagadut and Remedios Alma B. Alberto attended the Inter-Church Consultative Advisory Group(ICCAG) Meeting at PBS UN Ave., Manila. Present in the meeting were representatives from other religious groups and some of our Biblical Apostolate leaders. The meeting started at around 2 pm with an opening prayer led by Pastor Raymond Francisco of PBS after which he presided the meeting. The meeting was basically about the coming National Bible Month in 2018 with the theme: “AngBibliyaangSandigan ng MatuwidnaPamumuno at Pamumuhay”. This will be a month-long celebration by virtue of Presidential Proclamation # 124. January therefore is the Bible Month. The past activities for both Catholics and other Christian Churches were reviewed and other activities were proposed. Just to name a few: Bible Run, Bible Parade, Bible Quiz, Bible Reading, Bible Enthronement, Poster Making Contest etc. It was also presented during the meeting that PBS plans to organize a National Bible Quiz. Some groups are already doing this like St. Pauls in Makati. There was brainstorming on how to go about it. A separate bible quiz for the Catholics and Evangelical Churches will be done. Volunteers from both Catholics and Evangelicals were tasked to formulate easy and difficult questions focusing on the gospels. Jun Buena, one of our BA leaders from the Diocese of Cubao was chosen to be one among those who will prepare the bible quiz questions due to his experiences of hosting quiz bees in his diocese. His team also won in the recent Archdiocesan Bible Quiz sponsored by St. Pauls.It was agreed that bible quizzes will be first held in the different parishes and dioceses in the country. A meeting will be set again to finalize the said PBS Bible Quiz. Each representative will also present their planned activities in celebration for the 2018 National Bible Month.


Different Church Leaders Come Together for the FCBH PBS BLG Project Seminar- Workshop


Philippine Bible Society sponsored a seminar on Faith Comes By Hearing(FCBH), a Project Seminar- Workshop last October 16-18, 2017 at the PBS Bldg in UN Ave., Manila. Ms. Remedios Alma Alberto was sent by Dr. NatividadPagadut to represent her. This was attended by 20 delegates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao from both the Catholicand Evangelical groups particularly from the places where the 8 major language translations of the Bible are used namely: Tagalog, Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapangpangan, Bicolano, Samaremyo, Cebuano and Hiligaynon. Dr. Nora Lucero, PBS Gen. Secretary welcomed the participants and thanked each one for being their partners in their mission of making the Word of God alive in the lives of people. According to her, through print and audio production many people were transformed. Different translations of the Bible have been made available and have reached many Filipinos especially in the peripheries. She also introduced Ms. Tara Sigor, the Translation and Recording supervisor of Faith Comesby Hearing (FCBH-USA) their partner and producer/sponsor of the Proclaimer. Ms. Sigor mentioned that they are happy to hear from the reports/testimonies coming from the Philippines that through the Proclaimer, the audio Bible, many lives were transformed. It is their mission that the Word of God may reach all people in the world through the audio Bible. She assured the participants that they will continue to serve by sending the audio bibles in order that the Word of God may reach as many people as possible for the transformation of lives.

Dr. Annie delCorro also enlightened the participants through her morning meditation on Pain and Faith from the Book of Lamentations (3:19-26). She said that it is at the point of pain that a person is led to faith. It is during our experiences of pain and suffering that God’s grace abounds. God takes over our lives and strengthens us. He gives us hope and makes our faith strong.

After Pastor Raymond presented the FCBH Program of PBS, he gave a demonstration to the participants on how to present the FCBH material to prospective users. The participants were divided into different groups to discuss and prepare a presentation on the PBS vision-mission and the FCBH Program. They presented their finished work the next day. Their hard work paid off because the participants learned a lot and received a certificate of completion from PBS. They became confident to become committed Proclaimers of the Word by sharing the FCBH Program to help in the proclamation of the Word of God.


Ecumenical Initiatives for the 500th Year Celebration of the Church Reformation

 

Leaders of both Catholic and Christian Churches gathered for an ecumenical meeting at the Institute of Spirituality in Asia in New Manila, Quezon City last Sept. 11, 2017. Ms. Remedios Alma B. Alberto attended the Ecumenical Meeting in lieu of Dr. NatividadPagadutas per invitation of Fr. Rico Ponce, ISA Director for the Ecumenical initiative to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation of the Church on October 31, 2017. The meeting was presided by His Excellency Archbishop Antonio Ledesma. Heads of different Christian Churches were present and exchanged their ideas/views and experiences in the spirit of promoting ecumenism. Together the church leaders tried to look back to their commonalities, to see what is being done now and what can be done in the future.

How they can come together in the spirit of Christian unity and bring down the ecumenical spirit in their churches was their basic question. It was noted that interreligious dialogue helps a lot because despite the differences in some doctrines, there is common understanding of the pastoral action among the Christian Churches. It is a venue where they can listen carefully and respect each other’s practices. It was also mentioned during the meeting that the Trinitarian Baptism formula is acceptable to all ecumenical churches and therefore mixed marriages is allowed and the baptism of the person is accepted and therefore is no longer necessary to administer baptism if he/she is not a member of that church who will solemnize their marriage. It was also suggested that a joint forum among seminarians of different churches be held to promote ecumenical unity, cooperation and where they can teach and learn together.


It was agreed that Nov. 7, 2017 will be an Ecumenical Gathering to celebrate the 500th year of the Church Reformation through a forum/seminar. A technical working group was formed to prepare for the said activity and shall meet together to finalize the plans for the ecumenical celebration.


PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE, IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON (cf. 2 Tim4:2)

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (1)

PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE, IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON (cf. 2 Tim4:2)

(A Pastoral Statement of the CBCP on Certain Social Issues ofToday)

 

Beloved Brothers and Sisters:

Our country continues to suffer grave crises, disasters andchallenges. We are reminded of the experience of the tempest at sea by theApostles when they feared for their lives. Jesus chided them for their lack offaith. (cf. Mk 4:35-41)

 

Our Problems as aNation

We have had our share of violent storms. Typhoons Sendong andPablo inflicted horrific damage – the loss of lives, the destruction ofproperties, the dislocation of thousands of families, the radical disruption ofhuman life and livelihood, and the severe trauma of survivors. We must listento expert environmentalists who declare that much of these natural disastersare due to the destruction of our natural resources, our forests and rivers, asa result of unabated logging and mining. These must lead us to examine andquestion the sincerity, quality and effectiveness of the governance of ourleaders.


But this is only one in a long litany of storms, not necessarilynatural. We can include:

·        the promotion ofa culture of death and promiscuity. This is due to the slavishness of our political and businessleaders to follow practices in Western countries that promote, in spite ofexamples that we clearly see in the West,

o       divorce, resulting in more break-upof families and the dysfunctional growth of children,

o       contraceptives, leading to moreabortions,

o       the use of condom, aggravatingHIV-AIDS infection, and

o       school sex education, bringing morepromiscuity and teenage pregnancy.

·        the continuingcorruption and abuse of power by public officials due tolack of information, or still worse, the possible hiding of information fromthe public. It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the daang matuwid fears the Right of Information (FOI)bill because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials. Why arethey afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?

·        the wideningpractice of political dynasties. As monopoliesin business, monopolies in politics limit the entry that can bring in new ideasand offer better services. Political dynasties breed corruption and ineptitude.We are aggrieved that lawmakers themselves defy the supreme law of the land bynot following the mandate of our Philippine Constitution given 26 years ago tomake an enabling law to ban political dynasties.

·         the issuesraised to the COMELEC on automated election concerns. Election is not a matter of speed but of trustworthiness andhonesty. If not properly addressed the present automated election system canlead to wholesale cheating. The integrity ofa pillar of our democracy – the election – is at stake.

·        the inability andunwillingness of those in power to take the road of social justice. This has resulted in failure to share the resources in thecountry to meet basic rights of the poor, such as secure jobs, decent housing,adequate medicine, ownership of lands that they till, and quality education.New “rights” are being pushed while the most basic rights are being ignored!

·        the deepening ofthe culture of impunity. Extrajudicial killings,unsolved crimes and kidnappings continue and the government is not able orlacks the political will to prosecute the perpetrators and touch powerfulpeople.

·        the unabatedsuffering of the poor in spite ofbright economic ratings. Growth itself, that is, more products and more money,should not be the sole aim of development but also equity. The huge gap betweenthe rich and the poor remains. There is little inclusive growth!

We note the above social and political storms that buffet ourFilipino life because they deeply touch the experiences of our people. We speakfor those who suffer. We bring these concerns to those who have responsibilityand hence accountability. These stormy situations need not be so!

 

The Position ofthe Church

Our position onthe above issues is based on our faith, afaith that is integral, a faith that surrenders to God in the intimacy ofobedience and love. Faith is not only concerned with doctrine but applies thatbelief in all dimensions of life – social, political, economic, cultural, andreligious. Such belief is synthesized in thesocial doctrine of the Church

Catholic moral and social teachings declare:

1.  “Humanlife must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.From the first moment of his existence a human being must be recognized ashaving the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of everyinnocent being to life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church or CCC, no. 2270). The use of artificialmeans to prevent human life from being conceived is evil (CCC, no.2370). Sexual acts are forbidden outside of marriage (CCC, nos.2390-91).

o       Therefore, we denounce the passage ofthe Reproductive Health Law, the political and financial pressures imposed onlawmakers, and the imperialism exercised by secularistic internationalorganizations in the legislative process.

o       We admire and commend the valiantefforts of lay people and lawgivers to prevent the passage of the law.

o       We support the efforts of our laypeople in challenging the RH Law in the Supreme Court and in other venueswithin the bounds of our democratic system.

o       We support and encourage the participationof the laity in electing competent and morally upright candidates who arefaithful to their correct and informed conscience.

o       Weshall be vigilant and act against moves that will be destructive of family andlife.

 

2.  Political corruption is oneof the most serious deformities of the democratic system because it rejectsmoral norms and undermines social justice, which is the justice of the commongood (see Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or CSDC,no. 411). Freedom of information promotes integrity, transparency, andaccountability in the political order (see CSDC,nos. 414 – 416).

 

o       Therefore, we denounce thenon-prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption and strongly call uponthe government to pursue allegations and signs of corruption of power holdersnot only of the past but also of the present, even of friends and party mates.

o       We likewise call upon government togive due priority to the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill at thesoonest possible time.

3.  Politicalauthority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake ofprivate and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party.When political authority is exercised merely for these narrow interests, itbetrays the reason for its existence. Moreover, such situation breedscorruption and inhibits general access to political power which is afundamental mark of democracy (see Gaudium et Spes orGS, no. 74; CSDC, e.g., nos. 393, 407,410).

o       Therefore,we denounce the continued existence of family political dynasties and thecontinuing delay of passing a law to implement the constitutional provisionbanning political dynasties.

4. “Every citizen ought to bemindful of his right and duty to promote the common good by using his vote” (GS,no.75). Such right and duty would be denied if obstructions are put in place toprevent its free and responsible exercise, such as dishonesty in elections.

o       Therefore, we call upon COMELEC toadequately address the issues and respond, place corrective measures ifnecessary, to the studies of technical experts to the alleged deficiencies ofthe present system and technology of automated elections. There can be notransparency in elections if the COMELEC itself is not transparent.

5.  Love ofthe poor who in the Gospel reflect Christ himself impels us to work for justicefor the poor (seeCCC, e.g., nos. 2447-48; CSDC, no. 184). This requires promotion ofsocial justice, not by targeting the reduction of the number of poor people.

o       Therefore, as Church of the Poor wedirect our social action services towards the development of the poor.

o       We shall provide moral guidance tothe better off in our society to be in active solidarity with the poor.

o       We call upon the government to beserious in implementing the asset reform laws that are in place in order tobring social justice such as CARPER for the farmers, UDHA for the urban poor,IPRA for the indigenous people and the FISHERIES CODE for the fisher folks. Theend of CARPER is only 1½ years away and agrarian reform accomplishment isdismal, being bogged down by bureaucracy, legal technicalities and poorgovernance.

 

ConsistentlyProclaiming the Truth

As pastors we heed the urgent appeal of St. Paul:

“Proclaim themessage: be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince,rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time iscoming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itchingears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As foryou, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry outyour ministry fully” (2Tim 4:2-5).

We remind all the faithful that what is popular is not necessarilywhat is right. What is legal is not necessarily moral.

Each has tofollow his/her conscience. But “conscience must be informed and moral judgmentenlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulatesits judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed bythe wisdom of the Creator.” (CCC, no, 1783).

 

Faith and Hopeamidst the Storms

In the midst of the country’s natural and social upheavals, wesee ourselves in the boat with the Apostles buffeted by stormy waves. We aretossed about by the waves created by the secularist spirit, which continues toreduce the role and place of religious faith in the public sphere. Ourcherished moral and spiritual values are at grave risk. We are overcome withfear and anxiety, perhaps also wondering if the Lord has fallen asleep, or ifthe Lord does not care that we are drowning (cf. Mk. 4:38).

We have to hear once again the Lord’s words: “Quiet! Be still!”(Mk. 4:39). He rebukes the winds and the storm ceases. He is the Lord who haspower over sea and sky. He has power over dark spirits. It is He who poses thequestion to us: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mk. 4:40).

This is the Yearof Faith. Pope Benedict XVI challenges us to respond with faith to the eventsaround us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus (cf. Mt. 14:27-31), we will not drown but even launch deepinto the risky waters of modernity. We should not be afraid.  Our valuesare those of Jesus, of His Gospel, and of the Kingdom of God.

In spite of the storms we know that the kingdom of Godis already among us. The Divine Spirit continues to blow, also in our time.With the eyes of faith we thank and praise the Lord:

1.      for the growing consciousness amongmany of the lay faithful that they have to take seriously their politicalduties. We commend and support lay initiatives to form circles of discernmentto choose worthy candidates and even to run as candidates in order to bringvalues of God’s kingdom in the public discourse. We will help the people to knowthe stance of those who run for office on important issues of the country.

2.      for the many programs that promotethe Natural Family Planning methods. We commit ourselves to promote theseprograms in our local churches and to teach our people Christian values onfamily, marriage and the Gospel of Life.

3.      for efforts among the young to livechastely even in a world that does not value the sacredness of sex. We commendsuch movements as TRUE LOVE WAITS, LIVE PURE and similar initiatives ofeducation to chastity. Indeed, purity attracts!

4.      for the courage and steadfastness ofmany lawgivers to resist political and monetary pressures. For those who haveother opinions, we seek to understand them with patience and charity.

5.      for the effort and bold steps takenby the government in pursuing peace in the country. It is our hope that thesepeace initiatives will be matched by equally bold steps to bring about justice,for peace is the fruit of justice.

6.      for the great clamor among the peopleto do away with political dynasties. If congress is unwilling to act on this wesupport initiatives by the lay faithful to pass an enabling law againstpolitical dynasties through the people’s initiative which the Constitutionprovides.

With Jesus in the Ark of Peter wealways have hope. But with faith and hope, we must have love. Buffeted by thesame stormy winds are the poor with their many faces. Our pastoral statementaddresses the political and social issues that bring them deeper intohelplessness and hopelessness. We must voice out their concerns, be their moralguide, be with them – the unborn and “little ones,” the young, the women, thefarmers, the indigenous peoples, the slum dwellers, the workers, the fisherfolks, the migrants. Our love has to bring them the Good News – the Gospel –with all its social, political and ethical implications.

We entrust the mission of the Churchin these troubled times under the protection and guidance of the Blessed VirginMary,  Mother of Life and  Mother of the Poor. Mother Mary, pray foryour children in your beloved Philippines.

 

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

 

+ JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.

Archbishop of Cebu &

President,CBCP

January 28,2013

 

A Pastoral Exhortation CBCP - INTEGRAL FAITH FORMATION: TOWARDS MATURITY IN CHRIST

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

INTEGRAL FAITH FORMATION: TOWARDS MATURITY IN CHRIST

(A Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference ofthe Philippines)

 

Beloved People of God:

Introduction

The Year of Faithwhich our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI opened in Rome on October 11, 2012will end this year on the Feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013. The HolyFather said that the Year of Faith would be “a good opportunity to usher thewhole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of thefaith.”(1) It is “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord,the one Savior of the world.”(2)

For us in the Philippines,the Year of Faith is foundational for a nine-year “Era of New Evangelization.”In our Pastoral Exhortation to open the Year of Faith, “Live Christ, ShareChrist,” we, your Pastors, said that the nine-year period of intenseevangelization in our country will culminate in 2021 with the 500th anniversaryof the Christian faith in the Philippines.


Therefore, this year2013 we begin the Era of New Evangelization with the first of the nine-majorpastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines – Integral FaithFormation.(3)

A. Commencing the Era of New Evangelization

1. The PCP-II Visionand Mission ofa Renewed Church

In 1991 the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines(PCP-II) envisioned a renewed Church, a participatory community of authenticdisciples of Christ, a Church of the Poor, a Church-in-mission. In 2001 at theNational Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR) we declared that toachieve the vision we would “embark on a renewed integral evangelization,” a mission that PCP-II haddescribed in terms of the New Evangelization of Pope John Paul, “new in itsardor, methods and expressions.”(4) It is to fulfill this mission of renewedintegral evangelization or New Evangelization that we drew up the nine majorpastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines.

Given a fresh andpowerful impulse by the Year of Faith, we focus this year on the first of thepastoral priorities – Integral Faith Formation.

2. The Meaning andNecessity of Faith.

What is faith? “Faith is first of all a personal adherence ofman to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God hasrevealed.”(5) As personal adherence to God, faith is one’s totalsurrender to the love and wisdom of God. It is the entrustment of oneself toGod in total dependence on him. It is the free offering of one’s mind and heartto God. “Faith is our adherence to theTriune God, revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is our friendship withChrist and through Christ with the Father, in their Holy Spirit.”(6)By faith we freely commit ourselves entirely to God.(7) This is what we reallymean when we say, “I believe in God.”

On the other hand, asa free assent, faith is the virtue of saying “yes” to the truth that Godteaches in the Sacred Scriptures and in the living tradition of the Church.This is what we express when pray the Act of Faith:

“O my God, I firmlybelieve that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and HolySpirit. I believe that your divine Son became man, and died for our sins andthat he will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe these andall the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because you have revealedthem, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.”

The Act of Faithexpresses a religious and intellectual assent to all the truths that God hasrevealed.

Faith then involves the total person, his heart and mind. It“touches every part of us: our minds (believing),ourwills (doing), and our hearts (trusting).” (8)

Without such faith, wecannot be saved. Once again the CCC teaches us: “Believing in Jesus Christ andin the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for salvation.”(9)Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith no one will everattain eternal life.(10)

3. Positive andNegative Qualities of our Faith Today

But not every one whosays “I believe” will be saved. The question then is: Is it real faith? Hencewe need to look into the kind of faith that we have. Is our faith one thatpossesses the mind and heart? A faith that flows into daily life such that ourprivate and public life demonstrates our being true disciples of the Lord?

In truth our Filipinofaith is deep and simple. We are not embarrassed to perform religious rites,like making the sign of the cross, or to display religious articles invehicles. Many even dare to follow religious practices in places where thefaith is banned. And yet our faith is largely uninformed, prone to ritualismand pietism, tending towards the externals of prayer and sacraments withoutunderstanding their meaning. And most of all our faith is separated from life;we do not practice our faith, putting it aside when it comes to crucialdecisions regarding, for instance, money or power or popularity. This is why inour predominantly Christian country poverty, social injustice and lack ofintegrity are glaring while dishonesty and corruption continue with impunity.

4. The Impact ofSecularism on Filipino Faith

Yet another powerfulsocial force, a secularist and materialist spirit, is impacting our faith.Beginning in Europe with the Age of Reason and Enlightenment in the 17th and18th centuries, the secularist and materialist spirit has gradually butdecisively taken over the developed world, resulting in the ignoring of God,the loss of faith, the weakening of divine authority and the authority of theChurch. Secularism and materialism have created their own values, contradictingand rejecting the universal values of the Gospel as taught by the livingtradition of the Church.

The tools of socialcommunication disseminate the secular ideology of developed countries. This hasresulted in a type of faith that adheres selectively to some doctrines of theChurch but rejects others as incompatible with changing modern times, withdemocracy and religious pluralism. We see examples of the inroads of secularismand materialism in the setting aside of moral values and rejection of religiousauthority in the debates that led to the unfortunate passage of theReproductive Health Bill. We also see the influence of the secular spirit inlegal attempts to redefine the limits of human freedom, the beginning of humanlife, and the nature of marriage and family.

In these difficult times we hear and heed the words of the Lordthat we are in thisworld but we are not ofthisworld.(11) Our faith impels us to cherish and defend beliefs and values thatare countersigns to those of this world.

5. The Need forIntegral Faith formation

The weaknesses of ourfaith and the challenges facing it summon us to renewed integralevangelization, to new evangelization with new fervor, new methods and newexpressions. This is the rationale for integral faith formation. It is aprocess that seeks and leads to maturity in faith, a faith that is informed andlived, a faith committed to the mission of announcing the Gospel of Jesus,including participation in the work of justice and social transformation.

B. Lord, increase our faith!

1. Knowing andDeepening our Faith – Conversion

The process towards amature faith begins with realizing that one’s faith is weak, is not alwaysconcerned with essentials but with externals of religious practice andobligation, does not lead to total personal commitment to the Lord, and is notalways ready to say “yes” to God’s will – in brief, that faith is not lived. Weneed conversion and renewal. The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelizationconfesses:

We firmly believe thatwe must convert ourselves first to the power of Christ who alone can make allthings new…. With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weaknesses ofJesus’ disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of themission…. We know that we must humbly recognize our vulnerability to the woundsof history and we do not hesitate to recognize our personal sins.(12)

The realization ofweakness and sinfulness leads the believer to a great desire to know the faith,to be informed about it and to deepen it. The cry of the disciples for helpthat they may more closely follow Christ and be patterned to his way ofthinking, acting and behaving, relating and valuing is also our plea: “Lordincrease our faith!”(13)

At the basic level weneed to know what we believe in. If you are asked what you believe in as aCatholic, simply recite the Apostles Creed, a true summary of the fundamentalarticles of Catholic belief. The Apostles Creed is further elaborated in theNicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, or simply the Nicene Creed – a result of thefirst two universal councils of the Church in the years 325 and 381.(14)

Today we have acomprehensive systematic and organic synthesis of the content of our faith inthe Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1991. This universal Catechism iscontextualized into our Filipino situation by the Catechism for FilipinoCatholics, 1997. Moreover, the social doctrine of the Church which elaborateson the commandments of God in the CCC is now systematically organized in theCompendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC), 2004.

With the SacredScriptures in one hand and the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the otherhand, supplemented by the CSDC and CFC, a Filipino Catholic has the fundamentaltools of knowing and deepening the faith. Admittedly one is not expected tostudy all these books. Guidance by catechists and religious teachers would benecessary.

2. Personally KnowingChrist

But it is not enoughto have an intellectual knowledge of the faith. What is absolutely imperativeis a personal, loving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He is the center of ourfaith. A personal knowledge of Jesus is the adherence of the heart, a personalentrustment to Jesus, friendship with Jesus. An uncompromising religious assentto the teachings of God as authoritatively interpreted by the living teachingauthority of the Church can only flow from a passion for Jesus, Teacher andShepherd.

3. Celebrating ourFaith – the Liturgy

Faith is God’s precious gift to us. We have to celebrate thisdivine grace by thanking, praising, and adoring the Lord. Nowhere can this bemost properly done than in the Liturgy, the prayer of the Church. For it is inthe Liturgy, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the memorialof the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, that thanksgiving, praise,worship and the offering of one’s self to God is done in the very action ofChrist the High Priest. It is Christ who offers his own sacrifice in theEucharist through the hands of the Priest. It is Christ who is present andactive in the other sacraments of the Church. Hence we celebrate our faithprincipally through the Liturgy. The catechism teaches us: “When the Churchcelebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles –whence the ancient saying: lex orandi,lex credendi…. The law of prayer is the law of faith: The Churchbelieves as she prays.”(15) We celebrate our faith as well when we read theScriptures and when we pray. In all these, the Spirit of Christ helps us andChrist himself is present.

C. Living our Faith – Charity as Faith in Action

When we know our faithand understand its meaning especially for our salvation, it becomes imperativefor us to live it through a truly moral life, a life of fidelity to God’scommands. It is most tragic that a grace so priceless such as faith would notbe lived from day to day. Faith has to be a norm and guide of life, its energy,inspiration and light.

To live a truly morallife is to be faithful to the 10 commandments of God. The first threecommandments express our love of God and the last seven express our love ofneighbor. This is why the Lord summarized the 10 commandments into just two:“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,with all your mind and with all your strength…. You shall love your neighbor asyourself.”(16)

A genuine moral life is, therefore, a life of genuine charity.Charity is faith in action. When we received faith from the Lord at our Baptismand became members of the family of faith, we promised to believe in God and toreject all forms of evil. This promise was a promise to live a truly morallife, to be Christians not only in name but also in deed. Pope Benedict XVIurges us to pray that our “witness of lifemay grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that isprofessed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith –is a task that every believer must make his own.” (17)

D. Spirituality – Discipleship of Believers

To strive to live atruly moral life is to journey on the way of discipleship. A life of faith andcharity is a life of discipleship, a life of being united in mind and heartwith Jesus, the Teacher and Lord. This is spirituality in its depth. (18)

By its very namespirituality refers to life in the Spirit. It refers to the pattern of Jesus’own life of being Spirit-led and Spirit-driven as we see in the first chaptersof St. Luke.(19) Hence to be holy or to be spiritual is to live in theSpirit,(20) to abide in the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be filled withthe Spirit (21) as St. Paul is wont to say. Only when we are imbued with theSpirit and follow the Lord Jesus in discipleship can we live an authentic morallife, a life of faith and charity.

The result is alifestyle directed by the values and attitudes of the Gospel, the values of theBeatitudes, a lifestyle that consists of a mind-set and behavior that arefocused on charity and justice, inspired by faith.

The spirituality of aliving faith is maintained and nourished by prayer, personal or liturgical,individual or communal, devotional and popular or official. Prayer links faithand action. Even as prayer flows from faith, prayer also sustains a livedfaith.

E. Sharing our Faith – The Witness of Life

Faith is not a gift thatwe keep selfishly to ourselves. It is a gift to be proclaimed, communicated,and shared. This is why Jesus bequeathed to the Apostles, the fathers of faith,a final mandate:

“Go, therefore, andmake disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and ofthe Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Ihave commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of theage.”(22)

While every believerhas the duty to proclaim the faith, most everyone is not called to do so in theway of catechists, religious educators, religious men and women, and theclergy. But everyone is called to share the faith by the witness of a goodChristian life.

A few are called byGod to witness to Jesus by the offering of their very life as martyrs of thefaith. This is why we are incalculably blessed with the canonization of oursecond martyr, San Pedro Calungsod, last October 21, 2012. Being a young laycatechist, he proclaimed the Lord Jesus by teaching others to know and acceptthe faith. By becoming a martyr like San Lorenzo Ruiz he gave the ultimatewitness of his life.

It is first of all bythe silent witness of a truly moral Christian life, a life of faith and charitythat we share our faith with others. This requires a life of fidelity to God’swill in the midst of daily challenges and daily work at home and at work. Itrequires fidelity to our God given responsibilities in the family, in theneighborhood, in the Church and in the wider society.

Our Holy Father PopeBenedict XVI confirms this truth of Christian witness:

The renewal of theChurch is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believersby their very existence in the world. Christians are called to radiate the wordof truth that the Lord Jesus has left us.(23)

Applying the sametruth of witness to the whole Church, the recent Synod on the NewEvangelization stated:

It is thereforeprimarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize theworld, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus, byher witness of poverty and detachment, and by her witness of freedom in theface of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.(24)

We reiterate thistruth which is also a challenge for all of us — it is by the witness of a trulymoral life, the witness of a life of faith and charity, that we can eloquentlyand credibly proclaim and share our faith in the Lord Jesus.

F. Call

1. In the light ofthis year’s focus on integral faith formation, we call upon dioceses, theircatechists, religious educators, lay leaders, men and women Religious, andclergy to design and implement a long term program of faith formation forfamilies, youth and children, using and adapting the CCC, CFC, and CSDC forthis purpose.

2. We call uponschools, catechetical institutes, Basic Ecclesial Communities and other faithcommunities, religious organizations and movements to do the same.

3. We assign the CBCPCommissions with faith formation components to take the lead in this importantproject and provide assistance to the dioceses when necessary.

Conclusion – ThePrayers and Inspiration of Mary, Mother of Faith

As we end thispastoral exhortation, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Woman of Faith and Mother ofFaith, is our guide and inspiration. She listened to the word of God, reflectedon it, strove to understand the mystery that the word announced, and from thedepths of her faith she said “yes” to God’s will. Her “Let it be done to meaccording to your word” became the daily norm of her life of faith and charity.May our Mother assist us to increase our faith.

We conclude with somewords from the hymn “Live Christ, Share Christ,” the official hymn for the500th anniversary of our Christian faith in our shores:

The gospel is our blessing but also our mission.

To the poor and the children we bring his salvation

To the rest of the world his message of compassion

To all of humanity his challenge of conversion!

We are blessed, we are loved

We are called, we are sent,

We will teach, we will serve

We are Christ’s, we are Church!

 

For and on behalf ofthe Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

 

+JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.

Archbishop of Cebu and

President, CBCP

27 January 2013

 

______________________________

 

End Notes

1. Porta Fidei, no. 4.

2. Ibid., no. 6.

3. In order to achieve the vision of Church that the SecondPlenary Council (PCP-II) envisioned in 1991, the Council called for “renewedintegral evangelization.” For this purpose the National Pastoral Consultationon Church Renewal (NPCCR), 2001, identified nine pastoral priorities, namely:integral faith formation, renewal of the laity, active participation of thepoor, the family as the focal point of evangelization, the parish as acommunion of communities, renewal of clergy and religious, active participationof the youth, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and mission ad gentes.

4. See Vision-MissionStatement of the Church in the Philippines,1992; Pope John Paul II, Discourse to XIX Assembly of CELAM, Port au Prince,1983.

5. The Catechism ofthe Catholic Faith (CCC), no. 150.

6. Catechism forFilipino Catholics (CFC), 1997, no. 124; see also PCP-II, no. 64, 66.

7. See Dei Verbum, no.5; cited by Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, no. 25.

8. CFC, no.128.

9. CCC, no. 161; seeMk. 16:16; Jn 3:36; 6:40ff.

10. See Mt.10:22; 24:13; Heb. 11:6.

11. See Jn. 17:11-17.

12. Message of theSynod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

13. Lk. 17:5.

14. See CCC, no. 195.

15. CCC, no. 1124.

16. Mk. 12:30-31; seealso Dt. 6:5.

17. Porta Fidei, no.9.

18. For a spiritualityof discipleship, see Final Statement of IV FABC Plenary, “The Vocation andMission of the Laity in the Church and in the World of Asia,” Tokyo, 1986, no.4.8 “Lay Spirituality”; see also Final Statement of V FABC Plenary Assembly,“Journeying Together toward the Third Millennium, Bandung, 1990, no. 9.0,“Spirituality for Our Times.”

19. See Lk. 1:12; 3:4,14.

20. See Rom. 8:9-11.

21. Eph. 5:18.

22. Mt. 28:19-20.

23. Porta Fidei, no.6.

24. InstrumentumLaboris for Synod on New Evangelization #158

 

 

NATIONAL BIBLE WEEK 2013

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (2)


Proclaim the Word, Profess the Faith

Christian life is like a driving car. You can start at low gears; but if you wan to speed up, you have to shift to higher gears of discipleship to the higher gears of apostleship. Discipleship is about following Christ; apostleship is about being sent . . . to represent Christ (Mt 28:19). Christ is risen; he is alive in us, his disciples. When we gather in his name (Mt 18:20), when we are bonded together in the Spirit, we become his body, the Church. That means we become the very sacrament-sign and instrument-of his presence in the world, by the grace of baptism. We must allow Christ to live on and carry on with his mission in and through us-the members of his body. We must allow Christ to continue to bring the fire of faith on earth, to set the whole world ablaze with it (Lk 12:49). We cannot leave this only to our ordained minister. We can’t leave the work of evangelization only to them; that would be reneging on our common vocation and mission! Their pastoral leadership proves to be effective only when they succeed in evoking the gifts the Holy Spirit has generously poured out on us by the grace of baptism and putting these gifts to good use-to renew the face of the earth.

Proclaim the Word, Profess the Faith! this is our common exhortation for this year which Pope Benedict XVI has called a “Year of Faith” (October 2012 – October 2013), made even more opportune by the launching of a global Synod aimed at starting off a “New Evangelization” in the world that is growing cold with the winter of materialism and secularism. He reminds us all of the time when Paul and Bamabas excitedly returned to Antioch and reported to the community how the Lord in his graciousness has “opened the door of faith” to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27)

Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “Proclaim the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 2:4) is his challenge to us as well. Let us not shut the doors that have been flung open by the Lord! He has entrusted to us His Word as the key – for binding and for loosing, on earth as in heaven (Mt 16:19)

Even as we proclaim the Sacred Scriptures as Word of God, let us not forget this Word become flesh in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14). We are not to proclaim the Word as lifeless lines from the pages of a book. Rather we must allow it to transform us-as individuals, as families, as communities of faith, and as a nation. This cannot happen if our encounter with the Word does not facilitate our encounter with the living Word – “whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our own eyes, whom we have touched and carefully watched; the Word who is life, this we share with you!” (1Jn 1:1-2)

Let me end by borrowing from the lyrics of the beautiful song “Power to Unite” of the Catholic Family Bible Encounter: “Read the Bible; the Word of God will give you strength to face the challenge of living. Read the Bible; open it, feel it, understand it. It is the source of our hope when life is too heavy to bear, when all seems lost and unclear; read the Bible and its message will wipe away your tears.”

Profess the faith only in the Living Word. Let this Word come alive in us, fellow disciples and apostles, and through us, in the Philippines – let it set the rest of Asia ablaze!

 

MOST REV. PABLO VIRGILIO S. DAVID, DD

Chairman- ECBA

Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of San Fernando Pampanga


Challenging Filipinos to Proclaim God?s Word and Profess the Faith towards National Transformation

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

National Bible Week 2013: 

Challenging Filipinos to Proclaim God’s Word and Profess the Faith towards National Transformation


(PBS),It is customary for Filipinos at the beginning of each year to review what were accomplished and what we not. And as we recover from 2012 and its impact our lives and while bracing for the surprises of 2013, there is no better reason nor occasion than now to set our paths aright and ensure we are on the tamang landas, and tuwid na daan.  This is best done with a manual on hand, one that spells out the short, medium and long-term development plans for us to undertake as individuals and as a nation. A plan that is based on the tried and tested, the unquestionable wisdom of the ages, and the ultimate standard to life and governance— God’s Word, the Bible.

After having tried so many alternative methods in the past, the call for us now is to heed God’s Word, to follow its statutes and obey it’s precepts if we are want to see true development and lasting change in our lives as a people and as a country. God’s Word has powerful transforming impact on the national life. In world history, as well as in our own, the Holy Bible is regarded as a powerful book. Containing timeless principles that when heeded and obeyed can change a nation for the better.

          The Philippine Bible Society has endeavored to introduce people to the Bible’s transforming power through all means possible. One such means is the celebration of the National Bible Week (NBW). The country has been celebrating NBW and National Bible Sunday annually since former President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation No. 2242 on November 19, 1982 declaring that “it is fitting and proper that national attention be focused on the important role being played by reading and study of the Bible in molding the moral fiber of our society.” President Marcos originally declared the first Sunday of Advent and the last week of November every year as National Bible Sunday and National Bible Week.

The celebration in January came about during the term of President Corazon C. Aquino who issued Proclamation No. 44 in 1986 which transferred and made official the NBW celebration in the first month of the year. The proclamation was reinforced by President Fidel V. Ramos in PP 1067 which urged that “national attention be focused in the importance of reading and studying the Bible in molding the spiritual, moral, and social fiber of our citizenry.” As more and more people read and study the Bible, the universal truths found in its pages empower them to live with hope and courage in these days of despair and difficulty.

          Since then, the nation has set aside one week every year to commemorate the importance of the Bible in nation building. Churches have come together in celebration through parades, motorcades and rallies proclaiming the yearly themes of the Bible Week. Sermons and homilies have focused on the Bible’s role in changing the people’s lives during the National Bible Sunday. Streamers and posters called attention to this significant event, as well as Scriptures that are distributed on the streets and other public places.

This year, the celebration is slated on January 21-27, 2013, with National Bible Sunday on the 27th.  It is based on the theme :May They Be One: Proclaim the Word, Profess the Faith as inspired by Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” (NAB) and 2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." (ESV)

The basic call is for every Filipino to honor the Bible by reading, studying and living its precepts. This challenge, however, has been stepped up and now calls on all Bible-believing Filipino to proclaim God’s Word and to profess their faith. These times call for boldness and determination, for concerted and deliberate action to draw our people back to God and his Word if we are to impact the whole nation for good.

There are many ways to celebrate and participate in honoring God’s Word:

 

 

·         Plan a special National Bible Sunday Worship service with the sermon/homily focusing on the year’s NBW theme.

·         Display the NBW poster in prominent areas (church bulletin boards, message posting area).

·         Hold a Bible Quiz, poster-poster making contests, and other activities that will encourage people to read and engage with the Bible.

·         Organize an inter-church NBW parade or motorcade in the community.

·         Hold a Bible/Prayer rally in town plazas and parks.

·         Initiate a celebration in LGUs through a Bible reading and distribution during their Monday flag-raising ceremonies (January 21, 2013).

·         Begin a reading program i-Proclaim! in the community raise awareness for the scriptures.

·         Print promotional materials in local community newsletters or program bulletins.

·         Produce and display scripture streamers in overpasses and main streets.

·         Distribute Scripture selections or booklets to prison inmates, hospital patients, public markets and transport terminals.

·         Plan creative ways of communicating the importance of God’s Word like skits, dance or rapping competitions.

·         Petition local officials to issue a barangay/town/city ordinance to institutionalize the yearly NBW celebration in your locale.

·         Set up a Bible Fund to buy Bibles for your church or outreach communities.

 

PBS General Secretary Nora G. Lucero says “We encourage churches, LGUs, schools and organizations to help raise awareness on the importance of the Bible in people’s lives. Let us make our countrymen realize that it is a source of strength and wisdom and is not just applicable during times of trials but as a guiding light all our lives.”

 

 

No matter how you do it, the important thing is to celebrate God's Word, and to celebrate now! Together, let us rally our people to honor the Bible and support initiatives to get a copy into every Filipino home to see true national transformation. For more information on how you can be an advocate of the Bible Cause, visit www.bible.org.ph or call 526-7777.

 

 

                                                                                                    ###

 

 

NBW 2013 video Youtube link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxkeaQYIssI&list=UU6D7WblDIXVOaxH-xk5kGeg&index=1

 

 

MTBO Bible Run 2 video Youtube link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZO8DJ6JWuM

 

 

Reference:

 

 

 

 

Ms. Hazel Salariosa-Alviz

Communications and Resource Devt. Manager

Philippine Bible Society

[email protected]

      524-5337, 526-7777 loc 630, 633

 


Final Message to the People of God from the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Final Message to the People of Godfrom the

XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 


Brothers andsisters,

“Grace to youand peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Beforereturning to our particular Churches, we, Bishops coming from the whole worldgathered by the invitation of the Bishop of Rome Pope Benedict XVI to reflecton “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith”, wishto address you all in order to sustain and direct the preaching and teaching ofthe Gospel in the diverse contexts in which the Church finds herself today togive witness.


1. Like the Samaritan woman at the well

Let us drawlight from a Gospel passage: Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman (cf.John 4:5-42). There is no man or woman who, in one's life, would not findoneself like the woman of Samariabeside a well with an empty bucket, with the hope of finding the fulfillment ofthe heart's most profound desire, that which alone could give full meaning tolife. Today, many wells offer themselves to quench humanity's thirst, but wemust discern in order to avoid polluted waters. We must orient the searchproperly, so as not to fall prey to disappointment, which can be damaging.

Like Jesus atthe well of Sychar, the Church also feels obliged to sit beside today's men andwomen. She wants to render the Lord present in their lives so that they canencounter him because his Spirit alone is the water that gives true and eternallife. Only Jesus can read the depths of our heart and reveal the truth aboutourselves: “He told me everything I have done”, the woman confesses to herfellow citizens. This word of proclamation is united to the question that opensup to faith: “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” It shows that whoever receivesnew life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others.The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads thewhole city to Jesus. The people pass from welcoming her testimony to personallyexperiencing the encounter: “We no longer believe because of your word; for wehave heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of theworld”.

2. A new evangelization

Leading the menand women of our time to Jesus, to the encounter with him is a necessity thattouches all the regions of the world, those of the old and those of the recentevangelization. Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that riskseclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and itspresence in society, the clarity of its content and the coherence of itsfruits.

It is not amatter of starting again, but of entering into the long path of proclaiming theGospel with the apostolic courage of Paul who would go so far as to say “Woe tome if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Throughout history,from the first centuries of the Christian era to the present, the Gospel hasedified communities of believers in all parts of the world. Whether small orgreat, these are the fruit of the dedication of generations of witnesses toJesus – missionaries and martyrs – whom we remember with gratitude.

The changed social, cultural, economic, civil and religious scenarios call usto something new: to live our communitarian experience of faith in a renewedway and to proclaim it through an evangelization that is “new in its ardor, inits methods, in its expressions” (John Paul II, Discourse to the XIX Assemblyof CELAM, Port-au-Prince, 9 March 1983, n. 3) as John Paul II said. BenedictXVI recalled that it is an evangelization that is directed “principally atthose who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live withoutreference to the Christian life... to help these people encounter the Lord, whoalone fills our existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor therediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope topersonal, family and social life” (Benedict XVI, Homily for the Eucharisticcelebration for the solemn inauguration of the XIII Ordinary General Assemblyof the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 7 October 2012).

3.The personal encounter with Jesus Christ in theChurch

Before sayinganything about the forms that this new evangelization must assume, we feel theneed to tell you with profound conviction that the faith determines everythingin the relationship that we build with the person of Jesus who takes theinitiative to encounter us. The work of the new evangelization consists inpresenting once more the beauty and perennial newness of the encounter with Christto the often distracted and confused heart and mind of the men and women of ourtime, above all to ourselves. We invite you all to contemplate the face of theLord Jesus Christ, to enter the mystery of his life given for us on the cross,reconfirmed in his resurrection from the dead as the Father's gift and impartedto us through the Spirit. In the person of Jesus, the mystery of God theFather's love for the entire human family is revealed. He did not want us toremain in a false autonomy. Rather he reconciled us to himself in a renewedpact of love.

The Church isthe space offered by Christ in history where we can encounter him, because heentrusted to her his Word, the Baptism that makes us God's children, his Bodyand his Blood, the grace of forgiveness of sins above all in the sacrament ofReconciliation, the experience of communion that reflects the very mystery ofthe Holy Trinity and the strength of the Spirit that generates charity towardsall.

We must formwelcoming communities in which all outcasts find a home, concrete experiencesof communion which attract the disenchanted glance of contemporary humanitywith the ardent force of love – “See how they love one another!” (Tertullian,Apology, 39, 7). The beauty of faith must particularly shine in the actions ofthe sacred Liturgy, above all in the Sunday Eucharist. It is precisely inliturgical celebrations that the Church reveals herself as God's work and makesthe meaning of the Gospel visible in word and gesture.

It is up to ustoday to render experiences of the Church concretely accessible, to multiplythe wells where thirsting men and women are invited to encounter Jesus, tooffer oases in the deserts of life. Christian communities and, in them, everydisciple of the Lord are responsible for this: an irreplaceable testimony hasbeen entrusted to each one, so that the Gospel can enter the lives of all. Thisrequires of us holiness of life.

 

 

4. The occasions of encountering Jesus andlistening to the Scriptures

Someone willask how to do all this. We need not invent new strategies as if the Gospel werea product to be placed in the market of religions. We need to rediscover theways in which Jesus approached persons and called them, in order to put theseapproaches into practice in today's circumstances.

We recall, forexample, how Jesus engaged Peter, Andrew, James and John in the context oftheir work, how Zaccheus was able to pass from simple curiosity to the warmthof sharing a meal with the Master, how the Roman centurion asked him to heal aperson dear to him, how the man born blind invoked him as liberator from hisown marginalization, how Martha and Mary saw the hospitality of their house andof their heart rewarded by his presence. By going through the pages of theGospels as well as the apostles' missionary experiences in the early Church, wecan discover the various ways and circumstances in which persons' lives wereopened to Christ's presence.

The frequentreading of the Sacred Scriptures – illuminated by the Tradition of the Church whohands them over to us and is their authentic interpreter – is not onlynecessary for knowing the very content of the Gospel, which is the person ofJesus in the context of salvation history. Reading the Scriptures also helps usto discover opportunities to encounter Jesus, truly evangelical approachesrooted in the fundamental dimensions of human life: the family, work,friendship, various forms of poverty and the trials of life, etc.

5. Evangelizing ourselves and opening ourselves toconversion

We, however,should never think that the new evangelization does not concern us personally.In these days voices among the Bishops were raised to recall that the Churchmust first of all heed the Word before she can evangelize the world. Theinvitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion.

We firmlybelieve that we must convert ourselves first to the power of Christ who alonecan make all things new, above all our poor existence. With humility we mustrecognize that the poverty and weaknesses of Jesus' disciples, especially ofhis ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are certainly aware– we Bishops first of all – that we could never really be equal to the Lord'scalling and mandate to proclaim his Gospel to the nations. We know that we musthumbly recognize our vulnerability to the wounds of history and we do nothesitate to recognize our personal sins. We are, however, also convinced thatthe Lord's Spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garmentresplendent if we let him mold us. This is demonstrated by the lives of theSaints, the remembrance and narration of which is a privileged means of the newevangelization.

If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt. Butconversion in the Church, just like evangelization, does not come aboutprimarily through us poor mortals, but rather through the Spirit of the Lord.Here we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the lastword whether in the Church or in history: “Do not let your hearts be troubledor afraid” (John 14:27), Jesus said to his disciples.

The work of thenew evangelization rests on this serene certainty. We are confident in theinspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to sayand what we are to do even in the most difficult moments. It is our duty,therefore, to conquer fear through faith, discouragement through hope,indifference through love.

6. Seizing new opportunities for evangelization inthe world today

This serenecourage also affects the way we look at the world today. We are not intimidatedby the circumstances of the times in which we live. Our world is full ofcontradictions and challenges, but it remains God's creation. The world iswounded by evil, but God loves it still. It is his field in which the sowing ofthe Word can be renewed so that it would bear fruit once more.

There is noroom for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lordhas conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history. We approachthis world with humility, but also with determination. This comes from thecertainty that the truth triumphs in the end. We choose to see in the world theRisen Christ´s invitation to witness to his Name. Our Church is alive and facesthe challenges that history brings with the courage of faith and the testimonyof her many daughters and sons.

We know that wemust face in this world a battle against the “principalities” and “powers”,“the evil spirits” (Ephesians 6:12). We do not ignore the problems that suchchallenges bring, but they do not frighten us. This is true above all for thephenomena of globalization which must be for us opportunities to expand thepresence of the Gospel. Despite the intense sufferings for which we welcomemigrants as brothers and sisters, migrations have been and continue to beoccasions to spread the faith and build communion in its various forms.Secularization – as well as the crisis brought about the dominance of politicsand of the State – requires the Church to rethink its presence in societywithout however renouncing it. The many and ever new forms of poverty open newopportunities for charitable service: the proclamation of the Gospel binds theChurch to be with the poor and to take on their sufferings like Jesus. Even inthe most bitter forms of atheism and agnosticism, we can recognize – althoughin contradictory forms – not a void but a longing, an expectation that awaitsan adequate response.

In the face ofthe questions that prevailing cultures pose to faith and to the Church, werenew our trust in the Lord, certain that even in these contexts the Gospel isthe bearer of light and capable of healing every human weakness. It is not wewho are to conduct the work of evangelization, but God, as the Pope reminded us:“The first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and onlyby inserting ourselves in to the divine initiative, only by begging this divineinitiative, will we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers”(Benedict XVI, Meditation during the first general Congregation of the XIIIGeneral Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 8 October 2012).

7. Evangelization, the family and consecrated life

Ever since thefirst evangelization, the transmission of the faith from one generation to thenext found a natural home in the family where women play a very special rolewithout diminishing the figure and responsibility of the father. In the contextof the care that every family provides for the growth of its little ones, infantsand children are introduced to the signs of faith, the communication of firsttruths, education in prayer, and the witness of the fruits of love. Despite thediversity of their geographical, cultural and social situations, all theBishops of the Synod reconfirmed this essential role of the family in thetransmission of the faith. A new evangelization is unthinkable withoutacknowledging a specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to families andto sustain them in their task of education.

We do notignore the fact that today the family, established in the marriage of a man andof a woman which makes them “one flesh” (Matthew 19:6) open to life, isassaulted by crises everywhere. It is surrounded by models of life thatpenalize it and neglected by the politics of society of which it is also thefundamental cell. It is not always respected in its rhythms and sustained inits tasks by ecclesial communities. It is precisely this, however, that impelsus to say that we must particularly take care of the family and its mission insociety and in the Church, developing specific paths of accompaniment beforeand after matrimony. We also want to express our gratitude to the manyChristian couples and families who, through their witness, show the world an experienceof communion and of service which is the seed of a more loving and peacefulsociety.

Our thoughtsalso went to the many families and couples living together which do not reflectthat image of unity and of lifelong love that the Lord entrusted to us. Thereare couples who live together without the sacramental bond of matrimony. Moreand more families in irregular situations are established after the failure ofprevious marriages. These are painful situations that affect the education ofsons and daughters in the faith. To all of them we want to say that God's lovedoes not abandon anyone, that the Church loves them, too, that the Church is ahouse that welcomes all, that they remain members of the Church even if theycannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist. May our Catholiccommunities welcome all who live in such situations and support those who arein the path of conversion and reconciliation.

Family life isthe first place in which the Gospel encounters the ordinary life and demonstratesits capacity to transform the fundamental conditions of existence in thehorizon of love. But not less important for the witness of the Church is toshow how this temporal existence has a fulfillment that goes beyond humanhistory and attains to eternal communion with God. Jesus does not introducehimself to the Samaritan woman simply as the one who gives life, but as the onewho gives “eternal life” (John 4:14). God's gift, which faith renders present,is not simply the promise of better conditions in this world. It is theproclamation that our life's ultimate meaning is beyond this world, in thatfull communion with God that we await at the end of time.

Of thissupernatural horizon of the meaning of human existence, there are particularwitnesses in the Church and in the world whom the Lord has called toconsecrated life. Precisely because it is totally consecrated to him in theexercise of poverty, chastity and obedience, consecrated life is the sign of afuture world that relativizes everything that is good in this world. May thegratitude of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops reach these our brothers andsisters for their fidelity to the Lord's calling and for the contribution thatthey have given and give to the Church's mission. We exhort them to hope insituations that are difficult even for them in these times of change. We invitethem to establish themselves as witnesses and promoters of new evangelizationin the various fields to which the charism of each of their institutes assignsthem.

8. The ecclesial community and the many agents ofevangelization

No one personor group in the Church has exclusive right to the work of evangelization. It isthe work of ecclesial communities as such, where one has access to all themeans for encountering Jesus: the Word, the sacraments, fraternal communion,charitable service, mission.

In thisperspective, the role of the parish emerges above all as the presence of theChurch where men and women live, “the village fountain”, as John XXIII loved tocall it, from which all can drink, finding in it the freshness of the Gospel.It cannot be abandoned, even though changes can require of it either to be madeup of small Christian communities or to forge bonds of collaboration withinlarger pastoral contexts. We exhort our parishes to join the new forms ofmission required by the new evangelization to the traditional pastoral care ofGod's people. These must also permeate the various important expressions ofpopular piety.

In the parish, the ministry of the priest – father and pastor of his people –remains crucial. To all priests, the Bishops of this Synodal Assembly expressthanks and fraternal closeness for their difficult task. We invite them tostrengthen the bonds of the diocesan presbyterium, to deepen their spirituallife, and to an ongoing formation that enables them to face the changes.

Alongside thepriests, the presence of deacons is to be sustained, as well as the pastoralaction of catechists and of many other ministers and animators in the fields ofproclamation, catechesis, liturgical life, charitable service. The variousforms of participation and co-responsibility of the faithful must also bepromoted. We cannot thank enough our lay men and women for their dedication inour communities' manifold services. We ask all of them, too, to place theirpresence and their service in the Church in the perspective of the newevangelization, taking care of their own human and Christian formation, theirunderstanding of the faith and their sensitivity to contemporary culturalphenomena.

With regard tothe laity, a special word goes to the various forms of old and newassociations, together with the ecclesial movements and the new communities:All are an expression of the richness of the gifts that the Spirit bestows onthe Church. We also thank these forms of life and of commitment in the Church,exhorting them to be faithful to their proper charism and to earnest ecclesialcommunion especially in the concrete context of the particular Churches.

Witnessing tothe Gospel is not the privilege of one or of a few. We recognize with joy thepresence of many men and women who with their lives become a sign of the Gospelin the midst of the world. We also recognize them in many of our Christianbrothers and sisters with whom unity unfortunately is not yet full, but arenevertheless marked by the Lord's Baptism and proclaim it. In these days it wasa moving experience for us to listen to the voices of many authorities ofChurches and ecclesial communities who gave witness to their thirst for Christand their dedication to the proclamation of the Gospel. They, too, areconvinced that the world needs a new evangelization. We are grateful to theLord for this unity in the necessity of the mission.

9. That the youth may encounter Christ

The youth areparticularly dear to us, because they, who are a significant part of humanityand the Church today, are also their future. With regard to them, the Bishopsare far from being pessimistic. Concerned, yes; but not pessimistic. We areconcerned because the most aggressive attacks of our times happen to convergeprecisely on them. We are not, however, pessimistic, above all because whatmoves in the depths of history is Christ's love, but also because we sense inour youth deep aspirations for authenticity, truth, freedom, generosity, towhich we are convinced that the adequate response is Christ.

We want to support them in their search and we encourage our communities tolisten to, dialogue with and respond boldly and without reservation to thedifficult condition of the youth. We want our communities to harness, not tosuppress, the power of their enthusiasm; to struggle for them against thefallacies and selfish ventures of worldly powers which, to their own advantage,dissipate the energies and waste the passion of the young, taking from themevery grateful memory of the past and every profound vision of the future.

The world ofthe young is a demanding but also particularly promising field of the NewEvangelization. This is demonstrated by many experiences, from those that drawmany of them like the World Youth Days, to the most hidden – but nonethelesspowerful – like the different experiences of spirituality, service and mission.Young people's active role in evangelizing first and foremost their world is tobe recognized.

10. The Gospel in dialogue with human culture andexperience and with religions

The NewEvangelization is centered on Christ and on care for the human person in orderto give life to a real encounter with him. However, its horizons are as wide asthe world and beyond any human experience. This means that it carefullycultivates the dialogue with cultures, confident that it can find in each ofthem the “seeds of the Word” about which the ancient Fathers spoke. In particular,the new evangelization needs a renewed alliance between faith and reason. Weare {softlineconvinced that faith has the capacity to welcome the fruits ofsound thinking open to transcendence and the strength to heal the limits andcontradictions into which reason can fall. Faith does not close its eyes, noteven before the excruciating questions arising from evil's presence in life andin history, in order to draw the light of hope from Christ's Paschal Mystery.

The encounterbetween faith and reason also nourishes the Christian community's commitment inthe field of education and culture. The institutions of formation and ofresearch – schools and universities – occupy a special place in this. Whereverhuman intelligence is developed and educated, the Church is pleased to bringher experience and contribution to the integral formation of the person. Inthis context particular care is to be reserved for catholic schools and forcatholic universities, in which the openness to transcendence that belongs to everyauthentic cultural and educational course, must be fulfilled in paths ofencounter with the event of Jesus Christ and of his Church. May the gratitudeof the Bishops reach all who, in sometimes difficult conditions, are involvedin this.

Evangelization requires that we pay much attention to the world of socialcommunication, especially the new media, in which many lives, questions andexpectations converge. It is the place where consciences are often formed,where people spend their time and live their lives. It is a new opportunity fortouching the human heart.

A particularfield of the encounter between faith and reason today is the dialogue withscientific knowledge. This is not at all far from faith, since it manifests thespiritual principle that God placed in his creatures. It allows us to see therational structures on which creation is founded. When science and technologydo not presume to imprison humanity and the world in a barren materialism, theybecome an invaluable ally in making life more humane. Our thanks also go tothose who are involved in this sensitive field of knowledge.

We also want to thank men and women involved in another expression of the humangenius, art in its various forms, from the most ancient to the most recent. Werecognize in works of art a particularly meaningful way of expressingspirituality inasmuch as they strive to embody humanity's attraction to beauty.We are grateful when artists through their beautiful creations bring out thebeauty of God's face and that of his creatures. The way of beauty is aparticularly effective path of the new evangelization.

In addition toworks of art, all of human activity draws our attention as an opportunity inwhich we cooperate in divine creation through work. We want to remind the worldof economy and of labor of some matters arising from the Gospel: to redeem workfrom the conditions that often make it an unbearable burden and an uncertainfuture threatened by youth unemployment, to place the human person at thecenter of economic development, to think of this development as an occasion forhumanity to grow in justice and unity. Humanity transforms the world throughwork. Nevertheless we are called to safeguard the integrity of creation out ofa sense of responsibility towards future generations.

The Gospel also illuminates the suffering brought about by disease. Christiansmust help the sick feel that the Church is near to persons with illness or withdisabilities. Christians are to thank all who take care of them professionallyand humanely.

A field inwhich the light of the Gospel can and must shine in order to illuminatehumanity's footsteps is politics. Politics requires a commitment of selflessand sincere care for the common good by fully respecting the dignity of thehuman person from conception to natural end, honoring the family founded by themarriage of a man and a woman, and protecting academic freedom; by removing thecauses of injustice, inequality, discrimination, violence, racism, hunger andwar. Christians are asked to give a clear witness to the precept of charity inthe exercise of politics.

Finally, theChurch considers the followers of religions as her natural partners indialogue. One is evangelized because one is convinced of the truth of Christ,not because one is against another. The Gospel of Jesus is peace and joy, andhis disciples are happy to recognize whatever is true and good that humanity'sreligious spirit has been able to glimpse in the world created by God and thatit has expressed in the various religions.

The dialogue among believers of various religions intends to be a contributionto peace. It rejects every fundamentalism and denounces every violence that isbrought upon believers as serious violations of human rights. The Churches ofthe whole world are united in prayer and in fraternity to the sufferingbrothers and sisters and ask those who are responsible for the destinies ofpeoples to safeguard everyone's right to freely choose, profess and witness toone's faith.

11. Remembering the Second VaticanCouncil and referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the Year ofFaith

In the pathopened by the New Evangelization, we might also feel as if we were in a desert,in the midst of dangers and lacking points of reference. The Holy Father BenedictXVI, in his homily for the Mass opening the Year of Faith, spoke of a“spiritual 'desertification'” that has advanced in the last decades. But healso encouraged us by affirming that “it is in starting from the experience ofthis desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing,its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover thevalue of what is essential for living” (Homily for the Eucharistic celebrationfor the opening of the Year of Faith, Rome,11 October 2012). In the desert, like the Samaritan woman, we seek water and awell from which to drink: blessed is the one who encounters Christ there!

We thank theHoly Father for the gift of the Year of Faith, a precious gateway into the pathof the new evangelization. We thank him also for having linked this Year to thegrateful remembrance of the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty yearsago. Its fundamental magisterium for our time shines in the Catechism of theCatholic Church, which is proposed once more as a sure reference of faithtwenty years after its publication. These are important anniversaries, whichallow us to reaffirm our close adherence to the Council's teaching and our firmcommitment to carry on its implementation.

12. Contemplating the mystery and being at the sideof the poor

In thisperspective we wish to indicate to all the faithful two expressions of the lifeof faith which seem particularly important to us for witnessing to it in theNew Evangelization. 

The first is constituted by the gift and experience of contemplation. Atestimony that the world would consider credible can arise only from an adoringgaze at the mystery of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, only from the deepsilence that receives the unique saving Word like a womb. Only this prayerfulsilence can prevent the word of salvation from being lost in the many noisesthat overrun the world.

We now addressa word of gratitude to all men and women who dedicate their lives to prayer andcontemplation in monasteries and hermitages. Moments of contemplation mustinterweave with people's ordinary lives: spaces in the soul, but also physicalones, that remind us of God; interior sanctuaries and temples of stone that,like crossroads, keep us from losing ourselves in a flood of experiences;opportunities in which all could feel accepted, even those who barely know whatand whom to seek.

The othersymbol of authenticity of the new evangelization has the face of the poor.Placing ourselves side by side with those who are wounded by life is not only asocial exercise, but above all a spiritual act because it is Christ's face thatshines in the face of the poor: “Whatever you did for one of these leastbrothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

We mustrecognize the privileged place of the poor in our communities, a place thatdoes not exclude anyone, but wants to reflect how Jesus bound himself to them.The presence of the poor in our communities is mysteriously powerful: itchanges persons more than a discourse does, it teaches fidelity, it makes usunderstand the fragility of life, it asks for prayer: in short, it brings us toChrist.

The gesture ofcharity, on the other hand, must also be accompanied by commitment to justice,with an appeal that concerns all, poor and rich. Hence, the social doctrine ofthe Church is integral to the pathways of the new evangelization, as well asthe formation of Christians to dedicate themselves to serve the human communityin social and political life.

13. To the Churches in the various regions of theworld

The vision ofthe Bishops gathered in the synodal assembly embraces all the ecclesialcommunities spread throughout the world. Their vision seeks to becomprehensive, because the call to encounter Christ is one, while keepingdiversity in mind.

The Bishopsgathered in the Synod gave special consideration, full of fraternal affectionand gratitude, to you Christians of the Catholic Oriental Churches, those whoare heirs of the first wave of evangelization – an experience preserved with loveand faithfulness – and those present in Eastern Europe.Today the Gospel comes to you again in a new evangelization through liturgicallife, catechesis, daily family prayer, fasting, solidarity among families, theparticipation of the laity in the life of communities and in dialogue withsociety. In many places your Churches are amidst trials and tribulation throughwhich they witness to their participation in the sufferings of Christ. Some ofthe faithful are forced to emigrate. Keeping alive their oneness with theircommunity of origin, they can contribute to the pastoral care and to the workof evangelization in the countries that have welcomed them. May the Lordcontinue to bless your faithfulness. May your future be marked by the sereneconfession and practice of your faith in peace and religious liberty.

We look to youChristians, men and women, who live in the countries of Africaand we express our gratitude for your witness to the Gospel often in difficultcircumstances. We exhort you to revive the evangelization that you received inrecent times, to build the Church as the family of God, to strengthen theidentity of the family, to sustain the commitment of priests and catechistsespecially in the small Christian communities. We affirm the need to developthe encounter between the Gospel and old and new cultures. Great expectationand a strong appeal is addressed to the world of politics and to thegovernments of the various countries of Africa, so that, in collaboration withall people of good will, basic human rights may be promoted and the continentfreed from violence and conflicts which still afflict it.

The Bishops ofthe synodal Assembly invite you, Christians of North America, to respond withjoy to the call to a new evangelization, while they look with gratitude at howyour young Christian communities have borne generous fruits of faith, charityand mission. You need to recognize the many expressions of the present culturein the countries of your world which are today far from the Gospel. Conversionis necessary, from which is born a commitment that does not bring you out ofyour cultures, but leaves you in their midst to offer to all the light of faithand the power of life. As you welcome in your generous lands new populations ofimmigrants and refugees, may you be willing to open the doors of your homes tothe faith. Faithful to the commitments taken at the synodal Assembly for America, be united with Latin America in the ongoing evangelization of the continent you share.

The synodal assembly addressed the same sentiment of gratitude to the Church inLatin America and the Caribbean. Particularlystriking throughout the ages is the development in your countries of forms ofpopular piety still fixed in the hearts of many people, of charitable serviceand of dialogue with cultures. Now, in the face of many present challenges,first of all poverty and violence, the Church in Latin America and in theCaribbean is encouraged to live in an ongoing state of mission, announcing theGospel with hope and joy, forming communities of true missionary disciples ofJesus Christ, showing in the commitment of its sons and daughters how theGospel could be the source of a new, just and fraternal society. Religiouspluralism also tests your Churches and requires a renewed proclamation of theGospel.To you, Christians of Asia, we also offer a word of encouragement and ofexhortation. As a small minority in the continent which houses almost twothirds of the world's population, your presence is a fruitful seed entrusted tothe power of the Spirit, which grows in dialogue with the diverse cultures,with the ancient religions and with the countless poor. Although often outcastby society and in many places also persecuted, the Church of Asia, with itsfirm faith, is a valuable presence of Christ's Gospel which proclaims justice,life and harmony. Christians of Asia, feel the fraternal closeness ofChristians of other countries of the world which cannot forget that in yourcontinent – in the Holy Land – Jesus was born,lived, died and rose from the dead.

The Bishopsaddress a word of gratitude and hope to the Churches of the European continent,in part marked today by a strong – sometimes even aggressive – secularization,and in part still wounded by many decades of regimes with ideologies hostile toGod and to humanity. We look with gratitude towards the past, but also to thepresent, in which the Gospel has created in Europe particular expressions andexperiences of faith – often overflowing with holiness – that have beendecisive for the evangelization of the whole world: rich theological thought,various charismatic expressions, various forms of charitable service for thepoor, profound contemplative experiences, the creation of a humanistic culturewhich has contributed to defining the dignity of the person and shaping thecommon good. May the present difficulties not pull you down, dear Christians ofEurope: may you consider them instead as a challenge to be overcome and anoccasion for a more joyful and vivid proclamation of Christ and of his Gospelof life.

Finally, thebishops of the synodal assembly greet the people of Oceaniawho live under the protection of the Southern Cross, they thank them for theirwitness to the Gospel of Jesus. Our prayer for you is that you might feel aprofound thirst for new life, like the Samaritan Woman at the well, and thatyou might be able to hear the word of Jesus which says: “If you knew the giftof God” (John 4:10). May you more strongly feel the commitment to preach theGospel and to make Jesus known in the world of today. We exhort you toencounter him in your daily life, to listen to him and to discover, throughprayer and meditation, the grace to be able to say: “We know that this is trulythe Savior of the World” (John 4:42).

14. The star of Mary illumines the desert

Arriving at theend of this experience of communion among Bishops of the entire world and ofcollaboration with the ministry of the Successor of Peter, we hear echoing inus the actual command of Jesus to his apostles: “Go and make disciples of allnations [...] and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”(Matthew 28:19,20). The mission of the Church is not addressed to onegeographic area only, but goes to the very hidden depths of the hearts of our contemporariesto draw them back to an encounter with Jesus, the Living One who makes himselfpresent in our communities.

This presencefills our hearts with joy. Grateful for the gifts received from him in thesedays, we raise to him the hymn of praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness ofthe Lord [...] The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:46,49). Wemake Mary’s words our own: the Lord has indeed done great things for his Churchthroughout the ages in various parts of the world and we magnify him, certainthat he will not fail to look on our poverty in order to show the strength ofhis arm in our days and to sustain us in the path of the new evangelization.

The figure ofMary guides us on our way. Our journey, as Pope Benedict XVI told us, can seemlike a path across the desert; we know that we must take it, bringing with uswhat is essential: the gift of the Spiritthe company of Jesus, the truth of hisword, the eucharistic bread which nourishes us, the fellowship of ecclesialcommunion, the impetus of charity. It is the water of the well that makes thedesert bloom. As stars shine more brightly at night in the desert, so the lightof Mary, the Star of the new evangelization, brightly shines in heaven on ourway. To her we confidently entrust ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org)

 

Primer on the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization

Posted on October 23, 2012 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Primer on the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization

(http://abpquevedo.blogspot.com/)


 

 

1. What is the Year of Faith?

 

On 11 October 2011 Pope Benedict XVI issued his Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei, Door of Faith (PF), and declared a Year of Faith from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. The Year of Faith would be “a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith” [PF, no 4]. It would be a year “to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith” [PF, no. 6]. The Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world,” a year to intensify the renewal of the Church [ibid.].

 

 

2. What is the significance of the starting and ending dates of the Year of Faith?

 

The starting date, October 11, 2012, is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Vatican II (1962-1964). This Council led to the deepening and greater understanding of our faith and to the comprehensive renewal of the Church as it confronted the many changes of our times. The same date is the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) which is the summary of our Christian faith. The ending date, November 24, 2013, is the Feast of Christ the King who is the center of our profession of faith.

 

3. What is faith?

 

“Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time… it is an assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” [CCC, no. 150; CBCP-ECCE, Catechecism for Filipino Catholics (CFC), 1997, nos. 114-15]. Faith, therefore, is a personal acceptance of God as the source of everything that we are and have. It also means to obey God. To obey comes from the Latin word ob-audire, to hear or to listen. Faith means to “submit freely to the word” of God [CCC, no. 144] who in many ways speaks to us, such as in the Sacred Scriptures, in the Church, in the celebration of the Liturgy, in prayer, or in ordinary situations of life.

 

 

4. When do we receive faith?

 

At the beginning of the rite of Baptism the priest asks: “What do you request of the Church?” The godparents of the child to be baptized answer: “Faith.” It is through Baptism, the “sacrament of faith” that God gives us the gift of faith. Through Baptism we are born into new life and become adopted children of God and heirs of heaven. We are incorporated into the family of faith, the Church.

 

 

5. Is faith necessary?

 

Yes, faith is necessary for salvation. The CCC, no. 161, teaches us: “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for our salvation” [cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn 3:36; 6:40 ff]. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith no one will ever attain eternal life [see Mt. 10:22; 24:13; Heb 11:6].

 

 

6. Why is the Year of Faith necessary?

 

Pope Benedict observes that today we can no longer presume that a person has faith [see PF, 2]. Faith is sometimes openly denied and rejected. It is no longer a norm for everyday life. There is now a crisis of faith. Many developed countries that were once Christian no longer practice the faith. Our own Filipino faith has many weaknesses. Because of this situation, the Year of Faith is necessary. It is a special year for us to know our faith, deepen the understanding of our faith, live our faith and share our faith.

 

 

7. Should our faith keep up with changing times?

 

Yes, our faith should keep up with changing situations. Like the Church that began a period of renewal with Vatican II and opened its windows to the modern world, faith should be immersed into our modern situation. However, the Church has “to transmit the doctrine pure and integral,” in a new way, “according to what is required by our times,” without weakening or distorting it [see Pope John XIII, Address at the Solemn Opening of Vatican II, October 11, 1962, cited by Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the 64th General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, May 24, 2012]. Therefore, our faith must remain fundamentally unchanged in content, while its expression may change so as to be understood by modern man. Our faith must dialogue with the modern spirit, adopt what is authentically of the Gospel, reject or purify what is not. As always we have to heed the prayer of Christ to the Father for his disciples after the Last Supper: “…they are in the world…Holy Father, keep them in your name….they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth” [Jn. 17: 11-17].

 

 

8. What is the secular and materialist spirit?

 

We may distinguish between moderate secularism and radical secularism. Moderate secularism accepts the mutual relationship between secular and the spiritual and religious. Vatican II states that the demand for the autonomy of secular affairs is proper only when it is not in conflict with the moral law or claim independence from God [see Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, no. 36]. This primer focuses on what Pope Benedict XVI has called “radical,” “aggressive,”or “reductive” secularism [see, e.g., Benedict XVI, Address to U.S. Bishops on Ad limina visit, January 19, 2012]. Henceforth in this primer the term secularism refers to radical or reductive secularism. This kind of secularism does not respect the spiritual and religious sphere of life. It is sometimes called the “modern spirit.” It emerged from the Age of Enlightenment or Age of Reason (from about 1650 to 1805) and asserted that reason and science are above faith. It also taught that universal truth comes only from reason and science. This philosophical idea gradually displaced faith and became the prevailing attitude in economically developed countries in the West. In the second half of the 20th century, new secular teachings challenged the “modern spirit” and changed it into an even more radical form. It is called “the post-modern spirit.” As a result of these secular and materialist philosophies for many countries of the West faith no longer has any major role in human behavior and official government policies. Faith is reduced to the private sphere and is not allowed to play any role in the public sphere. Religious symbols and prayer are even banned in public places in some countries.

 

 

9. What does secularism as understood above in this Primer say about truth?

 

Whereas the modern spirit asserted that reason and science can establish universal truths, the post-modern spirit states that there are no universal truths, either from reason and science or from faith. The post-modern spirit asserts that all truth is relative. Truth, whether doctrinal or moral, depends on the individual, on the opinion of people, on culture, etc. This is called “relativism.” The post-modern spirit teaches that truth does not depend on the word of God or on the authority of the Church. Sadly the culture of secularism is now the emerging global culture that has even influenced predominantly Christian countries such as the Philippines.

 

 

10. What does secularism positively contribute to society?

 

The secular, materialist, and relativist spirit promotes individual freedom and democracy. It upholds human equality and dignity. It promotes the empowerment of women. It rejects discrimination based on religion, gender, culture, and social status. It respects religious pluralism and fosters religious tolerance. It has promoted the immense advances and possibilities of science and technology, such as in medical treatment.

 

11. What is the negative impact of secularism?

 

Because of the secular, materialist and relativist spirit, the world is experiencing a loss of a sense of the sacred and a loss of faith as well as a loss of the sense of sin. The secular spirit ignores God. It makes faith irrelevant to public life and policy and makes it only a private affair. It has resulted in a severe weakening of divine and church authority and a rejection of enduring and permanent moral values, such as in marriage. Moreover, it advocates the error of utilitarianism. This philosophy states that what is useful, practical and convenient is the right thing to do, and not what is morally right. The language of morality which was once a language of goodness and evil has been substituted by the language of “political correctness.”

 

 

12. What are other negative influences of secularism?

 

The secularist, materialist and relativist spirit has resulted in the legal approval of artificial contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and eugenics (selection of only normal offspring). The spirit has likewise resulted in excessive individual freedom even at the expense of the common good. For example, on the basis of unconditioned freedom of speech and expression, disrespect of revered religious persons, symbols and doctrines has generated protests and violence in different parts of the world. The secular spirit has also resulted in sexual freedom, such as in the approval of pre-marital sex, various forms of sexual unions, divorce, and even the approval of prostitution in some countries. From these negative influences comes the breakdown of family life.

 

 

13. What does secularism say about the Church?

 

We now see the influences of the secular and materialist spirit in some opinions ventilated in public. These opinions state that the Church is outdated. The Church, they say, is still living in the “dark ages” and has not been enlightened by the light of reason. It is not in touch with the changing times. Instead the Church is responding to modern ways of thinking and valuing by asserting old doctrines and outdated moral values. Those who are faithful to Church teachings are labeled “conservatives” and those who dissent are “progressives” or “liberals.” An example of the secular and materialist view may be found in the present debate between pro-life and pro-choice, between opponents and promoters of the Reproductive Health Bill now being discussed in the Philippine Congress.

 

 

14. In what way is the secular spirit at work in the proposed Reproductive Health Bill?

 

The promoters of the Reproductive Health Bill assert that the bill has nothing to do with religion or morality. According to them the use of artificial contraceptive means to prevent conception or to terminate implantation is simply a matter of safeguarding the health of women. They say that preventing unwanted pregnancy through contraceptives and choosing the number of children parents want is responsible parenthood. Preventing pregnancy through artificial means also alleviates the burden of the poor in raising too many children. In addition, the secular and materialist argument allows the distribution of contraceptive means to young people and to the unmarried in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The promoters of Reproductive health consider all these acts as necessary and useful. These acts are allowed because of the freedom of choice. Sex outside marriage is also fine as long as it is “safe sex.” Moreover, some proponents say that no religion or church can impose its teaching on how a woman should take care of her body. What she does with her body is her “freedom of choice.” These arguments are the influence of secularism that rejects faith and morality as norms of action.

 

 

15. What is the official Catholic position on the Reproductive Health bill?

 

As teachers of faith the Bishops of the Philippines point out that the distribution and use of artificial contraceptive means to prevent conception and the implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb are not morally neutral. Based on official Catholic moral teaching, they are in fact morally evil. Moreover, the Bishops point out that aside from purely Catholic moral teachings, there is a universal moral law, the natural law, which serves as a moral guide for all [see Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the International Congress on Natural Law, Rome, February 12, 2007; see also Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC), 2004, nos. 138-41]. Furthermore, the freedom to choose cannot be contrary to the law of God who gave that freedom. Briefly and simply, the freedom to choose is not absolute. It is necessarily limited by the moral law, as taught authoritatively by the magisterium or teaching authority of the Church [Cf. CSDC, nos. 137, 139].

 

 

 

 

16. What is to be said about members of Catholic educational institutions who dissent against teachings of the Church?

 

Invoking the principle of academic freedom, some members of Catholic educational institutions publicly dissent against official Catholic teachings regarding the Reproductive Health bill. This may be another example of the influence of the secular and materialist spirit in our midst. A Catholic institution of higher learning, whether pontifical or not, has to be faithful to its identity, nature, and role as a Catholic institution. One of the distinctive marks essential for Catholic identity is fidelity to the Christian message in conformity with the magisterium of the Church [see Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae (ECE), August 15, 1990, I, no. 13; see also United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, An Application to the United States, 2001, Part I, V and Part II, art. 2]. This is also to adhere to the special charisms of the religious community that founded the institution. In fact the Catholic identity of the educational institution is usually expressed explicitly in its vision-mission statement. Moreover the Catholic identity of Philippine Catholic Universities is confirmed by membership in the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) whose statutes were approved by the Holy See in 1949. Therefore, by its very nature and identity a Catholic educational institution adheres to the truths that are contained in the deposit of faith, Scripture and Tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the Church. Faculty members share in the responsibility of preserving and promoting the Catholic identity of the institution. Pope Benedict XVI has pointed out the confusion created among the faithful “by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership” [see Pope Benedict XVI, Address to U.S. Bishops on ad limina visit, Rome, May 5, 2012]. In brief, academic freedom is not a right for faculty members of a Catholic educational institution to betray its Catholic identity and nature and cannot be a reason for dissenting against the official Catholic position as on the Reproductive Health Bill [On academic freedom see Code of Canon Law, 1983, c 218; likewise relevant are cc 806 and 810].

 

 

17. What kind of faith do we, Filipino Catholics, have?

 

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines characterized our Filipino Catholic faith in several ways [see PCP-II, Acts and Decrees, 1991, nos. 8-17]. Our faith is deep and simple. We express our Christian faith publicly without embarrassment. We are often faithful in attending Holy Mass and in praying novenas to different saints. We outwardly celebrate the Sacraments, such as going to Mass, being baptized, receiving confirmation, getting married. We are aware that God has an influence on our life. We have a sense of God’s own time. Even when abroad when it is difficult to express our faith, we try to be faithful to our religious duties and devotions.

 

 

18. What are the weaknesses of our faith?

 

While we are outwardly devoted to the practices of our faith such as going to Mass, celebrating the sacraments, praying the Rosary, etc., we often do not understand their meaning. Much less do we put into practice what they really mean. Our faith is not lived in the public sphere. It is separated from life. Hence, “we are sacramentalized but not evangelized.” Our faith is ritualistic and devotional, i.e., centered on externals and non-essentials. We see this kind of ritualistic faith in our veneration of the saints, in our processions and fiestas. Our faith is also sometimes fatalistic, attributing almost everything to God without our own responsibility. Thus we say bahala na ang Diyos when we take unnecessary risks (as in riding overloaded buses or boats), when prudence and wisdom should tell us not to take the risks [For the weaknesses of our faith see PCP-II, no. 13 and CFC nos. 116-18]. Because we really do not know our faith well, we are often easily persuaded by religious teachers who interpret the Sacred Scriptures different from our own interpretation. In other words, to a great extent we are Catholics only in name, but are very much uninformed and focused on externals.

 

 

19. Because of the inadequacies of our faith, what should we do during the Year of Faith?

 

The Year of Faith is a privileged occasion for us to know our faith, deepen our faith, live our faith, celebrate our faith, and share our faith. Pope Benedict XVI urges us “to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction…. to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist....” The Pope prays “that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility” [PF, no. 9].

 

 

20. What can we do to know our faith?

 

We need to study our catechism, especially the most essential elements of our faith. We have to understand their meaning for our life. The essential elements of our faith are contained in the Apostles’ Creed that we recite during Sunday Mass. It is called the Apostles’ Creed, because it is a faithful summary of the faith of the Apostles and was the ancient profession of faith of the Church of Rome, the “See of Peter, the first of the Apostles.” The Apostles’ Creed is elaborated by the Niceno-Constantinopolitan, which originated from the first two ecumenical councils of the Church (in the years 325 and 381). This creed is common to the churches of both East and West.

 

 

21. What does the Apostles’ Creed contain?

 

The Creed contains the 12 Articles of our Christian Faith, namely:

Article 1 – I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Article 2 – I believe in Jesus Christ the Only Son of God.

Article 3 - He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary.

Article 4 – Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

Article 5 – He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again.

Article 6 – He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Article 7 – From thence he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Article 8 – I believe in the Holy Spirit.

Article 9 – I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.

Article 10 – I believe in the forgiveness of sins.

Article 11 – I believe in the Resurrection of the Body.

Article 12 – I believe in life everlasting.

 

These are the fundamental elements of our faith. We should know and understand them with our minds and hearts. When we recite with faith the Apostles’ Creed we unite ourselves with God and with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us. Our “Amen” at the end of the Apostles’ Creed expresses our firm conviction that God is trustworthy and that we absolutely trust in him.

 

 

22. How do we celebrate our faith?

 

We celebrate our faith in God by adoring, praising, and thanking God. This is our response to God and for his blessings to us. We give this response of faith through prayer especially through the liturgy.

 

 

23. What is the Liturgy?

 

The liturgy is the prayer of the Church and consists principally of the celebration of the Paschal Mystery which is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, the event by which Jesus our Lord saved us from sin. When we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. We believe that in the Mass, Christ is present and active. It is He who offers his own sacrifice. The ordained priest acts in his name because he shares in the priestly power of Christ because of priestly ordination.

 

The liturgy also consists of the other Sacraments. By his power, Jesus acts in the other sacraments such that when we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, it is Jesus himself through the hands of the priests who baptizes us. We also celebrate our faith when we read the Scriptures and when we pray. In all these, Christ is present and active.

 

 

24. How should we live our faith?

 

We live our faith by living a truly moral life, a life that is faithful to the commandments of God. Jesus himself said: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me” [Jn. 14:21]. The commandments are summarized in the law of love taught by Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” [Mk. 12:30-31; see also Dt. 6:5]. The law of love is elaborated in the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments express love of God and the next seven commandments express love of neighbor. The truly moral life, therefore, is a life of genuine charity. Pope Benedict states: “Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other” [PF, no. 14]. Charity is faith in action. If charity, then also justice, because justice and charity are inseparable. To love God and our neighbor, to avoid offending God and neighbor through sin are actually the promises we made when we received Baptism, the sacrament of faith. At our baptism we promise to believe in God. This also means to love God and reject sin. The baptismal promise is a promise to live a truly moral life. We are Christians not only in name but also in deed by living our faith in private and public life.

 

 

 

 

 

25. How else should we live our faith?

 

When God gave us the gift of faith at Baptism, he incorporated us into his own family of faith, the Church. The Church has a mandate to safeguard and teach what God has revealed. She is our Mother and Teacher. We live our faith when we are faithful not only to what the Church declares solemnly as divinely revealed but also to the doctrinal and moral teachings that the Church has consistently and ordinarily taught through time.

 

 

26. Do we have a duty to proclaim our faith?

 

Yes, we have. The obligation is included in the mandate that Jesus gave his Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always until the close of the age” [Mt. 28:19-20]. To proclaim our faith is to proclaim the good news of Jesus our Lord and Savior. This is our mission from the very moment we were baptized and became members of the Church. The whole Church exists in order to proclaim Jesus as the Lord and Savior. St. Paul expresses the duty of every member of the Church: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” [1 Cor. 9:16].

 

 

27. Who is the Center of our proclamation?

 

What we proclaim is not a revealed book nor an ideology, not a doctrine nor a social cause, not some great human value nor an idea. The center of our proclamation is “before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God” [John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990, no. 18; cf. CFC, nos. 216-17, 220-22, 464]. He is our Lord and our Savior. Through his passion, death, and resurrection – the Paschal Mystery – he saved us from sin. This is why the Cross is the symbol of our faith. Unfortunately aggressive secularism ignores our faith in Jesus and puts it aside to the margins of public life, or even rejects the faith. That is why we have to tell the story of Jesus, proclaim him as the Lord and Savior. We have to “Live Christ, Share Christ.” [CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on the Era of New Evangelization, “Live Christ, Share Christ, July 23, 2012].

 

28. How should we proclaim our faith?

 

We proclaim our faith in many ways. We tell and teach others about our faith. Parents are the first teachers of the faith for their children. By teaching their children who God is, how to pray to God, what his commandments are, parents share their faith with them. Besides cooperating with God in giving and nourishing the physical life of their children, they also give and nourish their life of faith. We share our faith with others by providing material and moral support to those whose main task is to preach and teach the faith such as priests, religious, catechists, missionaries and other collaborators in the Church’s mission. But most of all we proclaim and share our faith with others by our life, by our witness of a good Christian life. In the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 2:42-47] many were daily attracted to the new faith by the faithful Christian life of the early followers of Christ. Ordinary day to day fidelity to the Lord’s law of love – ordinary holiness – is the most eloquent proclamation of our faith.

 

 

29. What kind of new evangelizers should we be?

 

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, new evangelizers have to be: persons who have mature faith “because they have encountered Jesus Christ, who has become the fundamental reference of their life; persons who know Him because they love Him and they love Him because they have known Him; persons capable of giving solid and credible reasons of life.” [Papal Address to the 64th General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, May 24, 2012].

 

 

30. Who are our models of faith?

 

In the first place is our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, the Woman of Faith, always obedient to the will of the Father and the constant faithful disciple of Jesus her Son [See CFC, nos. 155-59]. Despite not fully understanding the profound mysteries of the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, she gave her obedience of faith to God. The “cloud of witnesses” of the faith is the multitude of Saints in heaven. Among them are recent men and women of holiness such as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed John Paul II, Padre Pio, our own San Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod.

 

 

31. What does the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod mean for us?

 

Pope Benedict XVI will declare Blessed Pedro Calungsod as Saint in Rome on October 21, 2012 and will add yet another Filipino to our models of faith. Like San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Pedro Calungsod is a lay martyr who gave up his life in an ultimate witness of his faith in the Lord Jesus. As a young catechist he was a teacher of the faith. He is a model for all Filipinos, especially for our Filipino youth, to be faithful to Jesus with love and courage till death.

 

 

32. What event does the Year of Faith and the canonization recall to Filipinos?

 

San Pedro Calungsod was a Visayan youth martyred in far away Guam 151 years after the Spaniards first brought the Christian faith to people in the Visayas. The first Holy Mass was celebrated on the island of Limasawa on March 31, 1521. San Pedro Calungsod is canonized in the Year of Faith which is only nine years away from the 500th anniversary of the faith of Filipino Christians. For this reason on the day of San Pedro Calungsod’s canonization on October 21, the Church in the Philippines “will embark on a nine year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church starting October 21, 2012 until March 16, 2021” [CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on the Era of New Evangelization, 2012].

 

 

33. How shall we prepare for this great event - the 500th anniversary of our Filipino

faith?

 

The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines exhorted us to prepare for the 5thcentenary of our Christian faith in the Philippines with a nine year “Era of New Evangelization.” The opening of the Year of Faith and the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod take place during the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, October 7 to 28, 2012. The Synod of Bishops explores the theme of New Evangelization. In view of the weaknesses of our faith and the negative influences of secularism on our Filipino culture, a New Evangelization is necessary in the Philippines. In fact 21 years ago PCP-II already envisioned a “new evangelization” or “renewed integral evangelization” for the Philippines [see Message of the Council to the People of God in the Philippines, in PCP-II Acts and Decrees, 1991, p. xcviii; see esp. nos. 186 – 201].

 

 

34. What is the New Evangelization?

 

The term New Evangelization “designates pastoral outreach to those who no longer practice the Christian faith” [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization, December 3, 2007, 12], a situation which is due to the secular and materialist spirit. Pope Benedict XVI said that this new cultural situation has signs of excluding God from peoples’ lives and tries to marginalize the faith from public life (Benedict the XVI, Address to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, May 30, 2011). We have already noted that our faith has to be renewed. Our culture is now very much influenced by the secular and materialist spirit. Therefore, a New Evangelization is necessary, “new in its ardor, methods and expressions” [Pope John Paul II, Discourse to XIX Assembly of CELAM, Post au Prince, 1983]. Such will surely renew both our faith and the Church.

 

 

35. What is our general plan for the Era of New Evangelization?

 

We need to intensify our efforts to achieve the vision of renewal that PCP-II and the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR, 2001) drew up. It is a vision of renewed integral evangelization towards a renewed Church. We may call it a vision of New Evangelization in the Philippines. It calls for a multifaceted renewal of faith, renewal of laity, clergy, religious, parishes, and renewal of mission. For this purpose, the NPCCR identified nine major pastoral priorities. These are: (1) Integral Faith Formation; (2) Renewal of the Laity; (3) Active Participation of the Poor; (4) The Family as the Focal Point of Evangelization; (5) The Parish as a Communion of Communities; (6) Renewal of the Clergy and Religious; (7) Youth as Evangelized and Evangelizers; (8) Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue; (9) Missio ad gentes.

 

 

36. How shall we address the Nine Major Pastoral Priorities of the Church in the

Philippines during the Era of Evangelization?

 

For the nine-year era of New Evangelization to be fruitful, it is absolutely necessary to hold the Holy Eucharist as central so that the grace of the Eucharist would accompany all our evangelizing efforts. Prayer must accompany the New Evangelization. We need to realize that the journey of faith and discipleship begins with conversion, metanoia, a change of mind and heart. With these in mind, we shall dedicate each of the nine years of the Era of New Evangelization to one of the nine-major pastoral priorities. Thus:

 

 

2013 – Integral Faith Formation;

2014 – Renewal of the Laity;

2015 – Active participation of the Poor in Evangelization and

Social transformation;

2016 – The Eucharist and the Family – this year the International Eucharistic

Congress will be held in Cebu;

2017 – Transforming the parish as a Communion and Communities;

2018 – Renewal of Clergy and Religious;

2019 – Active Participation of the Youth;

2020 – Ecumenism and Inter-Religious dialogue;

2021 - Missio ad gentes.

 

 

37. What is the significance of Mission ad gentes for Filipino Catholics?

 

The final year, 2021, of the Era of New Evangelization will be the 5th centenary of the Filipino Christian faith. The focus will be on the mission of the Church ad gentes or the mission to those who do not yet know Christ. Celebrating the 500thanniversary of Christianity in the Philippines, we are reminded that our faith is missionary. Recent Popes have pointed out that the Church in the Philippines has a “special missionary vocation” and is called in a special way to be a missionary “to the nations” – ad gentes, particularly to Asia [Pope John Paul II, to the Philippine Bishops in 19981; at the World Youth Day in 1995; cited by the CBCP Pastoral Letter, Missions and the Church in the Philippines, July 5, 2000]. This is so because the Philippines is the biggest predominantly Catholic country in Asia. Pope Benedict XVI speaks of the necessity of sharing our faith::

 

…faith in God is above all a gift and mystery to be received in the heart and in life and for which we are to be always grateful to the Lord. But faith is a gift that is given to us to be shared; it is a talent received so that it will bear fruit; it is a light that must not be kept hidden, but illumine the whole house. It is the most important gift that has been given to us in our lives and we cannot keep it for ourselves” [Benedict XVI, Message for World Mission Day to be celebrated on October 21, 2012].

 

 

38. Do the Year of Faith and the Era of New Evangelization address burning issues

confronting our society today?

 

Yes, they do. Our goal is a renewed faith and a renewed Church. This is a vision of a faith and Church engaged in the mission of integral evangelization. This mission includes the task of social transformation. As a renewed Church we have to be actively involved, through a renewed integral faith, in helping resolve the burning social issues of today such as corruption, poverty, the destruction of the environment, threats against human life and dignity, and other burning issues of our day. Most of our problems are due to the dichotomy between faith and life. A renewed faith, that includes the social implications of the Gospel, would certainly address the problems directly.

 

 

 

 

 

39. Prayer for the Year of Faith

 

According to Pope Benedict XVI “Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in Baptism” [PF, no. 9]. Therefore, following the example of the early Christians we should recite everyday the Niceno-Constantinopolitan profession of faith:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

 

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

 

(At the words, up to and including “and became man,” all bow)

 

and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

 

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

 

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

Reciting often the short traditional Act of Faith will also deepen our faith:

 

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man, and died for our sins and that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.

 

 

 

 

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.

Archbishop of Cotabato

October 1, 2012


 

 

 

Most Rev. Renato P. Mayugba, DD new representative of ECBA-CBCP

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Bishop Renato P. Mayugba, DD Elected/Appointed by the CBCP to represent ECBA to CBFMost Rev. Renato P. Mayugba, DD

The vice chairman of ECBA Bishop Renato P. Mayugba, DD was recently elected/appointed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to represent this full member to the CBF.   ECBA was elected in Dar Es Salaam CBF Plenary Assembly in 2008 to represent the Asia -Oceania Region to the Executive Committee (EC).   Bishop Mayugba now represents Asia-Oceania in the CBF Executive Committee until the next CBF Plenary Assembly.


The Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is supervised and governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of Bishop Commission Members, Executive Secretary, and the Regional Directors. It communicates with the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) and the office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and maintains relations with the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), the Summer Institute of Linguistic (SIL) and other inter-confessional organizations involved in Biblical Apostolate.

ECBA is a Full Member of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) which is “a Catholic world fellowship, of administratively distinct international local organizations committed to biblical-pastoral ministry”. The federation is a public association of Christ’s faithful. It relates to the Holy See through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

ECBA is run by an Executive Board composed of the Bishop Chairman, Executive Secretary, Treasurer, Office Secretary, Word Web Editor, NCR Bible Director, Manila Suffragans Bible Director and Consultors elected by the Executive Committee. (cbfseawordpress.com)

 

FINAL STATEMENT - 6th CBF-SEA Bible Workshop

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

6TH SOUTH EAST ASIA BIBLE WORKSHOP

CATHOLIC BIBLICALFEDERATION

Bandung, Indonesia

August 6-10, 2012


 FINAL STATEMENT


“That which we have seenand heard,

we proclaim also to you sothat you may have also fellowship

with us and our fellowshipis with the Father

and with his Son JesusChrist”

(I Jn 1, 2-3) VD 2.

 (by http://cbfsea.wordpress.com/)

In the 6th CBF-SEAWorkshop, with the theme Verbum Domini: The Word in Our World Today, we the 57participants from six countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia,Vietnam and the Philippines) came to Bandung, Indonesia, home of the CBF-SEAsub-region coordinator Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU, for an important event.  We came to celebrate the gift of our life andmission together as CBF-SEA and to move ahead by planning the programs thatwill implement the exhortations of the Verbum Domini in the contexts of ourcountries.  This hopefully prepares theCBF-SEA for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

This gathering of fivedays was a continuous encounter with the Lord walking with us, as in Emmaus (Lk24, 13-35).  At the heart of thisgathering is encountering the risen Lord, teaching us how to pay attention to himwho comes to us in new and surprising ways as we walk along the road ofdiscipleship and mission.

The timing of the workshopwas perfect.  It began on the feast ofTransfiguration and concluded on the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon andmartyr.  The Lord’s message to us as biblicalpastoral workers was clear:  He wants totransfigure us as servants of the Word and encourage us to give of ourselvescheerfully relying on his providence and assured of the blossoming of his Word.  Indeed the Word of God proclaimed in theliturgy is always living and effective through the power of the Holy Spirit (VD52) and that from the gospel we discover anew the direction for our journey (VD51).


We feel fortunate to havebeen richly nourished through the wisdom of our pastors and speakers who haveguided us towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of the message of thepapal document.  Their bearing, soexpressive of the humble, listening and loving Shepherd, has inspired us.  These experiences, together with ourenriching celebration of the Word and the Eucharist, of the reports from thedifferent countries, of fellowship, and of cultural and interreligiousexposures, have challenged us to make concrete responses.  Hopefully these will make many otherspartakers of the same treasures of the Word and of the document.  We therefore believe in pursuing thefollowing, either as CBF-SEA or individual local Church:

 

1. Translation andProduction of Bibles, Programs, documents, Homiletic Aides, Bible ReferencesGuide

This is still a priorityconcern in all SEA countries as the Word is still a privilege of the few andmany are left either without it or have to do with one in a language not theirown.  This goes true for the otherpertinent documents such as Verbum Domini, Bible Study Programs, Homiletic Aidsand relevant pastoral-biblical ministry materials.

 

2. On-going IntegralFormation of Pastoral-Biblical Workers

The present set ofpastoral-biblical workers need an on-going integral formation in line with thethrust of the Verbum Domini.  It is alsonoted that more workers are to be engaged in the same apostolate and for whom arelevant formation program is to be drafted and implemented.  For all of them, both old and new, anintegral pastoral care needs to be extended.

We commend our pastoralbiblical workers for their commitment and sacrifices.  There is a need to provide them with skillstraining, updating, financial assistance, and to encourage more faithful tojoin them in the task.  We commit totraining new co-workers especially from among the young.


3. Formation of theFaithful in the Word of God

Moved by compassion forthe multitudes, “sheep without a shepherd”, the CBF-SEA sees the importance of cascading the life-giving power of theWord through holding of seminars and workshops that will empower thelaity.  In many instances, resources runshort in order to realize this undertaking.

The means of the massmedia cannot be underestimated and therefore every country must try to findways how to explore and make use of it for the benefit of the proclamation ofthe Word.  Establishing a web site,producing videos, CD’s, magazines must be seriously considered.


 4. Collaboration with ExistingInstitutions/Communities

The spirit ofcollaboration is the heart of the CBF, bringing together the different localand international institutions united by the common concern for the Word.  It is therefore part of the CBF life to bringtogether these institutions through assemblies and partnerships in thedifferent undertakings.   Assemblies inthe form of mandated regular gathering of the members and open to associatesand guests or for purposes of formation through seminars and workshops, may beenriched when done with the help of the expertise available within the SEA andmade easier when financial constraints are overcome through generosity of somefunding agencies.


We acknowledge theundertakings and programs of every country and we urge them to continue thepresent initiatives.  Pragmatic concernsmay come into consideration but the CBF-SEA, well anchored in the providence ofGod proven in many ways and instances, believes that these programs cannot behindered or delayed by lack of help from the outside.  With the existing resources within the SEAsub-region, especially in terms of expertise from among our members, much canhappen.  Each must be always aware of theurgency to spread the Word, make it understood, the way Jesus commanded hisapostles, “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers foryour purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or astaff, for the laborer deserves his keep” (Mt. 10, 9-10).  Our little contributions like the boy withfive loaves of barley bread and two fish (Jn 6, 7-15) will surely bring a lot offragments to gather and our harmonious working together in the spirit ofangklung symphony will produce a liberating music to the spirit.


We thank all those whohave made their contributions to make this assembly indeed fruitful. We makespecial mention of the Ursuline Sisters, the Diocese of Bandung and the membersof the Angela Merici Biblical Center  andall the other lay collaborators.

May the Lord, through thehelp of the Virgin Mother, help us prepare the soil and let the seed grow,blossom and yield much fruit.

 

The Participants

 

headed by

 

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU

 

Subregional Coordinator

 

10 August 2012

 

 

 

THE PARTICIPANTS

 

 

Philippines

 

Most Rev. Pablo VirgilioDavid,DD                       ECBA

[email protected]

 

Most Rev. Renato P. Mayugba, DD                      ECBA

[email protected]

 

Fr. Dominador Ramos, SVD                                  SVD-PHN

[email protected]

 

Fr. Arthur Leger, SJ                                                EAPI

[email protected]

 

Fr. Raul M.  Buhay, OAR

[email protected]

 

Fr. Anthony P. Ireneo, OAR

[email protected]

 

Fr. Cirilo Mayugba

[email protected]

 

Fr. Ferdinand T. Maguigad

[email protected]

 

Ms. Natividad Pagadut                                            ECBA

[email protected]

 

Mrs. Cynthia Gacayan                                           CLFC     

[email protected]

 

Ms Carmencita B. Rojas                                         EAPI

[email protected]

 

Ms. Celsa P. Uy                                                         IPD

[email protected]

 

Ms. Felicidad  J. Gines                                           JPIBC

[email protected]

 

Mr. Teddy M. Fernandez

[email protected]

 

Mr. Charles Javier

[email protected]

 

Mr. Raymond Anthony V.Feria                             IPD

[email protected]

 

 

Vietnam


Sr. Mary Do Thi Yen                                    ConferenceEpiscopale

[email protected]

 

Fr. Joseph Nguyen TienDung                 Liturgy of the Hours

[email protected]

 

 

Thailand

 

 Bp. Vira Apondratana,DD                                Cath. Comm. forthe Bible

[email protected]

 

Mr. Paul SombatNgamvong                      Catech. Center of Bangkok

[email protected]

 

Fr. Anek Namwong

[email protected]

 

Sr. Marie Reine Lekprasert

[email protected]

 

Sr. Theresia Bello

[email protected]

 

Sr. Kwanriem Pienruksa

[email protected]

 

Mrs Supannee Bunyarat

[email protected]

 

Mr. John Boonlai Boontha

[email protected]

 

 

Myanmar

 

Archbishop Charles Bo, DD

[email protected]

 

Fr. Bosco Saw                                  Cath Bishops’Conference

[email protected]

 

 

Cambodia                                                                                                                         

 

Mr. Peter Bouy          Commission Biblique Interdiocesane

[email protected]

 

 

Indonesia

 

Fr. Y. B. Isdaryanto, SVD            SVD Java

 

[email protected]

 

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto                AMBC

 

[email protected]

 

 

 

Guests

 

Fr. Y. M. Vianey Lusi EmI, CMF

[email protected]

 

Sr. Antonia Simanora PK

[email protected]

 

Sr. Engelina Diah Wulandari PK

[email protected]

 

Sr. Mary Wilfrid DayritSPC

[email protected]

 

Sr.Delfina Nuwa,SPC.

 

Sr. Milagros Carpena

[email protected]

 

Sr. Jeannette Krista OSU

 

Sr. Agatha Linda OSU

[email protected]

 

Mr. Herman Joseph Oei

 

CTSI  group

 

Mr. Jeffrey Hehanussa

[email protected]

 

Mr. Agustinus Handoyo

 

Mr. Frans Kamarudin

[email protected]

 

Sr. Elisabeth Tjahjana

[email protected]

 

Mr. Carl Gunawan Untadi

[email protected]

 

Ms. Maria Immaculata

[email protected]

 

Dr. Irene Setiadi

[email protected]

 

Ms. Maria Theresia NanikRoswati

[email protected]

 

Ms. Maria Theresia JennyOtita

[email protected]>


(by http://cbfsea.wordpress.com/)

 

6th CBF-SEA Workshop - KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

VERBUM DOMINI IN OUR WORLD TODAY

Archbishop Charles Bo, SDB

Archbishop of Yangon – Myanmar

KEYNOTE ADDRESS


Respected Brother Bishops, dignitaries, Priests, religious, all the other esteemed delegates, Shalom. Minglaba,

Salam alikum!

It is a greathonor to address this august assembly, consisting of eminent scholars,practitioners of the Word.   I have neither the boast of scripturescholar nor the gift of an evangelical preacher.  I am not the wise manfrom the East, I am a shepherd, in many ways, whose knowledge of the ‘word thatbecome flesh’ is not laudatory as the scholars assembled here.  I am apastor from a country till recently closed to the world. I am aware there arebiblical scholars here, bishops who have done studies in depth on Verbum Dominiand other papal document.

So yourindulgence in inviting me to deliver this key note address is an affectionatehonor you bestow on the people of Myanmar, whose long night of silenttears is slowly breaking into new dawn.  In that way, we are a people whoIsaiah praised as the people ‘who walked in the darkness and awaiting to seethe light’.  I owe a debt of gratitude to the organizers, for this honorand friendship.

Let me beginwith a little story:

The Grain ofRice

Once there wasa good king who ruled wisely and who ruled well. He was loved by all the peopleof his kingdom. One day the king called his four daughters together and toldthem that he was leaving on a long journey. “I wish to learn more about God. Iam going to a far off monastery to spend a long time in prayer. In my absence Iam leaving the four of you in charge of my kingdom.”

 ”Oh,Father,” they cried, “don’t leave us. We will never be able to rule the kingdomwithout you.”

The kingsmiled. “You’ll do well in my absence,” he said. “Now before I leave, I wish togive each of you a gift. It is my prayer that this gift will help you learn howto rule.” The king placed a single grain of rice in each daughter’s hand. Thenhe left on his journey.

The oldestdaughter immediately went to her room. She tied a long golden thread around thegrain of rice and placed it in a beautiful crystal box. Every day she picked upthe box and looked at it.

The seconddaughter also went to her room, where she placed the grain of rice in a woodenbox and put it in a secure spot under her bed.

The thirddaughter, a very pragmatic young woman, looked at the grain of rice andthought, “This grain of rice is no different from any other grain of rice.” Shesimply threw the grain of rice away.

The youngestdaughter took her grain of rice to her room and wondered about the significanceof the gift. She wondered for a week, then a month. When nearly a year passed,she understood the meaning of the gift.

 Monthsturned into years, and the four daughters ruled their father’s kingdom. Andthen one day, the king returned. His beard was full and his eyes sparkled withillumination gained through years of prayer. The king greeted each of hisdaughters, then asked to see the gifts he had left with them.

The oldestdaughter rushed to her room and brought back the crystal box. “Father,” shebegan, “I carefully tied a golden thread around the grain of rice and have keptit near my bed where I have looked at it every day since you left.”

Bowing to hisdaughter, the king accepted the box and said, “Thank you.”

Next, thesecond daughter presented her father with a wooden box containing the grain ofrice. “All these years I’ve kept the rice secure under my bed,” she said. “Hereit is.”

Again thefather bowed to his daughter, accepted the box, and said, “Thank you.”

The thirddaughter rushed into the kitchen, found a grain of rice, ran back and said,“Father, here is my grain of rice.”

Smiling, theking accepted the grain of rice, bowed, and said, “Thank you.”

Finally theyoungest daughter stepped before her father and said, “I do not have the grainof rice that you gave me,” she said.

 ”Well,what have you done with it?” the king inquired.

 ”Father,I thought about that grain of rice for nearly a year before I discovered themeaning of the gift. I realized that the grain of rice was a seed. So I plantedit in the ground. Soon it grew, and from it I harvested other seeds. I thenplanted all those seeds, and again I harvested the crop. Father, I’ve continuedto do this. Come outside, look at the results.”

The kingfollowed his daughter where he looked out at an enormous crop of ricestretching as far as the eye could see. There was enough rice to feed theentire nation.

Stepping beforehis daughter, the king took off his gold­en crown and placed it on her head.“You have learned the meaning of how to rule,” he said softly.

From that dayon, the youngest daughter ruled the kingdom. She ruled long, wisely and well.

I haveorganized my simple talk into just three major sections:

The context with special reference to the Holy Father’s intention of year of Faith and New Evangelization that has to be taken to  the modern man and woman in their context,The opportunities  a  new  world  offers andThe challenges ahead.Some of thesethemes are known to you all. My attempt is to initiate reflection on some ofthe urgent needs of the world to which the Word of God can be great answer.

His PresenceAmong Us today:

 Istrongly feel the presence of the Lord Jesus amidst us in this conference. Iwish to greet you in the words our Lord used when he entered the house ofZacchaeus. “Blessings have come to this house” (Lk 19:9)   We startwith that prayer for blessings and salvation in the name of Jesus. We aregathered in the house of the Lord – believing strongly ‘the word becomes Fleshamidst us’.  (John 1:14)This is a sacred moment and sacred Place.  Wegather with the same feeling that the psalmist felt ‘Come within his gatesgiving thanks, to his courts singing praise, give thanks to him and bless hisname! (Ps: 100:4). As the Acts of the Apostles gathered in one place (Acts 2:1-4) we pray for the pouring of spirit in these days.   We pray offulfillment of his promise  “For where two or three are gathered in myname, I am amidst them. (Mathew 18:20).  Ours is a faith Journey of thedisciples of Emmaus, whose little faith and doubt, ended with a magnificentprayer: stay with us Lord. (Lk 24:29). May His Spirit Animate us.

The Logo – itsrelevance and the Challenge

The beautifully designed logo of this conference tells it all – Verbum Domini, theWord of the Lord is for us engraved in the Holy Book, the Sacred Scriptureswhich always gets a prominent place in our churches, homes, and above all, inour hearts. The world is our planet earth. The workshop is for South East Asia as partly seen on the logo.  Thefocus is on West Java with the yellow color. Bandung, the venue issituated there. The figure on the left depicts the “Rishi” priest or holy manin the Mahabharata or Ramayana story.  The “wayang” is a very oldtradition from Hindu times. It is performed by people or by puppets made ofclay or leather.  The figure here is made of leather.  The arms aremoveable by sticks, controlled by the puppeteer, one who tells the story. TheRishi brings us to prayer, to worship, to communication with God. The Wordinvites us first of all to listen to the Word in prayer. The boy on the left isplaying the angklung, a traditional bamboo instrument. It brings us to everydaylife where the Word has to take root, become flesh and bones, speak to us injoy and sorrow, in sickness and in health.

1. The contextof our Gathering today:

The country

We aregathering in the largest Muslim Country in the world. Their faith theiradherence to the Book has always inspired us.  We, the Jews, theChristians and Muslims are the sons of Abraham, children of the covenant. Faith is an integral part of a Muslim’s life. Parts of Koran are shared withthe Christian tradition.  Isau as Jesus, Miriam as Mary, Ibrahim asAbraham, we share the same faith journey.  Let this fellowship be mutuallyenriching. Indonesian Christians have redefined their faith and exemplaryChristian life amidst their Muslim brethren, promoting understanding and mutualadmiration. Vatican II realized the special relationship we enjoy with Muslims:“The plan of Salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in thefirst place among whom are Muslims, these profess to hold the faith of Abraham,and together with us they adore the One, merciful God, mankind’s judge on thelast day” (The Dogmatic Constitution on the church Lumen Gentium (LG 16). Wecome as brothers and fellow pilgrims in our sacred journey.

Special Year:

This is theyear of Faith, the year of New Evangelization. The clarion call to allChristians to understand the Word of God and proclaim gains a new urgency withthis initiative.   It started with the Second Vatican Council, reaffirmed in the Encyclical Evangeli Nuntianti and popularized by the Pope JohnPaul II.  The present Holy Father, in his erudite wisdom has called forthe whole church to take the word and proclaim it.   So there is arenewed urgency and a relevance to our gathering today.

Christ’smandate:

Christ himselfis the gift from the father.  He is the word that became flesh. He broughtthe good news and collected a group of disciples. The call to proclaim the wordwas given by our Lord Jesus Christ himself:

Go thereforeand make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father andof the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I havecommanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. (Mt. 28:19-20)

This word is amessage revealed through Jesus himself to all of us.

 Now Iwant to make it quite clear to you, brothers, about the gospel that waspreached by me, that it was no human message. It was not from any human beingthat I received it, and I was not taught it, but it came to me through arevelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1: 11-12)

St Paul brought the urgency of the Gospel as he strongly affirmed, proclamation as an obligation to every follower ofChrist.  “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel (1Cor 9:16)” Know theBible, know Christ and proclaim him. That is the command for all of us thisyear.

The mandatefrom the Church:

 VaticanII reemphasized the mission of the Word to the Ad Gentes.  Pope PaulVI   inspired the Catholic community with his Evangeli Nuntiati: “TheTask of Evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of theChurch”  Pope John Paul while introducing the   phrase ‘NewEvangelization’

     “Evangelization is Fundamental to the Church Mission and has its origin inTrinity itself. It is always focused on faith in and personal encounter withChrist and these results in the profound experience of Conversion.Evangelization is the task of the entire church and is concretely located inthe activity of the local Church “(John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio)

2. Thechallenges from the Modern World

The topic givento me is:  Verbum Domini in Our World Today.  The innocent lookingtopic masks many challenges.  The pivotal challenge is “whichworld?”   Pope John Paul II identified three kinds of world – withreference to the message of Christ.

The world where Christ message is still not known – Ad Gentes,The world that has known Christ well and made his teachings a way of life.  The need for these ‘Evangelized becoming Evangelizers’The world where Christian has been diluted by onslaught of secularism and relativism where the baptized do not practice Christianity in their private and public life.   Christianity faces herculean challenges in this century.For the last five decades, the world hasachieved much. It has wired itself into a virtual world through the internetand social networking.   While technology has been galloping at asearing rapidity, in moral and spiritual sphere, humanity is on a slipperyrock.  Transcendence and the sense of God is compromised with reductionistideologies like post modernism – euphemism for existentialconfusion.   It is through this man made darkness at the noon time,Christ message has to pierce. Some of the main challenges we face today are:

1.    Ethical relativismand the Word of God the “tyranny of relativism” as our Holy Father has termedhas commoditized and trivialized every sacred symbols and systems of thepast.  Family, the cradle of human civilization lies in ruins in manycountries. John’s Gospel opens up with beautiful asserting that ‘word becomesflesh”. The human body is sacred. St Paul reminds us.”Your body is the Temple of the holy Spirit” (I Cor 6:19) Thesanctity of union of man and woman is threatened by western concepts of samesex marriages, abortions and genetic manipulations.  It is a travesty ofhuman existence that in countries like Japan there are more pets thanchildren. The moral compass that guided the human journey for centuries is lostin the pursuit of hedonism without any responsibility.  The first chaptersof Genesis open with the beautiful concept of man and woman being created inGod’s image. (Gen 1:26). Today that   Human body is a marketable commodity,a conduit to reckless enjoyment and exploitation.  The modern forms ofslavery, human trafficking, sex trade and other existential threats areaccepted as ‘freedoms’.  Europe leads theway in all this, provoking the Holy Father to urge its return to its Christianroots.  In a Globalizing world we in the east are not immune from this,especially our youth are directly exposed to these dangers.  Christincarnation is a historical evidence of sanctification of human body. His   establishment of the Eucharist ‘this is my body’, his death onthe Cross are enduring affirmation of the sanctity of the human person, who aresaved by his precious blood from eternal damnation of death.  The humanfamily has indebtedness to Jesus. The world is his body. “All of you are ChristBody, each one is part of it” says the Apostle.  (1 Cor 12: 27). Survivalof humanity depends on the return to Gospel Values of respect for Life.

2.    A Christianitywithout the Bible as the Centre of Life:  The Use of Bible in the life ofthe Catholics is sadly inadequate.  Vatican Ecclesiology gave a threedimension to Christian life with three Ws : Word, worship andWitness.   While the Catholics have taken commendable steps inworship and Witness too, Catholic faith is not marked by its fervor for theWord. After fifty years of Vatican II, the Word of God as in the Bible remainsa strange book to many Catholics.  The Bible is the fountain of our faith,the inspiration and the guide in our life journey.  With the new Evangelization,all especially the laity are expected to play a major role in the spread of theGood news.

3.    The Word of God andthe problem of Poverty and Starvation: Word is broken and bread is broken inevery Mass. Every day, Eucharist bread is broken with the compelling words: Take andEat!  But we are painfully aware we break bread in an unjust world wheremillions do not have anything to take and eat. Every day 30000 children die ofStarvation (UNICEF 2001). That amounts to 10 million children every year, 1800children every hour and 20 Children every minute!  The Market Economy hasunsettled agriculture, the very soul of millions of our people. Urbanization has brought in slums with squalor and inhuman existence in many ofour East Asian Countries. What is the ‘word of God’ for these suffering people?Bible’s strong identification with the poor, as in Exodus, (EX 3:6-8) as in thelife of Jesus, (Mt 25: 31-40, Lk 4: 16-18) is a timeless message.  Onceagain Genesis portrays God as a generous father creating the world and givingit as a gift to all humankind for a happy life.   Poverty hasincreased in the last two decades, disturbing the rural communities andbreaking them into pieces. The widespread problem of maids without justice, thefactory girls in Chinaand unsafe migration of our youth in other countries pose a fundamental problemto the Church. One of the methods of new Evangelization to be present among thepoor, in upholding their dignity, helping in their human development. Paul VIhas impressed upon the church ‘the intimate relationship between evangelizationand human promotion, development, liberation that is anthropological,theological and evangelical ( EN 31). Pope John Paul II considers humandevelopment is one of the paths of Mission (RM).  Our Holy Father Benedictimplores that human development and promotion of justice are integral ofevangelization. (Caritas in Veritate 15).

4.    Harmony amongCultures and the Word of God: Soon after the Sep 11th attack it is customary totalk of ‘clash’ among various peoples.  After a century of clash of‘classes’ under Marxian analysis, certain sections of intellectuals andcountries mainstream a concept of ‘conflict among cultures’. The quest for Godand ultimate meaning must have united the humanity towards peace andreconciliation. Unfortunately mutual suspicion has sent wrong signals to thosewho do not believe in God and His redeeming message.  The neo liberaleconomy which has sent millions to poverty has a hidden agenda in creating andmaintaining conflicts among religions. Many of the Western Economies justmelted away in the human greed. In this milieu of excessive greed, there is agenuine search for God and imperishable values. “God is back’ is therealization in societies that sought solace in consumerism.  The challengeis to the Church to present a “message credible and understood by the modernman”.

5.    A creation Groaningunder Human Greed:  A recent study gave us shocking news, that most of thecountries will go to war in future over drinking water.  The world isspending more of its natural resources like water than it can reproduce. Water a great gift of the creator is already privatized. Millions of acres offorest disappear, the ozone turbulence, global warming and sea rising are someof the news we watch with great concern every day.  The concept ofEvolution that negates God’s Creation has facilitated wanton destruction ofnature.  Once again the poor are the victims.

3. Opportunties for Word of God confrontedwith the modern world

·       Guidancefrom New Evangelization: The instruction in the New Evangelization movement hasgiven fourfold approach. Each country called upon to come out a plan of action,with active participation of the laity ‘the evangelized becoming theevangelizers”

1.    Proclamation thatcomes through a deep encounter with Jesus

2.    Preaching throughGood deeds apart from direct proclamation

3.    Being present amongthe Non Christians through Direct Service

4.    Dialogue with otherCultures – learning from them and enriching them

The Word of God that is simple and consoling:  The Holy Father has consistently impressed on the Universal Church to make available the teachings of the Gospel to the faithful ‘with a new vigor, a new method and a new Mode”.  The power of the Bible is winning millions in many countries. The ability to make the Gospel attractive to a new Generation. Evangelical preachers whose capacity for using the Bible is well known are attracting thousands with the power of the Bible.  Often they make the truth simple (or simplistic!) and attractive.  Catholic Church has still wake up to the power of the Word of God.  Biblical instruction needs a more simple, hearer friendly approach. After all our Lord was the great communicator, communicating sublime values in simple stories. 

A Word of God that identifies with the victim: Jesus was the lamb of God, sacrificed his life for the victims – of spiritual darkness and human evil.  He has identified himself with the suffering humanity. Church has a great opportunity in reaching out to those in the margin, with the message of the Gospel, through human development, proclamation of Jesus message.   Gospel was preached by poor apostles to the poor people. Apostles were oppressed and they carried the message to the oppressed people.  Thousands and millions need the consoling message of the Gospel 

A word of God that promotes life:  An acute culture of death has brought in abortion, death penalty and destruction of nature. Rich and powerful nations have been challenging the church teaching on sanctity of life, pro life. One of the urgent needs is to affirm the dignity of life, especially when it is least powerful in the womb of the mother.  Every child comes with the message that God is yet not tired of man. 

A word of God that is seen in Action: St James in his path breaking epistle and Faith in action asks the pertinent question:  “My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it?”  Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Evangeli Nuntiati has said, “The modern man has great confidence in the words of anyone whose words are followed by action”.  The new Evangelization has insisted on the need for ‘preaching without words” following the example of St Francis of Assisi who said, “Proclaim the Good new Always, use words… if needed!” 

A word of God that is in Dialogue with Culture, poverty and major religions: Finally the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) has indicated the need for triple dialogue as spreading the word of God:  Dialogue with the Culture, with poverty and other cultures.Conclusion:  These are thechallenging times to be Christians.  The first Christians lived in morechallenging times, yet they lighted the world with an inner fire that lightedthousand fires of faith. Peter’s word to the lame man at the temple gate: Ihave neither nor silver, receive what I have: In the name of Jesus, get up andwalk”.  The world needs in of that kind of faith to help it to get up andwalk in freedom and faith. I wish this conference will help us to be animatedby the Spirit and help all of us to become the frontline messengers of Christ’sredeeming message.

Thank you

(Posted on August 7, 2012 by cbfsea )

 

 

6th CBF-SEA Workshop

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

6th CBF-SEA Workshop

Bandung, Indonesia

August 6-10, 2012 



VERBUM DOMINI IN OUR WORLD TODAY

Verbum Domini, the Word of the Lord is for us engraved in the Holy Book, the Sacred Scriptures which always gets a prominent place in our churches, homes, and above all, in our hearts.


The world is our planet earth. The workshop is for South East Asia as partly seen on the logo. The focus is on West Java with the yellow color. Bandung, the venue is situated there.

The figure on the left depicts the “RESI” priest or holy man in the Mahabarata or Ramayana story. The “wayang” is a very old tradition from Hindu times. It is performed by people or by puppets made of clay or leather. The figure here is made of leather. The arms are moveable by sticks, controlled by the puppeteer, one who tells the story.

The Resi brings us to prayer, to worship, to communication with God.

The Word invites us first of all to listen to the Word in prayer.

The boy on the left is playing the angklung, a traditional bamboo instrument. It brings us to everyday life where the Word has to take root, become flesh and bones, speak to us in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health.

And so we gather as Catholic Biblical Federation South East Asia to live and share the Word and together build God’s Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom of Peace and Harmony, of Justice and Love.

Welcome to Bandung!

Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU (http://cbfsea.wordpress.com/)

 

CBF-SEA CELEBRATING THE PENTECOST . . .

Posted on June 4, 2012 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

“The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as children of God; heinstills confidence that we may call God truly Father and grants us the graceof Christ to be children of the light and to enjoy eternal glory. In a word, hebestows the fullness of blessings in this world and the next; for we maycontemplate now in the mirror of faith the promised things we shall somedayenjoy.  If this is the foretaste, whatmust the reality be? If these are the first fruits, what must be the harvest?”(From the treatise by Basil the Great on The Holy Spirit)

The Lord Jesus offers eachone of us the gift and power of his Holy Spirit. He wants to make our faithstrong, give us hope that endures, and a love that never grows cold. He neverrefuses to give his Spirit to those who ask with expectant faith. Jesusinstructed his disciples to ask confidently for the gift of the Spirit: “If youthen, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much morewill the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke11:13).

Let us pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at this preparation stage of our coming 6th CBFSouth-East Asia Workshop on August 6 -10, 2012 at the Ursuline Convent, JalanSupratman 1, Bandung, Indonesia.

Theme: VERBUM DOMINI:  THE WORD IN OUR WORLD TODAY

Text: 1John 1:2-3 “Weproclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father    and which was made manifest to us – thatwhich we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may havefellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his SonJesus Christ”.

Objectives:

To be able to apply VerbumDomini in our respective contexts and specific ministries;

To exchange materials and resources in the implementation of Verbum Domini to different sectors of oursociety;

To make a common plan orprogram for Verbum Domini information and to implement the exhortations todifferent groups and ministries.

Speakers/ ResourcePersons:

            1. Keynote Speaker: Most Rev. Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar.

            2.  Verbum Dei – Part I and Part II: Most Rev Pablo Virgilio David, D.D.

                  Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, Philippines, Charman of ECBA.

            3.  Verbum in Ecclesia – Most Rev. Renato Mayugba, D.D.

                  Auxiliary bishop ofLingayen-Dagupan, Vice Chairman of ECBA

            4.  Verbum Mundo – Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo D.D.

                  Auxiliary Bishop of Manila.

Let us unite ourselvestogether in prayer as members of the CBF-SEA for the success of this BibleEvent in our Sub-region. We pray for the organizers, the coordinating team,participants, delegates, resource persons, collaborators, support staff,benefactors and friends that the Holy Spirit will inspire them all, sets theirhearts on fire for the love of the Word making the coming 6th Southeast AsianBible Workshop meaningful, blissful and fruitful!



In Verbum Domini,


The Coordinating Team

Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU

Ms. Estrella del Mar

Fr. Doms Ramos, SVD

(http://cbfsea.wordpress.com)

 


 

Pius X Biblical Center held Regional Symposium on Verbum Domini

Posted on April 9, 2012 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Pius X Biblical Center held Regional Symposium on Verbum Domini


A whole day symposium on Verbum Domini was successfully held last April 9, 2012 at the Mother of Good Counsel Seminary, City of San Fernando Pampanga. Participants were coming from the six member dioceses of the Pius X Biblical Center. It started with a video presentation prepared by the Archdiocesan Commission on Biblical Apostolate followed by a Bible Enthronement and doxology performed by the MGCS College Seminarians.


The opening remarks was given by Fr. Jess Layug, the Regional Biblical Apostolate Director from the Archdiocese of San Fernando. Three speakers were tasked to give talks on the three major parts of the Document namely: Fr. Jess Layug (Part I: Verbum Dei), Fr. Jetts Jetajobe (Part II: Verbum in Ecclesia) and Mr. Mike Lapid (Part III: Verbum Mundo). An open forum and distribution of certificates of participation took place after the talks.


Msgr. Vic Ocampo from the Diocese of Balanga gave the closing remarks. This regional biblical activity is a concrete effort to realize the first commitment that was expressed in the Final Statement of the 6th National Consultation and 19th National Biblical Workshop held in Dumaguete last February 6-11 which is to promote the Verbum Domini.

 

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR LENT 2012

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS 

BENEDICT XVI

FOR LENT 2012

“Let us be concerned for eachother,

to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon thevery heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favorable time to renew ourjourney of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of theword of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer andsharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a briefbiblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews:“ Let us beconcerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”. Thesewords are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust inJesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up apathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the threetheological virtues: it means approaching the Lord “sincere in heart and filledwith faith” (v. 22), keeping firm “in the hope we profess” (v.23) and ever mindful of living a life of “love and good works” (v. 24)together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain thislife shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy andcommunity prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God(v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct,valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life:concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.

 

1. “Let us be concerned for each other”: responsibility towards ourbrothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be “concerned”: the Greek verb usedhere is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observecarefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospelwhen Jesus invites the disciples to “think of” the ravens that, withoutstriving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf.Lk 12:24), and to “observe” the plank in our own eye before looking at thesplinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse ofthe Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to “turn your mindsto Jesus” (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb whichintroduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus,to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent tothe fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude isjust the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness andmasked as a respect for “privacy”. Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all ofus to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be “guardians” ofour brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationshipsbased on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being,theintegral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for oneanother demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, likeourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters inhumanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize inothers a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivatethis way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice,mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant ofGod PopePaul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lackof brotherhood: “Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much thedepletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privilegedfew; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals andnations” (PopulorumProgressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every pointof view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lostthe sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good doesexist and will prevail, because God is “generous and acts generously” (Ps119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhoodand communion. Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and workingfor the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodnessand its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. SacredScripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sortof “spiritual anesthesia” which numbs us to the suffering of others. TheEvangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In theparable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite “pass by”, indifferentto the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf. Lk10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of thepoverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19).Both parables show examples of the opposite of “being concerned”, of lookingupon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gazetowards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material richesand a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our owninterests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of “showingmercy” towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up inour affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humblenessof heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a senseof compassion and empathy. “The upright understands the cause of the weak, thewicked has not the wit to understand it” (Prov 29:7). We can then understandthe beatitude of “those who mourn” (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable oflooking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others.Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become anopportunity for salvation and blessedness.

“Being concerned for each other” also entails being concerned for theirspiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christianlife, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view ofeternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea ofcharity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almostcompletely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers andsisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities thatare truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physicalhealth of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health andultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: “Rebuke the wise and he will love youfor it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he willgain yet more” (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brotherwho is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternalcorrection – elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission ofChristians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11).The Church’s tradition has included “admonishing sinners” among the spiritualworks of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity.We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christianswho, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to theprevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters againstways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do notfollow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is nevermotivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved bylove and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. Asthe Apostle Paul says: “If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those ofyou who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness;and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way” (Gal6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importanceof fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness.Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); allof us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, tohelp others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the wholetruth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’sways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, whichknows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God hasdone and continues to do with each of us.

 

2. “Being concerned for each other”: the gift of reciprocity.

This “custody” of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducinglife exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatologicalperspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. Asociety like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritualand moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christiancommunity! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peaceand the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom 14:19) for ourneighbour’s good, “so that we support one another” (15:2), seeking not personalgain but rather “the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved” (1Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humilityand charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.

The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in afellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. Thismeans that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or hersalvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profoundaspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better orfor worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. Thisreciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the communityconstantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of itsmembers, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charitypresent in her midst. As Saint Paul says: “Each part should be equallyconcerned for all the others” (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts ofcharity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, apractice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – isrooted in this common belonging. Christians can also express their membershipin the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest ofthe poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good thatthe Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace thatAlmighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. WhenChristians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoiceand give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).

 

3. “To stir a response in love and good works”: walking together inholiness.

These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us toreflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of thespiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever moresublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for oneanother should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, “like the lightof dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day” (Prov 4:18), makes uslive each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. Thetime granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing goodworks in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously growstowards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation toencourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situatedin this dynamic prospect of growth.

Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench theSpirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good andfor the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual ormaterial riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the goodof the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). Thespiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advanceinevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation,today as timely as ever, to aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christianliving” (NovoMillennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizingand proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is alsomeant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to “anticipate oneanother in showing honour” (Rom 12:10).

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love andfidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate oneanother in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal isparticularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offermy prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrustall of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart myApostolic Blessing.

 

From the Vatican,3 November 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

 

 

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR LENT 2012

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS 

BENEDICT XVI

FOR LENT 2012

“Let us be concerned for eachother,

to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon thevery heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favorable time to renew ourjourney of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of theword of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer andsharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a briefbiblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews:“ Let us beconcerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”. Thesewords are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust inJesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up apathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the threetheological virtues: it means approaching the Lord “sincere in heart and filledwith faith” (v. 22), keeping firm “in the hope we profess” (v.23) and ever mindful of living a life of “love and good works” (v. 24)together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain thislife shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy andcommunity prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God(v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct,valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life:concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.

 

1. “Let us be concerned for each other”: responsibility towards ourbrothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be “concerned”: the Greek verb usedhere is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observecarefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospelwhen Jesus invites the disciples to “think of” the ravens that, withoutstriving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf.Lk 12:24), and to “observe” the plank in our own eye before looking at thesplinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse ofthe Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to “turn your mindsto Jesus” (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb whichintroduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus,to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent tothe fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude isjust the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness andmasked as a respect for “privacy”. Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all ofus to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be “guardians” ofour brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationshipsbased on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being,theintegral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for oneanother demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, likeourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters inhumanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize inothers a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivatethis way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice,mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant ofGod PopePaul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lackof brotherhood: “Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much thedepletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privilegedfew; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals andnations” (PopulorumProgressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every pointof view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lostthe sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good doesexist and will prevail, because God is “generous and acts generously” (Ps119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhoodand communion. Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and workingfor the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodnessand its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. SacredScripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sortof “spiritual anesthesia” which numbs us to the suffering of others. TheEvangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In theparable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite “pass by”, indifferentto the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf. Lk10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of thepoverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19).Both parables show examples of the opposite of “being concerned”, of lookingupon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gazetowards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material richesand a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our owninterests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of “showingmercy” towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up inour affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humblenessof heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a senseof compassion and empathy. “The upright understands the cause of the weak, thewicked has not the wit to understand it” (Prov 29:7). We can then understandthe beatitude of “those who mourn” (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable oflooking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others.Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become anopportunity for salvation and blessedness.

“Being concerned for each other” also entails being concerned for theirspiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christianlife, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view ofeternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea ofcharity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almostcompletely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers andsisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities thatare truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physicalhealth of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health andultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: “Rebuke the wise and he will love youfor it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he willgain yet more” (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brotherwho is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternalcorrection – elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission ofChristians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11).The Church’s tradition has included “admonishing sinners” among the spiritualworks of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity.We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christianswho, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to theprevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters againstways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do notfollow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is nevermotivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved bylove and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. Asthe Apostle Paul says: “If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those ofyou who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness;and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way” (Gal6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importanceof fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness.Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); allof us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, tohelp others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the wholetruth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’sways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, whichknows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God hasdone and continues to do with each of us.

 

2. “Being concerned for each other”: the gift of reciprocity.

This “custody” of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducinglife exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatologicalperspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. Asociety like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritualand moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christiancommunity! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peaceand the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom 14:19) for ourneighbour’s good, “so that we support one another” (15:2), seeking not personalgain but rather “the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved” (1Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humilityand charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.

The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in afellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. Thismeans that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or hersalvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profoundaspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better orfor worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. Thisreciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the communityconstantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of itsmembers, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charitypresent in her midst. As Saint Paul says: “Each part should be equallyconcerned for all the others” (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts ofcharity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, apractice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – isrooted in this common belonging. Christians can also express their membershipin the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest ofthe poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good thatthe Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace thatAlmighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. WhenChristians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoiceand give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).

 

3. “To stir a response in love and good works”: walking together inholiness.

These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us toreflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of thespiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever moresublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for oneanother should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, “like the lightof dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day” (Prov 4:18), makes uslive each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. Thetime granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing goodworks in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously growstowards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation toencourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situatedin this dynamic prospect of growth.

Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench theSpirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good andfor the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual ormaterial riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the goodof the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). Thespiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advanceinevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation,today as timely as ever, to aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christianliving” (NovoMillennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizingand proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is alsomeant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to “anticipate oneanother in showing honour” (Rom 12:10).

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love andfidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate oneanother in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal isparticularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offermy prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrustall of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart myApostolic Blessing.

 

From the Vatican,3 November 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

 

 


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