It was six o’ clock in the evening.  The FRC leads the congregation in praying the Angelus.  I joined them.

I felt so happy that we do have church bells.  There is nothing like praying the Angelus to the sound of bells. The ringing of the bells is, for me, God’s call to His community.

Bells are part of the traditions of the Church.

Like the ringing of bells, many other traditions of the Church are fading away.  Take the devotion to saints.  Names of children to be baptized used to be chosen from among the names of saints and Biblical characters.  The child takes his namesake as his patron saint.  The life of the saint helps inspire the child into living out the many Christian virtues the saint concretized in his life.  The patron saint is a model for the child; he is also his protector from evil and intercessor to God.  Nowadays, however, parents choose name of doubtful origin and at times, ridiculous.

Last August, I stood sponsor at baptism of the daughter of my hairdresser.  When the priest asked, “What name are you going to give this child?”  The reply was “BB”.  He patiently told the parent that he needed to have the proper name not just a nickname.  Again the mother answered the name was “BB”.  Not able to control himself, the priest asked: “What does BB mean?  And the congregation answered, duck!

After the baptismal ceremony, the priest told me:  “If only we, priests, can insist that names such as BB be change to Christian names.  But then the name the parents present to us at baptism is that which they declared with the Civil Registry and is contained in the birth certificate.”

To help revive the devotion to the saints, Monsignor Odiver put up the Gallery of Saints to constantly remind and encourage the parishioners to pray or to sponsor masses (and possibly triduum and novena) on the saint’s feast day.

Tradition helps build communities.  We identify ourselves with a particular group doing special things in common with the members of that group at certain times of the year.  Advent, Lent and Easter are for us – the seasons when we become more conscious of our being Catholics.

There are many things I appreciate in St. Therese of Lisieux; one of which is her child-like trust in the Father, that the Father does not disappoint anyone who entrusts oneself to his fatherly care.  Hence, St. Therese, with child-like confidence, could say that even when she was in heaven, she would continue to pray for the conversion of souls.

From time to time, I would ask the children in Sunday School if they would like to be saints.  Usually less than a handful would raise their hands.  But when I clarified if they would like to be in heaven, then all would raise their hands.  I supposed that “saint” meant for them canonized saint (a deceased person officially declared by the Church as saint).

However, I have a five-year-old boy in class who confided to me that he wanted to be a saint.  But, he wants God to let him go straight to heaven without a detour in purgatory.

That’s pretty amazing!  No wonder Jesus wants the little children to come to him.

 

 

A rather strange thing has taken place in recent years is digital communication versus family communication.  Gone are the days when communicating with God as a family was a natural and normal as communicating with each other.

Cellphones and computers has changed the landscape of family relationship and there is no going back anymore.  Just as we can no longer return to the calesa days before cars were invented.

Both cellphones and computers are gateway to the world.  Texting has largely replaced phonecalls, and many prefer texting instead of talking face-to-face with the other person a few feet away from him or her.

Thanks to internet, we are drawing in a sea of information and yet are unable to truly communicate.  And thanks to e-mail, we live our lives under the compulsion that there’s an important message out there that is worth interrupting everything else.

Today, “friending”, as they call it, has become a status symbol, with many young people feel left-out without hundreds of online “friends” to give them some kind of perceived validity.

The digital revolution has replaced authentic, personal friendship, the kind that you need in times of difficulty and real need.

Should you be in the hospital with a serious illness, how many of your Facebook friends would be there to encourage you, to help you through the dark hours, and provide support?

Some perhaps, but not in the same measure as family and real friends -  Those whom you have face-to-face relationship.  I have a friend, Cecilia who has been my best friend since we were five.

To be very honest, I feel that our modern society is not providing people with human connections they crave, and online social networking is rather poor substitute.

Even some churches have begun to use blogs, chat areas, and electronic bulletin boards in their efforts to build community, yet there remain the danger of people finding connection through electronic forms, believing they have found genuine intimacy.  This can cause them to miss out authentic community with the people they interact with each day.

As the domestic Church, it’s sad to think that time spent within a family has diminished.  Fewer and fewer families have even one meal a day together and, at times are stolen in the same place at the same time.  The Facebook fills the vacuum in a somewhat abstract sort of way.

While advancement in communication technology has accelerated, the dining table is still there.  One way we can make use of it is by taking a few minutes following our evening meal together, to talk and build each other spiritually.

Yes, I realize it’s a challenge to get everybody together at the same time but when we can do this, we will find it brings great rewards from the One Who came with the promise of blessing.

 

 

This year 2015 is Year of the Poor. The Catholic Church, according to Pope Francis must embrace and uplift the poor. Pope Francis said that poverty is a scandal. The poor is closest to the heart of the Church. It is an obligatory choice. Pope Paul II in 1991 speaking before the sakadas in Bacolod said the Church will not hesitate to take up the cause of the poor and to become the voice of those who are not listened to, not to demand dole outs but social justice.

On July 22, 2015, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila was one of the speakers during the Summit for Change , a forum initiated by former Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno  and other like-minded individuals in government ,business,  academe and the marginalized/poor sector of Philippine society, all crying out for a system change.

Bishop Pabillo lamented that while our 1987 Constitution has strong provisions on social justice, yet  after 28 years of its promulgation, the country is still mired in so much inequality.

He said ,"There is great poverty in our country while our land is blest with many natural and human resources. There are more people who are poor and there are a few families extremely rich, so much so, that in 2011, 40 families have an income equivalent to 76 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).’’

This means more than three-fourths  of the total goods and services produced in the country are being enjoyed  by only 40 families in this country. This means that more than 100 million Filipinos will have to scramble, scrape , slave, and beg to have a share in the remaining 24 percent. The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia where almost 80 percent of the country’s  wealth and resources are controlled and enjoyed by these 40 families.  If this does not smack of extreme social injustice  , what does?

The Bishop continues, `` In spite of the prided level of the country’s GDP, the vast majority of the Filipinos remain poor as before.

"We have to admit that the paradigm that is being pursued is one that favors the rich and the foreigners because of their dollars.’’

"Oh how government and business salivate for foreign direct investments! Our leaders would do anything—even sell out our natural patrimony so that foreigners can have 100 % ownership of our natural resources, to bring in  more FDIs or foreign direct investments. Is this not what they want the economic cha-cha for? To have foreign investments , we sacrifice the rights of our laborers, the right to form unions "Our police and military protect multinational installations against Filipino protesters who are being oppressed. We are willing to have our mountains exploited and leveled off for the billions of dollars that foreign mining companies and agri-business companies promise to bring. We extend tax holidays to big business to exploit our land in the name of development, but the government does not lift a finger to protect our local business in the name of free trade.’’

The Bishop  strongly urges  government and private sector to push for a system change. He said , ``What we need is a new paradigm….

"where the poor are the center of our development,

that restores dignity and power to the people,

that makes social reform and social justice  a national agenda,

that exacts accountability from public officials,

that safeguards the public commons and the environment.’’

Let us pray for just leaders who will give  true social justice to the poor and suffering.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) echoes the words of Pope Francis in saying the Christian preference must be the poor. Pope Francis calls poverty a scandal and posed the malady of poverty as a moral challenge of the Church. Aside from structural reforms, he calls for personal conversion and for a deeper realization of how the people have allowed the patterns of materialism to captivate their lives and become culturally indifferent to the plight of the poor.

Pope Francis points out three false cultures that materialism has created in the world namely; the culture of comfort that make everyone thinks only of himself; the culture of waste that seizes the gifts of the created order only to savor them for the moment and discard or them away; and the culture of indifference that desensitizes people to the suffering of others no matter how intense, no matter how sustained.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991 said the poor is not just a pastoral preference but an obligatory choice.This is an essential option of Christian faith. Eternal salvation depends on the living out of love for preference for the poor because the poor and the needy bear the privileged presence of Christ.(PCPII, #312)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our home, planet earth, began to create about four and a half billion years ago.  God created it freely out of nothing.  And God saw that it was good…very good.

Today, the world is mired in a crisis that imperils its very own existence.  It is true our environment is ailing and it is not because of natural cause.  Much of its sickness stems from the ignorance of many of us, our lack of responsibility and recklessness.

Sunday Mass Schedule Effective March 2011

6:30am - Filipino
8:00am - English
9:30am - English
11:00am - English

12:15n.n - English

3:30pm - Filipino
5:00pm - English
6:30pm - English
8:00pm - English

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