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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 51 min 14 sec ago

Enhance protection of OFWs, bishop urges gov’t

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 22:47

OFWs in Hong Kong. FILE PHOTO

MANILA— The Catholic Church offered prayers for overseas Filipino workers on National Migrants’ Sunday, reiterating its call for better treatment and protection of OFWs in their host countries.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the government must boost the welfare of OFWs especially domestic workers under vulnerable conditions.

“Our migrant workers should be safe. They should not be threatened or exploited. Their rights must be protected and their dignity respected,” Santos said.

“A migrant is a person. He has feelings, emotions, and a history. He is created by God, gifted by God with specific talents and individual skills. Thus, he is not a tool for profits nor an instrument for pleasure,” he said.

The prelate’s appeal comes on the heels of a deployment ban imposed by the Philippine government to Kuwait due to the many cases of abuses against OFWs.

There is currently an estimated 10 million Filipino workers in different countries, most of them are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Qatar.

These OFWs have contributed to the economic growth of the country through their foreign remittances that saved the Philippines from financial crisis in previous years.

The Church is also hopeful that host countries will welcome Filipinos into their communities, and step up efforts to combat intolerance and discrimination against migrants.

“When migrants go to another community, it is not only for labor but also to share their knowledge, skills, and expertise,” Santos added.

“Let them live fully and fruitfully with one another. There should be no attempts to eradicate their ethnicity. This calls for their adoption by or absorption into the community. It is communion with all, in contrast to exclusivity or isolationism,” he also said.

The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines declared in 1987 every first Sunday of Lent the “National Migrants Sunday” to honor the sacrifices and heroism of OFWs and their families. CBCPNews

February 19, 2018

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 21:00
Monday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 LV 19:1-2, 11-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
I am the LORD.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (John 6:63b) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Verse Before The Gospel 2 COR 6:2B

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel MT 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Singles told: ‘Your sexual attraction doesn’t define you’

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 17:03

Courage – Philippines president Edwin Valles gives the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” workshop on the second day of the CFC – Singles for Christ International Conference 2018 at Our Lady of La Paz parish, Makati, Feb. 17, 2018. NIRVA DELACRUZ

MAKATI City – Speaking to delegates of the 18th CFC – Singles for Christ International Conference Saturday, Feb. 17, a lay speaker stressed that contrary to popular notions, a person is not defined by his or her sexual attractions.

“What the world would want us to believe [is that] one’s identity is based on one’s sexual attraction. Nothing else matters but their sexual attraction. But the Christian view [says that] our identity is based on how God created and saved us,” said Edwin Valles, president of Courage – Philippines, a Catholic apostolate that supports persons with same sex attraction, during the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” SFC ICON workshop at the Our Lady of La Paz church.

He explained that the Christian view revolves around the person and his being a child of God, made in the image and likeness of God as either male or female.

He explained that this is also the reason why the Church prefers to use the term “persons with same sex attraction” as opposed to “gay”, “lesbian,” or homosexual, because the stress is on the person not on his or her sexual attraction.

Proper response to every person

According to Valles, this is at odds with the three concepts of personhood being pushed by the LGBT community, namely: biological sex, male or female; gender identity, a person’s personal view of himself or herself as either male or female; and sexual orientation, one’s object of attraction.

The Church sees beyond which specific gender a person identifies with and to which gender he or she is attracted to, said Valles.

“The response of the Church … is the person has to be loved. The right response to the person is love…Our brothers and sisters with SSA are sons and daughters of God,” he added.

Pastoral care for persons with SSA

According to him, on the other hand, the Christian view sees three components at play in a person: his being made in the image and likeness of God; inclination or tendencies of attractions and feelings; and action or choice of behavior. “[In] every action, there’s a choice involved. This is part of the dignity of a human being. All of us have freedom to choice to act one way or another. Because we have freedom, we have responsibility for that action.”

Valles has been giving talks on same sex attraction in different SFC areas all over the country since last year, in line with SFC’s thrust to intensify its pastoral care of persons with same sex attraction.

Some 7,000 singles from countries like Canada, Australia, the U.S., Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, among others, gathered at Circuit Makati for the SFC ICON 2018 which carried the theme “Relentless: 2 Timothy 1:6”.

This year, SFC also celebrated its 25th anniversary, having been founded in 1993. CBCPNews

Relics of Saint Thérèse on tour

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 13:11

The Relics of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus arrive at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church on Sunday, Feb. 18, as part of its four-month tour which include visits to different dioceses throughout the country until May 31.

Pope Francis says Paul VI will be canonized this year

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 12:18


VATICAN— During his annual Lenten meeting with the priests of Rome last week, Pope Francis confirmed that Blessed Pope Paul VI will be made a saint sometime this year.

“Paul VI will be a saint this year,” the Pope said Feb. 15, at the end of a long question and answer session with priests of Rome. The text of the private meeting was published by the Vatican Feb. 17.

During the meeting, Francis gave lengthy answers to four questions from priests. Afterward, texts containing meditations by Pope Paul VI, a gift from the Pope, were handed out to each of the priests. “I saw it and I loved it,” Francis said about the book.

“There are two [recent] Bishops of Rome already saints,” he continued, referring to St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, who were canonized together in April 2014.

Besides Blessed Pope Paul VI, he noted that John Paul I’s cause for beatification is also ongoing. “And Benedict and I,” he added, are “on the waiting list: pray for us!”

According to Vatican Insider, Feb. 6 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the second miracle needed for the canonization of Bl. Pope Paul VI by a unanimous vote.

The next step is for Pope Francis to also give his approval, with an official decree from the Vatican. Then the date for the canonization can be set. The canonization could take place in October of this year, during the Synod of Bishops on the youth, Vatican Insider reported.

The miracle attributed to the cause of Paul VI is the healing of an unborn child in the fifth month of pregnancy. The case was brought forward in 2014 for study.

The mother, originally from the province of Verona, Italy, had an illness that risked her own life and the life of her unborn child, and was advised to have an abortion.

A few days after the beatification of Paul VI on Oct. 19, 2014, she went to pray to him at the Shrine of Holy Mary of Grace in the town of Brescia. The baby girl was later born in good health, and remains in good health today.

The healing was first ruled as medically inexplicable by the medical council of the congregation last year, while the congregation’s consulting theologians agreed that the healing occurred through the late pope’s intercession. CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

Give up social media addiction for Lent, priest tells youth

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 08:26

MANILA— A Catholic priest advised young people to break free from their social media addiction this Lent.

Fr. Cunegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Youth, said they may not totally turn it off but simply try and reduce screen time.

“There are enriching things (in social media) so continue on that but they should learn how to reduce time on other things that wastes their time,” Garganta said over Radio Veritas.

“Too much engagement into social media can also be timewasting. We spend a lot time on things that are not important,” he said.

The priest said giving up something for Lent is a practice with deep spiritual significance, where people are called to grow closer to God through praying, fasting and almsgiving.

He said young people can also mark the 40-day period of penitence by posting Lent-related photos on social media and reading or watching a regular reflection online.

“Choose images and activities that are worth sharing… that can have a positive impact not only for ourselves but also for the others,” Garganta added.

A recent study by United Kingdom-based consultancy We Are Social Ltd. revealed that the Philippines remained on top when it comes social media usage for three straight years.

The report showed that Filipinos spent an average of 4 hours a day on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Philippines is followed by Brazil with an average of 3 hours 39 minutes, followed by Thailand and Indonesia at third and fourth respectively. CBCPNews

Pope names new bishop of Iba

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 23:49

Bishop-elect Bartolome Santos, Jr. of the Diocese of Iba. PHOTO FROM THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA

MANILA— Pope Francis has named Monsignor Bartolome Santos, Jr., as the new bishop of the Diocese of Iba in Zambales which has been vacant for almost four years now.

Santos, 50, will succeed Archbishop Florentino Labaras who was appointed to head the Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga in 2014.

The bishop-elect is currently the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Malolos in Bulacan.

Since 2009, Santos has also been serving as the rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela City.

Santos was born in Santa Maria, Bulacan on December 1, 1967. After his philosophy and theology studies at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, he was ordained priest on August 27, 1992.

Subsequently he served as vicar in the San Pascual Baylon parish of Obando town from 1992 to 1994 and at the San Isidro Labrador Parish in Pulilan from 1994 to 1995.

He also served as the spiritual director and professor at the Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary of Malolos from 1995 until he left the country for further studies in Rome in 1996.

In 2009, he obtained a Licentiate in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Returning home after his studies, he first continued his service in the same roles at the minor seminary, and then he became Rector from 2005 to 2009. From 2005 to 2013, he also served as Episcopal Vicar for Religious.

Santos is the third Filipino to receive appointment from Pope Francis this year and within one week alone.

On Feb. 10, he named Msgr. Abel Apigo of the Davao archdiocese as bishop of Mati in Davao Oriental. Four days later, the Pope appointed San Jose de Antique Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo as the new archbishop of Jaro in Iloilo. CBCPNews

February 18, 2018

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 21:00
First Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 GN 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.

R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

Reading 2 1 PT 3:18-22

Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:4B
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel MK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Homilies Today's Readings

No youths should feel excluded from pre-synod meeting, cardinal says

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 19:29

Young people wave atop a concrete wall during World Youth Day in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. As the Catholic Church prepares to welcome youths from around the world to a preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops on youth, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said the church is using every means of communication available to listen to them. BOB ROLLER/CNS

VATICAN— As the Catholic Church prepares to welcome youths from around the world to a preparatory meeting for the Synod of Bishops on youth, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said the church is using every means of communication available to listen to young people from all walks of life.

Speaking to journalists Feb. 16, Cardinal Baldisseri, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will allow young people to follow and interact “with their peers in Rome” attending the March 19-24 pre-synod meeting.

“In short, even through the new technologies of communication, the pre-synod meeting wants to broaden as much as possible the audience of young people involved so that no one should feel excluded,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.

Announcing the pre-synod meeting last October, Pope Francis said he hoped Christian and non-Christian young people from around the world would attend so the church could listen to the hopes and concerns of all young men and women.

“Through this journey, the church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people. We must listen to young people,” Pope Francis had said.

The theme chosen by the pope for the Synod of Bishops, which will be in October, is: “Young people, faith and vocational discernment.”

The 300 young people invited to the pre-synod meeting in March were chosen to represent national bishops’ conferences, the Eastern Catholic churches, men and women in consecrated life and seminarians preparing for the priesthood.

The gathering also will include representatives from other Christian communities and other religions and experts in the fields of education, culture, sports and arts, who “are involved in helping young people discern their choices in life,” according to the synod office.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced in January that their two-person delegation would include a French Catholic woman and a member of one of Canada’s indigenous communities, who participates in a variety of Christian activities but told The Catholic Register he identifies more with his Cree spirituality. The bishops of India said Feb. 14 that they had chosen three Catholics involved in youth ministry as well as a young Hindu and a young Sikh.

“In this pre-synod meeting, we will listen to youths ‘live’ to better understand their situation: what they think of themselves and of adults; how they live their faith and what difficulties they find being Christian; how they plan their lives and what problems they face in discerning their vocation; how they see the church today and how they would like to see it,” Cardinal Baldisseri said.

The pre-synod meeting, he added, also will include young men and women from what many consider the margins of society, particularly young victims of human trafficking and prostitution.

During an Oct. 12 meeting at the Vatican with adults and teenagers who had taken part in a reflection on human trafficking, Pope Francis said he hoped some survivors of trafficking would address the Synod of Bishops to share their stories and “call the church to action.”

“It is my great desire,” he said, “that young people representing the ‘peripheries’ would be the protagonists of this synod.”

Cardinal Baldisseri said the pope’s suggestion was taken to heart, and he confirmed three young survivors would be present at the pre-synod meeting.

Filippo Passantino, a young Italian who will attend the pre-synod meeting, said a group of young people are helping develop the meeting’s social media and use it as an “open forum for all.”

They plan to open a WhatsApp messaging group so that young people from around the world can send messages, questions and concerns during the pre-synod meeting, he said.

“We are trying to open various doors so that many more than the 300 people invited can enter the pre-synod meeting hall,” Passantino said.

Stella Marillene Nishimwe, a young woman from Burundi also attending the gathering, told journalists she hoped the synod will be a new era in the church’s dialogue with “all young people, not just Catholics.”

“Who knows what fruit this synod will bring? What I am sure of is that everything will depend on our participation,” she said. “The ball is in our court.” CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Priesthood isn’t an assignment – it’s a mission, Pope tells seminarians

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:55

Pope Francis greets pilgrims during the General Audience on Feb. 26, 2014. GIULIO NAPOLITANO/CNA

VATICAN— Pope Francis met with the community of the Pontifical Maronite College on Friday, explaining how their seminary formation isn’t about them or even for them, but for the people they will eventually serve in their parishes and dioceses.

“The human, intellectual and spiritual enrichment you receive in these years is not a reward for you, much less a good to be earned for your career, but a treasure for the faithful who await you in your Eparchies and to whom your life looks forward to being donated,” the Pope said Feb. 16.

“You will not be called to exercise, even well, an assignment – it is not enough! – but to live a mission, without savings, without many calculations, without limits of availability.”

Pope Francis held an audience at the Vatican with around 45 seminarians and priests of the Pontifical Maronite College in Rome, which was founded in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII as a place of study for Catholic seminarians of the Maronite rite.

The Maronite Catholic Church traces its roots to the early Christians of Antioch, the first believers to be called Christian. In its liturgy, the rite still uses the Syriac language, which is a dialect of Aramaic, the same language Jesus spoke.

The rite takes its name from the fourth century hermit St. Maron, whose way of life inspired many monks and laity to follow him, eventually resulting in the distinctive Maronite rite.

During the encounter, Pope Francis told the priests and seminarians that as pastors, they will need to listen to people a lot, and that God will “confirm you through their lives, through many encounters, through its unpredictable surprises.”

“And you, as pastors in close contact with the flock, will savor the most genuine joy when you bend over them, making yours their joys and their sufferings, and when, at the end of the day, you can tell the Lord the love you have received and given,” he said.

Pointing to the Maronite Church’s recent Feb. 9 celebration of St. Maron, the Pope praised the monastic life of the saint, saying it shows a proper discontent with living only a moderate or mediocre faith, but wants “to love with all its heart.”

“It is by drawing on these pure sources that your ministry will be good water for today’s thirsty people,” he explained. Our heart is like a compass: It orients and directs itself toward what it loves, Francis said, quoting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be.” He explained that these years of study, spiritual formation, and community life in Rome are a good time to “arrange the heart well.”

“All this you are called to live in a time not without suffering and dangers, but also pregnant with hope,” he said, pointing out how the people they will be called to serve will be unsettled by the instability which continues to plague the Middle East.

They “will search for, in you, pastors that console them: pastors with the word of Jesus on their lips, with their hands ready to wipe away their tears and caress suffering faces,” he continued.

“Pastors forgetful of themselves and their own interests; pastors who are never discouraged, because they draw every day, from the Eucharistic Bread, the sweet power of love that satisfies; pastors who are not afraid to ‘be eaten’ by the people, as good bread offered to brothers.” CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

Fasting during Lent includes sharing, treating others kindly, pope says

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:41

Pope Francis celebrates Mass Feb. 16 in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican. In his homily, the pope said that if a Christian’s Lenten fasting does not help others and lead to a real awareness of one’s own sins, then it is “fake.” CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

VATICAN— Loudly boasting or complaining about fasting during Lent and treating others unkindly is not what God wants, Pope Francis said.

“Does my fasting end up helping others? If it doesn’t, it’s fake, it’s contradictory and it leads to the path of a double life. I pretend to be Christian — righteous like the Pharisees, the Sadducees — but inside I am not,” he said in his homily Feb. 16 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope preached on the day’s first reading, taken from the prophet Isaiah, which condemned the false ways the faithful were fasting on a day of penance and the ways that are “acceptable to the Lord.”

Catholics who fast and boast aloud about their penitential acts are engaged in deception and are “rigging” true virtue, he said.

The only cover-up people should commit is covering their face with a genuine smile so others are unaware they are fasting and doing penance, he said.

Whether people can fast completely or not, he said, what matters is being humble, joyous and sincerely helping others.

True Lenten fasting calls people to reflect on their sins, feel shame and beg for God’s forgiveness, he added.

Think about every sin, even the ones that would cause embarrassment if they ended up revealed in the news, the pope suggested. “Yes, be ashamed.”

Finally, he said, what is needed is to reflect on and remedy one’s behavior and one’s treatment of others, particularly of those who are in need.

In the day’s reading, God asks people to set free the oppressed, shelter them and share with the hungry and homeless, the pope said.

This includes treating everyone in one’s life — housekeepers, employees, assistants — with respect.

“How do you treat them? Like people or like slaves? Do you pay them fairly? Give them vacation?” he asked.

Pope Francis said people should pray for the grace to be consistent in what they believe and do, and to live Lent with “feeling a bit of hunger” and lots of prayer. CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

February 17, 2018

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 21:00
Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Reading 1 IS 58:9B-14

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD’s holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with maliceB
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Responsorial Psalm PS 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (11ab) Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.

R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.

R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Verse Before The Gospel EZ 33:11

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

Gospel LK 5:27-32

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Lab tests rule out sabotage behind Ash Wednesday burns

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 19:34

A priest distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday in Manila. JOHANN MANGUSSAD

MANILA— A health lab has ruled out sabotage behind the ashes that caused adverse reaction into the forehead of churchgoers at the San Roque Cathedral in Caloocan City.

The culprit? Experts call it “overcooked charcoal” turned into “caustic ashes” that produced high acidity when mixed with water.

“We ruled out the possibility of a sabotage after reviewing the CCTV footages carefully,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan.

Palm fronds are traditionally burned in earthen pots. But since there was a huge pile of palm fronds, the prelate said that the gradual adding of leaves led to over burning, producing dark charcoal but greyish ashes.

Fr. Jeronimo Cruz, the cathedral’s Rector, was among those who were shocked when churchgoers complained of adverse skin reactions after receiving the ashes during a special Mass to mark the start of Lent.

Ashes from the unusual incident were sent to a chemical laboratory for tests.

According to the bishop, not all were affected because the liquid part that turned acidic surfaced and became the cause for blisters.

“The rest who got just moist ashes suffered only minor rashes that disappeared as soon as the substance was washed off,” David said.

“What matters for us is that we are able to apply the proper medication—silver sulfadiazine on people who have been affected,” he added. CBCPNews

Lipa Carmel offers Chinese Masses for ‘vocations for China’

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:47

The Carmelites of Lipa also promote the devotion to Our Lady of China. SR. FIDES REALUBIT

LIPA City – For over 30 years, Carmel of our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace has been offering Masses in Chinese to pave the way for an increase of vocations, specifically for the conversion of China.

“An SVD Chinese priest encouraged our Sr. Mary Grace [Rillo] to have a Chinese Mass because when the time comes, [he said], that China open its doors we should be ready for vocations for China and they mainly accept Filipino missionaries,” explained Sr. Fides Realubit, a Carmelite nun in this city.

One way of increasing vocations for China according to the SVD priest, added Realubit, is to have Chinese Masses in the Philippines.

Aside from an increase in vocations, the Carmelites also hope to bring the congregation to Chinese shores.

“Over 30 years there’s a thanksgiving Mass here for the Lunar New Year. It is our Carmel’s dream that one day we will make a foundation in mainland [China],” she added.

Rillo met the SVD Chinese priest when she was helping out Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Monastery Church in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, which will be celebrating a Chinese Mass on Oct. 10, the national day of the Republic of China that marks the start of the Wuchang Uprising of 1911, which brought about the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

Lipa Carmel, on the other hand, chose the Chinese Lunar New Year, offering its first Chinese Mass back in 1986.

Today, Feb. 16, Fr. Dale Baretto-Ko will celebrate a 5:30 p.m. Mandarin Mass with songs in Mandarin and Fookien.

According to Realubit, after Mass there will be offering of incense as part of the prayers for ancestors in a Christian context. There is also a plan to make the Chinese traditional ancestral tablet. CBCPNews

Pope updates resignation norms for bishops, prelates in Roman Curia

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 13:34

Pope Francis arrives in procession to celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome Feb. 14. PAUL HARING/CNS

VATICAN— Updating the norms and regulations governing the resignation of bishops and of Roman Curia department heads who are not cardinals, Pope Francis said they will continue to hold office until he accepts their resignations.

The update was published in a document titled “Imparare a congedarsi” (“Learning to say farewell”) and was given “motu proprio,” meaning on the pope’s own initiative. The new rules went into effect Feb. 15, the same day it was released by the Vatican press office.

The Code of Canon Law previously stated that a resignation that requires acceptance “lacks all force if it is not accepted within three months” while one that does not require acceptance “takes effect when it has been communicated by the one resigning.”

However, the pope said that after consultation, he “became aware of the need to update the norms regarding the times and methods of resignation from office upon reaching the age limit.”

Under the new norms, “the acceptance or extension, for a specified or unspecified amount of time, is communicated to the person” resigning.

The ending of a church assignment, the pope wrote, “must be considered an integral part of the service itself, in that it requires a new form of availability.”

“This interior attitude is necessary both when, for reasons of age, one must prepare to leave office and when they are asked to continue that service for a longer period despite reaching the age of 75,” Pope Francis wrote.

Those preparing to retire, he said, must also prepare themselves “adequately before God, stripping themselves of the desire for power and the presumption of being indispensable.”

“This will allow us to cross this moment with peace and confidence which otherwise could be painful and conflictual,” the pope wrote.

Pope Francis also updated the norms involving the resignation of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia who are not cardinals.

In a document published in 2014, the pope stated that “non-cardinal heads of dicasteries in the Roman Curia, the secretaries and bishops who fulfill other offices of pontifical nomination forfeit their office on the completion of their 75th year.”

Now, the pope decreed, bishops and prelates heading offices in the Roman Curia still must offer their resignations at 75, but whether they leave or not is up to the pope who “will decide evaluating the concrete circumstances.”

The updated rules for non-cardinal heads in the Roman Curia are similar to the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, which already required most bishops to submit their resignations at the age of 75.

The request for bishops and prelates to go beyond their mandate, however, should “not be considered a privilege or personal triumph, or as a favor due to presumed obligations derived from friendship or closeness, nor as gratitude for the efficiency of services provided,” Pope Francis said.

“This pontifical decision is not an automatic act but an act of governance,” the pope wrote. “Consequently, it implies the virtue of prudence that will help, through adequate discernment, to make the right decision.” CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Vatican denies report Pope Benedict has degenerative disease

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 13:26

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015, file photo. CNS/STEFANO SPAZIANO, POOL

VATICAN— The Vatican denied that retired Pope Benedict XVI has a degenerative neurological disease or paralyzing condition after his brother, 94-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, told a magazine that Pope Benedict had a debilitating disease.

In an interview published Feb. 13 in the German weekly entertainment magazine, Neue Post, Msgr. Ratzinger said Pope Benedict suffered from a nerve disease that was slowly paralyzing him.

“The greatest concern is that the paralysis could eventually reach his heart and then everything could end quickly,” Msgr. Ratzinger was quoted as saying.

“I pray every day to ask God for the grace of a good death, at a good moment, for my brother and me. We both have this great wish,” he added.

Although news about the interview also was published on the German edition of the Vatican News website, the Holy See press office said in a statement Feb. 15 that “the alleged news reports of a paralyzing or degenerative illness are false.”

“In two months, Benedict XVI will turn 91 years old and, as he himself recently said, he feels the weight of years, which is normal at this age,” the statement said.

In a letter to an Italian newspaper dated Feb. 5, Pope Benedict said that “with the slow diminishing of my physical strength, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward Home.”

“It is a great grace in this last, sometimes tiring stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and kindness that I never could have imagined,” Pope Benedict wrote.

He had announced his retirement from the papacy Feb. 11, 2013, and stepped down Feb. 28, 2013. CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Pope says he prays for those who call him a heretic

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 13:13

Pope Francis poses with Jesuits of Chile during a Jan. 16 meeting at the Shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado in Santiago. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

VATICAN— Pope Francis said he tries to dialogue with those who disagree with him in the hope that he will learn something; but he just prays for those who call him a heretic.

“When I perceive resistance, I seek dialogue whenever it is possible; but some resistance comes from people who believe they possess the true doctrine and accuse you of being a heretic,” the pope told a group of Jesuits during a meeting Jan. 16 in Santiago, Chile.

“When I cannot see spiritual goodness in what these people say or write, I simply pray for them,” Pope Francis said in response to a question about the “resistance” he has encountered as pope.

The exchange was part of the usual question-and-answer session Pope Francis has with Jesuit communities during his papal trips abroad. With the pope’s approval, the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica publishes a transcript of the conversation several weeks later. The text from the January trip was released Feb. 15.

Pope Francis told the Jesuits in Chile that he tries not to think of opposition as “resistance,” because that cuts off an opportunity for dialogue, discernment and learning something or at least recognizing a need to explain something better.

As for blogs and internet sites devoted to leading the “resistance” against him, Pope Francis said, “I know who they are, I know the groups, but I do not read them for my own mental health.”

People are naturally resistant to change, and “this a great temptation that we all faced in the period after the Second Vatican Council,” the pope said. The resistance continues today with some people trying to “relativize” or “water down” the council’s teachings and the course it set for the church.

As he has told most communities of Jesuits he has met with over the past five years, Pope Francis told the groups in Chile and Peru that the church needs them to share their expertise in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s formal process for discernment, which involves prayerfully seeing where God is at work and where God wants to lead a person.

“One of the things that the church most needs today is discernment,” the pope said. “This is put very clearly in the pastoral perspectives and objectives of ‘Amoris Laetitia,'” the 2016 apostolic exhortation on the family.

“We are used to a ‘yes, you can’ or ‘no, you can’t’ mentality,” the pope said. “If you take a look at the panorama of reactions to ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ you will see that the strongest criticisms of the exhortation are against the eighth chapter: ‘Can a divorced person receive communion, or not?’ But ‘Amoris Laetitia’ goes in a completely different direction; it does not enter into these distinctions,” the pope said. Instead, “it raises the issue of discernment.”

Picking up the same themes Jan. 19 during a meeting with Jesuits in Peru, the pope said he was convinced God was asking the church to be evangelizing, missionary, reaching out — the “church as a field hospital.”

“Ah, the wounds of the people of God,” he said. “Sometimes the people of God is wounded by a rigid, moralist catechism, of the ‘you can or you can’t’ variety, or by a lack of testimony.”

In many ways, he said, the resistance to the changed approach he has proposed “is a good sign. It is a sign that we are on the right road, this is the road. Otherwise the devil would not bother to resist.” CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Bishop vows probe into Ash Wednesday forehead burns

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:00

Close up photo of bowls of fine grey ashes. JOHANN MANGUSSAD

MANILA— A Roman Catholic diocese vowed to leave “no single stone unturned” in its investigation into the “strange” burns on churchgoers’ foreheads at Ash Wednesday service in Caloocan City.

Several worshipers at the San Roque Cathedral suffered minor burns after receiving ashes to mark the beginning of Lent.

After people complained of a “burning sensation” on their foreheads, Church authorities immediately pulled out the ashes and referred those affected to the cathedral clinic for first aid treatment.

Samples of the ashes were then brought to a chemical laboratory to find out what happened, although the church’s volunteer doctor said that the burns may be caused by a “chemical substance”.

But since only some and not all Mass-goers suffered burns, Bishop Pablo David of Kalookan said this could only mean that not all containers contained the supposed toxic substance.

“We apologize for whatever harm has inadvertently been caused by what should have been a solemn ritual marking the beginning of Lent,” David said.

“Rest assured that we will not leave a single stone unturned in order to find out what had caused this unfortunate incident,” he said.

The prelate said he already asked the cathedral’s security team to review the footage from closed-circuit television cameras “for any possibility of sabotage”.

He added that those affected may come to the chancery office for treatment. The diocese also offered to reimburse the expenses of those who already availed medication from other clinics.

He also said that they have already checked if their cathedral staff had done anything with the ashes. “They too were puzzled by what had happened,” David said. CBCPNews

Pope told Jesuits he regularly meets abuse survivors, journal reports

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:00

Pope Francis meets Jan. 19 with Jesuits in the sacristy of the Church of St. Peter in Lima, Peru. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

VATICAN— Pope Francis told a group of Jesuits in Peru that he often meets on Fridays with survivors of sex abuse.

The meetings, which he said do not always become public knowledge, make it clear that the survivors’ process of recovery “is very hard. They remain annihilated. Annihilated,” the pope had told the Jesuits Jan. 19 in Lima.

The scandal of clerical sexual abuse shows not only the “fragility” of the Catholic Church, he said, “but also — let us speak clearly — our level of hypocrisy.”

The director of the Vatican press office Feb. 15 confirmed that the pope’s meetings with abuse survivors is regular and ongoing.

“I can confirm that several times a month, the Holy Father meets victims of sexual abuse both individually and in groups,” said Greg Burke, the director. “Pope Francis listens to the victims and tries to help them heal the serious wounds caused by the abuse they’ve suffered. The meetings take place with maximum reserve out of respect for the victims and their suffering.”

On his trips abroad, Pope Francis usually spends time with local Jesuit communities and holds a question-and-answer session with them. Weeks later, a transcript of the exchange is published by Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal in Rome.

The transcribed and translated texts from Pope Francis’ conversations with Jesuits in Chile Jan. 16 and in Peru three days later were released in Italian and English by Civilta Cattolica Feb. 15 with the pope’s approval, the journal said.

The Jesuits in Chile had not asked the pope about the abuse scandal, even though the scandal was in the news, particularly because of ongoing controversy over the pope’s appointment in 2015 of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who had been accused of covering up the abuse committed by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima.

Pope Francis met with the Jesuits in Santiago at the end of his first full day in Chile. Earlier that day he had met with “a small group” of people who had been abused by Chilean priests, according to the Vatican press office.

The meeting with the survivors and with the Chilean Jesuits took place days before Chilean reporters asked Pope Francis about the accusations against Bishop Barros and he replied, “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?”

The pope later apologized for the remark and, soon after returning to Rome, sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, an experienced investigator, to Chile to conduct interviews.

After the pope left Chile and flew on to Peru, the topic of abuse was even more pressing. In the context of a discussion about spiritual “consolation” and “desolation,” one Jesuit told the pope, “I would like you to say something about a theme that leads to a lot of desolation in the church, and particularly among religious men and women and the clergy: the theme of sexual abuse. We are very disturbed by these scandals.”

Abuse, Pope Francis replied, “is the greatest desolation that the church is suffering. It brings shame, but we need to remember that shame is also a very Ignatian grace.” In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, encouraged people to contemplate Jesus’ goodness and their own wickedness, asking for the grace to be ashamed.

The pope told the Peruvian Jesuits that it is a temptation for people in the church to seek a “consolation prize” by comparing statistics about abuse within the church and abuse within families or in other organizations.

But even if the abuse rate is lower in the church, the pope said, “it is terrible even if only one of our brothers is such! For God anointed him to sanctify children and adults, and instead of making them holy he has destroyed them. It’s horrible! We need to listen to what someone who has been abused feels.”

At that point the pope told the Jesuits in Peru, “On Fridays — sometimes this is known and sometimes it is not known — I normally meet some of them. In Chile I also had such a meeting.”

The abuse scandal is “a great humiliation” for the Catholic Church, he said. “It shows not only our fragility, but also — let us say so clearly — our level of hypocrisy.”

Pope Francis also told the Jesuits in Peru that “it is notable that there are some newer congregations whose founders have fallen into these abuses.” He did not specify which congregations, however.

In the “new, prosperous congregations” where abuse has been a problem, he said, there is a combination of an abuse of authority, sexual abuse and “an economic mess. There is always money involved. The devil enters through the wallet.” CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

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