Saturday, February 19, 2011
Pinoy Bishops from Visayas and Mindanao's ad limina with the Pope
From EWTN News.com
VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Pope recalled "the deep links which Catholics enjoy with the Successor of Peter", noting that this has "always been a significant characteristic of faith in your country, I pray that this communion will continue to grow and flourish as you consider the present challenges of your apostolate", he said.
"While the Philippines continues to face many challenges in the area of economic development, we must recognise that these obstacles to a life of happiness and fulfilment are not the only stumbling blocks that must be addressed by the Church. Filipino culture is also confronted with the more subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of our times. When self-sufficiency and freedom are severed from their dependence upon and completion in God, the human person creates for himself a false destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made. The path to rediscovering humanity's true destiny can only be found in the re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person. [The Pope is aware of the rising influence of Western secularism in the country. Cafeteria Catholics in mind here!]
"Above all", the Holy Father added, "to keep God at the centre of the life of the faithful, the preaching of you and your clergy must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that He loves us, and that in Christ He answers the deepest questions of our lives. Your great task in evangelisation is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfilment. ... At the same time, it must be recognised that new initiatives in evangelisation will only be fruitful if ... those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves".
The Pope then went on to remark on the positive impact basic ecclesial communities have had throughout the country, highlighting how the "the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organisations which continue to draw people to the Lord. In order to confront the questions of our times", he explained, "the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the Lord. I therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront". ["Primacy of a person's conscience" people will throw in a nutty here.]
In the Philippines, the Pope continued, faith "plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to youth at all levels. ... Care must also be given to showing young people the importance of the Sacraments as instruments of God's grace and assistance. This is particularly true of the Sacrament of Matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God's presence may sustain young couples in their struggles". [The Importance of Sacraments!...Get that? And liturgists pay much importance in singing and dancing and camp outs to evangelize the youth. Not so! They are instruments to draw them near, but if the youth's faith is not nourished by the Oprah Winfrey style of evangelization, then we have a problem. Yes, folks, this happens in our parish, in our diocese. The groups that attract the youth the most are those groups who do not burden themselves on making "creative liturgies" but groups who are devoted to prayer and a more solemn worship at Mass. Take it from a worker. I have seen it. We even have some Knights of the Altar who are considering the priesthood because they fell in love with the solemn and dignified manner of celebrating the Mass. The "Willie Revillame" and "Bob Barker" priests just have fans...no vocations. Now that says a lot!]
Finally the Pope noted how "the pastoral care of young people which aims to establish the primacy of God in their hearts, tends inherently to result not only in vocations to Christian marriage but also in plentiful callings of all kinds". [See? Told yah!] However, "it appears that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not yet sufficient to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing Catholic population. With you, I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit". [Unless they have a rude awakening once they learn in the Catechism is not what is being taught at theology schools. But I digress...HA!]