DIE WITH ME AND LIVE FOREVER!
Easter Message of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas on April 16, 2017 delivered at Saint John Cathedral Dagupan City
As I looked at our churches and chapels filled with devoted people during Holy Week, I asked myself “How many more of such Katoliko sarado and faithful parishioners do we really have now?”
How many of our Catholic countrymen fully believe in the Catholic teachings and live by the same Catholic moral principles? How many of our Catholics openly and blatantly declare “I am a Catholic but I agree that drug addicts must be killed; they are useless. I am a Catholic but I am pro death penalty. I am a Catholic but I favor gay marriages. I am a Catholic but I do not always obey my bishop who is too old fashioned. I am a priest but my bishop’s circulars are optional for obedience. I am a Catholic congressman but I when I vote on bills, the budget allocation for my projects are primary not my conscience. I am a Catholic but I do not mind if the Pope is called son of a prostitute. I am a Catholic and I bash the CBCP on social media. I am a Catholic but I share fake news. I am a Catholic but I am not against corruption in government as long as they help the poor.”
“I am a Catholic but I disagree when bishops talk about social issues and ecology concerns. The Church should not interfere in politics. There is separation of Church and State after all. Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s. I am a Catholic but…I am a Catholic but…”
In Syria and Nigeria, in Egypt and Lebanon, in China and Myanmar, Christians suffer for the faith, endure persecution and embrace their fate of martyrdom until now. They endure the traditional way of blood shedding by torture or by solitary isolation or by the bullet. Their tormentors do not share their beliefs. They live in a society that is angry at God and suspicious of churchmen.
In the Philippines we declare we are Christians. We are Catholics. The baptismal certificate is presented before weddings. We have fiestas and processions. We have Catholic schools and we make pilgrimages. We have priests at funerals and we go to Manaoag.
In the Philippines, we are Catholics. We do not kill bishops and priests in the Philippines. We bash bishops. We allow our idols to curse the Pope. We make fake news about one another. We remain safely anonymous in hidden Facebook and Twitter accounts. We earn our living by working as social media trolls. This is better than drugs and stealing, isn’t it?
We bishops have become martyrs in social media. We are killed a thousand times; our trolls are in the thousands. When we speak they want us muted. When we oppose they want us maimed. When we stand for life, they want us dead.
What has happened to us?
Some of my friends from other countries say they are worried about the government of the Philippines. I answered them I am not worried about government. I am more worried about my countrymen. How have we a Catholic nation become like this as a people?
We have become uncaring for one another. We are proud to be critical without rhyme or reason. We walk not forward but backwards becoming day by day an angry society. I thank God that my parents did not live long enough to see these days when their bishop son is ridiculed and rebuked and his priests are ignored and suspected. Churchmen are called the worst hypocrites and if my mother heard such, I am sure she would cry in pain. Our parishioners seek the security of silence with no one willing to defend Christ’s anointed ones. “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31)
Am I hurt? Yes. Am I angry? No. Am I aware of the calumnies they hurl against me? Yes and I read all of them. Shall I give up? No. How do I feel? Fully at peace!
Pope Benedict XVI told us bishops “Readiness to suffer belongs to the bishop’s job description. Precisely in this way the bishop is in communion with His Master. Precisely in this way, he knows himself to be a servant of joy.”
The Book of Sirach advises us, Stand up for what is right, even it costs your life; the Lord God will be fighting on your side (4:28)
We are indeed entering a new chapter in our history as a Catholic nation when it is so fashionable to make churchmen the punching bag of public officials to the glee of our own parishioners. We are humiliated and despised. We are calumniated as having many wives and the accuser is immune from legal suit. Bishops and priests are wronged and no one dares to set things right.
The Church is ridiculed and her churchmen are rebuked. Christ’s teachings are relentlessly challenged. Human life is cheaper than a gun. God’s mercy is disdained and scorned.
Like Saint Paul, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Cor 4:8-10)
If the fashion of rebuffing Church morals and doctrine does not cease, we will see less and less priests and bishops reaching old age and more and more priests and bishops dying as martyrs at the prime of their lives if not in this generation maybe, maybe in the next. Pray I am wrong.
If this should happen: Stand up and take courage. Go to jail for the sake of the Gospel. Be ready to be killed for the sake of our faith. The Church will not die when Christ’s believers are killed. The Catholic faith will bloom, grow and glow. What we cannot do in life as Catholics, we will be able to do when they kill us and make us martyrs. First they will kill our name. Then they will destroy our beliefs. Then they will kill our body. But no one can stop our hearts from beating only for God.
Another patriot in our midst challenged us:
“We should not wait until the ‘sea of ethics’ runs dry, nor should we allow the navy captain to altogether dismantle the ‘lighthouse’ that gets in his way.”
The Church is under persecution. The signs are clear. The teachings of God on life and family are under attack. Do not let evil intimidate you. Do not let their threats silence the priests and bishops. This is not the time for cowards. This is the ripe season for martyrs. This is a moment of glory.
As the Lord told his disciples in the Garden of Olives, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mt. 26:45-46)
I close this Easter meditation with the immortal lines of the Man from La Mancha:
I know if I’ll only be true To this glorious quest That my heart will lie peaceful and calm When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this That one man, scorned and covered with scars Still strove with his last ounce of courage To reach the unreachable star!
If you die with Christ, you will live forever. Do not be afraid. Christ has conquered death….! Alleluia He is risen!
April 5, 2017
Memorial of Saint Vincent Ferrer
RE: Parish Community Organizer
In the spirit of the 2017 Year of the Parish, our pastoral attention is set on the formation and fostering of basic ecclesial communities in EVERY PARISH of Lingayen Dagupan. A good number of our parishes already have the structures and networks in place for parish BECs. Unfortunately, it cannot be said of all parishes. Our vision is by the end of the 2017 Year of the Parish, every parish would have at least the seminal structures of basic ecclesial communities.
I understand that due to your many pressing concerns in the parish, you are unable to foster the basic ecclesial communities. In consideration of this pastoral limitation, I invite you to select one member of the Catholic laity in the parish or pastoral station to become a FULL TIME COMMUNITY ORGANIZER. The stipend for the full time community organizer may be taken from the parish Pananabangan Fund.
The Archdiocesan BEC Desk will offer an orientation seminar for these parish full time community organizers on MAY 6, 2017 at the LAY FORMATION CENTER in Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City from8am until 5pm.
Please be very keen and ingenuous in selecting your parish community organizer. Much will depend on your parish CO in fostering the basic ecclesial communities in the parish.
I trust that you share the vision and appreciate the importance of employing such lay workers. Thank you.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
March 25, 2017
Solemnity of the Annunciation
RE: Chrism Mass
My dear people of God:
It is my pleasure to invite you to the celebration of our CHRISM MASS on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. There will be solemn Morning Prayers at 7:30am.
I invite the Catholic faithful to avail of this occasion to publicly express their prayerful appreciation for the priestly life and ministry of our priests who devoutly serve the Church.
On this same occasion, we shall give recognition to the most generous contributors for our mission fund and the Icthus pastoral fund.
In addition to these, the summons for the members of the Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan will also be issued.
I am looking forward to your wholehearted and active participation at our Chrism Mass.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
Message of Archbishop Socrates B Villegas
February 18, 2017, 430am
Salamat sa Council of the Laity ng Pilipinas na siyang nanawagan para sa Walk for Life. Kaming mga pari at obispo ay kasama ninyong laykong lingkod sa bawat hakbang. Hindi kami mauuna baka hindi kayo makasunod. Hindi kami maglalakad sa likod baka maiwanan ninyo kami. Maglalakad kaming ng mga obispo at pari katabi ninyo. Kaagapay. Kaibigan. Kasama sa paglalakad. Sa Luneta pantay pantay tayo. Sabay sabay.
Narito tayo para sa Walk for Life alang alang sa mga hindi na makalakad dahil sa kasalanan natin sa kanila. Hindi sila makalakad dahil pinatay at tayo ay natakot makisangkot. Hindi sila makalakad dahil natatakot na baka sila ang isunod na barilin. Hindi makalakad dahil lulong sa droga. Hindi makalakad na pinatay ng mga addict nabulagan ng isip. Hindi makalakad dahil sa ating mga kasalanan dahil sa buhay.
Ang Walk for Life ay para sa kanila. Lalakad tayo at tatayo para sa kanila.
Ang Walk for Life ay hindi para ipagtanggol ang drug addict o ang mga mamamatay tao. Ang kriminal ay dapat arestuhin, kasuhan, hatulan at ikulong upang iwasto ang pagkakamali. Dapat patunayan ang pagkakasala sa korte ng batas hindi sa batas ng bala.
Ang Walk for Life ay hindi protesta kundi paninindigan para sa kabanalan ng buhay ng bawat tao na galing sa Diyos. Ang Walk for Life ay Walk for God.
Bakit madaling araw? Sapagkat sa mga oras na ito natin natutuklasan ang bangkay sa bangketa o malapit sa basurahan. Ang madaling araw na sana ay oras ng bagong simula ay nagiging oras ng luha at takot dahil sa mga pinatay sa magdamag.
Sa mga ganitong oras noong Disyembre 30, 1896 nagsimula maglakad si Dr Jose Rizal simula Fort Santiago patungong Luneta para bitayin ng firing squad. Ang parusang bitay ay saliwa sa kabanalan ng buhay ng tao. Sa halip na bitay, linisin natin ang kapulisan, ayusin ang husgado at higpitan palakad sa bilangguan. No to death penalty. Yes to the reform of the criminal justice. Nananawgan po kami sa Congress na hayaang bumoto ang Kongresista ayon sa konsensiya. Ang partido politika ay pansamantala. Ang konsensiya ang tinig ng Diyos na nakatanim sa ating kalooban. Igalang ang konsensiya.
Marami pa pong kasalanan sa buhay na dapat natin labanan. ABCDE…
Abortion ay kasalanan sa buhay ng sanggol. Ang sanggol ay taong anak natin. Ang mahinang sanggol ay biyaya ng Diyos. Ang bawat sanggol ipagtanggol! Kapag hindi natin nilabanan ang aborsyon, aabot tayo sa pagpatay sa mga yagit ng lipunan. Ang taong yagit sa tingin ng iba ay taong iniligtas at mahal ng Diyos. Mahal ng Diyos ang mga mahihina at mistulang yagit. Kapatid natin sila.
Blasphemy ay paglapastangan sa ngalan ng Diyos. Kung ang Diyos ay hindi na ginagalang susunod na hindi igagalang ang mga nilikha ng Diyos. Ang lahat ng kasalanan sa Diyos ay nagsisimula sa blasphemy o pagyurak sa karangalan ng Diyos. Kapag lapastangan sa Diyos, sigurado lapastangan din sa Inang Kalikasan, lapastangan sa magulang, lapastangan sa kapwa, lapastangan sa buhay.
Corruption ay nakakamatay ng tao. Ang corruption ay pagnanakaw lalo na sa mga mahihirap. Perang dapat ipampagamot, perang pambili ng bigas, perang pamasahe sa bus, perang pantapal sa bubong na tumutulo, kinukupit ng mandarambong! Ang luha ng mahihirap na pinagnanakawan ng corrupt ay alam ng Diyos. Hindi kayo pwedeng magnakaw habampanahon. Alam ng Diyos ang lahat.
Droga ay laban sa buhay. Pinapatay ng droga ang taong gumagamit pati na ang mga inosenteng biktima nila. Rape dahil sa droga. Nakaw dahil sa droga. Patayan dahil sa droga. Marami ng buhay na winasak ang droga. Ang Walk for Life ay kontra droga. Ang Walk for Life ay hindi pagtatanggol sa drug addict at drug pusher. Masama ang droga. Nakakamatay ang droga.
Execution ay pagpatay. Dating tawag ay bitay, naging salvaging, naging summary execution, naging EJK. Ang pagpatay, ito naman ay gawin ng kriminal o kaya ay ipataw ng gobyerno bilang death penalty, pagpatay pa rin yan. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers.
Malapit ng sumikat ang araw. May pag asa tayo. Huwag matakot sa dilim. Huwag mamuhay sa takot. Kumakalat ang takot at pananakot. Tinatakot tayong papatayin. Tinatakot tayo at nagpapatakot tayo. Walang mananakot kung hindi tayo magpapatakot.
Harapin natin ang nananakot at ipakita natin ang ating lakas ng loob. Humarap tayo sa nagbabanta at ipakita na kasama natin ang Diyos na ating lakas. Hindi nila tayo maaaring takutin dahil mas malakas ang tiwala natin sa Diyos.
Bayang may tiwala sa Diyos. Huwag matakot. Lakad na para sa BUHAY! Walk for Life!
February 14, 2017
Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius
RE: Lay Members of the Archdiocesan Synod
Reverend Parish Priests, Chaplains and Directors of Pastoral Stations:
In our earnest desire to make the forthcoming Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan pastorally meaningful, we have now reached a point when we have to name the lay members of the synod.
It is meritorious to be reminded of these pertinent canons in the Code of Canon Law:
Canon 460. A diocesan synod is a group of selected priests and other members of the Christian faithful of a particular church who offer assistance to the diocesan bishop for the good of the whole diocesan community.
Canon 463 #1 and #5. Lay members of the Christian faithful must be called to the diocesan synod as members and are obliged to participate in it in a manner to be determined by the diocesan bishop.
The sole authority to issue summons to the synod rests on the archbishop. In the spirit ofcommunio, I now invite the Reverend Parish Priests, Chaplains and Directors of Pastoral Stations to nominate one lay member of the synod:
1.1. From the Vicariate of Saints Peter and Paul, one lay representative per parish or pastoral station between 18 to 25 years old;
1.2. From the Vicariate of the Epiphany, one lay representative per parish or pastoral station between 26 to 35 years old;
1.3. From the Vicariate of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one lay representative per parish or pastoral station between 36 to 45 years old;
1.4. From the Vicariate of Saint Dominic, one representative per parish or pastoral station between 46 to 55 years old;
1.5. From the Vicariate of Saint Vincent, one representative per parish or pastoral station between 56 to 65 years old.
In the choice of the parish nominee, the parish priest must consider the person’s good standing in the parish community and the person’s availability to participate fully both in the pre-synodal meetings and the celebration of the synod itself from September 2 to 9, 2017.
The parish priest must make a written nomination of the parish representative to the undersigned indicating the age and attesting to the good standing in the parish community before March 31, 2017.
Please advise the parish nominee for the synod to be present at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist during which the summons will be properly issued.
The choice of the parish nominee for the synod carries great pastoral value. Please be prudent in making the nomination keeping in mind only the good of the Church. Thank you even now for acting on this directive.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan