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Circular 2015-7: Chrism Mass

March 19, 2015

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary

Circular 2015-7:Chrism Mass

My dear people of God: To fittingly celebrate the gift of the priesthood to the Church, we will celebrate our CHRISM MASS on Holy Thursday APRIL 2, 2015 at the Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City. We shall have Solemn Morning Prayers at 7:00 am to be followed by the announcement of the awards for the Mission Fund collection and the Icthus Fund Appeal. The Mass of Chrism and the Renewal of Commitment to Priestly Service will follow immediately.

I am personally inviting all our priests, religious men and women, parish lay leaders specially the BEC’s, youth leaders, catechists and lay liturgical ministers and members of lay associations to come and celebrate the gift of the priesthood to the Church.

This is the opportune time to express our appreciation to our priests for their generous self giving to the Lord and the Church.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Circular 2015-6: Worldwide 24 Hours for the Lord

March 1, 2015

Circular 2015-6: Worldwide 24 Hours for the Lord

My dear people of God:

The Holy Father Pope Francis has called on all bishops all over the world to observe March 13 to 14 as 24 Hours of Prayer with the theme “God rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4).

The Blessed Sacrament will be on solemn exposition for 24 hours accompanied by the hearing of confessions in the same church.

In the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan, we will open the 24 Hours of Prayer at 6:00 am on March 13, Friday, to end at 6:00 am on March 14, Saturday. It will open with a Mass on March 13 and close with a Mass the following day.

The Catholic schools of the archdiocese will be assigned to adore during the class hours. The other lay organizations and Basic Ecclesial Communities may be assigned the night hours.

The Archdiocesan Liturgist will release the Holy Hour Adoration format for this intention.

The adoration churches per vicariate are the following:

  1. Santuario de San Juan in Dagupan City
  2. Epiphany of the Lord Parish in Lingayen
  3. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag
  4. Saint Dominic Parish in San Carlos City
  5. Saint Vincent Ferrer in Bayambang.

The Vicars Forane in every vicariate must insure the regular presence of adorers round the clock and confessors available for the Sacrament of Penance.

Let us stay united with the Holy Father in praying for a new era of mercy and compassion for the world.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Circular 2015-5: Oratio Imperata for Peace

February 23, 2015

Circular 2015-5: Oratio Imperata for Peace

My dear people of God:

The situation of the country and the world right now calls on all of us to turn to the Lord in humble supplication and gather our people to pray. As the nation continues to grieve over the tragedy in Mamasapano and the family of nations is threatened by war and terror from extremist groups, our best contribution to the nation and to the world is to encourage people to pray.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14).

In the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan from March 1 to 28, 2015 the Oratio Imperata for Peace must be prayed before the Post Communion Prayer in every Mass. Hopefully this prayer can calm the anxieties of our long suffering people and touch the hearts of the enemies of peace.

I trust that this obligatory prayer for peace will be diligently prayed as instructed. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

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Oratio Imperata for Peace

To be prayed from March 1 to March 28, 2015 before the Post Communion Prayer in every Mass in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

 

Lord of Peace, we come to You in our need

Create in us an awareness

of the massive forces of violence and terrorism

that threaten our world today.

 

Grant us a sense of urgency

to activate the forces of goodness, of justice,

of love and of peace in our communities.

 

Where there is armed conflict,

let us stretch out our arms to our

brothers and sisters.

 

Where there is abundance and luxury,

let there be simple lifestyle and sharing.

 

Where there is poverty and misery,

let there be dignified living and constant striving for just structures.

 

Where there is selfish ambition, let there be humble service.

Where there is injustice, let there be humble atonement.

Where there is despair, let there be hope in the Good News.

Where there are wounds of division, let there be unity and wholeness.

Where there are lies and deceit, let your Truth set us all of us free.

Where there are thoughts of vengeance, let there be healing and forgiveness.

 

Help us to be committed to the Gospel of peace.

In spite of our differences in faith traditions and ethnic roots,

Teach us Your spirit of mercy and compassion.

 

For it is only in loving imitation of you, Lord of Peace,

that we can discover the healing springs of life

that will bring about new birth to our earth

a new era of peace

and a new harmony among all

Forever and ever. Amen.

Circular 2015-4:International Eucharistic Congress

February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Circular 2015-4:International Eucharistic Congress

My dear people of God:

The 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) will be held in Cebu from January 24 to 31, 2016. The IEC normally takes place every four years.  It originated in Lille, France in 1881.  The 33rd IEC was Manila in 1937.

A Eucharistic Congress which is an international gathering of people aims to: (1) promote awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church; (2) help improve our understanding of the liturgy; and, (3) draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.

“Christ In You, Our Hope and Glory” (Col 1:27) is the theme of the Congress in order to express the nature of the Eucharist as mystery and mission.  For the Philippines and Asia, the Eucharist is a mystery to be revealed, lived and proclaimed. In the context of the New Evangelization and within the nine-year program for the 500th anniversary of the coming of the Christian faith to the Phiilippines in 1521, the theme points to the Eucharist as the mystery or sacrament of the presence of Christ Jesus and of His saving mystery in the Church – People of God and Body of Christ.

In line with the preparation of our entire country for the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress, we would like to organize our own Archdiocesan team in order to foster the objectives of the Eucharistic Congress. I would like to invite all parishes to send one of their priests and two lay leaders or lead catechists, and all Catholic Schools to send one religious instruction coordinator to compose our Archdiocesan Committee for IEC 2016.  They will have an initial meeting on February 28, 2015 (Saturday) at 2:00 PM with Fr. Mario Dominic C. Sanchez, our Archdiocesan Coordinator, at the Limon Hall, Mary Help of Christians College Seminary, Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City.  These are their objectives:

(1)  Giving of the Catechesis on the Eucharist prepared by the CBCP Permanent Council of the International Eucharistic Congress in all our Parish Churches and Chaplaincies from Easter Sunday to Corpus Christi Sunday, and in all Catholic Catholic Schools from July to December 2015.

(2)  Forming Catechists/Lecturers on the Eucharist from March 23-25, 2015 at the Limon Hall of MHCCS.

(3)  Holding of Vicariate Eucharistic Congresses in our five vicariates from June 8 to 13, 2015.

(4)  Promoting Eucharistic Adoration and Devotion in all our Parishes and Catholic Schools, and eventual recommendation of the delegates to IEC 2016 from our Archdiocese.

(5)  Supporting the IEC in Cebu by actively campaigning of the Piso Para Sa Misa ng Mundo, and sending the donations on a regular basis.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.  The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and bound with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.  For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. (CCC 1324)

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

SEEKING TRUTH AND JUSTICE, PURSUING PEACE

CBCP Statement on the Ongoing Mamasapano Investigation

Congress has commenced its inquiry into that sad episode of our recent history — the slaughter of 44 gallant men of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police.  We note that the two chambers of the Legislature have opted to conduct separate investigations when a joint inquiry would have allowed for a more expeditious investigation and would have obviated the possibility of findings at loggerheads with each other.

Truth and Accountability

The President and his advisers must give a full and satisfactory accounting of their actions in respect to this tragic loss.  The targets of the SAF operations were characterized as “high value targets”.  If the police went after them, it can only be because they were ordered to do so.  Policemen do not order themselves, not even members of the Special Action Force.  Indeed, that is what corroborated statements now clearly establish: The decision was made on the highest levels to go after these “high value targets”.  The only thing that was awaited was “the window of opportunity”, a judgment that is made by people on the ground.

Questions call for unequivocal and truthful answers.  Lives were needlessly lost because in many ways the operation was covert.  Why, for one, were the highest-ranking official of the Philippine National Police and his civilian superior, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, left out of the loop of information, consultation and command?  It seems that a suspended police officer played more than a merely advisory role.  Why should he have been giving orders?  And if he was in fact issuing orders and commands, should it not be clear that his authority to do so, precisely because he was laboring under a legitimate order of suspension, emanated from higher levels?

The concealment of truth or the foisting of deliberate falsehood even to shield one’s superiors from embarrassment or to spare them indictment is always a moral wrong, especially in the context of legal processes and under oath.  When one swears to tell the truth and invokes the help of God, one is morally obligated to speak the truth.  We therefore urge all witnesses and all those in possession of information material to the resolution of facts in issue to speak the truth at all times.

Heroes Among Us

As we did almost immediately after being informed of the gallant deaths of our SAF men, the CBCP extols their courage, their heroism and their fidelity to the call to duty.  We understand the heartaches of the SAF men and women who rightly have reason to feel that our leaders failed them.  While it is true that every person who dons the uniform either as a police officer or as a soldier puts his life on the line in the performance of his sworn duties, it remains the solemn moral duty of the national leadership to protect them from needless harm and to uphold their interests as well.  The human person is never merely a means, no matter how glorious, noble or desirable the ends may be!

The Peace Process

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines offers its assistance to the pursuit of lasting peace, a settlement of differences that will allow the people of Mindanao, Muslims and Christians alike including indigenous peoples to live in peace and as equals, citizens of one Republic, nationals of one country.  We hold it to be morally obligatory for the government and for the restive segments of Philippine society to search for the paths of peace.

It is of course true that peace cannot rest on deceit, the suppression of truth and subterfuge.  This is the reason that getting to the truth of the Mamasapano tragedy is of paramount importance.  In fact we should learn from Mamasapano for we paid a heavy price to learn its lessons.  We have painfully been shown the pitfalls and the traps, the gaps and the lacunae of deals we have thus far entered into.

The goal cannot be the cessation of hostilities at any cost, but a principled settlement of the dispute, and peace born out of truth, a commitment to social justice and adherence to the fundamental law of the land!

If anything at all, Mamasapano should instill in all, especially in our Legislators, a sense of circumspection in respect to examining the first draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.  Let the document be assiduously studied, fully debated and exhaustively examined.

The Moral Requisites of a Just Settlement

There has to be SINCERITY on both sides — on the side of government forces and agents and on the side of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.  Hostilities must cease while legal processes must be observed.  Officers pursuing fugitives from justice or identified terrorists can never be the legitimate objects of attack.  Similarly where a truce has been agreed on, it is incumbent on all parties to hold their fire.  The government must resolutely pursue its projects for the further development of Muslim Mindanao and for the speedy and lasting attainment of social justice so that our Muslim brothers and sisters may fully share in the resources of the country and in the strides it makes towards prosperity.

The MILF must surrender the culprits: those who cut down the SAF 44 in the prime of their youth and must not interfere with their prosecution and their trial. The video clip that went viral showing the merciless execution of SAF men who were wounded and helpless cannot and must not be shrugged off.

The CBCP stands with the widows and orphans of the fallen to demand Justice and the indictment of the culpable.  It must also explain satisfactorily why international terrorists were within the territory supposedly occupied by them.

Finally, the arms and ammunition captured from the SAF and from other lawful agents of the Republic of the Philippines must be returned.  Justice and peace demand restitution of what one has wrongfully taken.

Solidarity in Prayer

The CBCP remains one with the grieving families of our fallen SAF men, as well as with the families of all who lost loved ones in this armed encounter.  Whether Christian or Muslim, we believe in a God who does not allow those who remain faithful to him to be lost.  We turn now in this moment of grief to the One Father of us all for consolation, strength and hope.

Appeal for True Patriotism

This is not the time for political opportunism.  This is not the time for adventurism or grandstanding.

While resolute action is necessary on the part of all, precipitous action and recourse to extra-constitutional measures will only visit more harm and misery on our people.

The CBCP cannot lend its support to any movement that may bring greater suffering for our people.  We would do well to join in the debate spiritedly, to be zealous in ferreting out the facts and to be unyielding in demanding accountability.  But it is also our moral duty to be law-abiding citizens, animated at all times by the Gospel that insists that we love even those who we may find difficult to love!

No Peace Without Humility

The Kingdom of God is as much a gift as it is a project, for while only God can make his kingdom come among us, he calls us all not only to preach it but, by our deeds, to make its presence tangible and real for the world.  Peace is the mark of this kingdom, and so it is that for a Christian there is no other way but to work for peace.  But time and again we have been taught that clever calculation, crafty speech and pompously worded documents never bring lasting peace.  It is when we humble ourselves and pray, and allow the Spirit to lead us that shall find that path of peace.

The CBCP therefore invokes God’s Spirit even as it pledges that bishops individually and collectively will make themselves and their resources available for the demands of arriving at a lasting solution to the problem of turning swords into ploughshares.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Intramuros, Manila, February 16, 2015

(SGD) + SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

President, CBCP

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