Chrism Mass at Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral, March 28, 2013
Our Chrism Mass this year is celebrated under the glow of the newly elected Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Many people from within the Church and outside the Church refer to the Pope as head of one billion two hundred million Catholics all over the world. Head of the Church!
But wait. Let us review our catechism for a moment. The Pope is not really the head of the Church. Christ is the head of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ. The Pope is the visible symbol of Christ on earth; he is the symbol of Christ the head of the Church. For the universal Church, the Pope presides in charity in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. When the Pope speaks to us, it is Christ the head who speaks. When he blesses, it is Christ the head who blesses. When he serves, it is the service of Christ the head that he continues to do.
Like the Pope, you my brother priests share in the ministry of Christ the head of the Church. In the Chrism Mass of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us priests that when we preside at the sacraments and offer the Mass, we act in the person of Christ. Through the years, we priests have invoked those words “in persona Christi” to refer to our priestly actions, priestly witnessing and priestly preaching—speaking and acting in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ the head of the Church.
What kind of head does the Church need? What kind of priests who act in the person of Christ the head must we be? Are we really signs of Christ the head for his body the Church? What kind of a head are we, my brother priests?
Some heads have thick hair; some heads have no hair. Some heads have grey hair; some heads have hair as black as midnight. Bald or hairy, grey or black, all heads need a body. A head that has no body is dead. A body that has no head is dead. In other words, the first duty of a good head is to remember that it is only part of a body; that cut off from the body, the head loses life. The head cannot go right while the body goes the other way. Where the body goes, so goes the head!
A leader is someone who is strong and can command a following but this strength as a leader is best shown by listening to those under our care. The ears have been put on both sides of our head. The eyes have been put in front of our heads. The eyes and ears are on the same level on our head. The duty of the head is to watch with love and care. The duty of the head is to listen with respect and obedience. The lips have been put below all these because talking is the least of all our duties. Go and teach. Use words if necessary. The most important role of headship is watching with care and listening with love. That is the headship of Christ.
When the eye is impatient, love is lacking. When the ear wants to speak rather than listen, love has been lost. Can we still watch by with patience and joy without complaining about time lost and wasted? Have we become so used to talking and being listened to that we cannot sit down anymore without chatting? Can we still listen to litanies of worries without interrupting and without getting annoyed? The head may still be connected to the body through the neck, but if we have lost the capacity to watch lovingly and listen tenderly, to keep quiet respectfully, to stop senseless murmurings trying to sound funny, and to resist useless chatter, we have in fact beheaded the body.
How are we as heads of schools and shepherds of parishes?
Can the head be without the heart? Should logic always prevail over emotions? Can intellectual understanding be enough without fervour? The head needs the heart and the heart needs the head. Intelligence needs to feel and feelings need logic.
Chinese wisdom says “The mind resides in the heart”. At the sunset of life, we will be judged according to love, not according to intelligence. Brilliant minds can be admirable but only love can save peoples from sin. It is only with heart that we can see rightly. Love is blind indeed. See the sinner in the confessional not with the mind of canon law but with the mercy of the heart of Jesus. See the beggar at the church door not with the eyes of first impression but with love and first intuition. Listen to your heart my brother priests.
If we keep on repeating too often that we are signs of Christ the head we can grow in self importance and exaggerate our ego. A regular pilgrimage into our hearts through prayer and frequent confession can shrink our ego to normal size and remind us that we are only signs of the real head; that we are not the head ourselves.
My brother priests, can we still think with our hearts? Can we still be tender like the Good Shepherd? Are we afraid to receive compassion because it reveals us as vulnerable priests? Are we afraid to admit our thorns in the flesh because it will shatter our myth that we are super heroes? We are only earthen vessels. We cannot let Christ glow unless we let our glamour go.
How are we as signs of Christ the head? What kind of head should we be?
On the day of our ordination, the bishop laid his hands over us. Our heads were put under the hands of another man. Although those hands were lifted only after a few seconds, the laying of hands over our heads continues to this day. In other words, the good priest must always remember that his head is under the hands of the Church, under the hands of the Lord. The head must learn how to kneel. The head must know how to bow. The head must learn humility. Humility is the only crown that the head must wear. Humility is the crown of all virtues. When the bishop wears a miter, he does not wear it as a crown to extend the head and make him taller. He wears the miter as cover over his head. It cuts the head to a smaller size. The miter is the roof of God’s power. We are all under it. We are not bosses. We are servants.
The head is on top of the body; but on top of our heads, the hands of the Church will always be there. The head must submit to a power higher than it. We are disciples not Masters. We are stewards of the mysteries of God, not owners.
The Church has been hurt a lot by our arrogance and conceit. We would be better signs of Christ the head with greater humility, deeper piety and lifestyles of simplicity.
My brother priests, tonight when we remember the institution of the Eucharist, let us thank God for trusting us to be signs of his headship in the Church. In a minute when you renew your priestly promises, promise also to be humble signs of Christ the head—always one with the body, always one with the heart, always under the power of the Lord. The sign cannot be the head itself. We must decrease so that Christ the head may increase.
Let us bow our heads and enter the heart of the Lord.
‘And the fire on the altar shall always burn, and the priest shall feed it, putting wood on it every day in the morning…This is the perpetual fire which shall never go out on the altar. (Lev 6:12-13)
When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him … They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us …?” (Luke 24, 30-32)
Every now and then, a younger brother priest would come up to me with these words, “How can we keep the fire of our priesthood alive? After only a few months after ordination, I already feel bored. I feel dry. I am not excited anymore. I might not last.” A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul. O priests, you bright candles enlightening human souls, let your brightness never be dimmed. (Divine Mercy in my Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, 75).
Every priest knows that feeling of the well drying up and the fire dying. The ordination honeymoon seems to end so quickly and monotony soon sets in. Burning out, running on empty —the feeling is all too familiar
The onslaught of all these feelings boils down to prayer, or more specifically, the lack or neglect of it. Indeed, pastoral action is attractive and so emotionally rewarding, and priests tend to be consumed by it. But when we sacrifice personal prayer for the sake of pastoral action, burn out, boredom and monotony will set in fast.
Unfortunately, the first victim in this boredom and burn out phenomenon is the Mass. We offer the Mass haphazardly without noticing it because we no longer examine our consciences anymore. We rush the prayers and omit the songs forgetting that the face of God is more important than the face of our wristwatch. We rehash old homilies ad nauseam. We put on the Mass vestments like we put on our ordinary shirts and pants and after we unvest, we just throw them on the table of the sacristy, in a rush to go to another appointment. The source and summit of our Christian life has become just a duty to do and a source of revenue. Sad! Why? How can we reverse the path?
In our desire to invigorate our seemingly humdrum life we begin to indulge in “other pursuits”. We explore hobbies and sports – photography, golf, tennis … We pursue further studies. We join more socials. Buy more gadgets. Take longer and farther vacations.
But the happiness continues to evade us. “In our age, as in every age, people are longing for happiness, not realizing that what they are looking for is holiness”. (Jerry Walls). The fire cannot be ignited again. We become mediocre and lukewarm and get accustomed to bland, tasteless water. We just submit to the reality that the wine of the Lord is no more.
Find Him where You Lost Him
It need not be so. You will find God where you lost Him. You lost Him at Mass? You will find Him again there. “… The whole Church draws life from the Eucharist, all the more then must the life of a priest be “shaped” by the Eucharist. So for us, the words of institution must be more than a formula of consecration: they must be a “formula of life“. (Letter of John Paul II to priests on Holy Thursday 2005, n.1).
Where in the Mass can we recover the Lord? As a brother to a brother, I encourage you to look at the silent prayers at Mass that we tend to gloss over or even totally ignore or forget because of haste or lack of concentration. “Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.”(GIRM, 45)
The priest’s silent prayers in various parts of the Mass are personal prayers that will help us to see ourselves not just as ministers for the validity of the sacraments but as fellow worshipers of the priestly people. The silent prayers prescribed for the priests during the Mass are not for the people but for us. These silent prayers remind us that we are not only there to bless; we also need to be blessed. We are not just at the ambo to teach; we are there to be taught also. We are not just there by the altar to minister; we also need to be ministered to. We are not just functionaries. We are not just tools. The Lord has calls us His friends.
The silent prayers of the priest at Mass, if properly prayed, will open for us that sense of awe and amazement as we perform our holy duty. “This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. But in a special way it should fill the minister of the Eucharist.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 5).
Homily delivered by His Excellency, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas on the occasion of his installation as Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, held last 4 November 2009 at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City at 10:00 am.
The ways of the Lord are mysterious and hard to comprehend. Eighteen years ago, before Archbishop Cruz was installed Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Dagupan was hit by a severe earthquake that rendered the city in shambles and the old cathedral in ruins. This year, apparently in preparation for this momentous occasion, the Archdiocese was hit with massive flooding that rendered great havoc upon our flock. Our gathering of joy is mixed with sentiments of uncertainty about what lies ahead of Pangasinan. I know that faith of the Pangasinenses is strong and firm. I want to assure though: it is not Archbishops who cause disasters to happen!
The ways of the Lord are awesome and marvelous. He called me to be a priest and gave me a revolutionary Cardinal as my mentor and guide. My priesthood was born from the dawn of EDSA people power in 1986. My vocation was nurtured by the street revolutionaries of the EDSA shrine. Then the Church sent me on a mission to Bataan, famous for the Death March of the last world war. The long street from Mariveles and Bagac to San Fernando was sanctified by the glorious blood of the martyrs of the Second World War.
Today I begin my mission in Lingayen-Dagupan, the shadow of war still hovering over my priesthood because it was in Lingayen Gulf that the story of our liberation in 1945 began. The legendary General Douglas McArthur landed in Lingayen Gulf, waded through our waters to usher in a new day of freedom for our country. This province also carries in its history the revolutionary struggle of Andres Malong and the tyrannical reign of Limahong, a Chinese ruler. Lingayen Gulf is red with the blood of heroes.
With a deep sense of unworthiness and obedience to the Holy Father, Pope Bendict XVI, I accept the mission to be pastor of the Church in Lingayen-Dagupan. I am treading on the footsteps of a great man of the Church, an epic man who is himself larger than life, Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz. Archbishop Cruz is unique and irreplaceable. He was my first rector at San Carlos Seminary. I will only try to continue, using my very limited talents, the great work that he has left behind in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
Inararok ya totoo’y Dios: Agko amta no pano’y mansalita na salita yo dia. Ibangat y oak kumon no bilbilang aliwa so pansalitak o panangibagak ed salita yo. Labay kon aralen so salita yo dia.
My dear people of God, I do not know how to speak the dialect. Please teach me. I am willing to learn. If I make a mistake in pronouncing, please correct.
I come to live in your midst not as a liberator like McArthur or a revolutionary like Andres Malong or a tyrant like Limahong. I come to you as Jesus came, the servant who called us to “salt of the earth and light of the world”. You can call me Father Soc. Please give me a chance to love you, to serve you.
We are the salt of the earth, the Lord said to us in the Gospel. Pangasinan was named after asin — panag-asinan. We who form the Catholic faithful in Lingayen-Dagupan, living in the province that is named after salt, must truly be salt for society and salt for the rest of the world. Like ASIN, let us embark together on mission for social transformation and Church renewal.
A is for apostolic action nurtured by prayer. Our first and only power is the Lord and our first and only way to the Lord is love. We must pray but it is not enough to pray. Our prayer must make us think and talk and listen and act and be like Jesus — that is the apostolic action that we need in the Church. Any pastoral action or assembly that does not come from prayer will fail. Any prayer that does not lead us to apostolic charity will wither. Love without service is mere sentimentalism. Service without prayer is social activism.
S is for sanctified and sanctifying community of disciples. United by baptism, united in prayer, united through charity, we will become saints together in Pangasinan. To be holy is our one and only vision. Everything and anything that leads us astray from this path must be cast aside. We are called to sanctify, to lead and to teach. We are here not by worthiness but by favor. None of us is worthy, we were just chosen in spite of. We do not sanctify ourselves; God does. We do not sanctify other; God does. We are a community not an organization. None of us is master; all of us are disciples.
I is for integration of faith and life. The Church is hurt not just by heresies against the truth. The Church is also damaged when the faith of her children are not matched by witnessing. We do not only share a common doctrine. We also share one common morality. What does it matter if we understand the mystery of the Trinity but do not live the love that binds the Trinity? The Church and her priests would be more credible prophet in society if the stomach of the preacher would be as empty as his parishioners. Brother priests, I bid you: Go preach the gospel. Talk if necessary. Pangasinan does not need teachers. Pangasinan needs witnesses. Fathers: Give us Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus.
N is for new and intensive evangelization. Evangelization by its nature is confrontational. We cannot proclaim Jesus and waltz with corruption in public or in private. We cannot be rightly called Christians and play games with evil. Evangelization is a call to die. Evangelization demands conversion. Evangelization may not always be pleasant. It can hurt both preacher and hearer. It can make the hearer take revenge on the preacher. But evangelization is the only way for the Church. we would betray the Lord I we won’t. only the brave and the loyal can truly evangelize.
My brother priests – be the salt of the Church and society. By your ministry, may the people taste the goodness of the Lord. Be happy givers! Be holy priests by your courageous and generous self-sacrifice! Bawal and paring duwag! Bawal and paring kuripot! Show them the face of Jesus, the joy of the world! We need to pray together and we must be saints together! When the time comes for me to return to the Father and my name would be dropped from the Eucharistic prayer, I only want to be remembered as the bishop who loved you, my priests!
My dear Catholic laity – be the salt of Pangasinan. By your life in the family and your work in society, preserve – like salt – our heritage of hard work and diligence in northern Philippines. Preserve – like salt – the Catholic faith. Keep the faith alive and young, vibrant and loyal.
My dear children and youth, be the salt of earth. May your lives be clear like crystal salt, pure and fresh and always new. By our young and restive hearts, may we your elders find new inspiration. Your mission as Church youth is to inspire and to ignite.
My poor brothers and sisters from the far barangays, be the salt of the society. Even if sometimes, salt and rice is all we can eat, do not forget your dignity as children of God.
No anggano no maminsan et asin tan belas labat so kakanen tayo, agtayo kumon lilingwanan so dignidad tayo a sakey ya anak na Dios.
As an expression of solidarity with the flood victims of Pangasinan now in need of help to start again, we will not have any lunch reception after our liturgy. The money that will be saved from your act of sacrifice will be used to help the poor of Pangasinan. This is not being kuripot. This is pakikipag-kapwa tao. This is charity. This is what God told us to do. I believe this is what Jesus would have done if he were in Dagupan.
My dear government officials, give us the salt of livelihood and honest public service. Spare the people from salty words of anger and malicious conduct that kill and destroy. Serve the people wit honesty. Serve the people well. We can work together for the people.
Pangasinan, baying mayumi, asin ng pamayanan. Bagong lasa and handog at sariwang kasiglahan. Asin ka ng kabuhyana, nag-aalaga sakabataan Pangasinan, aming Ina, aming mahal, aming hiran!
Dagupan and taguri, dating tawag “nandaragupan” Dahil dito’y nagtipon and sari-saring katauhan Lingayen naman ang tawag naming sa pusod na pinagmulan Lagi naming gnililingon, tinatanaw na kagandahan.
Ang Diyos ay papurihan ng bayan ng Pangasinan, Ipangaral ang Ebanhelyo sa Lingayen-Dagupan Bawat bayan ay lumuhod at sa Diyos ay magpugay, Ipagbunyi ang Pangasinan, ipagdangal ang Maykapal!
People of God in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, I am all yours. Take me as your own. I embrace you n ow as my very own. God has given u each other. Let us give ourselves to the Lord. Amen.
TO: The Diocesan Clergy, Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Pangasinan
RE: Commission on the Clergy, Calenday 2009
The love and peace of Christ — the same today, yesterday and forever!
Please be attentive to the herunder YEAR 2009 CHEDULE prepared by the above cited commission and kindly note them now clearly in your calendar. Our attendance to this our own spiritual and pastoral on-going formational program is clearly relevant as well as mandatory.
9 January, Friday, RECOLLECTION by Vicariate I at LFC.
13 February, Friday, UPDATING by Commssion on the Clergy (ACC) at LFC.
13 March, Friday RECOLLECTION by Vicariate II at LFC
9 April, Thursday, CHRISM MASS at the St. John Parish Church.
13 April, Monday, EASTER PARTY by ACC at the Holy Family Parish, Sta. Barbara
8 May, Friday, RECOLLECTION by ACC at the LFC
10 July, Friday, UPDATING by ACC at the LFC
24-28 August, CLERGY RETREAT at the Betania Retreat House, Baguio City
11 September, Friday, RECOLLECTION by Vicariate IV at the LFC
9 October, Friday, UPDATING by ACC at the LFC
13 November, Friday, RECOLLECTION by Vicariate I at the LFC
8 December Tuesday, CLERGY CHRISTMAS PARTY at the St. John Cathedral School
Prepared by: REV. FR. ENRIQUE V. MACARAEG, Chairman, Commission on the Clergy
Noted: +RENATO P. MAYUGBA, DD, Auxiliary Bishop, January 2009
On the Clergy
By Divine institution, the ordained Priests, marked by an indelible character, are consecrated and authorized, each according to his hierarchical rank, to fulfill in the person of Christ the Head, the teaching, sanctifying and serving Offices, and to nourish the People of God committed to their care (Canon 1008, CIC).
Considering the sacredness of their clinging and the demands of their active ministry, the imperative of continuously attending to their needs as persons and effectively responding to their requirements as Priests becomes evident (PCP-II: Articles 80-101), thereby affirming the nature, the tasks and the composition of the Archdiocesan Commission on the Clergy in this Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction.
As envisioned by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, the Archdiocesan Commission on the Clergy is a collegial Lead-Servant Body to the Members of Diocesan Clergy in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Pangasinan, so that its corporate advisory to the Archbishop and the latter’s consequent official option, the common good and general welfare of the Presbyterium are accordingly attended to and duly promoted ultimately for their effective administrative and pastoral ministry to the People of God in this Particular Church.
The Archdiocesan Commission on the Clergy has the following collegial tasks with the confirming collaboration of the Archbishop:
1. To draw and conduct the implementation of the regular and periodic formational agenda for the Clergy for three years, particularly iii conjunction with their Monthly Recollections, Semestral Renewals and Annual Retreats in order to refresh and revitalize their fundamental commitment as Teachers, Sanctifiers and Servant-Leaders.
2. To formulate and direct the standard and occasional activities programmed for the Clergy in the Archdiocesan and Vicariate Levels to foster their fellowship and solidarity as one Presbyterium.
3. To determine, raise and manage funds specifically intended for the health benefits, pastoral incentives and the like, for the Clergy, for whose physical and temporal welfare more specific Programs and/or P’ may be designed and pursued.
The Archdiocesan Commission on the Clergy is composed of the following constituent Members:
1. Subject to their appointment by the Archbishop, every Vicariat nominates one Candidate Member known and appreciated for I witnessing, capability and solicitude for the welfare of Priests.
2. Subject to consultation with the designated Commission Members. the Archbishop appoints at most three other Members to the Commission known and appreciated for their presbyteral and administrative attributes.
3. Subject to consultation with all the appointed Commission Members, the Archbishop calls to the regular and/or special meetings of the Commission any given number of the Lay Faithful with an expertise or competence needed in the meeting agenda.
1. Lead servants with their respective standard functions in ecclesiastical structure:
a. Chairman: Chosen by open consensus process from the constituent Members of the Commission.
b. Secretary: Endowed by open consensus process from the constituent Members of the Commission and accepted by the Chairmen.
c. Archbishop: De Officio Member.
2. Service Meetings
a. Regular Meetings. Quarterly every January, April, July and October of the year on a date, time and place duly communicated by the Secretary upon the directive of the Chairman or the Archbishop.
b. Special Meetings: Any number according to special need, on a due date and place accordingly communicated by the Secretary.
c. Quorum. Two-thirds of all the constituent Members of the Commission constitutes a quorum for official acts.
3. Service Tenure
a. Appointed Members: All the appointed Members of the Commission have a service tenure of one-year from the appointment dates.
b. Members: In the event of substitution of an appointed Member whose constituency in the Commission has ceased for whatever reason, the replacement assumes the remaining service tenure of the former.
c. The Commission as a whole ceases when the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan is officially terminated.
F. SOLEMN OATHS
The constituent Members of the Commission takes the following before the Archbishop at the start of their assumption of service:
1. Oath of Fidelity to the Church Magisterium.
2. Oath of Commitment to Office.
These Statutes may be revised in part or as a whole upon recommendation in a General Presbyteral Assembly and with the approval of the Archbishop.
These Statutes takes effect upon official promulgation by the Archbishop and continues to be effective until and unless otherwise provided.
CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD, BE WITH US ALWAYS!