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Archive for December 30, 2009


Fraternal Letter to my Brother Priests

My beloved brother priests:

On the day of our ordination as priests, the bishop asked us, “Do you resolve to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church’s tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people?”

Although we have many duties and functions as priests, in the mind of the ordinary Catholic faithful, we are priests because we can preside at the Eucharist and absolve sins in the confessional. We are priests called to bring to the Lord the sacrifice of thanksgiving from His worshiping people. We are priests called to bring the blessings of God to His chosen people. We are caretakers of the mysteries of God.

The faithful, reverent, dignified and solemn celebration of the mysteries of Christ is a mandate imposed on us by ordination. It is a solemn duty.

Good liturgy does not just happen. It is made to happen. Good liturgy calls for fervent preparation and attentive care.

Within this spirit, I wish to raise some issues in our Catholic parishes and communities to help bring about a more inspiring and truly edifying liturgical worship.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. I encourage you to maintain the cleanliness of our sacred vessels particularly our chalices and ciboria. God deserves the best. Sacred vessels need regular metal plating to maintain their luster befitting the divine worship.

The altar linens—corporal, purificator and finger towel—are not interchangeable. The corporal is named such because it receives the “corpus” crumbs that may fall from the host when we break the Host at Lamb of God. The corporal must be laid out on the altar only at the presentation of bread and wine and folded back after the purification of the vessels. It must not be left on the altar. According to traditional practice, the corporal is “starched” after washing so that it will be stiff when used at the altar. The “starched stiffness” facilitates finding the crumbs that may fall on it during the Eucharist. The purificator is used to wipe the chalice for droplets of water and wine during the preparation of the gifts and for purifying the chalice, paten and ciborium after Communion. Traditionally, the purificator has an embroidered cross which rests on the mouth of the chalice or some liturgical symbols on the sides. The finger towel is used for drying the hands after washing. To distinguish it from the purificator, the embroidered cross of the finger towel is usually on the corner and not in the middle. Please instruct your sacristans and altar servers to observe the proper use of altar linens.

We must take special care that our Mass vestments are clean and dignified. Cleanliness and dignity need not be expensive. Dignity and cleanliness in the choice and use of liturgical vestments is not optional. It is imperative on account of the dignity of the liturgy we celebrate. Please dispose of old, tattered and faded vestments properly by burning them.

The church and its surroundings must be kept clean too from trash candy wrappers, soiled missalettes and even stuck chewing gums on the church flooring. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. The church must be the cleanest place in the community.

He who Sings Well Prays Twice. Singing is a form of worship. Singing together also promotes the spirit of unity and communion. Please encourage the choirs to undertake their task as a ministry and not as a performance for public adulation. It is important that the community is animated to join the choir in singing our songs during the liturgy. Secular love songs, even if they have religious themes, do not have any place in the divine liturgy. In obedience to the instructions of the Holy See and until the rules pertaining to dancing within the liturgy have been approved by the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy, please refrain from the practice of having children or young people dance in the parish sanctuary.

And the Greatest of These is Love. Love is best expressed in silence. Where silence is observed, fervor is maintained. Let me offer to you these words from Saint Charles Borromeo on whose feastday, I was installed as your pastor: “You must realize that for us churchmen, nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. Would you like me to tell you how to give God more pleasing worship? Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.”

Please teach the flock again about the Catholic practice of genuflecting before the tabernacle, the observance of prayerful silence in the church, modesty in dress and the discourtesy of chewing gum or using cell phones in the church.

Finally, liturgy is not just obedience to the rubrics and instructions. Good liturgy must make us more loving. Good liturgy cannot save. Only the power of love can bring us to heaven. As a fruit of the faithful and reverent celebration of the mysteries of Christ, we must become more caring and attentive to the needs of the least, the last and the lost. Good liturgy can sanctify only to the extent that it leads us to serve, imitating the example of Him who stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples. Sunday must not only be the dies Domini. May it become too our dies caritatis.

May Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, our patron, help us to grow in holiness and lead us to share the same gift of holiness to all those entrusted to our care.

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, December 31, 2009.


+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan


A New Year of Integrity

By Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.

When the designated time had come, God sent forth His son, born from a woman (Gal.4:4)

Narito ang takdang panahon. Sa kaganapan ng panahon, isinilang ng isang dalaga ang bugtong na Anak ng Diyos upang maging ating Tagapagligtas. Si Jesus, ang Diyos na Sumasaatin, ang tugon ng mapagmahal na Ama sa lahat ng ating kakulangan at pagmamalabis.

The light of the Christmas star is still upon us. One week after Christmas, we celebrate the Motherhood of Mary. In the womb of this virgin, God and man were united again. In the womb of Mary, God restored wholeness to humankind. The great abyss between the spiritual and the material has been destroyed. The wounds of division are ended. Integrity is back.

Bakit nagkatawang tao ang Diyos? Dahil sa pag-ibig sa atin. Bakit Siya nanirahan kasama ng mga taong hamak at yagit ng lipunan? Dahil mahal tayo ng Diyos. Bakit Siya isinilang sa sabsaban at hindi sa isang palasyo? Dahil sa pag-ibig sa atin. Pag-ibig ang dahilan ng Pasko! Iniibig tayo ng Diyos kaya siya nagkatawang tao at nanirahan bilang ating kapwa tao.

May hamon ang Pasko at Bagong Taon! Kung dahil sa pag-ibig, dumating si Jesus sa ating piling Mar 31, 2015  at hinamak ang sarili at naging kapwa natin, ano ang kahulugan nito para sa atin? Sapat bang magpasalamat na lamang at makisabay sa pag-awit ng “Papuri sa Diyos sa kaitaasan”? Sapat ba na batiin natin siya ng “Happy birthday” sa araw ng Kanyang pagsilang?

Maliwanag na hindi sapat ito.Ano ang nararapat nating gawin?

Dapat namang magkatawang tao ang ating pananampalataya at ipakita natin sa ating buhay na mahal natin ang Diyos.

Sa mundong magkahiwalay ang salita at gawa, ipinakita ni Jesus na ang Salita ay dapat na isabuhay. Sa mundong magkahiwalay ang pag-ibig sa Diyos at malasakit sa kapwa, itinuro ni Jesus na ang dalawang pag-ibig na ito ay kambal na hindi dapat hatiin. Sa mundong ang ginhawa ng buhay ay ihinihiwalay sa pananagutan, itinuro ni Jesus ang bawat biyaya ay may karugtong na tungkulin. Sa mundong kung saan ang puso ay ginagamit na sagisag ng pag-ibig, itinuturo ni Jesus na ang pag-ibig ay hindi damdamin kundi paghahandog buhay.. Taksil ang damdamin. Ang pag-ibig ay isang pagpapasya na itaguyod ang kapakanan ng minamahal.

The first month of the year is called January, unfortunately named after a Greek god with two faces—symbol of disunity. The month of January glances at the old year and gazes at the new year at the same time. Janus, the god with two faces, is not ours to imitate. Our Master is Jesus, the God who united word and action. Jesus is the God who makes us whole. Mind and heart must be one. Word and action must be one. Grace and responsibility must come together. Let the new year be a year of wholeness, of integrity.

Bago dumating si Jesus, hiwalay ang puso at isip. Bago dumating si Jesus, hiwalay ang salita at gawa. Bago dumating si Jesus, hiwalay ang tao at Diyos, hiwalay ang tao sa kapwa tao, hiwalay ang bigkas at ang pamumuhay. Pagdating ni Jesus, nagwakas na ang paghihiwalay at sinimulan na ang panahon ng kabuuan. BUO! Buo na tayo. Buo na ang mundo.Ito ang diwa ng Pasko. Tayo ay maging  BUO.

Ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa atin ay kaganapan ng buhay. Ang kaganapan ng buhay ay kabanalan ng buhay.. Ang banal ay “holy”. Kaugnay ng salitang “holy” ay “whole”—BUO. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit nagkaroon ng Pasko—upang wakasan ang pagkakahiwalay—upang tayo ay maging buo.

Ang panahon ng Pasko at bagong taon ay araw ng pagbubuo ng mga nagkahiwalay.Ito ay panahon upang magkabati ang may alitan. Higit sa lahat, ito ay panahon ng pagsasabuo ng buhay at salita. Dumating na ang tamang panahon upang mabuo tayo. Ang pangarap natin na maging banal ang bawat isa sa atin ay siyang landas sa kabuuan ng buhay na siyang kalooban ng Diyos para sa atin.

Dumating na ang kabuuan ng lahat ng ating pangarap. Dumating Siya upang tayo ay buuin.

In 2010, let integrity of life flow like a river. Let wholeness shine like the noonday sun. May 2010 see our land healed and made whole again. May Jesus make us all men and women of integrity and character, Christians who teach by the power of exemplary lives.

Happy New Year of integrity!

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Apostle, January 1, 2010

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

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