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MONSIGNOR: A Title of Contradiction

During the Investiture of two priests from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Msgr. Manuel S. Bravo Jr. and Msgr. Oliver E. Mendoza, as Papal Chaplains of Pope Benedict XVI, 14 August 2012, the Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, DD., Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, stressed, in his homily, that the title “Papal Chaplain” or “Monsignor” has two contradictory or opposing meanings.

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Firstly, it is a very important title because it comes from the Pope; it comes from the Holy See. Thus, it is proper that we give respect as Catholics. It is a very important title because, as we prepare for the Golden Jubilee of Lingayen-Dagupan, two of our priests from Lingayen-Dagupan can be considered world class. The title Monsignor is important not only for the lives of the two priests, but in the life of the Church. It is a recognition of human efforts.

Secondly, it is not important, because at the sunset of our lives, the Lord will not ask us how many red buttons we have worn, but how much love we have given. Therefore, in less than a minute, the red sash was covered by the surplice, because we are being told by the Church not to dwell on the sash. It is covered by the surplice which is the liturgical vestment of prayer, for divine service.

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The Archbishop then turned to the honorees with the admonition that they were being honored with the title Monsignor so they would be challenged to pray more, to strive more, to love more; to stress right in the Liturgy that this title is important and yet not the most important, because in heaven there are no monsignori. In heaven, only those who loved much will be able to see the face of God.

Your clerical garb has been sprinkled with a few red buttons. It is a challenge for you that should there come a time in your life when your own priestly vestments will be sprinkled with blood, your own blood, because you have to die for the Lord, do not ever withdraw from a good fight, because that is what those purple buttons mean. And if there should come a time when you will be challenged to stand up, and your life is threatened for the sake of the Lord, your being a monsignor will be completed only by laying down your life for the Church.

The sash, the buttons, the red bindings, are all challenges for us to love more, to give up your blood, your life even more. Do not allow it to enter your head. Let it dwell in your heart. Let the buttons pump in more blood in your heart. Let the sash pump in more love in your ministry. May this title, honor from the Pope make you holier, closer to the heart of Jesus. Amen.

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