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Posts Tagged ‘Chrism Mass’

GOD’S PRIESTS: TAOIR NA PANANISIA

Homily of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas during the Chrism Mass held at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, 29 March 2018.

Today around this altar, we gather again to celebrate the memory of our priesthood. We bring together yesterday, today and tomorrow in one single action—the Chrism Mass. This Chrism Mass is memory. This Chrism Mass is Presence. This Chrism Mass is our hope for even greater things than we have right now.

We gather as a ninety year old Church in Lingayen Dagupan looking forward to the year 2028, our one hundredth anniversary as a particle of that one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. We know that Bishop Cesar Maria Guerrero is not just a personality in our Church history book as our first bishop. His memory endures time.

This year 2018, the first year in our decade of communio leading to our centennial, our hearts are invited to ponder over the mystery of our priesthood as taoir; a legacy that is forever; an inheritance that only God can give and no one else.  We are the legacy of God. We are the memory of God. We are taoir.

We are the legacy of the Lord. You my brother priests are the enduring signs of God’s faithfulness to His people “I will be with you always”. Today, in the presence of our flock, we declare “The Lord is my inheritance, I will not be forsaken”.

We want to be remembered and remembered for a long time. To be ignored and forgotten gives us an unpleasant feeling of uselessness. Priests and bishops are usually given grand funerals in gleaming coffins surrounded by large wreaths, but after a few years, we eventually become just a part of the collective past and our bones are exhumed and reburied and our memories fade away steadily. We are not even a footnote in a research paper. Occasionally they remember us when they print baptismal certificates.

Is that all about our priesthood? To work hard? To preach well? To beautify churches and build grand parish halls? To send scholars to school? To build hospitals? To build schools and then just fade away eaten up by the worms of amnesia? No children to carry our names? No endowment funds to be named after us? Is that all about us?

No. We are the memory of God. We are the legacy of God. We are the inheritance of God for His people. The memory of governors and mayors is a fragile gift of this world. Political memory can be easily deleted and erased. Our names as priests are not just written in the memory of history books. God is a God of the living and our memories are eternally safe in the heart of the Lord! We are the memory of God and our life is the fulfillment of His promise to His people “I will be with you unto the end of the ages”.

The death of God’s faithful priests is not only remembered but is precious in His sight. How beautiful is the life of a priest who labors quietly without broadcast or publicity, without recognition or awards. How beautiful is the hidden and quiet labor of a priest known only to God and kept secret from society!

The priest is the legacy of the Lord. The priest is God’s enduring inheritance.

But the question still needs to be answered? What will be your legacy when you leave? If they still remember us, how will the people talk about us? What will they say about us? What is the taoir we will leave behind? May they remember us when they remember the Lord! May they remember the Lord when they remember us!

What do you stand for, priest of God? Who are you? You are the battle frontiers of God. Your action is the action of God and the action of the Church always. You are a gift. The more you give yourself the more you become who you really are. The higher you go, the lower you must stoop. Everything you do is touched with glory because you are Christ, not only at the altar but even at games, at recreation, at rest or in vacation. You are Christs!

You, brother priests, are God’s gift to His people. When they see us, do they really thank the Lord? Does our giftedness lead our parishioners to say “Salamat sa Diyos”? Are they happy to see us? Are they inspired to be with us? All of them? All of us? Always?

Let our giftedness lead our people to gratitude. When they remember us, may they give thanks!

Growth is easier when gratitude is abundant. When the people of God are grateful, they also become holier, more generous and more courageous.  A heart that always complains will not grow. Our duty as priests is remind our parishioners that they are blessed; that they have so much to be grateful for. Gratitude makes us saints.

When they see us, do they hide for fear of another fund raising? For fear of being scolded? For fear of being openly rebuked or ignored? For being of being humiliated in front of the rest? Mukhang masungit? Mukhang galit? Mukhang suplado? Mukhang pera? Mukhang pilyo? Mukhang may itinatago? Amoy alak? This is not us. This is not what God sent us to be. Say no! Wish to be remembered as a good priest. Paring pari. Laging pari!

Taoir na pananisia. If we truly are a gift of legacy, then we must be the reason for the parish or the school to be a constantly grateful people. Gratitude sanctifies.

May the GIFT that we are lead others to GRATITUDE! May the gratitude we sow lead them to GENEROSITY and may that generosity we inspire open the paths to endless GROWTH! May the gift of our priesthood make our people holy!

My dear people of God, look at us your priests. We are the gifts of God to you in spite of us. Pasensiya na kayo sa amin! You are the gifts of God to us. With you we give thanks. With you we want to grow. People of God, your priests love you. Let us be grateful and generous and faithful saints together.

Circular 2017-7: Chrism Mass

March 25, 2017

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Circular 2017-7

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.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

 

Homily Abuse! Chrism Mass Meditation 2015 by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas

My brother priests:

Today we make a spiritual journey again to the Upper Room to remember our priesthood.  We come once again to thank the Lord for calling us to be priests.  The Lord took a risk. He entrusted to us His Church. The longer we stay in this vocation the more clearly we see that it takes more than will power to remain a good priest. It needs grace. We need God. We need God to stay focused. We need God to stay on track. We need God to protect us and preserve us.

We have seen many abuses among the clergy—alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, gambling abuse, money abuse, travelling abuse, vacation abuse. Today, I invite you to turn your hearts to another very rampant and widespread abuse among priests—homily abuse. Yes abuse of the kindness of the people who are forced to listen to long, winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared, mumbled homilies. In jest but certainly with some truth, the people say our homilies are one of the obligatory scourges that they must go through every Sunday.

If you listen more carefully to what our people say about our homilies, they are not complaining about depth of message or scholarly exegesis. They are asked to endure Sunday after Sunday our homilies that cannot be understood because we take so long with the introduction, we do not know how to go direct to the point and we do not know how to end. Be prepared. Be clear. Be seated.

We were all abused by the homilies of our elder priests when we were seminarians. When our turn came to deliver homilies, the abused became the abuser.

If a seminarian lacks chastity, we cannot recommend him for ordination. If a seminarian is stubborn and hard headed, we cannot endorse his ordination. If a seminarian cannot speak in public with clarity and effectiveness, we should not ordain him. He will be a dangerous homily abuser. Homily abuse can harm souls.

Long, winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest. Saint Joseph Cupertino said “A preacher is like a trumpet which produces no tone unless one blows into it. Before preaching, pray this way: Lord you are the spirit, I am your trumpet. Without your breath I can give no sound.”

It is not enough to prepare our homilies; the good priest must prepare himself. Preaching is a ministry of the soul and the heart not just of the vocal chords and brain cells.  Our spiritual life is the true foundation of our homilies. The question is not what we will preach but rather who will we preach?  We preach only Jesus Christ; always Jesus Christ.How shall we rise from the prevalent culture of homily abuse? What is our remedy?

The first call of the times is priestly sincerity. You can preach to empty stomachs if the stomach of the parish priest is as empty as his parishioners.  Our homilies will improve if we diminish our love for talking and increase our love for listening. When our homily is simply a talk, we only repeat what we know, get tired and feel empty. When you listen and pray before you talk, you learn something new and your homily will be crisp and fresh. We will be better homilists if we dare to smell again like the sheep.

The second challenge of our times is simplicity—simplicity of message and even more, greater simplicity of life. Simplicity of life will also help us to stop talking about money and fund raising in the homily; money talk has never been edifying. Simplicity means resisting to use the pulpit as a means to get back at those who oppose us–patama sa sermon. Simplicity also demands that we keep divisive election politics away from the lectern. Simplicity in homilies means not desiring to make people laugh or cry—that is for telenovelas and noontime shows. Simplicity in homilies makes people bow their heads and strike their breasts wanting to change, seeking the mercy of God. To be simple is to be great in God’s eyes. The simple lifestyle of priests is the homily easiest to understand.

The third and last challenge is a call to study. Reading and study must not stop after the seminary. If we stop reading and study, we endanger the souls of our parishioners. If we stop studying, then we start forcing our people to read the so-called open book of our lives– the comic book of our lives, hardly inspiring, downright ridiculous and awfully scandalous. The homily becomes our story and not the story of Jesus. Reading a bank book too much is not a good way to prepare our homilies.

Be careful with your life. The people watch us more than they listen to us. Be sincere and true. A double life, a secret dark life is stressful.

Be careful with every homily. God will judge you for every word you utter. Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.’

Be careful with every homily. They want to hear Jesus not you; only Jesus, always Jesus.

Be careful with your homily. Pity the people of God. Stop the homily abuse. Let your homily inspire and set hearts on fire.

Amen.

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

Joy in Holiness: Meditation for Priests

Meditation for Priests on Holy Thursday, April 17, 2014 Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City By Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Today is our feast day. It is a happy day for us. Our parishioners are here. Our friends are here to show their appreciation and their love echo one common message. Thank you for being a priest. Thank God he called you to be a priest.

Loneliness

Beyond the feasting and the greetings today, I dare to ask. Who among us has never experienced loneliness? Who among us has never experienced deep painful isolation? Who among us has never battled with repeated rejections and tasteless ministry? Who among us has never been hurt by the feeling of being disconnected, suspected and ignored? We all know the feeling of swimming against the current—to be tired, to be bruised and to be alone.

In fact, some of our seminary confreres have abandoned our vocation because of this unbearable feeling of isolation and extreme loneliness.

Today, I say to you my brothers: your archbishop is not alien to these feelings. I get lonely too. I have known isolation and frustration. I have battled with the temptation to give up, to lower down my ideals, to take it more leisurely and to join the flow of mediocrity and convenience. I am aware that sometimes I am reluctant to reach out, to make a phone call or to send a text message for fear of another rejection. I know the feeling of being abruptly uprooted from familiar soil and being forced to bloom in another garden away from home. The tears are shed in secret and that secrecy of those tears makes it more painful.

In the void that loneliness and isolation creates, we can be misled to fill the gaping abyss with new phones and ipads. We can cover the gaping vacuum with another luxury car or designer jeans or more fashionable shoes more than our shoe racks can contain; with a vacation out of the country or another gadget for the bedroom. We can hold on to the whisky bottle and hope that the bottled spirit will exorcise the spirit of boredom in us. It can also be filled up by working like a horse to impress the people, to create a fans’ club and move you up higher to a better assignment. It can also increase our interest in bank savings, the stock market and the accumulation of more properties. Church funds and personal funds are deliberately mixed up. The parish crawls in financial difficulties while we sprint and jump with financial security. The vacuum of loneliness can make us numb to the peril of worldliness. It can make us at ease with ecclesiastical vanities.

As a fellow celibate struggling and battling with loneliness like all priests, I ask the question: How is priestly loneliness to be faced?

Every priest a mystic

You must always remember: the priesthood is a spiritual gift from God. Celibacy is a spiritual supernatural reality. This being so, we cannot live our celibacy happily without an intimate and deep relationship with God. Every priest must allow himself to be touched by the fire of God. Every priest must have had a mystical experience of God in his younger years in the seminary; that mystical experience must be kept at heart at all costs, all the time. If the priest is not a mystic, he will cross over to old age bitter, angry and cynical, materialistic and vain, lukewarm and lifeless. There is no happy celibate without a healthy prayer  life. You want to be happy priests, keep your spiritual life intact. We must pray not only during the annual retreat or when we are in difficulty. We must pray daily as we eat daily and bathe daily.

We priests tend to be shy and private about our personal life with God. I hope you can choose to be brave and make a bold step to share with one another your personal conversations with God, not just to prepare a homily or a seminar talk, but to share your faith, share your vulnerabilities, share your encounters with God.

Called to be friends

This brings me to the second leg on which happy celibacy stands—your friendship with your brother priests. An isolated priest is headed for a fall. We only become lonely if we allow ministry to take over us and neglect our need for friendship.

Most of us have many acquaintances but acquaintances are not friends. We see acquaintances every now and then; they might invite us for occasional dinners in Dagupena, but friends are more than that. Friends can share deep joys and dreams, vulnerabilities and frustrations with the assurance of compassionate acceptance, at the same nurturing and supporting one another.

Do you have real friends?

This is the litmus test. Think of a very difficult struggle you are going through right now—a health problem, church difficulties, emotional crisis? Have you shared this with anyone? Whom would you tell? That person is your friend. If you cannot tell anyone, you don’t have any friend.

Celibacy does not forbid friendships. Celibacy needs friendship with God and friendship with brother priests. We have many very good priests in the Church. They serve with vigour. They finish projects and make strategic plans for the next project. Sometimes, these are used to cover up for low self esteem, a gnawing fear of rejection, a long standing feeling of inadequacy and the disturbing feeling of being unwanted. When the applause subsides, loneliness sets in. When trouble strikes, the fall is great and shocking.

Healthy and happy celibacy demands holy and happy friendships.

Life of Integrity

The third and last leg for a happy and meaningful celibate living is living a life of personal integrity. Only honest and truthful celibates can be happy celibates. Hypocrisy among priests dooms the priests to bitterness. What you do when no one sees you is who you really are. How you are in your conscience is who you are. Hypocrisy is stressful.

Our celibacy is a living proclamation in our sex starved society that there is something more important than sex. More important is love and mercy, compassion and kindness, friendship and service. Celibacy is not simply a renunciation of family and children and genital expression. Celibacy lived with a hidden secret life contrary to it leads to stress and tension. Celibacy can only thrive with integrity. If you become dishonest and untruthful, you also become unhappy and bitter. Celibacy must be proven by a life of humility and kindness. A happy celibate cannot frown too long. The joy of his heart will always take over a momentary irritation. The broken hearts club cannot be happy celibates. Celibacy is for the brave and the compassionate, for the humble who serve the Lord with joy. Celibacy tells people: God is with us. He is with us in his priests.

Hope in the Lord

My brother priests: We are called to be happy priests. Beyond the disappointments and frustrations; the discouraging results of our hard work all night catching nothing; the wine running out in our banquet– there is a multi coloured rainbow across our Holy Thursday horizon.

If we dare to be mystics, if we deepen our priestly friendships, if we fight on to be truthful and faithful, we have hope. Our hope is in the Lord. Our joy is to serve him.

Amen.

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