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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.

THE WOMB OF OUR PRIESTHOOD

Homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, during the Chrism Mass, 5 April 2012, at the Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City. 

My brother bishops and priests:

While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is reliable at writing essay the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed."

Those words for Jesus I address to you my dear brothers in the priesthood. Priests are mystery men born from many wombs of many mothers. The first womb we knew was the womb of the woman we call our mother. In that womb, she fed us with her flesh and nursed us with her own blood. Indeed babies in the womb do not drink milk or eat food. The flesh and blood of the mother is the food and drink of the baby in her womb.

Saint Augustine called the baptismal font the womb of the Church. From the font of the baptismal waters we were born as sons of God. There is no dignity that can equal the dignity of being called a child of God. The baptismal font is the womb of our Christianity.

And as if being called a child of God was not enough, the Father called us to be priests of Jesus Christ. Awesome is the love of God! That love cannot be understood on earth; only in heaven can we fully comprehend that love.

In our mother’s womb, we received our humanity. In the womb of the baptismal font, we received our childhood in God. The seminary is the womb of our priesthood. We were born from three wombs not one.

For twelve, ten or six years, we stayed secure in that womb that we all fondly call the seminary. The seminary was our nest. The seminary was our home. The seminary was our security blanket. The seminary was our little tiny world. Food was lacking in the seminary. We always wanted to eat more than what was available. The corridors breathed stern discipline. The classrooms were austere. The dormitories were frugal. And yet in spite of all these, we stayed on, lived the seminary life happily because we wanted to Nov 22, 2013 – Cheap Cialis no prespcription fast delivery viagra generic of 10mg no prespcription mail usa cheapest professional buy europe to france. be priests of Jesus Christ. Everything was bearable. Only the brave can be priests.

We have left behind our seminary teachers; said goodbye to our seminary formators; and faced the challenge to plunge into deeper waters after the bishop laid hands on us at our ordination. How time flies. And yet with the passage of time, Miss Jovita Gonzalo continues to teach English in the seminary. The best preachers among us cannot compete with the sterling preaching of Miss Gonzalo’s life example. Mister Marcelo Vistro, good and loyal teacher of algebra, trigonometry and statistics in the seminary, continues to inspire and edify. Perhaps we have held more money in our hands than what Kuya Mar has ever touched in his life, but Mister Vistro’s life teaches us that the most important things in life are beyond mathematics and numbers. When you listen to Mister Vistro, you remember the infinite goodness of God beyond money, beyond price, beyond this world. Ma Pedring, our electrician, carpenter and security guard in the minor seminary for thirty eight years, taught us–not in the classroom but in the garden and the corridors, in the broken windows and leaking faucets, in the leaking roofs and tattered desks– that there is dignity in labor. We should not be ashamed to work because work can make us saints. I am sure that Ma Pedring has entered heaven carrying the laurels of his honest work and gentle inspiring presence that every alumnus of the minor seminary must never ever forget.

Who is the arrogant and proud priest who will say that he is eloquently more convincing than Miss Gonzalo, that he is more dignified than Mister Vistro or greater than Ma Pedring? This is arrogance. This is pride. The greatest in the Kingdom of God is not the priest or bishop but the one who serves and loves the most. These seminary teachers inspire us. They will be saints ahead of us.

The seminary is the womb of our priesthood and it will never go barren. It will remain rich and lovely producing priestly sons for the Church and for the world. We need the seminary to nurture and give birth to priestly sons. We need priests because priests give us Jesus. The seminary gives birth to priests.

Why do we need wombs? Why do we need seminaries? Why not ordain men after a few months of instruction? Why wait when we all know that time is gold?

We need the seminary because we need to grow. All growth is silent. All growth is also painful. The seminary is a painful distance from home and family, from comforts and quick satisfactions. The seminary is silent distance from our disordered affections, from our un-Christ-like values. The seminary teaches us the power of being hidden, the beauty of being unrecognized. The seminary gives us the courage not to fear being forgotten and ignored and see through it the love and tenderness of God who is hidden but not hiding.

We need Best price esomeprazole cheap esomeprazole buy hong kong how o get esomeprazole oine billing buy esomeprazole generic canadian get esomeprazoleВ  the seminary because we need to grow. There is no growth without God. There is no growth in God without prayer. The seminary is a school of solitude and prayer. We cannot grow in prayer unless we are at ease with solitude. When we can no longer live in our hearts, then we start to live with our mouths. Silent waters run deep. As the womb is silent, so must the seminary be a school of silence, silence which is golden; silence like the silence of the lambs brought forth for sacrifice. The seminary must be a womb of uncomplaining silence; patient silence. It is silence that awaits the Beloved One, obedient silence.

We need the seminary because we need to grow. We need to grow into the heart of Jesus. We need to grow more deeply in understanding that our mission is not to make this world a better place. We are not called to be nation builders. We are called to restore all things in Christ that His kingdom may truly come. Our only task is to give Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus. The world is saved not only by the public action of Jesus in Galilee and Capernaum but also by the silence of Jesus hidden in Nazareth. The world cannot be saved by social activism but by hidden, silent and humble transformation. The Nazareth years of Jesus were his seminary years. Every priest must have his Nazareth. Our Nazareth is our seminary.

Nobody enters this world without passing through a womb. Nobody is born into the priesthood without the seminary, our womb. Brother priests: Do not forget the seminary that bore you. Do not forget the seminary teachers who nursed you. Do not forget the power of being hidden, the power of working silently and unnoticed. Humility is the crown of all virtues. Do not forget the silence and pain of your Nazareth. Silence and pain are good teachers. Do not forget the power of simplicity and humility. Do not forget the timeless lessons of the seminary. Always remember your mother. Always remember your mother seminary proudly yet humbly, lovingly and courageously.

Finally, let the words of Scripture console you my dear brothers who have been unfaithful and ungrateful to the womb that nursed our priesthood. "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Is.49:15) Your seminary, your mother, will never forget or forsake.

Have you forgotten her values, betrayed her vision, stained her honor or soiled the seminary’s good name? Are you languishing alone in the darkness of your heart, lonely, afraid and ashamed, guilt laden and disturbed? Come forth and return to the womb that bore you!

Brother priests out there in the spiritual fringes, ashamed and afraid because in your judgment, you have brought stain to the holiness of the priesthood; you who have been ignored and rebuked by our church superiors; forgotten and ridiculed by our parishioners; suspected and convicted by a hostile media, despised and hated innocently or rightfully—come forth and let your seminary embrace you in welcome and hear again the words of consolation “Come back to me with all your heart. Don’t let fear keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and deeply our new life.”

Priests of God: "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed. "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” Amen.

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