Posts Tagged ‘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 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 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 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.
Dagupan City – 25 July 2011. “Grant, we pray, Almighty Father, to this, your servant, the dignity of the priesthood..”
Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, ordained to the sacred order of the priesthood, Rev. Dexter Zamora Cariño in solemn rites of ordination celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Dagupan City. It was attended by the new priest’s family, relatives and friends. Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, and more than 60 priests of the archdiocese concelebrated with Archbishop Villegas.
The Sacred Order of the Priesthood
The ordination to the priesthood is one of the most solemn occasions in the Church. From among God’s people, men are especially called by Christ to live in His name and preach the Gospel. Rev. Father Dexter Z. Cariño is called also to perpetuate the fruits of Jesus’ eternal Sacrifice on the Cross through the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
Guilt, Grace, Gratitude
At the same time, he told Fr. Dexter that as he would celebrate mass, he should not forget who he is before God who knows everything about him, including his sins. “Do not forget the sense of sin in your priesthood.” This sense of sin and unworthiness should make you ask for forgiveness from God, and whenever you would pray the “I confess..’, or the prayers before and after you read the Gospel, “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel”, and “Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.”
The Archbishop mentioned the greatness of God’s grace in spite of one’s guilt. “God touches you and says, ‘I don’t care about your guilt! How awesome and wonderful is the love of God for you!” “Ordination is not a reward, but God’s gift and grace to you”, he further said.
In response to this mysterious gift and grace from God, the Archbishop told Fr. Dexter to be grateful to God. “Celebrate the Eucharist in thanksgiving for your priesthood. Make an effort to offer daily the Eucharist in gratitude for God’s gift and grace”. “Touched by God’s grace, you can only say ‘Thank You, Lord! Kahanga-hanga ang pag-ibig ng Dios. Salamat sa Dios’. Experience the love of God for you in spite of everything.”
The newly ordained priest in his thanksgiving speech, mentioned four families he was born into. To these, he expressed his gratitude: to his family and relatives, to the family of the community of people, to the family of seminarians and to the family of priests.
Fr. Dexter is assigned as the parochial vicar in the Cathedral Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Dagupan City. The pastoral assignment of Fr. Dexter was read by Rev. Fr. Jeremias B. Cera, Vice-Chancellor.
(Pictures courtesy of Fr. Estephen Espinoza)
Dagupan City, 17 June 2011. The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan will hold a 60-Hour Adoration at the Sanctuario de San Juan Evangelista to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s 60th year as a priest. The adoration will start on 28 June 2011, Tuesday. It will end on 1 July 2011, Friday. A mass will be celebrated at 5:00 PM at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Dagupan City to open the celebration of the Pope’s 60th sacerdotal anniversary. Another mass will close the commemoration on 1 July 2011, at 6:00 AM at the Sanctuario de San Juan Evangelista.
Pope Benedict XVI was ordained a priest on 29 June 1951. It is very fitting that the the adoration will end on 1 July, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Day of Prayer for Priests.
For the Sanctification of Priests and For more Vocations
The intention proposed by the Congregation for the Clergy, according to L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican Newspaper, is the sanctification of priests and to obtain from God the gift of new and holy vocations. According to Zenit, an international news agency, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza and Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, prefect and secretary of the congregation, note that the anniversary is a “particularly propitious” occasion to draw near to Benedict XVI, and to express to him gratitude, affection, and communion in the service of God and his Church and, above all, in that “shining of the Truth on the world,” which he calls us to.
Schools and Parishes
The 60-Hours of adoration will be distributed to all the parishes and schools of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Each parish and school will be given a one-hour adoration. The Congregation for the Clergy also proposes that in addition to praying for the Pope’s life, health, happiness and protection from every evil, the faithful are asked to pray for bishops, priests, deacons and all ministers of the Gospel, that they may be faithful to their vocation and their self-giving, and to remember the Church, vocations, the laity and deceased priests.
Schedule of the AdorationJune 28, 2011 Tuesday 5:00 PM MASS- Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John 6:00 Epiphany of the Lord Parish/Lyceum 7:00 St.Rose of Lima Parish – Domalandan 8:00 Jesus the Nazarene – Dulag 9:00 St.Hyacinth Parish – San Jacinto 10:00 Our Lady of the Purification Parish – Binmaley 11:00 San Gabriel Parish – Bonuan Boquig 12:00 Annunciation of the Lord Parish – Bonuan Gueset June 29, 2011 Wednesday 1:00 AM Vicariate I Youth Ministry 2:00 Vicariate I Youth Ministry 3:00 Vicariate I Youth Ministry 4:00 St. Therese Parish 5:00 Our Lady of the Holy Rosary – Manaoag 6:00 Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr – San Fabian 7:00 St. Thomas Aquinas – Mangaldan 8:00 St. Columban’s College 9:00 St. Vincent Catholic School 10:00 Urbiztondo Catholic School 11:00 Malasiqui Catholic School/University of Pangasinan 12:00 Mary Help of Christians Catholic School – Basista 1:00 PM Holy Cross Academy – Laoac 2:00 St. Charles Academy 3:00 San Jacinto Catholic School 4:00 Mapandan Catholic School 5:00 St. John’s Cathedral School 6:00 San Antonio de Padua Parish – Don Pedro 7:00 Mary Help of Christian High School Seminary 8:00 St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish – Mapandan 9:00 Cristo Divino Tesoro Parish – Buenlag 10:00 Holy Family Parish – Sta. Barbara 11:00 Vicariate II Youth Ministry 12:00 Vicariate II Youth Ministry June 30, 2011 Thursday 1:00 AM Vicariate II Youth Ministry 2:00 Vicariate III Youth Ministry 3:00 Vicariate III Youth Ministry 4:00 Vicariate III Youth MInistry 5:00 Sts. Peter and Paul Parish – Calasiao 6:00 Holy Family Parish – Tandoc 7:00 Mary Help of Christians College Seminary 8:00 Santo Tomas High School/Dominican School, Dominican Laity and Religious Sisters 9:00 St. Columban’s Institute 10:00 Archdiocesan School of San Fabian 11:00 Jesus the Nazarene Academy 12:00 Binmaley Catholic School 1:00 PM St. Catherine of Siena Parish – Villanueva 2:00 St. Joseph Husband of Mary Chaplaincy – Malacanang 3:00 St. Pius V – Urbiztondo 4:00 St. John the Baptish Parish/University of Luzon 5:00 San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish – Wawa 6:00 St. Vincent Ferrer Parish – Bayambang 7:00 St. Dominic Parish – San Carlos 8:00 Mary Help of Christian Parish – Basista 9:00 Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chaplaincy – Canan 10:00 St. Ildephonse Parish – Malasiqui 11:00 St. John the Evangelist Parish – Dagupan 12:00 Vicariate IV Youth Ministry July 1, 2011 Friday 1:00 AM Vicariate IV Youth Ministry 2:00 Vicariate IV Youth Ministry 3:00 Religious Sisters 4:00 Religious Sisters Augustinian M. Sisters 5:00 Most Holy Rosary Parish – Calmay 6:00 MASS
May 31, 2011
Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary
RE: Sixtieth Sacerdotal Anniversary of the Pope Benedict XVI
My dear people of God:
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will mark his sixtieth anniversary of his priestly ordination on June 29 this year. This will be an opportune occasion to express our thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift of holy priesthood in the Church as well as to manifest our loyalty to the Successor of Saint Peter.
In communion with the Catholic faithful all over the world, we in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan will hold sixty hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for the intentions of the Holy Father as our spiritual gift to him on this memorable occasion.
We will begin with the celebration of the Eucharist on June 28, Vigil of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at five o’clock in the afternoon at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John. After the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred in procession to the Santuario de San Juan where the adoration will begin at six o’clock in the evening continuously until six o’clock in the morning of July 1, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. The sixty hours of adoration will be concluded by a concelebrated Mass at the Santuario de San Juan.
We encourage our parish communities, Catholic schools, seminaries, lay organizations and religious congregations to inform the Chancery about their preferred time slot for the Eucharistic adoration so that we can adequately cover the entire sixty hour period.
The priesthood is a blessing. The papacy is a blessing. Let us thank God for His steadfast kindness to us.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
Meditation on Holy Thursday Chrism Mass 2011
Today like all other days, we gather to pray and to give thanks. What makes this day different from other days is that today we remember the roots of our priesthood. We make a pilgrimage to the Upper Room. We bring back the memory of the first Holy Thursday. We remember how he washed the feet of his friends. We remember that he said “Do this in memory of me”.
But think of it again. Did our priesthood really start only on Holy Thursday? Did our priesthood start only at our ordination? Did the journey start only when we entered the seminary?
Before the Upper Room, there was only the Garden of Eden. Before we heard the voice of God to follow him, we had only our parents. In the natural order of things, before we knew the church, we first knew our family. Before we saw the father of the parish, we first knew the father of the home. Indeed the first priest we knew was our father at home—he provided for us, he disciplined us, he cared for us, we kissed his hands and he blessed us. Before we heard that the Church is our holy mother, we first experienced the caress of our mother at home. Before we tasted the Bread of Life, we first tasted the sweet milk from our mother’s breast. In the beginning, there were no priests; there were only parents.
Before God called priests, God first created Adam and Eve. Before God called us to follow him, he first called our parents to love each another until death. Before Jesus called us to carry our crosses daily, we first saw how our parents were mindless about getting sick or how ready they were to die for love of us.
Indeed as we celebrate today the memory of our priesthood, we push farther than the Upper Room on Holy Thursday and remember our roots—the Garden of Eden, the garden of the home; the paradise of the family. We push farther than our ordination day and remember the mother who gave us birth and the father who provided for us. The first church is the family. The first priest is the father at home. The church’s motherhood comes only after our mother’s selfless love.
With the long training and rigid formation that we went through before ordination, how can we refuse the temptation to look down on our less educated parents? How can we prevent our parents from looking up to us to convince us that we have surpassed them in success? It is a temptation. It is an illusion. The greatest in the kingdom of God is not the most educated or the most popular or the most influential but the one who stoops down to serve. The greatest is the servant.
With our capacity to engage in hair splitting arguments in philosophy and theology, can our parents compete with us? Their mouths open in awe as their sons parrot out words too hard to understand. When they get confused listening to us, they call us learned! We must not forget that our mother’s novenas– that we now ridicule as self proclaimed intellectuals– were the prayers that sustained us and continue to nourish us in the ministry. Our fathers can only become lay ministers assisting us but the priest can only be greater than the laity if the priest loves the most. The best seminary is neither in Binmaley nor in Bonuan. The best seminary is the home. The best rector is the father at home.
Our parents teach us until now– and how tenderly they teach us– to be humble. Before gratitude, there is first humility. We cannot thank the Lord for the gift of our priesthood without learning from our simple parents the virtue of humility and purity of heart.
The priest may be a big shot in the Christian community but before his parents, the priest will always be only a son as he is always only a child in the presence of God. Today we remember our roots and we thank God for the gift of our parents. If God promised everlasting reward to the giver of a glass of water to a wearied traveler, can you imagine the reward in heaven for a mother who gives God the fruit of her womb?
As I behold the bishop’s ring on my finger, I cannot but recall the wedding rings of my parents—much simpler and much cheaper, less attractive than mine—and yet in the eyes of the Lord, much more important and holier than the ring I carry. The greatest indeed is love.
As I look at the vestments I wear to celebrate the Mass, I cannot but gaze at the old ordinary dress of my mother and remember that my best vestment is still my baptismal garment. That simple inexpensive white dress my mother gave me as a baby surpasses in value our expensive signature shoes and shirts that we have been accustomed to wear now. Blessed indeed are the poor in spirit.
We feel good and proud that we are able to fill up the pews of the chapels and churches when we offer the Mass and preach. Although our parents cannot fill up church pews as we do, they have filled up our priestly hearts with the love and blessings of God. Your heart is more important than the pews. Our parents know where the real treasure lies.
The church is my home. I fly back to the church my nest to repair my broken wings and heal my wounded soul. But there is no place to heal better than the chest of the mother who nursed us as infants. There is no hand more secure than the hands of the father at home who taught us how to stand each time we fell when we were just learning how to walk. How we miss that loving chest and those guiding hands of our parents. Priest of God blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts that nursed you!
At the fourth station of the Via Crucis, we reflect on the meeting between Jesus and his afflicted mother. When our people hurt us, when the church ignores us, when those we serve attempt to destroy us, when it feels like walking in the valley of darkness, we only long secretly to meet our mother again to cry on her shoulders, to allow her to wipe our bloodied faces and receive new strength to move on to our crucifixion. Stabat Mater dolorosa.
My brother priests, before you became a father in the church, you were first a son for your mother and you will always be her son on earth and in heaven. Before you became a father for the people of God, you first had a father at home and no one can replace him in your life on earth and in heaven. Between now until the Mass this evening, please visit your parents at home or resting in their graves. Thank them. Bless them. Be blessed by their memory. You can only be the good priest that you are now because of your holy parents. Let their memory set your heart again to love your priesthood. Preserve your father’s good name. Do not allow anything or anyone to tarnish that name. By that name, God has called you. By that name you will return to God. May Mary, the mother of the Eternal Priest keep all our parents of priests in her loving embrace.
Lovely Lady dressed in blue ——- Teach me how to pray! God was just your little boy, Tell me what to say!
Did you lift Him up, sometimes, Gently on your knee? Did you sing to Him the way Mother does to me?
Did you hold His hand at night? Did you ever try Telling stories of the world? O! And did He cry?
Lovely Lady dressed in blue ——- Teach me how to pray! God was just your little boy, And you know the way.