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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Keep EDSA spirit alive, Villegas urges Filipinos

From the Website of CBCP

Caceres archbishop exhorts faithful to become heralds of good news

Filed under: Headlines |
MANILA, Feb. 27, 2014—In line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) declaration of 2014 as the “Year of the Laity,” Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tirona called on the faithful in his archdiocese to be “heralds of the gospel” who work for the propagation of the good news in their everyday living.

Tirona encouraged active participation from pastoral councils, lay organizations, Catholic school officials, consecrated individuals, and members of the clergy in implementing the archdiocese’s action plans, which they have formulated during the Archdiocesan Congress of the Laity held last February 23.

“God’s grace is certainly bestowed upon us through the Congress of the Laity…Without doubt, it is by His inspiration that all our efforts have come to fruition. Let us take this as an opportunity to step forward with courage and enthusiasm,” Tirona said in a statement.
“As we anticipate the implementation as well as the regular monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plans until the year 2020, I ask my brother priests to support our lay faithful in their aspirations. These plans are for their welfare… and they are meant to the laity ‘a future and a hope,’” he added, noting that the congress “begins a new chapter in our journey of faith.”

Increased societal engagement 

Stressing the importance of lay engagement in the various aspects of secular life, Tirona urged pastoral councils to “work closely” and “collaborate with parish priests in the work of evangelization and human promotion.”

“Accompany your parish priests in getting to know the parish through dialogue, and especially through prayer and collaborative ministry,” Tirona said.

He also called on lay religious organizations to maximize available avenues “to bring Christ to every street corner.”

“The Church is blessed with so many charisms like the lay religious organizations…With harmonious collaboration, you can address every need and problem of the Church,” he said.

Tirona also lauded the contributions of the lay faithful who work towards the holistic formation of the youth in Catholic schools.

“The Archdiocese recognizes your sharing with your gifts for the enrichment of education in our Catholic schools, especially of our young people. With your talent, you can contribute for a more effective educational institution that promotes Catholic values and mores,” he said.

‘Symbol of Christ’ 

For those living a consecrated life, Tirona urged them to be the “symbol of Christ’s self-emptying in our modern world.”

“Inspire the laity to fight materialism, secularism and individualism. In the midst of the cultural influences of our times, may your life and works be examples of simplicity, service and courage,” he said.

“Show them the road to courage so in a society ruled by the rich and powerful, their voice shall become the voice of the poor and the marginalized,” he added.

Clergy members were also reminded of their task to guide the lay faithful in fulfilling their Christian duties, noting that such guidance will also define the laity’s participation in the life of the church.

“In whatever field of endeavor the lay faithful are engaged in, we, priests, shepherds, should also prepare them to become evangelizers. Build their confidence and send them to their mission,” Tirona said.

Impetus for 500th anniversary 

In a separate statement, Tirona noted that the Archdiocesan Congress of the Laity is “a testimony of the common collaboration and active participation of the clergy and the lay faithful.”

“The Congress recognizes the crying need for holistic formation and for participation in relevant ministries of our lay faithful. Likewise, the Congress expresses the deep longing of our Lay faithful to be guided spiritually by the pastors of the Church,” he said.
The prelate added that the convention serves as an “impetus” for the seven-year preparation for the 500th anniversary of the coming of Christianity in the country 

(1521-2021). (Jennifer Orillaza)


Keep EDSA spirit alive, Villegas urges Filipinos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas presides the 28th anniversary Mass of EDSA people power at the Mary Queen of Peace Shrine, Feb. 25. (Photo: Noli Yamsuan
MANILA, Feb. 26, 2104—Lingayen Dagupan Socrates Villegas urged the people to keep the spirit of EDSA alive in their hearts and learn wisely from its lessons during a Mass he celebrated at the Mary Queen of Peace shrine to mark the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power on Feb. 25. 

Coming all the way from Dagupan to celebrate the thanksgiving Mass, the prelate couldn’t help but express his sadness in seeing that so few people came to celebrate. 

“After 28 years is this all that we can gather to thank the Lord for an event that made Filipinos 10 feet tall in the family of nations. I cannot resist returning to the Gospel, and returning to the question of the Lord after he cured 10 lepers and only one returned, and said, “Where are the other nine?”  Villegas said. 

“But I am not here to accuse you. I am not here to make you sad. I am not here to contaminate you with my sadness and loneliness. I am here to bring you joy, the joy of the Gospel, the joy of the Lord,” he said. 

President Benigno Aquino had this year’s EDSA anniversary celebration transferred to Cebu, where he visited typhoon-ravaged areas and spent time with victims of typhoon Yolanda. 

Villegas lamented how the EDSA spirit “has been manipulated, abused, raped, [and] prostituted” through the years. 

Nonetheless, he said, “we must always return to it [as] EDSA was a gift from God and it will always be so.” 

The EDSA celebration can take on many forms and its story may be retold in many ways but there is one element in its history that cannot be erased, and that is God, Villegas pointed out. 

“You can tell the story of Tita Cory but don’t forget that she prayed the rosary with us. You can tell the story of Cardinal Sin but do not forget that he was first man of God and the Church before being a man of the streets. You can tell the story of the military, of the businessmen, of the professionals, of the soldiers, of the nuns, but please remember all the time, that the soldiers, the nuns, the businessmen, politicians, cardinals, bishops and priests, all of them will be nothing if God did not walk with us on this hallowed ground in 1986,” Villegas noted. 

“My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how you retell the story of EDSA, I plead with you on bended knees, do not forget the rosaries you prayed; do not forget the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart that we put on top of tanks. Do not forget the bibles that we read,” the prelate added. 

Stressing that God is the main protagonist in the EDSA story, Villegas lamented that “sometimes we forget, and sometimes we claim the honor that belongs to God as our own.” 

“But our country, our government cannot move on if it continues to ignore God,” he said. 
Villegas noted that 20 years of dictatorship and four days of EDSA should be more than enough for Filipinos to learn to never repeat the mistakes of history. 
He said it is the Filipinos’ faith in God that made EDSA 1986 extraordinary in the eyes of the world. 

“Our faith in God got married with our love for country. At EDSA love of God and love of country came together. That love of country is not alien to somebody who follows the Lord. And love of country would be empty unless it is grounded on the love of God,” he stressed. 

Villegas urged the people to remain established in their faith as they have shown the entire world during the 1986 EDSA revolt. 

He noted that the issue hounding EDSA today is that the people seemingly have forgotten that God is central in its history. 

“The issue is not God is with us. The issue is: Are we with God or have we strayed from the path of God,” Villegas asked. 

Reminding that the EDSA shrine is a hallowed ground, the prelate urged the faithful to tell the story of God’s encounter among his people at EDSA to their children and succeeding generations. 

“Please tell your children and your children’s children that EDSA is holy and it is people that will keep it holy, and that is you.” 

And even if celebrations of EDSA are done in other places, Villegas told the community to faithfully celebrate at the EDSA shrine “because here on this ground, you and I and God had a brief loving encounter for four days and history cannot be changed anymore.” 
“On this hallowed ground, for four sacred days the blessed Virgin Mary walked with us; the Lord of Peace walked with us. Keep it sacred, no matter where you go, because here you will always find the living God,” he added. (CBCPNews)

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