Senior

They are our modern hero.

Though they are in the twilight years of their life, they serve God even more.

I admire their tenacity and zeal to love others selflessly.

They are our hopemakers in our troubled world today by doubts, worries, divisions and anxieties.

I met the hardworking servant leaders of the Diocese of Imus and they inspire me to love God more.

I hope the young people can learn a thing or two from them. They are worth emulating for their humility.

Catechists

A dear friend Sis. Lalie Jimenez inspired me to know more about this mission work. The Diocese of Imus catechists in action. To catechise means to teach: more specifically, to teach by word of mouth. Prior to Parish level were nuns. However, increasingly the role of the Parish Catechist has been undertaken by Catholic Laity. Catechists are often deployed to teach Candidates who are preparing for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Catechists have always been of particular importance in large geographical parishes, such as in Africa, where Priests have historically only been able to visit different parts of their Parish periodically. In the Priest’s absence the Parish Catechist takes on the role of being the main teacher of the faith in that Parish. As such they are afforded a particular place of honor within the parish community where they work.

Cardinal Richard J. Cushing in his “Catholic Family Prayer Book” shared seven characteristics needed in order to be a good catechist, gleaned from catechists themselves:

Be hospitable
Hospitality is critically important today. Many children, youths and adults feel unappreciated. Often, they do not verbalize such feelings of low self-esteem. Society’s functional priorities often overshadow the personal love that people need. A catechist’s words and attitude need to indicate that all the catechized are important and welcome in the Church. This goes a long way to open people to God’s word and sacraments.

What can you do to make your class feel welcome and comfortable?

Center teaching on faith
A catechist’s faith is the basis for his or her love of God and one another. It invites them to share God’s word with children, adolescents and adults. Catechists give witness to their faith in action through solid preparation and concern for the catechized. Faith often requires us to sacrifice our time to get certified as a catechist, to visit a homebound person or to volunteer in a senior citizens home. Such a lifestyle of offering oneself to those in need demands a regular prayer life.

Catechesis can never become a routine task. It requires an ongoing infusion of energy derived from communication with people of faith, prayer, the sacraments, Scripture reflections and good reading.

In what ways are you growing in your faith?

Care for the catechized
We are called to catechize in the spirit of Jesus. He showed special concern to the man born blind and the woman caught in adultery. Like Christ, catechists also minister to those people that society overlooks. These include children, adults with special needs and the elderly.

People with special needs offer rich graces to a catechist and catechetical community. The elderly are often very close to God. Many have served the Church over the years. They, too, need continuing catechetical ministry at the time their eternal reward approaches. In developing catechesis for people with various needs, catechists should not neglect children and youth. In today’s society, they need special attention. Catechists must give high priority to young people, focusing on where they are right now, not on whom or what they may become later on.

In what ways are you showing your class that you care for each of them?

Catechize with joy and a smile
Recognizing our importance begins by knowing that we are children and friends of God. It also demands that we know our limitations as human beings. This realization encourages us to have a sense of humor and to laugh often.

Smiling and laughing are good symbols for catechesis. Catechists help people smile when they share Jesus’ joyful message. Smiles and laughter touch us deeply and invite us to respond positively, even in difficult situations. Our smile may be the only one that a person experiences all day. Even when tired, we can smile. A smile, not a tired body, is the window to the soul. Catechists offer a fine gift when they smile.

What happens to your overall mood and outlook when you smile?

Live as a prophet of hope
A hope-filled person radiates hope to others. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah gave the Jewish people hope for a better tomorrow during troubled times. Their words repeatedly called people to repent and focus again on God’s covenant of love. Jesus culminated their ministry through his death and resurrection.

In hard times of pain, anger, uncertainty and confusion, we need more prophets of hope as catechists and catechetical leaders. Such ministers offer hope to searching or troubled children, youth and adults. Seeing their role as being prophets of hope offers catechists a positive perspective from which to enthusiastically embrace their ministry.

How might you reflect Christian hope to those you teach?

Practice catechesis in this time and place
Some people are always looking for the ideal situation. Many never find it. Why we are born into a particular family and cultural circumstance and why we are called to minister in today’s world and Church is God’s choice, not ours.

Some catechists find themselves in less-than-desirable situations. We may feel unsupported by parish leaders, have inadequate preparation or resources, live in difficult family or work situations and experience pressure from students and parents. God calls us to minister when and where we are, not in some idealized time and place. If circumstances are beyond our control, we may have to make the most of them, remembering that God may be asking us to take up our cross. At the same time, we must take care of ourselves. In finding this balance, we give glory to God as we minister to our family and those we catechize.

Have you ever made a less-than-desirable situation better by praying and presenting a positive presence?

Be well-prepared
All catechists need adequate preparation, knowledge of the basics of the faith, the skills to communicate Church teaching and good resource materials. As a general norm, catechists need to be certified. Diocesan formation requirements for catechists, an understanding of the Catholic approach to the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, good religion textbooks and other supplementary works enhance the catechist’s ability to catechize.

Professionally trained catechetical leaders recognize the central role that well-prepared catechists play in sharing Jesus’ Good News. All catechists need formal preparation through attendance at adult faith formation or other religious education classes, institutes and workshops. They are also called to pray, read, focus on Scripture and prepare adequately before teaching so that they know the lesson of the day and are able to communicate it effectively. Of course, a faithful well-prepared catechist is better than any textbook!

What effect does it have on a class of students if a catechist is well-prepared?

Prayer for teachers
Heavenly Father, who promised that all those who instruct others in the way of holiness will shine as stars for all eternity, fill our hearts and minds with true knowledge and the art of teaching. Give us patience and understanding, justice and prudence, humility and fear of the Lord. Grant us wisdom and charity so that, with a pure and holy love of God, we ourselves may enjoy all these gifts and impart them to our students.

Teach our children to be obedient to your laws and open to your inspiration. Let them be instruments of your peace in their homes, in our land and in the family of nations as becomes children of the sons of God in the mystical body of Christ.

May the blessings of your sevenfold gifts be in all who teach and in all who learn through the Holy Spirit, who is love of the Father and the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ — the Divine Teacher.

Media

In one of our activities during the PLM-SCA servant’s formation, we asked the young leaders on what catches their attention most in social media.

Their response showed that inspiring messages spoke to them more.

Social Media

There are plenty of significant leaders who are not on Twitter or Facebook … yet. But I think more and more people who want to have a lasting impact are joining social media. Joining social media doesn’t mean you have to play Candy Crush on Facebook. You can control how much you engage. You can interact on Twitter from your cell phone and not even worry about getting bogged down in email activity. One of the great things social media does is enables quality leaders to broaden their influence and impact.

Contrary to studies that:

  • Social websites become their first priority, rather than the things that should come first such as school, family and sports.
  • People portray themselves as someone they’re not.
  • Young people can begin to cyberbully another peer; this can lead to many things such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Some youth are easily influenced so they may feel the need to change their physical appearance by comparing themselves to the next person they see in the media.
  • Social media is a very powerful temptation, so it can also become addicting and begin to start sidetracking the youth.

The simple activity revealed that positive messages are big influencers online.

  • Keeps connections between friends when they’re not always able to see each other when they want to.
  • Social media also keeps you up to date with things that are going on around the world rather than just in your area.
  • It gives youth a place to express themselves in a way that a public place wouldn’t allow us to.
  • It helps to develop social skills, a lot of friendships can stem from a social website.
  • It’s a fun way to interact with your peers, other than seeing them in person.

Social media is the latest possibility to reach an audience that might never step into our churches or community.

Before parish priests or youth minsters often would go door to door for the parish census. This gave them the possibility of meeting parishioners (and nonparishioners) and drawing them into parish life.

Although door-to-door evangelization is attractive, it is no longer as viable as it was in times past.

Pope Francis has embraced this new medium and could be considered the first social media pope.

Although Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to use Twitter, Francis tweets almost daily and currently has 10.8 million followers.

You might ask why we need to use social media.

We can use social media to get out the latest parish news, post inspirational quotes to inspire our parishioners, and give people important notices regarding upcoming events.

Social media helps to get our message out and to draw people to the parish or community website if it’s used properly.

The phenomenon of social media has opened new doors for us.

People “friend” us and welcome us into their daily world.

Social media is part of a new technology that came out of what was called Web 2.0. These social networks range from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and beyond.

At the same time, the use of social media is not only for getting our message out and sharing information, it’s also about building relationships with real people who create bonds with one another, and this opens hearts to what it is we have to share.

Here is a social media discipleship pathway:

• CONNECT (network) online: social networks, blogs, chat rooms, special interest sites.

• SHARE (post) relevant material that meets the needs of people and invite them to visit and explore wholistic life together through videos
and articles.

• TALK (chat) with your online friends in order to understand their needs, and respond with the relevant messages of hope found in the Bible, and perhaps by sharing your personal story.

• MEET (offline) face-to-face to develop trust and confidence in Jesus.

• INVITE (follow) Jesus on the journey of spiritual development.

Your intention, every step of the way, should be to treat each visitor and contact as a potential disciple. You should take a personal interest in their lives. You cannot expect to disciple 500 to 1,000 people individually, but you can certainly take time to disciple a small group of people and build personal relationships.

Yes, we need to create evangelization opportunities that help bring people back to church. New media, specifically social media, has a huge part in reaching out to people we need to minister to.

Heart

I grew up in the artsy and historical neighborhood of Sta. Ana in Manila and Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM was our Parish Priest in Our Lady of the Abandoned back then.

I will never forget his informative homily and inspiring messages of hope.

He gave profound messages about the love of God and love as a verb in the light of the gospel.

Sharing his reflections, which was the main theme of the Gospel this Sunday.

Love one another, heart

Fr. Jesus Galindo, OFM in action. My wife and I visits the historical Spanish architecture inspired church of Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in Sta. Ana, Manila last December 2017

During the early centuries of the Church, when Christians were being persecuted and martyred, some of them offered to die in place of others (just like St. Maximilian Kolbe did during World War II in the concentration camp of Auschwich). The pagans were amazed at this and remarked, “See how they love one another.”

Reading today’s papers or watching the news on TV, all we can say is, “See how they kill one another. See how they cheat one another. See how they insult one another.” (Wait till the electoral campaign begins.)

The great Mahatma Gandhi, when asked to express his views about Christianity, said: “ I have great respect for Christianity. I often read the Sermon of the Mount and have gained much from it. I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. However, the trouble is with you, Christians. You do not being to live up to your own teachings.”

Another Hindu monk who read the story of Jesus in the gospel said to a Christian: “If you can live what is taught in this book, you will convert the whole of India in five years.”

Of course, not everything is dark and negative about us.

There are also some good things going for us. Fr. Joseph Dau Vu, SVD, chaplain to Vietnamese refugees in Morong, Bataan, tells how the “boat people” were abused, robbed and even killed by fishermen from neighboring countries. But when Filipino fishermen spotted them, they offered them food and shelter. Why – they wondered? Because they are Christians. (Cf. Bel San Luis, SVD, Word Alive, Year C. p. 57)

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Jesus made this pronouncement in his farewell discourse, during the Last Supper. Hence, it is his last and most urgent wish.

As if he were saying: “I am going now. You might forget all the other things I did and said. Just don’t forget this one. This is the summary of everything I have told you.” And so it is indeed; for this is what our final “exam” will be about: Not about doctrines, not about catechism, not about the Bible, but about LOVE: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Etc.

Why is this commandment called new? What is new about it? Love of neighbor is found in the Old Testament: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev.19:18) All other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) teach about love also.

What, then, is new in Christ’s commandment? “As I have loved you,” that’s what is new. Our love has to be like Christ’s, that is, sacrificial. Not emotional, not romantic, but self-sacrificing – to the point of death.

Love means different things to different people. It is perhaps the most used and abused word in the dictionary. In the name of love, young lovers elope, or steal. In the name of a newly-found “love” some spouses abandon home and children. That might be passion, infatuation or lust; but certainly not Christ’s love.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ”We usually recognize people by their uniform or attire, by which we can tell whether a person is a doctor, a policeman or a security guard. In church we wear habits, pins or crosses.

We know well, however, that these external symbols can be quite deceiving.

We often hear stories about truants disguised as priests, policemen, collectors etc. whose sole purpose is to extort money.

Christ did not choose any external mark or symbol to identify his followers.

Love is, or should be, the mark of our identity, our uniform and our habit.

We may wear crosses or pins, recite rosaries and novenas, receive holy communions, etc.

If then we go home and abuse or insult our household help, our yayas, our drivers…we simply are not true disciplesof Christ. Discipleship is not a matter of external attire; it is a matter of a loving heart.

Fr. Mark

This prayer goes to Fr. Mark Ventura and to all the priest who risk their lives to serve others.

You came from among us to be, for us, one who serves.

We thank you for ministering Christ to us and helping us minister Christ to each other.

We are greatful for the many gifts you bring to our community: for drawing us together in worship, for visiting us in our homes, for comforting us in sickness, for showing us compassion, for blessing our marriage, for baptising our children, for confirming us in our calling, for supporting us in bereavement, for helping us to grow in our faith, for encouraging us to take the initiative, for helping the whole community realize God’s presence among us.

For our part, we pray that we may always be attentive to your needs and never take you for granted.

You, like us, need friendship and love, welcome and a sense of belonging, kind words and acts of thoughtfulness.

We pray, also, for the priests who have wounded priesthood.

May we be willing to forgive and may they be open to healing.

Let us support one another during times of crisis. God our Father, we ask you to bless our Priests and confirm them in their calling.

Give them the gifts they need to respond with generosity and a joyful heart. We offer this prayer for our priests, who are our brothers and friends.

Amen.

Fr. Mark Ventura

Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, known for his anti-mining advocacy, was in the middle of blessing the children and talking to the choir in a gymnasium in Barangay Piña Weste when he was shot on the head and chest.

Fr. Mark Ventura was a young Catholic priest was shot dead in Cagayan province on Sunday, becoming the second cleric slain in around four months.

He was murdered at about 8:15am right after celebrating Mass at a gymnasium in Brgy. Peña Weste, on the outskirts of Gattaran town.

The priest was blessing children and talking with the choir members when a still unidentified male donning a motorcycle helmet emerged from the back of the gym and shot the victim twice.

Quoting reports from the Police Regional Office No. 2 in Tuguegarao City, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said the suspect ran towards the highway and rode on a single motorcycle driven by another unidentified companion and fled towards Baggao, Cagayan.

Archbishop Sergio Utleg Tuguegarao has already led prayers at the site of the crime. He still has to issue his statement as of this posting.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has deplored the priest’s murder, offering their prayers for Ventura, for his bereaved family, and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao.

“We condemn this evil act!” said Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President.“We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura.”

The bishops also appealed to the authorities “to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice”.

Ventura is currently the director of San Isidro Labrador Mission Station, a post he only assumed early this month, in Mabuno village, also Gattaran.

A priest for almost seven years, he was also known for his anti-mining advocacies and for helping indigenous peoples in the province.

Prior to his assignment in Gattaran, Ventura served as Rector of the Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary based in Aparri, Cagayan.

In December 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was killed by still unidentified gunmen after he facilitated the release of a political prisoner in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

+Eternal Rest grant unto the soul of Father Mark Ventura, O LORD. May Your Perpetual Light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

STATEMENT of the President of CBCP

Good afternoon. Please find below the statement of Abp Romulo Valles, CBCP President, on the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura of Tuguegarao:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. Right after celebrating the Sunday Eucharist at eight o’clock in the morning today, he was shot to death by murderers riding in tandem.

We offer our prayers for Fr Ventura, for his bereaved family, and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao. We also pray for Archbishop Sergio Utleg, his priests and the religious of the archdiocese, who this year, in union with the whole Church in the Philippines, are celebrating the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

We condemn this evil act!

We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice.

May God have mercy on us all!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Absp. Romulo G. Valles
President
April 29, 2018

Mark

Do you have a friend named Mark?

April 25 is the feast of St. Mark, one of the companions of the apostles and the author of one of the gospels.

Who was he, and what do the Bible and the Church Fathers record about him?

St. Mark

The majestic view of Baclaran Church today. Among the four Gospels, Mark’s account is unique in many ways. It is the shortest account and seems to be the earliest. Mark the Evangelist was an associate of the apostle Peter and likely wrote his Gospel in Rome where Peter was based. Mark wrote it in Greek. It was likely written for Gentile (non-Jewish) readers in general, and for the Christians at Rome in particular. It is significant that Mark, as well as Luke, was chosen by the Holy Spirit to write the Gospel account even though he wasn’t one of the twelve apostles. Augustine of Hippo, explains: “The Holy Spirit willed to choose for the writing of the Gospel two [Mark and Luke] who were not even from those who made up the Twelve [Apostles], so that it might not be thought that the grace of evangelization had come only to the apostles and that in them the fountain of grace had dried up” (Sermon 239.1). Jesus’ last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his atoning death for sin and his glorious resurrection to new life for all who will believe in Jesus, God’s beloved Son. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a nation, but it is for the whole world – for all who will accept it. The Gospel is the power of God, the power to forgive sins, to heal, to deliver from evil and oppression, and to restore life.

Here are 8 things to know and share about St. Mark, according to Jimmy Akin from the National Catholic Register:

1. Who was St. Mark?
St. Mark is commonly identified as:

  • The figure John Mark from the book of Acts
  • The figure referred to in St. Paul’s epistles simply as “Mark”
  • The figure in St. Peter’s epistles also referred to simply as “Mark”
  • The author of the second gospel
  • The first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt

2. What does the book of Acts tell us about Mark?
We first meet him in chapter 12, just after the martyrdom of James the son of Zebedee (the first of the apostles to be martyred).

At this time, Peter was captured and his martyrdom scheduled, but he was miraculously freed from prison. When this happened, Luke records:

When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying [Acts 12:12].

Mark then began to play a prominent role in the life of the Church, becoming the travelling companion of the apostles Paul and Barnabas:

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark [Acts 12:25].

3. How did Mark cause an argument between Paul and Barnabas?
Mark did not complete his travels with these apostles, though, which eventually caused a significant falling out between Paul and Barnabas:

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”

And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.

And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord [Acts 13:36-40].

One reason Barnabas may have been more favorably disposed to Mark is that he was his cousin, as we learn from Paul’s letters.

4. Did Mark and Paul ever reconcile?
They did. In Colossians, one of Paul’s prison epistles, he writes:

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, receive him) [Col. 4:10].

This shows Mark at a later point as a functioning member of the circle of Paul’s companions, indicating an eventual reconciliation.

The reconciliation was apparently long-lasting, because he mentions mark again in 2 Timothy, written shortly before his death in A.D. 67, where he says:

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me [2 Tim. 4:11].

His is also briefly mentioned in Philemon, where Paul describes him as a fellow-worker:

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers [Phlm 23-24].

5. What does Peter say about him?
At the end of 1 Peter, the apostle mentions him briefly in the same passage where he indicates he is writing from Rome (i.e., “Babylon”):

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen [i.e., the church of Rome], sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark [1 Pet. 5:13].

This indicates that Mark had become not only a valuable member of Paul’s circle but also someone personally close to Peter–a theme picked up on in the Church Fathers.

Shortly before his resignation, Pope Benedict commented on this passage and how it signifies the convergence of Peter and Paul’s circles in Rome:

Then I think it is important that in the conclusion of the Letter Silvanus and Mark are mentioned, two people who were also friends of St Paul.

So it is that through this conclusion the worlds of St Peter and St Paul converge: There is no exclusive Petrine theology as against a Pauline theology, but a theology of the Church, of the faith of the Church, in which there is — of course — a diversity of temperament, of thought, of style, between the manner of speaking of Paul and that of Peter.

It is right that these differences should also exist today. There are different charisms, different temperaments, yet they are not in conflict but are united in the common faith [Address, Feb. 8, 2013].

6. What do the Church Fathers say about Mark?
A good summary is provided by St. Jerome in is De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men):

Mark the disciple and interpreter of Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome embodying what he had heard Peter tell.

When Peter had heard this, he approved it and published it to the churches to be read by his authority as Clemens in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, record.

Peter also mentions this Mark in his first epistle, figuratively indicating Rome under the name of Babylon She who is in Babylon elect together with you salutes you and so does Mark my son.

So, taking the gospel which he himself composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church so admirable in doctrine and continence of living that he constrained all followers of Christ to his example.

Philo most learned of the Jews seeing the first church at Alexandria still Jewish in a degree, wrote a book on their manner of life as something creditable to his nation telling how, as Luke says, the believers had all things in common at Jerusalem, so he recorded that he saw was done at Alexandria, under the learned Mark.

He died in the eighth year of Nero and was buried at Alexandria, Annianus succeeding him [De Viris Illustribus 8].

7. What is the earliest testimony we have linking St. Mark to the second gospel?
We actually have a first century source on this!

According to a first century figure known as John the Presbyter:

Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.

For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord’s discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as heremembered them.

For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely.

Pope Benedict, as well as other scholars, think this John the Presbyter may have had a hand in writing some of the books of the New Testament. If so then we have not just first century testimony regarding the authorship of Mark’s Gospel but testimony coming from one of the New Testament authors.

8. Is Mark mentioned in his own gospel?
Possibly. Although he did not apparently follow Jesus throughout his travels, as indicated by John the Presbyter, many have thought that Mark did have at least some contact with Jesus during the time of his Passion and that, as a result, he may be mentioned anonymously in his own gospel.

Specifically, some have proposed that he is the man who carries the water jug in this passage:

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?”

And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, `The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ [Mk. 14:12-14]

It has also been proposed that he is the man that Mark curiously records as running away naked when Jesus is arrested:

And they all forsook him, and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked [Mk. 14:50-52].

Tell

When “Tell the World of His Love” – the official theme song for World Youth Day 1995 in Manila was sang during the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration and Veneration of the Blood Relic of St. John Paul II at Manila Cathedral last April 7, 2018 – the wonderful memories of that youth event came back and I felt the saint’s presence in our midst.

I was in high school then. I was glued on television and monitored all the live reports from media.

Tell the World of His Love

As Asia’s bastion of Catholicism, the Philippines has been blessed by three papal visits: one from the revered Pope Paul VI in 1970 and by the late Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995, respectively. His most famous visit was during the World Youth Day in 1995. Known as the “saint-maker” who beatified 1,388 faithful and canonized more than 470 saints, the late Pontiff was beatified by his successor Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square last May 1, 2011 before 1.5 million people. I believe his deep love for God expressed in his genuine love and concern for people, regardless of age, race, status, religion makes him deserving to be recognized as a saint. He brought people closer to God.

Let’s look back at some of St. John Paul II’s inspiring messages to the young people:

Sense of vocation

“It is always Christ who sends. But whom does he send? You, young people, are the ones he looks upon with love. Christ, who says: ‘Follow me,’ wants you to live your lives with a sense of vocation. He wants your lives to have a precise meaning and dignity.”

(International Youth Forum Mass, University of Santo Tomas Seminary, January 13, 1995)

Meaning in life

“Too many young people do not realize that they themselves are the ones who are mainly responsible for giving a worthwhile meaning to their lives.”

(Prayer Vigil with the Youth, Rizal Park, January 14, 1995)

Vocation to love

“The vocation to love, understood as true openness to our fellow human beings and solidarity with them, is the most basic of all vocations. It is the origin of all vocations in life.”

(Prayer Vigil with the Youth, Rizal Park, January 14, 1995)

Inalienable dignity

“If you defend the inalienable dignity of every human being, you will be revealing to the world the true face of Jesus Christ, who is one with every man, every woman, and every child, no matter how poor, no matter how weak or handicapped.”

(Prayer Vigil with the Youth, Rizal Park, January 14, 1995)

Criticizing adults

“Sometimes you are very critical of the world of adults, and sometimes they are very critical of you. This is not something new, and it is not always without real basis in life. But always remember that you owe your life and upbringing to your parents, and the Fourth Commandment expresses in a concise way the demands of justice toward them (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2215).”

(World Youth Day Concluding Mass, Rizal Park, January 15, 1995)

Freedom, responsibility

“How many young people think they are free because they have thrown off every restraint and every principle of responsibility? How many of them think that because certain forms of behavior are socially accepted, they are therefore morally right? They abuse the beautiful gift of sexuality; they abuse drink and drugs, thinking that such behavior is all right because certain sectors of society tolerate it…

“Build your lives on the one model that will not deceive you! I invite you to open the Gospel and discover that Jesus Christ wants to be your ‘friend’ (cf. Jn 15: 14).”

(World Youth Day Concluding Mass, Rizal Park, January 15, 1995)

Farewell: ‘Be strong’

“Kayo ay isinugo ni Kristo tulad ng pagsugo sa Kanya ng Ama. Salamat at pinakinggan ninyo ang kanyang Salita.

“Inaanyayahan ko kayong maging mga alagad ng Ebanghelyo, at mga tagapagtaguyod ng kanyang Kaharian sa inyong mga pamilya, parokya, samahan, at sa bawat bahagi ng inyong buhay bilang mga Pilipino. Nawa’y maging matatag kayo sa inyong pananampalataya at pagmamahal sa inyong kapwa.”

(Christ sends you even as he himself was sent. I thank you for listening to his word, and I encourage you to become apostles of the Gospel and builders of God’s kingdom in your families, parishes, groups, and in every aspect of Filipino life. Be strong in faith and love!)

(Farewell to Young People, Rizal Park, January 15, 1995)

Charm

What’s a day in the life of a missionary?

I was inspired by the story of Sis. Charmaine Lector- Villegas or simply Sis. Charm, a loving daughter of Ninong Manny & Ninang Villa Lector. She committed her life to the mission of bringing the gospel to every corners of the earth together with her husband Bro. Goi Villegas.

As a full-time missionary of Couples for Christ (CFC) Global – they are serving now in Nairobi, Kenya for the past five (5) years.

She was the only daughter.

She could have been a corporate honcho and a thriving successful businesswoman but she chose to serve God.

My wife (Jude) was a schoolmate of Sis. Charm in International Philippine School in Riyadh (IPSR).

She transformed from a nurtured OFW daughter into a missionary servant.

I was inspired how they implemented various CFC programs and how they touched lives in the African continent.

Charm

Sis. Charm & Bro. Goi Villegas in action. Ninong Manny & Ninang Villa Lector with the missionary couples (bottom right). Photo credits to the owner of the photos.

Serving a full-time mission is accepting a call to represent the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a joyful experience, but it is also hard work. To be a successful missionary, you must prepare spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Effective preparation in these ways allows you to serve “with all your heart, might, mind and strength”.

Are you called to do mission?

We are called to wholeheartedly respond to the mission works of the Catholic church.

According to Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu,the words of Saint John Paul II during his 1981 visit keep echoing in our ears and enflaming our hearts: “There is no doubt about it: the Philippines has a special missionary vocation to proclaim the Good News, to carry the light of Christ to the nations.” The pope was most emphatic, expressing his profound hope: “I wish to tell you of my special desire: that the Filipinos will become the foremost missionaries of the Church in Asia.” These are challenging words for us to take to heart!

We can be missionary by “sharing and communicating Jesus Christ to others.”

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila shared that we can be good storytellers and we can be good missionaries who proclaim Jesus Christ if we ourselves have first-hand experience of his presence.

“Telling the Story of Jesus” as a way of doing mission.

Salvation history is “the story of God’s love affair with humanity” and all Christians can share in doing the Church’s mission by knowing Jesus’ story and sharing it through our lives.

Tagle said storytelling in order to fulfill the Church’s mission must be told by a credible witness who shows he “knows God” through his words and actions.

Citing Pope Paul VI, he said, “Our age listens more to witnesses than to teachers.”

The story one tells of Jesus’ love defines a person and builds community, Tagle added. “Our stories tell us who we are and what kind of community we are – what stories bind us together.”

There are many ways to tell a story. “Our very persons could be the story of Jesus. That’s how the saints told the story of Jesus.

Tagle said, “Many of us cannot remember Pope John Paul II’s many teachings, but only looking at pictures will remind us of his life and his person. Until his body became bent and when he was almost completely stooped he continued to serve. That’s the story of Jesus.”

If we do not do mission, we are not missionaries of Christ carrying out our pastoral work but we end up as social workers, organizers, event managers, CEO of the Church.

The Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) serves as the official and chief missionary arm of the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Since its inception in 1965, the MSP now has been working in five continents and twelve countries. In Asia, the MSP has missions in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. In Oceania, it serves in Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and Tokelau. In Europe, it is present in the Netherlands. In North America, it is present in the United States of America, while in South America, it has a mission in Guyana.

Women and men who are twenty-five (25) years of age and above, and eager to become partners of the MSP mission may join the Fil-Mission Auxiliary Association (FMAA). The FMAA is a nationwide organization, which promotes missionary consciousness in their parishes and dioceses.

However, this organization slowly expands and reaches now to some countries where the MSP is present, like South Korea, and New Zealand. Hopefully, it will soon reach to the United States, England and others.

If you are in the Philippines, you may inquire at the MSP parishes in Mandaluyong City and Cebu City, MSP Mission House in Davao City or at the MSP Central Office in Makati.

If you are living abroad, you may also contact our MSP missionaries assigned near to your areas.

For inquiries, please contact:

MSP Central Office
3791 Cuenca St.
Palanan
1235 MAKATI CITY

PHONE: (632) 551-6983
FAX: local 117
EMAIL: secgen@msp.org.ph