Fr. Nilo

I had a chance to meet the servants of the Defensores Fidei Foundation when Steve Ray came to the Philippines few years back and I stand with them in solidarity together with the Catholic Faith Defenders and the Diocese of Cabanatuan in condemning the cold-blooded murder of the apologist-priest Fr. Richmond Nilo. We pray that his blood will nourish seeds of faith and that the Lord will raise more priests who are avid defenders of Catholic truth.

We also pray for justice. And let us also implore Almighty God for an end to this culture of violence and hatred in our country.

May you rest in peace Fr. Richmond.

Rev. Fr. Richmond Villaflor Nilo, a priest from the Diocese of Cabanatuan, a Karlista priest (alumnus of San Carlos Seminary) was gunned down by unidentified men in San Pablo Chapel Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

Let us pray for the soul of Fr. Richmond.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”

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.

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)

Jay-Jay

I was at Lorenzo Mission Institute (LMI) for an Easter Recollection when I noticed the statue of Jay-Jay.

He is Pondo ng Pinoy’s First “saint”.

Jay-Jay Pondo ng Pinoy

Pondo ng Pinoy is a movement to develop a Filipino culture rooted more deeply in love of God and neighbor, especially the poor, through little but repeated acts of compassion, solidarity and sharing. Pondo ng Pinoy is also a community foundation born out of the daily contributions of concerned people that will support programs benefiting the poor. As a movement and as a community foundation, Pondo ng Pinoy calls on all Filipinos to care for others so as to attain fullness of life in God.

What is Pondo ng Pinoy and why is Jay-Jay hailed a “saint”?

The Catholic Church’s Pondo ng Pinoy is one of the country’s most effective humanitarian movements.

The movement allows each Catholic to do something about his or her duty to show love for God by caring for the needy. In a concrete way, everyone, even a relatively poor person, can do this act of love for God through service to neighbor by using a plastic drinking water or soft drink bottle as a kind of piggy bank and depositing 25 centavos in it daily, or in the case of really poor person, as often as he or she can spare 25 centavos until the bottle is full. Which is when he or she turns it over to the parish and begins again.

In some parishes, the faithful with filled Pondo ng Pinoy plastic bottles are invited to march toward the altar behind those carrying the bread and wine at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the preparation of the gifts.

Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales started Pondo ng Pinoy before he was made a cardinal. He was driven by his resolve to get the Catholic faithful to realize that each of them should help solve our country’s problem of massive poverty.

He gathered the priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Manila, as well as delegates from the dioceses of Antipolo, Cubao, Imus (Cavite), Caloocan, Malolos (Bulacan), Novaliches, Parañaque, Pasig, San Pablo (Laguna), Taytay (Rizal) and Puerto Princesa (Palawan), at the Folk Arts Theater in Pasay on June 11 and on June 12, 2004. The assembly launched Pondo ng Pinoy.

Cardinal Rosales saw in Pondo ng Pinoy a way by which every person, “no matter how poor, no matter how humble, can enjoy the freedom to give, to help and live fully.” This is because Pondo ng Pinoy aims to cultivate the culture of giving and helping another, through saving as little as 25 centavos a day as an act of love for the poor and as symbol of one’s good works. The money, Cardinal Rosales said, would be meaningless without the Spirit of Love generated by the act of saving it daily. Cardinal Rosales summed up the Pondo ng Pinoy principle in this motto, “Anumang magaling kahit maliit basta’t malimit ay patungong langit.” [Every good thing and act, no matter how small, if it is done often leads to heaven.]

“We can do no great things,” said Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “only little things with great love.”

The story of young Jay-jay is, in essence, the story of Pondo ng Pinoy, a story of little things, done with great love. Jay-jay, a child in the 5th grade, in all his youthful wisdom understood the theology of Pondo ng Pinoy – of how small things, given with great love and concern for others, can change the world for the better.

Each day, he would gather all the 25-centavo coins he could find, to drop into a small, empty mineral water bottle that stood on his mother’s desk at her office.

Remembering his teacher’s admonition that the bottles should be filled with small amounts every day instead of in a rush at the last day of submission, he would fill it slowly, day by day, with whatever amounts he could offer as a small sacrifice for the sake of others.

He even went as far to refuse the payment of P5.00 from a friend of his mother for a little service he rendered, “Beinte singko na lang po, para sa Pondo ng Pinoy” was his rejoinder to the offer.

Heaven, it seemed, could wait no longer to have this dear child in the company of the angels. A disease similar to leukemia spread quickly through his body. Yet even when confined to his sickbed at the height of his illness, Jay-jay’s thoughts were never far from his little bottle of coins.

Murmuring to his mother, he would ask, not for toys or books or food but for his little bottle: “Mommy, akin na, pupunuin ko ‘yun para sa amin ni Jesus.” His mother learned to see, through her son’s eyes, the slowly-filling bottle not as a discarded piece of refuse, but as a vessel of love and a symbol of compassion.

Today, Jay-jay sits at the feet of Christ, and is embraced by the arms of the Savior he loved with all his innocent and trusting soul.

His memory lives on, though, not only in his beloved mother’s heart, but in the hearts of all those who see in Pondo ng Pinoy the chance “to do small things with great love”, and to change the world one small loving step at a time.

Jay-jay’s love story – for it is indeed a story of love – inspires everyone to look upon the humble containers bearing the Pondo ng Pinoy logo as the Hand of God extended in abiding love and unfailing mercy.

His story caused Cardinal Rosales, the father of Pondo ng Pinoy to declare joyfully, “We have our first “saint!” as he asked us to commit to our hearts the gentle words of innocent faith”: Pupunuin ko ‘yun, para sa amin ni Jesus.

For more than 10 years, Pondo ng Pinoy continued to make a difference in the lives of many.

One of the numerous successful livelihood projects that came into being thanks to Pondo ng Pinoy was Eco-Uling project in Taguig City, which both gives a livelihood to persons with disability and promotes environmental protection and enhancement. The project produces charcoal briquette from a combination of water lily, coconut husks and shell.

Some 20 persons with disability and their young Muslim friends run the Eco-Uling project. They gather the materials, do the technical production and market the product. This project has enabled the PWDs to earn a living by themselves.

The project wipes out the water lily-caused problem of clogged waterways that causes flooding during the rainy months. Pondo ng Pinoy initially granted the project P300,000 and then gave an additional P280,000 to expand the operation.

Pondo ng Pinoy has sponsored more than 300 health, livelihood, development, alternative learning and housing projects and the Hapag-Asa subsidized feeding program. All these projects and programs have cost more than P200 million.

The Pondo ng Pinoy movement operates through the Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation. Its members, aside from the Archdiocese of Manila, are 18 dioceses, two apostolic vicariates, and the Military Ordinariate.

You can help Pondo ng Pinoy continue its legacy.

Donate now!
Account Name: Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation, Inc.

Bank of the Philippine Islands: SA#3063-6086-52
Banco de Oro: SA#2200-45555-0 / SA#2630-01627-3
Metrobank: CA/SA#3-175-50800-8
Chinabank: SA#103-521881-1

HAPAG-ASA INTEGRATED NUTRITION PROGRAM:
Account Name: PONDO NG PINOY CFI (HAPAG-ASA)
Bank of the Philippine Islands: CA#3061-0858-22
Banco de Oro: CA# 2638-00407-0
Metrobank: CA# 175-7175-50963-8
Chinabank: CA#103-57972-19
Security Bank: CA#141-026133-002

For more information, please visit their official website: http://pondongpinoy.com

Relic

An online post by Manila Cathedral facebook page made me think, did John Paul II foresee his return to the Philippines?

In his last message before departure from the Philippines in 1995 World Youth Day, Pope John Paul II in a personal remark said, “The Pope (…) that he looks another opportunity perhaps to return, I don’t know how. I will see you again, will see you again!”

Fast forward to 2018, he did return through the relic of his blood and as a saint inspiring more people to become more closer to God.

Relic

To venerate the relics of the saints is a profession of belief in several doctrines of the Catholic faith: (1) the belief in everlasting life for those who have obediently witnessed to Christ and His Holy Gospel here on earth; (2) the truth of the resurrection of the body for all persons on the last day; (3) the doctrine of the splendor of the human body and the respect which all should show toward the bodies of both the living and the deceased; (4) the belief in the special intercessory power which the saints enjoy in heaven because of their intimate relationship with Christ the King; and (5) the truth of our closeness to the saints because of our connection in the communion of saints we as members of the Church militant or pilgrim Church, they as members of the Church triumphant. The relics of the saints and their veneration is just another in the long line of treasures which Jesus Christ has given to His chaste bride, the Church. These relics summon us to appreciate more profoundly not only the heroic men and women, boys and girls who have served the Master so selflessly and generously, but especially the love and mercy of the Almighty who called these His followers to the bliss of unending life in His eternal kingdom.

Today, Saturday, April 7, together with thousands of Catholics honored the relic of the blood of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Manila Cathedral with a public veneration.

The public veneration began with the Holy Eucharist led by Manila Cathedral rector Father Reginald Malicdem, including a brief homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Rappler’s Paterno Esmaquel II chronicled Tagle reminded Catholics that the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was first spread by witnesses from among the “simple people” – not experts, scientists, or “so-called knowledgeable people.”

“My dear brothers and sisters, the Risen Lord wants to meet us, to open our eyes. He wants to encounter us, and when you have seen him, go, tell the Good News. Tell the Good News to those who are suffering, those who live in darkness, those who have remained in their tombs of despair,” Tagle said.

Tagle then described the late John Paul II as “one of the great witnesses of the Risen Lord.”

Referring to the late pope, Tagle said: “He traveled all over the world telling people, ‘Don’t be afraid of Jesus. Don’t be afraid of the Risen One. Do not be afraid of the life he offers. Welcome him.'”

‘We welcome him again’

“Pope John Paul II came to us. He opened his heart. The Philippines is always welcome in his heart. Now we welcome him again – the relic of blood. Blood. Life. The life connection continues, but it is life in Christ,” Tagle said.

“With Saint Pope John Paul II, let us be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth,” the cardinal said.

John Paul II’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, gave the blood relic to the Manila Cathedral as a gift, as the Manila Cathedral this year marks the 60th anniversary of its rebuilding after World War II.

“Towards the end of Pope John Paul II’s life, with complications from Parkinson’s disease, doctors extracted blood from him in case of an emergency transfusion. There are 4 vials of blood that were never used. Two of the vials were held at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, and the other two were given to Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary, then Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz,” said a statement from the Manila Cathedral.

“The blood is in a liquid state because of an anti-coagulant substance present in the test tubes at the moment of extraction,” the Manila Cathedral statement added.

Seven vials of this liquid blood have been enshrined in different churches worldwide, including the Manila Cathedral.

In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, Father Carlos Martins, a priest who handles relics, explained the spiritual significance of religious artifacts like these.

“I think that Saint Jerome put it best when he said: ‘We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.’ We venerate relics only for the sake of worshipping God,” Martins said.

Source: Rappler.com

Run

Dive deeper into the love of God and allow His grace to wash away our sadness and worries.

This was the message of the Grand Easter Feast 2018 dubbed “Deeper”, organized by the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community.

The event was a great opportunity to rediscover our meaningful relationship with God.

His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila led the Holy Eucharist in the morning.

Grand Easter Feast 2018

As a resurrected Church, like the apostles, it is incumbent on us to go out and proclaim the Good News. The instruction of the Risen Lord to the disciples was, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers.” (cf Mt 28:10) We do this by recovering our personal relationship with the Lord. We need to rekindle the faith of our Catholics. We need to reach out to those who are searching for God in their lives or who desire a personal relationship with Him. Faith is not just worship and doctrines. We need to express them concretely as there are many who are seeking for signs of love and welcome, a sense of identity and belonging. Photo credits: small bottle with water juxtaposed with the stage by Sis. Hannah Sharisah Marquez.

His presence was like a tight embrace from God.

He reminded everyone on the true essence of Easter in our lives.

He said that Easter was all about running.

Like the apostles when they opened the tomb, they run as fast as they can when they found out that no one was inside the tomb.

Are you letting God run your life?

Are you tired?

Are you weary?

Are you just trying to survive and stumble across the finish line?

Are you striving to give it your best?

Or are you thriving? Are you trained and prepare to run this race of life and faith well?

Para kanino ka tumatakbo? Sinong nagpapatakbo ng buhay mo?

Last year, I was in Angeles Pampanga during the Holy Week for my healing journey. Never did I think that I would participate in a Holy Week experience like in 2018.

I let go and let God guide me.

Fruitful.

Meaningful.

Empowered.

Ready to dive again with life’s many challenges.

Bring it on!

Easter, then, is the beginning of attitudes and spirits of hopes, of confidence and trust. It is our responsibility to cooperate with this wonderful grace that Jesus is offering us. Only then, can we move ahead with determination to new possibilities, as the apostles eventually did after Pentecost.

We have to confront our empty tombs and discard our burial cloths. Then we can turn them into signs of hope and new life.

Jesus’ resurrection proclaims the miraculous transformation of our earthly existence. Death has been conquered. We understand what was meant by what the early Fathers (and perhaps, Mothers) of the Church meant when they said: “Jesus became human so that we could become divine.”

We participate in the Paschal Mystery. We know and experience the cycle of life, death and new life. We know that new life is often borne in pain. We know that we can hold life and death together.

Even while something within us is dying, something new can be rising. We have to give ourselves over to God and not confine God to our human limitations.

Then we can truly proclaim with St. Augustine that “We are Easter people and ‘Alleluia is our song.’ Let us sing Alleluia here and now in this life so that we can sing it one day in the life to come.”

Let’s give up all of our negative views of ourselves. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Second, let’s listen to Jesus as he tells us that he knows how much we love him. Let’s allow these words to move us out into the world to feed his sheep.

May we all have a blessed Easter season!