Read

One of the main thrusts for this academic year is to intensify the reading habits of our students.

I know it will never be easy but it takes a lot of encouragement and more push.

I was inspired by this article of Joby Provido on how spiritual reading leads to a balanced life.

Reading

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” – John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Every day we are bombarded with news that can be violent or depressing. Sometimes immersing ourselves in those kinds of stories can drive us to despair when thinking of hope for humanity. Those studying internet behavior say we tend to compare our life with others on Social Media. This can be very stressful if we consider we have to keep up with other people’s happiness. It can make our lives seem empty at some point.

The spate of celebrity suicides does not help either. While taking one’s life (or any life for that matter) is contrary to Christian culture, we cannot judge those who have fallen victim to mental illness for we don’t know what they were going through. Since Christ is all-knowing and all-loving, we leave it up to him because he is the best and only authorized judge by the Father. One thing we can say that may make sense is that there must have been a feeling of helplessness that drove them to do it.

While we cannot remove these stressful matters from our secular life, we can balance it. How many times do we watch heart-warming videos of animals being saved, or fathers who are supposed to be away and make a surprise appearance, or mothers who prepare something her birthday girl enjoys? Don’t we press on the heart button and share them? Some even write a post: “faith in humanity restored.” In those moments, aren’t our spirits lifted?

Life is a constant battle and we need weapons to help us endure. Spiritual reading is one of these. It is the habit of reading something spiritual with the purpose of growing in holiness. By reading spiritual material, our soul gets buoyed so we can keep our head above the flood of depressing media, take a breath, and continue the struggle. It is like watching those heart-warming videos that bring back faith in humanity.

Spiritual reading is different from meditation. Meditation is a quest to find out what God wants us to do, feel, and be. Spiritual reading, on the other hand, is to reinforce our lives with enriching things.

One can start with ten minutes a day, then move on to fifteen minutes or longer. It would be nice to set a time to do this so it can be done regularly. It would also be best to do this in a place that has little or no distractions. Maybe a quiet room in the house will do.

What can a beginner read? The gospels are a good start. A slow prayerful reading always helps. The lives of the saints are extraordinarily good material. Get books on or by Teresa of Avila (The Interior Castle), St. Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux (The Story of a Soul), Thomas Merton (The Seven Story Mountain), John Paul II. While Fulton Sheen is not yet a saint, his life is a wonderful thing to read. Books on Our Lady are particularly enriching too. Find books on the apparitions in Fatima, Lourdes, and Mexico (Our Lady of Guadalupe.) Other good titles are: “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin” by Louis de Montfort, “Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis, “The Everlasting Man” by G.K. Chesterton, “Mary of Nazareth” by Federico Suarez.

One does not have to “read” to do spiritual reading. Watching an enriching video or listening to a podcast is spiritual “reading” too. Find something that lifts your soul or educates you about the faith.

Make it part of a daily habit. Think of spiritual reading as the spiritual vitamins that keep us healthy.

Up

There was no way but up.

It was a tough ride for the past years.

Time to bounce back, to regain strength, to love and to serve more.

I know it was diffucult to start again from the bottom of the pit but I was humbled by the experience.

Up

The heart of the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST) are the students or learners. A new door opened for me. A lot of discoveries and many meangful memories!

I learned a lot and I met new people.

I’ve just started.

A bigger purpose was slowly unravelling right before my eyes.

Thank you God for surprising me everyday.

I cling on Your unfailing love.

Let Your will be done.

I can’t do this alone. You are my rock and my shield.

Protect me everyday and use me according to Your holy plan.

I surrender everything to You.

Be my guide.

Let Your heart be seen in me.

May I bring more people closer to You.

In Jesus name, amen.

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.”

Creed

Fr. Manny David of the Diocese of Imus shared the importance of the First Council of Nicaea in our Christian faith during our class today.

Why is it important?

We often recite the Apostle’s Prayer during the Holy Mass without careful thought.

After the discussion today, the importance of the Nicene creed became more clearer to me and why the long version is more significant than ever.

Nicene Creed

The First Ecumenical Council. The First Council of Nicaea formulated the original Nicene Creed. Most importantly, the council defined the equality of God the Father and Christ, his son. It taught that Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father and not just merely similar.By defining the nature of the divinity of Jesus, the council did not solely rely on the Bible but jointly gave it a binding interpretation. The First Council of Nicaea (325) issued 20 canons and repudiated Arianism.

The Nicene Creed is the most widely used profession of faith in church liturgies and statements of faith around the world. The Creed, as we currently have it, is the result of two church councils: the First Council of Nicaea (AD 325) and the First Council of Constantinople (AD 381).

Luke Gilkerson shared why parents should let their kids understand the Nicene Creed?

1. It Teaches Them to Think Critically About Bible Interpretation
Heresies have always threatened the church, even from its earliest days. By the fourth century, the most influential heresy was Arianism, named after its originator Arius. Arius was a popular priest from Alexandria, Egypt, whose teaching had challenged Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria. Their debate was centered on this question: What does it mean for Jesus to be God’s Son? What was the Father’s relationship to the Son before the world began?

Arius believed that God the Father’s divinity is greater than the Son’s, and that the Son is the Father’s first and greatest creation. In other words, the Son is not co-eternal with the Father and is not, thereby, divine in the same way the Father is. To support his teaching, Arius appealed to texts like John 14:28 where Jesus says, “the Father is greater than I,” and Colossians 1:15, where Paul teaches Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.”

The Nicene Creed was the church’s answer to Arianism. By teaching our kids this creed, we give them practice in Biblical interpretation. What does it mean for the Son to be “begotten”? What does it mean that Jesus is the Father’s “firstborn”? What does it mean that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)? These are the questions the councils wrestled with, and these are the same questions that can stretch our children’s minds and help them to think critically.

2. It Teaches Them to Appreciate Christian History
The Council of Nicaea in 325 is perhaps one of the greatest achievements in Christian history. The emperor Constantine called together church bishops from around his empire, and 318 of them (according to most early historians) arrived in Nicaea to discuss this theological matter that threatened to divide the church. For one month (from May 20 to June 19), the Bishops deliberated, and in the end all but two of the Bishops signed the creed. Another council convened 56 years later in Constantinople to bring further clarity to the creed.

Learning some of these old stories helps our children to appreciate their Christian heritage and the challenges the early church faced.

3. It Teaches Them to Appreciate Church Unity
The Nicene Creed is still the most widely used profession of faith in church liturgies and statements of faith, used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and many Protestant churches.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the Nicene Creed is “a sign of recognition and communion between believers.” Martin Luther’s Small Catechism names the Nicene Creed as one of the approved creeds of the church. It is written in full in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and in hymnals of Presbyterian denominations.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God
The Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
The only-begotten Son of God;
Begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
Very God of very God;
Begotten, not made;
Being of one substance with the Father;
By whom all things were made:
Who for us men and for our salvation
Came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
Of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man:
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered and was buried:
And the third day he rose again
According to the Scriptures:
And ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of the Father:
And he shall come again, with glory,
To judge both the quick and the dead;
Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
Who with the Father and the Son together
Is worshipped and glorified;
Who spake by the Prophets:
And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church:
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins:
And I look for the Resurrection of the dead:
And the life of the world to come.
Amen

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

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