Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Holy Week Reflection 2007

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, has offered us the biblical theme that guides our Holy Week Reflection. Together with our Blessed Mother Mary and the Apostle John on Calvary, close to Jesus forsaken and crucified, the Holy Father offers the biblical theme from John 19/37: “They shall look on him whom they have crucified.”

In this week of prayer and penance, let us direct our gaze on Jesus Christ, Crucified, whom the sins of mankind, from Adam to our time, have crucified, but whose passion and death have restored to us new life and the forgiveness of our sins.

There on the cross, Jesus revealed fully for us the love of God. Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est dwells on the two fundamental manifestations of God’s love: love as Agape and love as Eros.

Agape is self-giving love, self-sacrificing love, looking exclusively for the good of the person loved. The love which we experience from God is undoubtedly agape. He has given us everything that we are and everything that we have. We cannot give to God anything that he does not possess or that did not come from him. Everything is a divine gift to us.

But God’s love is also eros. Love-eros is possessive-love, needing-love; it is the love of someone who wants to possess what he/she needs; it is the love of someone who wants to be united with the person loved. Pope Benedict XVI said “God’s love is also eros.” And he recalls the image used by the prophet Hosea: God’s divine passion for man, God’s love for us is like the love of a dutiful husband for his wife who has become unfaithful; or the love of a dutiful wife towards her adulterous husband. How timely and appropriate is the image used by the prophet Hosea even for our time.

Even in the midst of our infidelity and sinfulness, God never wavered in his love for us. The mystery of the cross, the image of Christ crucified reveals to us God’s powerful and merciful love in all its fullness. In order to win back our love, in order to redeem us from the effects and punishments of our sins, God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the immortal image of God’s Agape and Eros, God’s desire to give and God’s desire to possess. The Holy Father asks, “Is there more ‘mad eros’ than that which led the Son of God to make himself one with us even to the point of suffering as His own the consequences of our offenses?”

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.” Let us look at Christ whom we have pierced in the cross! The unsurpassed expression of God’ love. The sacrifice of our heroes for the fatherland, the martyrdom of the saints, the pain and the hurts that we suffer for one another or for our beloved country, are but a pale glimmer of that love shown in the Cross. Agape and Eros: self-giving love, and love that seeks to possess, far from being opposed, enlighten and compliment each other.

In this Holy Week, we are challenged to become a force, to become ourselves manifestations of God’s agape and eros, as Jesus Christ is and the saints were. Pope Benedict XVI says: “The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to him. Accepting his love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ ‘draws me to himself’ in order to unite himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with his own love.”

Let us stand up to the challenge of God’s agape and God’s eros. The image is no less than that of Jesus Crucified, “Him whom they have pierced.” Agape—love of giving to the beloved. Eros—love of being united with the beloved, through mutual understanding, mutual forgiveness, mutual self-giving.

Let us stand up to the challenge of agape and eros, and make it a motivation to develop the “civilization of love” into a culture of collaboration, solidarity and communion. Show this in your respective families, making them schools of love. Show this in your respective classrooms, making your classrooms homes of collaboration, and communion.

Show this in your work. Make your profession channels of God’s love through you.

Let us stand up to the challenge of rebuilding our democratic institutions by discovering and actually doing our positive share in renewing our society.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP

March 28, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The Bishops in the CBCP, while respecting what the leaders of El Shaddai and other groups have been doing for years, still maintain the freedom of Catholic members to choose their candidates. We expect them to discern, discuss and personally decide whom to vote. To dictate on them whom to vote is as bad as buying their votes.

In the end, we cannot be genuinely sure whether the candidates who have been dictated on the voters will really serve them. All the more if the voters are taken with a “buy and sell attitude.” Proof of this is the past experience of elections.

The CBCP does not want the candidates to be indebted to the bishops; instead we want the candidates to make a genuine covenant with the electorate: that if elected they will serve the people and not themselves. This is what the PPCRV is trying to do.

We can trust “the wisdom of the people,” if only their judgment will not be violated or adulterated by “guns, goons and gold,” if only the process of election according to the rule will be respected and not manipulated by self-interest. If the wisdom of the people were allowed freely to function, they will get the leaders they want or they get the leaders they deserve.

As we said in our pastoral letter, we exhort our people not only to pray but also to be vigilant. Let the different associations and groups come together to study and examine the candidates and their platform of government. They may even come to an agreement among themselves whom to vote; but each one must personally come to his/her decision. They will not vote according to personality or winnability but in view of the candidates’ agenda of government

On the one hand, there is no Catholic vote in the Philippines, because all Catholics are free to vote any candidate of any political party. On the other hand, because catholics are almost everywhere, many of the candidates who win, win by catholic votes; but this is no reason to brag about, because the candidates win or lose by his own virtue or lack of it, and the electors vote according to their respective persuasion and conviction.

CBCP President

March 13, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Month of Prayer and Peace for the Filipino Family

In Celebration of National Women’s Month

AS the country celebrates National Women’s Month this March 2007, we are reminded to pray for all women who have been, and are, victims of all kinds of abuse and violence within the family and outside their homes.

The world had just celebrated the International Day for Women last March 8, calling our attention to the plight of women all over the world. Here in our own country, we celebrate National Women’s Day on March 16; it is a day to remember our Filipino women, especially those who nurtured us since we were born—our very own mothers.

We are aware that many of our women have become victims of violence, especially in their own homes. It is a sad reality that is happening in our country. The home is supposed to be a sanctuary where peace and love reign, but many of our homes now are becoming a venue where women are battered and abused.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines exhorts the various sectors of our society to link hands to protect our women from exploitation of all kinds, from violence that reduce them to silence, and from abuse that deprive them of their dignity as persons. Many of those who have fallen victims remained silent and unable to move ahead because of fear and hurts, while just as many are slowly finding the courage to go on living their lives. We call o our brothers and sisters both in government and the private sector to lend help and services to our women in crises.

May we indeed make this month dedicated to women a month of prayer. As we pray for our Filipino women, we also pray that peace may reign in the Filipino family. Let us pray that our women get the respect and love they deserve. Let us pray that exploitation and violence against women stop. Let us pray that those victimized by violence may find the courage to forgive and get on with their lives. Let us also pray for the enlightenment and conversion of those who inflict violence on women.

Let us also recommend our Filipino women to the protection and intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, the model and icon of womanhood.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
March 11, 2007