Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The age of the laity

THE present time of the Church has been called “the age of the lay faithful,” and at the same time “The time of the Holy Spirit.” In acknowledging it, the CBCP’s most recent Pastoral Letter has emphasized the importance of lay participation and lay empowerment in the mission of the Church as well as in many areas of lay apostolate and evangelization.

The parable of the Wedding Banquet which we proclaim in the Gospel, presents the on-going invitation of God in the context of a wedding at which the guests are invited to participate. Weddings are events of joy, camaraderie, fellowship and communion. It is this spirit that Jesus wants to be reflected in those which are working for the propagation and promotion of the kingdom of God in this time of the Holy Spirit and age of the lay faithful. The way of spreading the kingdom by way of spreading the Word of God, most especially by “letting the Word of Christ” dwell in the lives of the people (Col. 3/16), in order that they may become “doers of the word” (James 1/22).

In this age of the Holy Spirit, we are witnesses of how lay people are responding to the invitation of God to participate in the wedding feast of the Word of God. On this occasion, I would like to gratefully appreciate the impact of the word of God on the followers of El Shaddai, in particular on El Shaddai’s Founder-Organizer, our friend Mike Velarde, the leader of this charismatic Catholic renewal movement.

Religious movements come and go. A few of them continue to flourish base on the integrity of their leadership and the conviction of their followers. El Shaddai is one of them. El Shaddai is now in its 25th year of its foundation by Brother Mike, who celebrates his 70th birthday, and who 25 years ago was scheduled for the major heart surgery at the Philippine Heart Center. In some mysterious way an “angelic nurse” who read the Word of God for Brother Mike, assured him that his surgery would be cancelled. The miraculous incident led to the purchase of a radio station, DWXI and the program “To God be the glory.” Rallies for the Word of God, with the Word of God, attracted people by the hundreds of thousands. To this date the members of El Shaddai has reached more than seven million with chapters being established in parishes and dioceses here in the Philippines and abroad.

As El Shaddai celebrates the 25th year of its foundation by Brother Mike Velarde, the only words that catch our hearts at the moment are the words “To God be the glory.” The gifts and the charism to spread the Word of God that were given to Brother Mike, are not for him but for the growth of the Kingdom in this age of the laity and time of the Holy Spirit: to God be the glory. The effect of the Word of God on the millions of El Shaddai members are not for the individual recipients but for their families, for the communities, for the church: To God be the glory. Let the wedding even of the Word of God with the people of El Shaddai continue with its work of radical conversion from within, the renewal of Church and society, the good works that produce joy, camaraderie, friendship, fellowship and communion continue in this great and difficult times. To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

(This is the text of the homily of Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro and CBCP President, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of El Shaddai; August 20, 2009)

Monday, August 17, 2009

An appeal for prayer for peace in Mindanao

The recent violent encounter in Basilan resulted in 23 deaths from the army and 31 deaths from the Abu Sayyaf. In the context of war, no one wins.

For peace in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao, the CBCP appeals for prayer for all the victims and their bereft families. We ask for prayers and Masses for them.

In a certain sense, the situation of “unpeace” in one part of the country lessens the peace in other parts because we are all “brothers.”

Violence, retaliation and annihilation create more anger in both parties and destroy the seeds of past peace processes. Peace cannot result from violence and retaliation.

The victims of such violence and retaliation are innocent lives of victims.

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Message of the CBCP on the demise of Mrs. Corazon Aquino

THE CBCP joins the Aquino family and the entire nation in mourning the passing away of a great woman who was for six year the President of our country.

It was a holy death in the midst of physical pain and suffering. Death occurred at three o’clock the Hour of Divine Mercy. It was First Saturday the day of our Blessed Mother. Tita Cory was holding the Fatima Rosary which Sr. Lucia gave her many years ago.

Our country is very much indebted to this humble and sincere woman, who though not a politician herself and unprepared, she accepted the challenge of the Filipino people to lead them as President. It was not she who pushed herself into the position; but it was the people who called upon her. Eternal gratitude is due to Cory and her husband, Ninoy, for living it out that “The Filipino people is worth dying for.”

Many eulogies and speeches will be delivered to extol her goodness; we know she deserves them. But now at the threshold of eternity, the only eulogy she would hear is the invitation of the Lord of Divine Mercy: “Come, blessed of my Father, enter the kingdom which has been prepared for you.”

In her unassuming way she knew when to say “enough is enough” and gently handed over the government to her successor. It remained to succeeding generations of leaders to be worthy of the trust of leadership and to continue what she had begun, to dream again the dream of what is best for the country.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
August 1, 2009