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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I JUST had to hear the anticipated novena Mass at the Carmel of St. Joseph, quite a long way from my parish of the St. Jude Shrine in Alijis. I wasn’t alone. I saw several of my co-parishioners who braved the bumper-to-bumper traffic along Mandalagan to go to the monastery.

The reason why all roads led to Mandalagan was the presence of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, who officiated the Mass.

I looked forward to Cardinal Tagle’s homily. A Parañaqueño, his first words were to find a connection with Bacoleños. Many moons ago when he was a seminarian, he used to visit the monastery among other places and his punchline was he never imagined he would come back to preach as an archbishop and a cardinal.


He was good, I didn’t see among the mass-goers who fell asleep. Perhaps he made fun of those who often watched their wristwatches or who ostensibly “meditated” when these church-goers simply fell asleep during homilies.

“The Word of God is alive, it gives us life and makes us fruitful,” he said. But he lamented that many times, people ignore the Word of God and pay more attention to worldly concerns.

Too bad he didn’t amplify during his Bacolod homily what he pointed out during the 49th International Eucharistic Congress six years ago in Quebec, Canada.

Back then, he said, “It is sad that those who worship idols sacrifice other people while preserving themselves and their interests. How many factory workers are being denied the right wages for the god of profit? How many women are being sacrificed to the god of domination? How many children are being sacrificed to the god of lust? How many trees, rivers, hills are being sacrificed to the god of ‘progress’? How many poor people are being sacrificed to the god of greed? How many defenseless people are being sacrificed to the god of national security?”

Tagle reminder the clergy once: “You may be saying the right things but people will not listen if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic, know-it-all institution.” He also hit special treatment for priests, and repeatedly called to the Church to practice more humility.

I pray that Diocesan Bishop Vicente Navarra takes down that very divisive Team Patay-Team Buhay poster at the Bacolod Cathedral. And that our Bacolod clergy should heed what Cardinal Tagle said during the XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; Oct 5-26, 2008 in Vatican City.

There he said, “Events in our world show the tragic effects of the lack of listening: conflicts in families, gaps between generations and nations, and violence. People are trapped in a milieu of monologs, inattentiveness, noise, intolerance, and self-absorption. The Church can provide a milieu of dialog, respect, mutuality and self-transcendence.”
Tagle’s words echo that of Pope Francis who emphasized the word “encounter.” Pope Francis uses it repeatedly, urging Catholics to go out to the peripheries, especially to the poor and the marginalized, and encounter other persons.

Pope Francis taught that “We ask only one thing: that you reach out! And that you go and seek out and encounter the neediest! …Does this mean going to convince someone to become Catholic? No, no, no! You are just reaching out to meet him, he is your brother!”

Such encounters should include the Catholics who supported the RH law, encounter with non-Catholic Christians or other faith communities in the Diocese, dialogs between landowners and farmworkers in haciendas, and peace projects with the CPP-NPA led by former priest Frank Fernández.

On concerns that need research and contemplation, Cardinal Tagle said during the XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican: “The Church must discover the power of silence. Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth.”



Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 16, 2014.


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