THE POPE VISITS! By Javier Luis Gomez

Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines in 1970. Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines twice – in 1981 and in 1995 for World Youth Day. Now for the fourth time in our modern era, the Holy Father will be visiting the Philippines once again! As many people already know, Pope Francis will be visiting here in January – and all sorts of people are looking forward to this visit.

In order to increase the blessings and growth that we can experience through the visit of Pope Francis, we’ve been asked by the Church to prepare ourselves before he arrives. Cardinal Tagle writes that, “our excitement needs to be purified and strengthened by constantly listening to the Word of God, by frequently participating in the Eucharist, by sincerely repenting of our sins, and by habitually doing acts of justice and love.” Each and every one of us needs to prepare ourselves for his arrival.

Pope Francis himself, through his visit, hopes that the focus would not be on his own person, but on the suffering and struggles of the poor and the marginalized in the Philippines, specifically those who were affected by typhoon Yolanda one year ago. Despite all the growth that the Philippines has experienced many people continue to suffer. If we are to truly develop as a nation, we need to become a people of mercy and compassion.

Pope Francis has shown us a great example already. He is constantly in the news about the many things that he does to seek out and touch the suffering of the poor. Just recently, they reported that he is installing showers in the Vatican for homeless people. As beautiful as this all is, we can fall into the trap of admiring Pope Francis, without seeking conversion and change in ourselves. This is one of Pope Francis’ hopes for the visit – that we don’t just admire but also act! That we become people of mercy and compassion in both word and deed.

So, again we would like to invite everyone to attend our Advent recollections – both to prepare for the coming of Christ this Christmas and for the coming of the Holy Father next year. They will be on two consecutive Saturdays – on December 6 from 10am to 12nn and on December 13 from 10am to 12nn. Both our speakers will speak on our theme for the visit – “Mercy and Compassion.” It is a beautiful opportunity to step back from the bustle of Christmas and remind ourselves of what we need to focus on this season.

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