The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called 2016 the Year of the Eucharist and the Family. The theme is part of a nine-year preparation period for the Jubilee of 2021. We shall then celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first Mass on Limasawa, which also witnessed the first Filipino baptism of Rajah Humabon and his wife. Begun in 2013, each year called us to focus on one of the Nine Pastoral Priorities of the Church in the Philippines for the New Evangelization.

For this year, the focus is on the Eucharist and family. In a CBCP Pastoral Exhortation last November 29, 2015, CBCP President and Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan Socrates Villegas called us to reflect on the coming year through the act of kneeling. He explained that during this year, “we are invited to kneel down to bring renewal to the family. We kneel to serve like the Lord. We envision every Filipino Catholic family to be missionary disciples of the Eucharist.”

“Our generation seems to have lost the religious gesture of kneeling; we have become more a clapping generation. We seem to have compromised the virtue of humility with a culture of self-security and independence. Our throw away consumerist culture can hardly imagine kneeling down before one another, like the Lord who washed the feet of His beloved ones…If we want renewal, let us learn to kneel again in body, in heart and attitude.”

Finally, Socrates called everyone to kneel as one family. “The family that prays together stays together. The family that kneels together will be refreshed and renewed together. The family that kneels together will remain young and fresh and new. Kneeling empowers families to stand up against the storms of life. Kneeling is strength.”

Aside from 2016 being the Year of the Eucharist and the Family, the Church is also observing this year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy as decreed by Pope Francis in the papal bull Misericordiae Vultus and Cebu shall be host to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress this January 24 – 31, 2016.

In this year of Mercy, Eucharist, and Family, let us find again that humility of service and that centeredness on Christ in our hearts and with those most in them.

References: “Nothing can stop God’s mercy – not even sin, Pope says” by Elise Harris (CNA); “Christ, the face of the Father’s Mercy”- Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Fouad Twal (Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem)