“All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us.”, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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Michael Jackson’s song, “They don’t care about us,” reminds us of Pope Francis’ message for Lent about the “globalization of indifference.” We have become accustomed to the sufferings, poverty, and inequality of others; and they don’t affect or concern us anymore. We fail “to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors;” for there are some things in life we just don’t want to see – as the song goes.

In UST, the Pope spoke that today’s world doesn’t know how to cry, how to experience compassion, i.e. suffering with others. He said, “There is a worldly compassion which is useless. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor” (and walk on). It is possible that some works of charity are done without love. Thus, St. Paul said that even if we give away to the poor all that we have … but have no love, we don’t gain anything. (1 Cor 13:3)
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True charity is more the giving of what we are than of what we have. It is to go out of our comfort zone, to willingly inconvenience ourselves or make sacrifices for our neighbors for God’s sake. What people really want is a portion of our hearts.

To counter-act the culture of indifference, there are three things we can do. First, we pray together with the Church (in heaven and on earth) for a new era of mercy and compassion for the world. Second, we reach out to others with our acts of charity. Third, we try to have a change of heart. We ask Jesus to ”make our hearts like yours.” We wish to receive hearts, which are firm and merciful, attentive and generous; hearts which are not closed and indifferent.
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Although poverty and sufferings will never be completely eliminated, love can transform the world and make it a better place to live. Love can change lyrics; for when people experience our kindness, compassion, and selfless love, they can only exclaim, “They DO really care about us!”

(Reference: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2015; Homily of Holy Father Francis, July 8, 2013 (Visit to Lampedusa); “Pope Francis’s Critique of Indifference” by Jonathon Mansell; “The Hidden Power of Kindness” by Lawrence Lovasik)

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Lenten Recollection Alert! By Javier Gomez

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We would like to invite anyone interested to a short Lenten Recollection this coming Saturday, March 7 from 10am to 12noon to be given by Fr. Robert Manansala OFM.

Our goal for this brief talk is to take some time to reflect a little on the seeds that have been sown by Pope Francis. We’re soon approaching the two-month mark since Pope Francis’ historic visit to the Philippines. For most of us by now, the spiritual euphoria that everyone felt has subsided and we’ve gone back to our everyday routines. There is a danger then that we will start to treat the graces of this visit like lightning in a bottle – something that happened once and we cannot recapture ever again. Certainly this is not the goal of Pope Francis himself! It would be more fruitful to think of the graces we have received as seeds – planted deep down by Francis the laborer. Thus, these seeds need to be nurtured, cared for and allowed to grow and blossom.

Our vinedresser will be Father Robert, and he will guide us in nurturing the seeds of Pope Francis’ visit. He will lead us in reflecting on the wisdom that Pope Francis gave us while he was here. Together, let us explore the words of Francis to use the language of the mind, the heart and of the hands in our Christian lives. “To think – To Feel – and to Do.” This is the wisdom that Pope Francis has given us.

Let us reflect on these words together, and see how we can apply them to our lives during this season of Lent. Again, March 7 from 10am to 12nn at the Parish Center. We hope to see you there!

What can the poor share with the rich?, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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We know the rich has much to give to the poor. And we were taken by surprise when Pope Francis told those who give others to allow themselves to receive. At UST, he said: “Become a beggar. This is what you still lack. Learn how to beg. This isn’t easy to understand… Do you know you too are poor? Do you know your own poverty and you need to receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve?… Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?”
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Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said: “The poor people are great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Maybe they have nothing to eat, maybe they have no home in which to live, but they are great people.” They teach us by their faith in God, their humility, and their patience in suffering. Mother Teresa often told the story about a man whom the Sisters picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms. He was dying, but he was not bitter. Rather, he was happy and grateful, knowing that he was going to die at least with someone loving him when he was brought to the Home for the Dying. Mother Teresa said, “It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel – this is the greatness of our people.”
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St. Josemaria considered the sick and the poor his “treasures.” When he had to start Opus Dei, he was only twenty-six years old and without money. He went to the hospitals and poor districts of Madrid and begged those people to offer up their sufferings, their hours in bed, and their loneliness to God for his apostolate. And because of their prayers and mortifications, the Lord has taken Opus Dei all over the world!
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The poor people are God’s gift to us. They provide us the experience to put our love into action. They allow us to help them. And in doing so, we are serving Him. “Every work of love brings a person face to face with God,” Mother Teresa said, “Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” We owe a debt of gratitude to them.
Mother Teresa said, “We call them poor, but they are rich in love!” The poor people do certainly have much to share. We should never look down on them.
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(Reference: Pope Francis’ speech at UST, January 18, 2015; “Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love & Secrets of Sanctity” by Susan Conroy; “Msgr. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer: a profile of the Founder of Opus Dei” by Salvador Bernal)

What really is Responsible Parenthood?, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

fam planningPope Francis was surprised and saddened that his words on responsible parenthood were misunderstood by some people.

The concept of “responsible parenthood” appeared for the first time in the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes , no. 50. Later, it was explained in depth by Blessed Paul VI (whom Pope Francis praised at Mall of Asia) in the Encyclical Humanae Vitae. The Philippine government, however, has distorted its meaning and introduced the phrase “Responsible Parenthood” in the title of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. The main purpose of the bill is to enable couples to limit family size based on their means of livelihood by giving them the right to choose the birth control methods they want, including artificial birth control drugs and devices.fam planning5

For Catholics, responsible parenthood means that when married couples engage in sex, they must be open to life. Should they decide to postpone or avoid birth for an indefinite time, there must be well-grounded reasons for choosing so. In spacing births, they may take advantage of the natural family planning methods – engaging in sex only during those times that are infertile. This will require dialogue, respect and self-control. The use of contraception, however, is immoral. In fact, the Church uses a very strong term, describing all forms of contraception as “intrinsically evil.” (CCC 2370) Contraception is every action that impedes the union of egg and sperm before, during, or after sexual intercourse. Examples are condom, spermicidal jelly, pill, ligation, vasectomy, and withdrawal.
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Responsible parenthood is not to keep on having children. Rather, it means having more children if God sends them. Married couples need to be open to His will. Saying “Yes” to the possibility of children is actually saying “Yes” to God Himself, the author of sex, the Creator of life. As Blessed Mother Teresa said, “The child is the beauty of God present in the world, the greatest gift to a family.”

(Reference: Faith Seeking Understanding Volume 2: “Marriage and the Family” by Fr. Charles Belmonte; Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae by Blessed Pope Paul VI; Familiaris Consortio by St. John Paul II; Catechism of the Catholic Church; “Pope Francis surprised by misunderstanding of his words on family” CNA/EWTN News Jan. 24, 2015; “A Law Each Day (Keeps Trouble Away)” by Jose Sison, The Philippine Star January 26, 2015; Mother Teresa by Susan Conroy)

“Pope Francis is coming to town!”, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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Four more days to go – as we continue to find ways and means on how we can get close to the Holy Father or be a part in the meetings and Masses that he will be celebrating during his visit to the Philippines.

Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ on earth, the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter. He is the leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics. He has gained many fans around the world because of his personal holiness and simple living.

We are not, however, to treat the pontiff like some kind of celebrity or rock star. Rather, we are to look at the message he is trying to tell us. He is coming here primarily to comfort our people who have suffered from the typhoons and earthquake that have hit the Visayas. He is imitating Jesus, who after seeing the people, felt compassion for them for they were distressed like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt9:36) We, too, are challenged to imitate Jesus by resolving to make an act of mercy everyday. It may be to visit our lonely grandmother, to adjust the low salary of an employee, to attend a funeral, to lovingly correct a friend who is using contraceptives, or engaging in marital infidelity, or contemplating to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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The papal visit is a good time to re-learn and live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It is also a good time to meet Jesus in the Tribunal of Mercy, which is the Sacrament of Penance. In Confession, He (in the person of the priest) waits for us with open arms to show his love, mercy, and compassion.

Yes, Pope Francis is coming to town. And he wants to lead us to Jesus Christ, who is Mercy and Compassion.
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(Reference: papalvisit.ph “Pope Francis Papal Visit 2015 Mercy and Compassion”; “The Faith Explained” by Leo Trese; Vatican Radio)

7 Corporal Works of Mercy:
To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To visit the imprisoned
To shelter the homeless
To visit the sick
To bury the dead

7 Spiritual Works of Mercy:
To admonish the sinner
To instruct the ignorant
To counsel the doubtful
To comfort the sorrowful
To bear wrongs patiently
To forgive all injuries
To pray for the living and the dead

Are you Catholic? Then stay in the Church, Pope says.

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Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church, which Jesus established and on whom it is built.

“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope said.

Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: ‘Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.’”

The Pope centered his reflections from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel, taken from Luke, Chapter 6.

St. Paul explains to the Christians of Ephesus that they are no longer strangers, but have become fellow members of the house of God, which is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and has Jesus himself as the “capstone.”

The Gospel reading recounts how Jesus, after spending the night in prayer, comes down from the mountain and calls the Twelve Apostles by name.

By reflecting on the gospel reading, there are three clear actions that Jesus carried out when founding the Church, the Pope observed, saying that the first action is prayer, the second was choosing his disciples, and the third was welcoming and healing the crowds.

“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church,” the pontiff noted, explaining that the Church is built on the apostles.

However, despite the fact that the Twelve were chosen by Jesus, they were all still sinners, the Pope said, explaining that although no one knows who sinned the most, there could have been one that sinned more than Judas did.

“Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But (Jesus) chose (regardless).”

And Jesus, the Pope added, wants everyone to be inside of the Church he founded, not as strangers passing through, but rather with the “rights of a citizen” where they have roots.

The person who stands at the threshold of the Church looking in but not entering has no sense of the full love and mercy that Jesus gives to every person, Francis said, adding that proof of this can be seen in Jesus’ relationship with Peter.

Even though Peter denies the Lord he is still the first pillar of the Church, the pontiff explained. “For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at (Peter’s) heart. But to be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed.”

It is Jesus who prays and heals, Pope Francis noted, saying that it is something he does for each one of us.

“We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals,” he said, praying that the Holy Spirit would help all to understand that the Church draws her strength from Jesus’ prayer which can heal us all.

By Elise Harris
Vatican City, CNA/EWTN News