A Time of Preparation!

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ADVENT 2015

It’s Advent! A time of preparation,

of expectation, of hope!

It’s time to make that Christmas list,

choose gifts for family, relatives,

friends and those in need.

But more important than the wrapped gifts

to prepare is to prepare ourselves.

What do we want Jesus to see

in ourselves for his birthday?

What could be the best gift

that we can offer to Jesus?

Jesus does not need

our material things.

What He needs are:

patience, humility, forgiveness,

kindness, justice, respect,

service, care and love for others

especially to our own family and community.

WE wish you the graces and inspiration of Advent!

A blessed Advent to one and all!

Star del Mar

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NEW BEGINNINGS OF THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL FEDERATION

NEW BEGINNINGS OF THE

CATHOLIC BIBLICAL FEDERATION

By Estrella (Star) del Mar

20150619_114938The 9th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation was held at Ad Gentes Missionari Verbiti at Nemi on June 18-23, 2015 with the theme: HOLY SCRIPTURE, SOURCE OF EVANGELIZATION. Many thanks to our new General Secretary, Fr. Jan Stefanów, SVD, for having arranged and organized everything, that made these five days an enriching and fruitful experience of the Word in its global dimension.

A Lectio Divina guide was prepared that focused on the four aspects of relationship on Word and Mission from the perspective of a “Church which goes forth.” We had Lectio Divina in small groups according to language groups and a mixture of Bishops, Priests, Religious and Lay. This was done every morning before breakfast. The Lectio Divina sharing was so enriching, inspiring and challenging as well.

The Eucharistic Celebrations, prepared by regional groups, were celebrated in the evenings except for the Sunday mass that was held in the morning with the Region of Asia preparing the Liturgy. The Sunday mass was presided by the Bishop from India and the homilist was Bishop Ambo David, DD of the Philippines. His homily is also published in the CBF-SEA website.

Bishop Ambo was inspired by the Sunday readings especially the Gospel and made a good summary of the CBF journey especially the hard and painful times. Now, we do not talk about it. We need to learn from it and move on for a new start, for our new beginnings. He proposed three steps:

  • Learn to leave the crowd every now and then.
  • Quiet, be still!
  • Have faith—in the sense of “remember”.

20150621_164955-1The homilies of our new President, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, DD, from the Philippines reminded us to be humble, forgiving, trusting, caring, and be sensitive to the Spirit to make God’s Kingdom a reality in our world. In his conference, he enumerated several challenges for us to respond to the needs of the times, to do something about the present situation and to proclaim all the more God’s Word in our lives. The Final Statement summarized these challenges there.

We are happy to have a President who leads the way, who guides us with questions and proposals that are concrete enough to show us the directions. Now, we have a lot of tasks to do. The CBF General Secretariat had prepared a blueprint of a 6-year plan of action that is concrete and doable. These were translated into programs and projects by the Regions that could be accomplished in 6 years. A sample curriculum of a 2-year course for a Masters in Biblical Pastoral Ministry was presented to us that we could easily duplicate in our sub-region. A concrete plan (based on the Luxembourg template was already worked out by the Members guided by our new South East Asian sub-regional Coordinator that is ECBA represented by Bishop Ambo David.

CBF PA 2015__DSC5956-2CBF-SEA will have its own Masters’ Program for Biblical-Pastoral Ministry at the SVD School of Theology in Tagaytay City, Philippines – which some of the faculty of the Seminary had already started in the past. We only need to enrich it and invite more CBF Experts to be resource persons. An educational trip to the Holy Land will also be a part of this course. We need to tap the Resource Persons who are already giving courses at the Holy Land. Since some possible participants may not be able to afford a long stay-in course or finish the 2-year program, some shorter modular courses will also be available for them. Bible Translation is given a priority too and need to be given the proper resources for the success of the project. The Catholic Lectionaries could be a joint project of the Bible Scholars and the Liturgy Commission. Since the Bible is to permeate all the pastoral activities of the Church, it is important that our future priests would also get a good training on Biblical Pastoral Ministry and how it is done aside from their Exegesis courses.

Workshops, meetings and communication networks were also planned out and given tentative schedules.

So much had been planned to be worked out and implemented in the next 6 years before the next Plenary Assembly.

The two resource persons: Nuria Calduch-Benages and Maricel Mena López posed challenges in the new way of reading Scriptures highlighting the challenges of Dei Verbum, Verbum Domini and Evangelii Gaudium. Cardinal Tagle put concrete images of the present situation of the world that these new way of reading and interpreting Scriptures would have to be worked out in concrete programs centering on the Word of God. Pope Francis reminded us to look at the lives of the people and their present socio-economic-political situations and make the Word of God speak to them in these present conditions for inspiration, enlightenment and hope.20150621_120436

This is also true to the Catholic Biblical Federation. We cannot continue to dwell on the past that cannot be changed as it had already happened. We had learned our lessons. We move on with wisdom, renewed inspiration and vitality to respond to the challenges of the times in God’s Word. We need to face the present realities guided by the Word which also needs to be read and listened to in a new way.

The Catholic Biblical Federation with its new set of members of the Executive Committee, the Commission groups, the new Coordinators of the regions and sub-regions will move ahead to meet these present challenges to make the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God become more and more relevant in the lives of our people. And we begin with ourselves. We need to witness to the people the message of the Word – to build a loving, caring, forgiving, trusting and hoping community.

We pray that our number will grow and communities of the Word will flourish. We dream that people may say to our Federation “See how they love one another!” And we support each other in different ways by sharing whatever we have.

CBF has started the new beginning. Let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord as we thank our great leaders of the past that made CBF grow in number around the world. We are a global community in the Word! How happy we are to stay and share together in these few days and all in God’s Word! Praise be the Lord of love, compassion and mercy!

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It’s Lent…

IT’S  LENT …

By Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

 

Lent 2015February 18 to April 5, 2015 is the season of Lent.  It starts with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.  Lenten season runs for 40 days but not counting the Sundays since every Sunday is a Resurrection day.  The Church celebrates Lent with similar messages of Advent in a different backdrop – the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our lives are also a cycle of joys, pains and glorious moments.  We take each moment as sacred and memorable.  We savor and enjoy the joyful moments.  We reflect on the message of each painful moment.  And we are redeemed and brought back to the zest of life at each glorious moment.  Think about those moments in your life and you will find God has always been there with you, accompanying you at each moment whether or not you were conscious of God’s presence.

During Lent, we are reminded to focus on a few important things in our lives:

Lent 2015 b1. God loves us so much “He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 It is good to savor on this love.

Think how many times we had given ourselves to others beyond what are expected without expecting a Thank you or a recognition.  Sacrifices for love and service are often taken for granted.

Think how many times, we take for granted God’s blessings

2. God wants to communicate with us. “In the prayerful reading of Sacred Scriptures, God and man talk together for we speak to him when we pray and we hear him when we read Scriptures.” Vat. II, Divine Revelation No. 25Lent 2015 c

Think of the times we are in prayer.  What is the content of our prayers?  Do we only ask?  How about listening? We tell God what we want.  Do we also listen to what God wants of us?

Lent is a time conducive for intimate union with the Lord – a time just for the Lord – for prayer and contemplation.

3. Our life on earth is temporary. From the time we were born and grown up, we have come to love this world and all that it offers.  Some have enjoyed their wealth and power.  Some have enjoyed a happy family life even with limited material possessions. Some are struggling to get even a day’s meal.  Some have practically nothing –no house, no work, no possessions except children.  Many of them are on the streets.

Rich or poor, life in this world is temporary.  Physical death is inevitable.  It’s a matter of time.  Lent reminds us that we come into this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing.

Parents are busy working on what to leave to their children.  Some are working for a legacy for the next generation.  Some are busy putting up monuments to remind people they existed.  Some die as martyrs.

Perhaps more important is to ask ourselves:  Is God happy with the life He has gifted me?  What would be the answer to the question:  “how much have you loved unconditionally and served the least of God’s children?”

Lent 2015 d4. Ours is the choice. Good Friday does not end in Jesus’ death.  He resurrected and left in us the power to choose Life over death.  And it is not only to choose Life but to give Life to others as well.

5. Jesus’ Mission continues in each one of us. Jesus left us the Holy Spirit to help us continue the mission of redemption, compassion, healing and sharing God’s love. “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.  It is by your love for one another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.”  John 13: 34-35

It is easy to say “I love you” and probably not mean it the way God has commanded us to love.  It is easy to love those who love us.  It is more difficult to love those who are giving us pain.  It is not easy to forgive those who are destroying our personhood to others perhaps due to pride and prejudice.  It is not easy to love those who are rejecting us in various ways perhaps because of our limitations to please them.  It is not easy to love those who have negative thoughts and feelings toward others. The litany can go on…  What is clear is that God accepts us all and understands us where we are coming from and not give up on us.  God is willing to die for us each time to save us IF we want to, if we ask Him, if we repent and change.  Ours is always the choice.

 Lent 2015 e

 

 

 

ADVENT – A SEASON OF EXPECTATION AND WAITING

ADVENT – A SEASON OF EXPECTATION AND WAITING

By Estrella (Star) del Mar

00000000r In November 8, 2013, super typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayan Islands and made serious damages/losses on lives and properties.  The media were not lacking in giving warnings to people according to the weather forecasts.  But the government and the people were not well prepared for it.  Some did not believe that it would be strong enough to cause much destruction since they were used to typhoons in the past and the weather, before it struck, seemed to be just fine. The results are now part of history to learn from.  Regrets often come last.  We could not undo what has been done.

            This time, we have another super typhoon Ruby which hits the same areas and more, affected by Typhoon Yolanda. This time, the government and the people were better prepared to meet “Ruby”.  This time, the people could not allow themselves to be complacent for destruction was sure to come.  We cannot control it but simply get away from its destructive path.  And we prayed for God’s intervention – to spare His people from destruction.  We prayed for deliverance.  We prayed for salvation from these calamities.

0000Advent CandlesIt is the season of Advent at this time.  Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation and hope.  It is a time for preparation for the Messiah’s coming on Christmas day and to remind us of Jesus’ second coming which is still to come.  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” says John the Baptist.

            What preparations have we made?  What paths in our lives that need to be straightened? Are we ready to meet the Lord?

            The Lord had sent Prophets who were better than our Weather Forecasters.  But people did not listen.  History had shown us what happened to the people who did not listen but we remain to be complacent.

This time, many prepared food, water, warm clothes and safe shelters to be saved from the destruction of typhoon Ruby. All these are necessary for survival in our earthly life and we should prepare all these.  However, “Ruby” did not come on the day as expected.  Thank God for the delay of typhoon Ruby so people can better prepare. Thank God that “Ruby” had weakened. Thank God that it did not cause much damage like “Yolanda” did.

            What about Jesus’ coming? What about our time of meeting the Lord?  We thank God that this is delayed because we still want to enjoy this world with all that it offers.  We want to prevent sickness and slow down the ageing process.  We want to combat sickness with various drugs and modern technology.  Most people want to live long and stay long in this world.  And people forget that we are only temporary dwellers in this world.  People work hard (in good or bad ways) to live in comfort and enjoy life. Some people steal or kill to gain wealth fast and hold power. Many are still suffering from poverty, injustice, sickness and loneliness.

000000No matter what the situation is, we, Filipinos like to celebrate.  We celebrate Christmas.  Family is the focus of our celebration.  We also celebrate with friends and extended families. We prepare gifts, big or small, it’s the thought that counts.  We like to make others happy.  There’s joy in sharing a meal together and sharing gifts.  But there’s greater joy, much love and inner peace when everyone is reconciled with one another.

Let’s include in our preparation, asking forgiveness for our sins of commission & omission and forgiving others; share appreciation & affirmation, not only wrapped gifts; give sincere love not only presence; and show compassion to those who need understanding.

jesusbirthMERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! AND MAY 00000000THIS NEW YEAR BRING US NEW LIFE IN CHRIST AND NEW HOPE.  PEACE TO ALL!

Easter is Hope… Alleluia!

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EASTER IS HOPE

 

Rejoice!  Alleluia! The Lord is risen! 

Jesus had conquered death and sin for us!

Easter is hope – our hope for a new life, life everlasting!

For those who are suffering,

it is hope for joy.

For those who are sick and in pain,

it is hope for healing.

For those who are lonely and feeling empty,

it is hope for true love and fullness of life.

For those who are always in fear,

it is hope for courage and security.

For those who are in doubt,

it is hope for answers and meaning.

For those who are imprisoned by certain addictions that slowly destroy their lives,

it is hope for freedom.

For those who are struggling to change for the better,

it is hope for transformation.

For those who have broken relationships,

it is hope for forgiveness and reconciliation.

For those who are dying,

it is hope for a resurrection with Jesus to live in His Kingdom!

Easter is also a choice. 

Our freedom allows us to choose death/sin or life/resurrection. 

May we choose LIFE!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

– Star del Mar – 

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HAPPY DAY TO ALL THE SAINTS OF TODAY AND YESTERYEARS!

ALL SAINTS DAY and ALL SOULS DAY

 

ImageNovember 1 is celebrated every year as a day for All Saints.  We are still rejoicing for our new Filipino Visayan Saint – St.  Pedro Calungsod.  He is now officially listed in the Book of Saints of the Catholic Church.  Now, a number of faithful have reported being healed through the intercession of St. Pedro Calungsod.  The once unknown Blessed Pedro has now become an instant celebrity all over the country and now known all over the world.  Praise the Lord for giving us a teenager saint – a model to our youth and a challenge to the elders.

 Often, we hear the priests telling us that we are all called to be saints since we are all called to Holiness.  However, it is not an instant transformation.  It’s easier said than done.

Jesus said to them all, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 8:21

ImageTruly there are more Saints than the names in the list.  There are more miracles happening among our people that are not recorded, published or included in the daily news. Our relatives and friends who have gone before us could be among the Saints in heaven.  Some are living saints anonymously doing what the good Lord is asking of us faithful as written in Scriptures.  Matthew 5, 6, 7 are some of Jesus’ teachings addressed to us all.  It is up to us to examine ourselves and see where we have succeeded and where we have failed based on Jesus’ teaching.

One thing is clear:  the invitation is for all.  It is our personal choice and decision to accept the invitation and act accordingly.

Whatever religion we belong, whoever we call our God, there is one commonality in all – God is good and the good fights the evil.  The world is in a constant battle between good and evil.  Oftentimes, the battle between good and evil is within the self.  If we do not allow ourselves to be carried by our negative compulsions and take time to reflect before we act, we could make the right decision and action.  Prayer is a big help in times like these.

ImageOn November 1, many people go to the cemetery to visit their beloved dead.  I do not understand why some parents dress up their children as little devils, put horns on their heads and even add tails.  Why do parents want their children to be devils?  Do they want their children to grow up as devils?  I really do not know.  If it is to follow the Halloween fad, it is only to emphasize the presence of evil in our world.

I was walking inside the cemetery going to tombs of my relatives. One child about age 7 or 8 was wearing the devil’s horns that were lighted red.  He approached me and asked why I do not have the “horns” in my head.  What do children know about horns and tails?

We have a lot to do to teach our people especially our children what All Saints and All Souls Days mean.

ImageNovember 2 is All Souls Day.  We remember our beloved dead – family, relatives and friends.  We also pray for the forgotten souls and those who are not yet at peace in their death.  Perhaps our dead relatives and friends are already among the Saints in heaven.  We ask them to pray for us too.  However, there are still those we need to pray for, that they will soon be forgiven and accepted in God’s eternal Kingdom. May they all rest in peace!

For those of us who are still in this world, it is a day to day choice – to do God’s will for the good of others or to do evil and destroy people in one way or another.

The evil people who appear to be good are most dangerous.  They seem to be good but destroy people through character assassination, labeling, judging or cause people to be angry with one another through false witnessing.  God wants His own people to be honest, humble, selfless, generous, forgiving, compassionate and loving.

HAPPY DAY TO ALL THE SAINTS OF TODAY AND YESTERYEARS!

Star

CLFC Joins the Universal Church in Celebrating the Year of Faith 2012-2013

The Year of Faith Starts Today

October 11, 2012

“I would like to announce in this Eucharistic Celebration that I have decided to declare a “Year of Faith,” which I will illustrate with a special Apostolic Letter. This “Year of Faith” will begin on Oct. 11, 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and will end on Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe.” POPE BENEDICT XVI