MANILA, August 29, 2013—Expressing jubilation over the Pasig Diocese’s 10th anniversary, a high-ranking official of the Catholic Church urged the diocesan faithful to lead a converted life rooted to a strong faith to the Divine.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on the laity and members of the clergy to fulfill their mission of being renewed and converted to further strengthen their diocese against challenges that might come its way.
“We thank the Lord for gathering us and remaining true and loyal in the past 10 years of being a diocese,” he said in his talk during the Pasig diocesan anniversary held at the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral on Monday.
“Our gratitude must lead to conversion, which will then be strengthened by our faith when hardships arise,” he said in the vernacular.
“Do not get tired of leading a converted life…Continue to pray and trust the Lord,” he added.
Marks of a diocese
Citing the Second Vatican Council document Christus Dominus, Tagle emphasized the need for the diocesan faithful to ensure that the four marks of a diocese—the Holy Spirit, priests and bishops, word of God, and sacraments—are continually nourished for the strengthening of their diocese.
Tagle noted the important role played by the Holy Spirit in uniting the lay faithful into one diocese bound by faith, and in guiding the people in strengthening their relationship with the Lord.
“Through the Holy Spirit, all of us who have different backgrounds in life are gathered as one community united in praying, connecting, and opening our hearts to the Lord,” he said.
The cardinal also called on the lay people to use their possessed gifts from the Holy Spirit into avenues that can benefit the majority, and not just themselves.
“There are a lot of gifts that are either not being developed or being used for one’s personalistic gains. This is why we should need to repent. We have to carefully and wisely use the acts of the Holy Spirit so they will not be wasted or misused for our selfish interests,” he said.
Tagle said those in the priestly ministry must also undergo conversion to purify their thoughts and acts to encourage more people to be one with the church.
Noting the great discrepancy between the number of priests and parishioners in a community, he also called on the people to pray for their priests and bishops so they may be frequently reminded of their duties as heralds of the Church.
“Please pray for us. As we are tasked to take care of the Lord’s community here on Earth, we are asking your help to guide us in becoming good priests through your love and care,” he said.
He stressed that members of the clergy must not dabble in money-making schemes and instead focus on nourishing the “best assets of the church”—the faithful and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“Our priestly vocation includes conversion and renewal. Priests, religious people, lay leaders, all of us are sinful and vulnerable to temptation. We have to renew ourselves repeatedly to keep ourselves intact with our real mission,” he said.
Word of God, sacraments
Tagle also said that for a diocese to be strengthened, it must be rooted with the word of God, giving life and transforming the faithful to become more dedicated heralds of the church.
He criticized Catholics who do not regard the word of God with importance, noting that some Catholics even prefer to sleep during mass sermons or even run after celebrities than attend religious gatherings.
“What will happen if it is not the word of God that motivates us? …We are a church because it is His word that gives us life. It becomes our life and it is through it that we become real servants,” he said, urging the faithful to improve the bible apostolate and catechetical ministries of their diocese.
He emphasized the importance of sacraments that bring the presence and blessings of the Lord to mankind through symbols and rituals.
“For sacraments to strengthen a diocese, it must strengthen the gathering and celebration of faith,” he said.
The high-ranking official also chided instances wherein sacraments are merely perceived as “social and cultural gatherings”, losing its real spiritual dimension and becoming just an avenue for socialization and display of egoism.
“The mass itself is simple, we just make things complicated. We have to go back to sacraments for it is where the church gathers,” he said.
“The church does not flourish with lavish ornamentations or ostentatious celebrations. The church grows as a community of faith through the presence of the Lord in His word and sacraments,” he added.
“Let us heed the Lord’s call. It is through his guidance and blessing that we are able to sustain our diocese,” Tagle said. (Jennifer Orillaza)