The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, apologized to Catholics on behalf of priests during the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City in January 2016.
“Brothers and sisters, our parishioners, forgive us, your lost shepherds, and beg God to show us his mercy … Before you come to us, your pastors and priests and bishops, to confess your sins and seek pardon, brothers and sisters, Catholic laity, please give us your pardon and forgiveness, too, for our sins against you. [And he went on to list]:
Forgive us for homily abuse, or the practice of delivering long, winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies during the Mass. Forgive us for our long homilies and rushed liturgies. All sin is pride. Forgive us for allowing the glitter of gold to dim the glow of the sacred host. Forgive us for getting stuck in dusty, dogmatic formulas, and snuffing out the spirit of renewal. Forgive us for using un-Christlike means to spread the Gospel of love and mercy. Forgive us for our stingy encouragement and hasty prejudices. Forgive us for allowing the Church to age and playing deaf to the joy of the youth and the children. Forgive us for the delivering hindrances instead of being helpful. Pride, it’s the root of all sins.”
Pope Francis’ press conference on the plane returning from the Philippines was lively as usual. Regarding the Charlie Hebdo murders, he elaborated on the nuances of “freedom of expression” tempered by the virtue of prudence. He also expanded his comments on “responsible parenthood” and what it means for Catholics today. As always, he set the “birth control” issue in the wider context of certain prevailing spirits of the age, in this case Neo-Malthusianism (whaaaa?): population control that is enforced or overly encouraged by governments or corporations.
However, what jumped out to me was his response to a question by La Nacion’s Elisabetta Pique:
Elisabetta Pique (La Nacion): … This was a moving voyage for everyone. We saw people crying the entire time in Tacloban [Philippines site of the Supertyphoon Haiyan], even we journalists cried. Yesterday you said, the world needs to cry. … What was for you the most moving moment, because the mass in Tacloban was such a moment and also yesterday when the little girl started to cry?
Pope Francis: For me the Mass in Tacloban was very moving. Very moving. To see all of God’s people standing still, praying, after this catastrophe, thinking of my sins and those people, it was moving, a very moving moment. In the moment of the mass there, I felt as though I was annihilated (“wiped out”) [devastated], I almost couldn’t speak. …
The other thing is the weeping. One of the things that is lost when there is too much wealth or when values are misunderstood or we have become accustomed to injustice, to this culture of waste, is the capacity to cry.
This is a grace we must ask for. There is a beautiful prayer in the ancient missal, for crying. It went more or less like this: Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane could make water flow from a stone, make it so that from the rock that is my heart, the water of tears may flow.
It’s a beautiful prayer. We Christians must ask for the grace to cry, especially well-to-do Christians. And cry about injustice and cry about sins. Because crying opens you to understand new realities, or new dimensions to realities. This is what the girl said, what I said to her. She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer, why do children suffer?
The great Dostoyevsky asked himself this, and he could not answer. Why do children suffer? She, with her weeping, a woman who was weeping. When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a dicastery, though this could be ok too. No, it’s so that they may tell us how they feel and view reality. Because women view things from a different richness, a larger one.
Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man (at the meeting with young people), who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars, from them, from the poor. Because the poor evangelize us. If we take the poor away from the Gospel, we cannot understand Jesus’ message. The poor evangelize us. I go to evangelize the poor, yes, but let you be evangelized by them. Because they have values that you do not.”
The prayer Pope Francis refers to is from the Missa ad petendam compunctionem cordis, for begging compunction of the heart, or a Mass for the Gift of Tears (1962 Roman Missal). The prayer says:
Almighty and most merciful God, who, to quench the thirst of your people, drew a fountain of living water out of a rock, draw from our stony hearts tears of compunction, that we may be able to mourn for our sins and win forgiveness for them by your mercy.
But see how he sets this moving and eloquent prayer as a jewel in the crown of justice and compassion!
For the past 6 years, Jesuit priest Fr Johnny Go with the help of his colleague, Fr Francis Alvarez, has held Holy Week retreats on the Internet. Retreats on pinsoflight.net include multimedia content – including music, video, and even virtual candles – and pop culture references.
Run by Victory, a Christian church, “The King” contains reflections, in English and Filipino “on Jesus, and what it means for Him to be King.” Through podcasts and modules in PDF form, it leads users to “discover the different events leading to His death and resurrection.”
A one-stop shop for Catholics, the CBCP’s Visita Iglesia site contains an online Stations of the Cross and 7 Last Words, among others. It also features videos by Philippine bishops on the meaning of Lent, as well as a livestream of Holy Week services.
This page by a Christian pastor, Mark Roberts, presents the traditional 7 Last Words of Jesus in online form. Each of the 7 Last Words contains a reflection written by Roberts, questions for personal reflection, and a fitting prayer.
For those who would like to reflect, this page compiles more than 60 links on Lent and Easter. These links include devotions and meditations, study guides, and videos. It is for people “invited to simplify their lives to focus on their relationship with God in Christ.”
A 15-year-old website, Sacred Space presents an online retreat with the theme “Called to be Saints,” based on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Elsewhere on the website, users can also find other multimedia content for Lent – in 20 languages.
Rappler’s Holy Week Online presents multimedia reflections, including music videos courtesy. It also features a virtual Visita Iglesia through 14 Philippine churches, in 360 degrees. It comes with the traditional Stations of the Cross in text and audio.
“The origin of the church is poverty,” said newly minted Philippine Cardinal Orlando Quevedo at a press briefing in Rome last week. “And the journey of Jesus Christ was the journey with poor people. Today, the church has riches, institutions. But I would like to think that the only way the church can redeem these resources as well as its institutions would be to place them at the service of justice and of the poor for the sake of the kingdom of God.”
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo has been a lead architect in the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, a body representing more than 100 million Catholics that has courageously pushed forward the values of Vatican II amid traditionalist backlash. According to an article yesterday in the National Catholic Reporter, Quevedo spoke of an Asian vision of church built on basic ecclesial communities with a collaborative leadership style. (Read more on Quevedo and the Pope’s new cardinals here).
What might that look like? According to Tom Kyle who has researched Asian Catholicism and in particular the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, there are certain identifiable characteristics in Asian Catholicism that should mark everything the local church does.
Filipino fishermen improvise a refrigerator boat off the coast of Leyte, recently devastated by Super Storm Hurricane Yolanda.
(Click on the photo to see Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj’s whole series in The Atlantic.)
Take up a collection at Thanksgiving Dinner to donate to Philippines relief through Catholic Relief Services–and while you’re at it, support Naderev Sano, a member of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, who has called for a fast “in solidarity with my countrymen who are now struggling for food back home” — including his own brother, whom Sano said “has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands.”
During his speech, Yeb Sano added an unscripted pledge to fast from food during COP 19, the climate conference that opened today in Warsaw, until meaningful progress had been made. He said:
“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”–Yeb Sano
“Prayer Before Meal” by Filipino cubist artist Vicente Manansala.
by W. S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We are now at 385.92. Not good.
A new report from UCLA scientist Aradhna Tripati says that the last time we were this hot was 20 million years ago – and the seas covered the earth.
Read an excerpt from Tripati’s report below:
“The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland,” said the paper’s lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
“A slightly shocking finding,” Tripati said, “is that the only time in the last 20 million years that we find evidence for carbon dioxide levels similar to the modern level of 387 parts per million was 15 to 20 million years ago, when the planet was dramatically different.”
Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years — until recent decades, said Tripati, who is also a member of UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. It has been known that modern-day levels of carbon dioxide are unprecedented over the last 800,000 years, but the finding that modern levels have not been reached in the last 15 million years is new.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the carbon dioxide level was about 280 parts per million, Tripati said. That figure had changed very little over the previous 1,000 years. But since the Industrial Revolution, the carbon dioxide level has been rising and is likely to soar unless action is taken to reverse the trend, Tripati said.
“During the Middle Miocene (the time period approximately 14 to 20 million years ago), carbon dioxide levels were sustained at about 400 parts per million, which is about where we are today,” Tripati said. “Globally, temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, a huge amount.”
In the last 20 million years, key features of the climate record include the sudden appearance of ice on Antarctica about 14 million years ago and a rise in sea level of approximately 75 to 120 feet.
“We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in carbon dioxide levels of about 100 parts per million, a huge change,” Tripati said. “This record is the first evidence that carbon dioxide may be linked with environmental changes, such as changes in the terrestrial ecosystem, distribution of ice, sea level and monsoon intensity.”