ACCORDING to Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, OP, prior provincial of the Filipino Dominicans and a member to the International Theological Commission that advises Pope Francis, Filipino Catholics should reflect that mercy is intrinsic to the message of Christmas:
“One of the cherished Christmas traditions among Filipinos is the mano po (literally means ‘your hand please’), a filial greeting of the young to the elderly and of godchildren to their godparents. It is a greeting that seeks their blessing. As the elderly and godparents extend their hands, they utter the words of blessing: kaawaan ka ng Diyos! (literally, ‘may God have mercy on you!’ But when the entire polite gesture is done in English, the one who blesses simply says: ‘May God bless you!’ For us Filipinos, ‘ang awa ng Diyos,’ God’s mercy blesses us.
“‘May Awa ang Diyos.’ This is the simple message of the Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. When we face huge problems in the family or workplace, when everything seems hopeless and we feel helpless, we remember that all is not lost and there is always hope: ‘May Awa ang Diyos.’ We refuse, in faith, that there is a limit to what God can do for us. Our profound experiences of God’s great power are oftentimes experiences of God’s tender mercy as well.
“The Christmas season never fails to enkindle in our hearts a strong desire to make our loved ones feel appreciated, to share our blessings, to give and do good for others, especially those who are in dire need. Perhaps, it is because we instinctively experience Christmas as a supreme manifestation of God’s mercy. May pasko sapagkat kinaawaan tayo ng Diyos!”
(To be continued)
CEBU Archbishop José S. Palma said the Philippines is ready for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) that Cebu will host Jan. 24-31.
“With the help of the national committee, the CBCP [Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines], the local committee and the guidance of the international committee and the pontifical committee, I can say at this time, 41 days before the International Eucharistic Congress, we are prepared,” said Palma in a press briefing at the Arzobispado de Manila on Dec. 14.
Palma praised volunteerism at work in the organization of the important congress, which the Philippines last hosted before the Second World War.
He thanked “the many people who, certainly because of their prayers, because of their involvement, because of their generosity, because of their volunteerism, the preparation is practically done.”
He added: “The Congress is a spiritual event but there will be a lot of celebrations, cultural shows, food and shopping as the malls have pledged to give discounts during that week.”
Help for ‘Nona’ victims
Caritas Philippines has launched an appeal for more aid to help relief efforts in several areas hit by Typhoon “Nona.”
More than 40 people were killed through drowning, landslides and falling trees.
The Church’s humanitarian and social action arm said the typhoon likewise displaced 180,889 people.
In the wake of the typhoon, Caritas Philippines and Caritas Manila have been providing relief aid and financial assistance to the worst-hit dioceses of Catarman, Sorsogon, Romblon, Calapan and San José.
Caritas Philippines national director Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona said the agency was “running short of resources.”
In the spirit of Christmas, Tirona encouraged Christians “to share in this mission of love and solidarity, especially for the needy and the most vulnerable for the Lord comes and made himself present.”
He said that Caritas’ emergency and rehabilitation efforts since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013 and typhoons “Ruby” and “Seniang” last year, and this October’s typhoon “Lando,” were largely dependent on foreign funding.
“We have been able to make use of the Alay Kapwa fund to assist our calamity-hit dioceses. However, the local fund raised is very significant compared to the scale of the emergency need,” Archbishop Tirona said.
Caritas said donations to typhoon Nona victims may be deposited to the Bank of the Philippine Islands under account name CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation Inc. NASSA; account number 4951-0071-08.
Death anniversary Mass
Today, Dec. 27, is the first death anniversary of Josephine Darang, the originator of Purely Personal and in whose honor this column continues to be written.
In her honor, too, the San Lorenzo Ministry headed by Sonia Atabug is offering a Mass at 4 p.m., today at Malate Church in Manila.