The Laoag Clergy

NEW BLOGSITE!

Visit St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Marcos, Ilocos Norte.

The CHRONOS: Monthly Diocesan Schedule for FEBRUARY 2009

July 26: Laoag's foundation anniversary and St. Anne Parish fiesta

Today, the Diocese of Laoag celebrates her 48th birthday. Today, too, is the launching of activities in commemoration of the diocese's golden anniversary in 2011.

Let us pray for our diocese. Let us pray for the increase of faith and the deepening of love and commitment to God and the Church.

Happy fiesta to the Piddiguenos!

Click here to read CBCP news on the launching.

July 25: Fiesta greetings!

Today is the feast of St. James the Greater.

Happy fiesta to our brothers and sisters in Solsona and Pasuquin!

Cadaratan Church: A Miracle in Progress

Cadaratan Church: A Miracle in Progress

The Dream Church of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Cadaratan, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

The Dream Church of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Cadaratan, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Foundation for the church-construction project in Cadaratan, Bacarra put up!

The construction of the OUR LADY OF FATIMA PARISH CHURCH started anew, September 8, the birthday of Mama Mary. Very crucial in this project is the financial consideration being tacked by the whole parish community. To address this concern, we, the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, together with our newly-appointed parish priest, Rev. Leonardo L. Ruiz, planned to put up a FOUNDATION for the continuation and completion of the construction of the parish church.

The Foundation is chaired by our beloved Bishop, Most Rev. Sergio L. Utleg, D.D. and the members of the Board include Victor R. Bolosan, M.D., Rosalina R. Javier, Flordelina T. Cadelina, Eugenia M. Mendoza, Emilia B. Agonoy and Dante Subia, all from Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

Registration of the Foundation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is under way.

Architects and Engineer: Arch. Coleen Cajigal and Arch. Joemar Bolosan, Engr. Eduardo Cid.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED. For those who wish to send their donations directly through the bank, this is our bank: PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, Batac Branch, Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. DOLLAR ACCOUNT NUMBER: 158881300038; Account Name, Most Rev. Sergio L. Utleg, D.D., Victor R. Bolosan, M.D. and Flordelina T. Cadelina. PESO CHECKING ACCOUNT: 158881300020, with the same above-mentioned account name.

The Happy Priests

The Happy Priests
The clergy during their annual retreat with Bp. Mylo Vergara of the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija as retreat master at Betania Retreat House in Baguio City, November 10-13

HELP BUILD THE CHURCHES OF OUR YOUNG PARISHES!

ST. JOHN BOSCO (BARESBES, DINGRAS)
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER (CARASI)
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI (DAVILA, PASUQUIN)
OUR LADY OF FATIMA (CADARATAN, BACARRA)
ST. ROSE (STA. ROSA, SARRAT)

OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP (PANCIAN, PAGUDPUD)

For financial assistance or donations in-kind, please contact the Bishop or the Curia at (077)770-5210, or Fr. Lorenzo Torreflores (Baresbes, Dingras) at 0917-5701085, Fr. Danny Devaras (Carasi) at 0920-5537806, Fr. Lester Menor (Davila, Pasuquin) at 0915-7879701, Fr. Leo Ruiz (Cadaratan, Bacarra) at (077)670-3801, and Fr. Anthony Dimagiba (Sta. Rosa, Sarrat) at (077)782-2031, Fr. Antonio Calautit, SVD (Pancian, Pagudpud) at 0918-5228902.


Listen to DZEA-CMN Radio Totoo, 909 khz!

Pray for your priests. They need your prayers as much as you need theirs.

Pray for your priests. They need your prayers as much as you need theirs.
The clergy of Laoag with the lone cardinal of Thailand and the bishop of Changmai

Biblical insights on worsening national issues by Mr. Zacarias Damo, Jr.

(Mr. Zacarias Damo, Jr. graduated from San Pablo Major Seminary, Baguio City with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and finished two years of theological studies in ICST, Vigan City. While teaching at Divine Word College of Laoag, he happily works with the Diocesan Commission on Social Action.)

Issues abound anytime, anywhere, but the past few years have been so remarkable because of grave concerns like political killings, Jok-Jok Bolante, Hello Garci as well as the recent ZTE scandal and swine scam. As usual, the influential elite debate passionately on these. Ironically, they focus so much on legal and moral casuistry, while they (deliberately?) fail to significantly address the concrete needs of the common people, especially the poor majority.

Whatever motives they have, the battle among the elite of political, economic and even religious powers ultimately result in an even greater suffering of the poor majority or the so-called nagdurusang masa. No wonder, the CBCP does not subscribe to another people power. For in reality, it might be again a war of the elite (in the guise of people power) at the expense of the common people, especially the poorest. Indeed, after all is said and done, Yahweh’s ‘anawim (the biblical word for the nagdurusang masa, i.e., the poor and oppressed who have a special place in God’s heart) end up as the real losers.

The elite, of course, just lose positions in the struggle for power. But they never lose economic securities.

While the masa lose...

They lose what?

The masa by the way don’t have significant things to lose…for in the first place, they haven’t had enough. They only have much and many of the miseries that go with massive poverty. And (as one Catholic bishop puts it) massive poverty is the greatest scandal of the Church today.

The last sentence deserves much attention.

If we read again how the first Christians lived, we can find brothers and sisters who gathered together (i) to worship (ii) to break bread and (iii) to share belongings so that not a single Christian was in need (Cf. Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37). From this passage, we can learn that the liturgical and sacramental dimensions of early Church life had concrete and tangible translations in the ordinary lives of believers, namely the sharing of belongings so that nobody was ever poor. Today we may call this as a politico-economic effect of liturgical and sacramental life. Liturgical and sacramental life, therefore, should primarily and necessarily influence our politico-economic affairs. This, indeed, ought to be an essential picture of authentic Christian spirituality.

The presence of massive poverty in our Christian societies, therefore, remains a most shameful reminder that we are still very far from the spirit of the early Christians…which is why, to repeat, massive poverty remains to be the greatest scandal of the Church today.

It is very appropriate to note also that, biblically speaking, the clearly spelled-out criterion for salvation is radical sharing of wealth by the rich with the poor. Read Mk 10: 17-27 where a rich man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life (or salvation or Kingdom of God). Jesus, at first, mentioned the commandments, which the rich man proudly claimed to have observed since his childhood. But Jesus was not fully impressed. He stressed one weighty matter which the rich man had not fulfilled: the sale of his properties and the distribution of its proceeds to the poor. Commenting on the rich man’s failure to fulfill the challenge, Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. It is even easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

If only we understand fully, and are willing to be serious about it, we will see clearly that the Church has all the resources needed for religious, political and economic transformation. And, I think, the best avenue, the most conducive seedbed for change is the ecclesiological project called BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities).

BECs, of course, need to be empowered by transformed individuals. Without personal transformation or conversion of its individual members, any social structure (even the Church at that), can never be a solid agent of change. No wonder, when Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, he clearly mentioned conversion as the believer’s appropriate response (Cf. Mk 1:14-15).

For now, most seem to understand BECs as avenues for liturgical and sacramental life. Consequently, we oftentimes cannot go beyond the concrete politico-economic effects of liturgy and sacraments, one of which is the eradication of massive poverty (as we have previously seen in the life of the first Christians).

History is candid about the scandalous reality that ever since humanity invented civilization, humanity has never overcome mass poverty. This leads me to doubt the truth of the claim that we are civilized. Why? Simple reason: civilization, I think, ought to secure and promote the well-being of all, and not that of the few. I guess, only when this happens can we proudly say that the Catholic Church has been very instrumental in the development of civilizations.

Greed resulting in massive poverty ought to be a heinous crime in a civilized society – and culprits must be easily and speedily tried and convicted. Unfortunately, culprits are on the loose, roaming around freely even as far as inside churches at times. (Perhaps, this prompted one archbishop to say that he will not give communion to public sinners).

Massive poverty seems to always prevail. Is it because those who influence human affairs are afraid? Of what? Of letting go of comfort, wealth and luxury zones they hold so dear? Of turning away from power zones they love to cling to? Of renouncing prestige zones they seem to cannot live without?

Many of us, the lay as well as the religious, are afraid to let go of the aforementioned zones. But it remains true that Jesus asked his disciples (and us) to deny the self (the greedy ego) if we wish to be his followers (Cf. Mk 8:34). Comfort, wealth, luxury, power and prestige zones are the core-vices of the old self, the ego that numbs the conscience, shuts the ears and leads the true self away from the transforming blows of the Holy Spirit.

‘Deny the Ego and live as God’s children! Give up the core-vices that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.’ This is an indispensable way to authentic Christian discipleship. It may not be the only way, but biblically speaking, it ought to be an inevitable way. Christian life is never complete without it. We may get rid of many incidentals with which we are comfortable. But radical sharing of wealth so that nobody shall be poor or in need (Cf. Deut. 15:4) is something without which Christian life can never be authentic.

We explore the gospel further: “If you wish to be my disciple, carry your cross and follow after me (Mk 8:34).” The cross of Jesus, before it was given a religious meaning, was the punishment of a rebel. Jesus openly went against the corrupt practices of the Jewish leaders (who happened to be priests, scribes or lawyers/religion teachers and wealthy business/landowners) and their Roman collaborators. Good for Jun Lozada today because he is quite protected by Church and political figures. Jesus had no such ‘kakampi’. Poor Jesus, therefore, ended up suffering on the cross, the most cruel punishment given to rebels (like Trillanes and Lim today).

How is it to carry the cross today?

First, it must be clarified that Jesus was not a political rebel, but he was branded so because he went against oppressive political, economic and religious structures. Yes, Jesus lambasted the core-vices of the ego, but he did so with a prophetic stance, which, in essence is that stand that zealously exposes and opposes all forms of evil (especially social injustice) in the spirit of non-violence and openness to forgiveness and reconciliation even with the worst sinner who sincerely repents and embraces conversion.

And that is how we ought to be today. As a Church, as a Christian nation, we must be prophetic. No matter how they brand us, we ought to work for holistic transformation. This, accordingly, necessarily leads us to a life of authentic freedom – in which we are very free to rub elbows with the elite as well as the pariahs of society, but when the situation calls for it, we are also fully free to expose and oppose their evil deeds…even if it would mean no more gifts and special privileges like free gadgets (such as computers and TV set), free cars (even luxury ones) free vacation abroad, free meals and free bus/airplane tickets.

The Church, in fairness, has been quite prophetic. So far, many pastoral statements have been proclaimed. But I think the Church’s prophetic teachings scribbled on social 9doctrine documents have not significantly trickled down to the consciousness and lifestyle of believers. Social/prophetic teachings are still the Church’s best kept secrets?

Also, can we not be more specific like Jesus when he frankly called Herod as fox (Lk 13:31-32) and the Jewish leaders as hypocrites (Mt 23:13), robbers (Mk 11:17) or brood of vipers (Mt 23:29-33) or even children of hell (Mt 23:15)? Biblical culture is not modern culture, you might say, but can we not be more faithful to the spirit of the prophetic tradition of boldness against injustice? …against unjust persons? … against specific unjust persons at that?

I find it odd at times when, in the TV, radio and newspaper, we appear to be very specific, vocal and influential when it comes to artificial contraceptives and pornography (while remaining silent about pornographic -- pirated, needless to say -- and abortifacient products sold even in front or within the immediate surroundings of churches), but cannot even publicly tell the Supreme Court to allow Neri to answer all questions of the senate because it is a crime against truth, and therefore against God, to conceal matters that directly or indirectly cause and aggravate the miseries of the poor.

Do we not believe that the whole truth (not half-truths) will set us free (Cf. Jn 8:31-34)?

No matter, Christian life or Church life should translate into the radical sharing exemplified by the first Christians.

Only then can we truly say that we have life to the full (Cf. Jn 10:10)!

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CATECHETICAL AND MISSION OFFICE: Outreach in Adams, October 29, 2008

CATECHETICAL AND MISSION OFFICE: Diocesan Catechetical Day, September 20, 2008, Part 1 (2)

CATECHETICAL AND MISSION OFFICE: Diocesan Catechetical Day, September 20, 2008, Part 2 (2)

COM. ON THE CLERGY & OFF. ON CH. HERITAGE: Convocation (Playa Tropical, Currimao, Aug.18-20, 2008)