Catholics urged to practice faith through formation
MANILA, Philippines — As the country welcomes 2021, which happens to be the 500th anniversary of the Christianization of the Philippines, a Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Filipinos to “renew once again the understanding of our faith” that he said was the first step toward sharing the Good News.
In a pastoral letter, Archbishop of Caceres Rolando Tria Tirona stressed that most Catholics devote their time to social action activities, such as relief operations, gift-giving, voluntary services, and building houses for the poor, without understanding their faith through formation.
“When we discover the beauty of what we believe, we gain a ‘new confidence in the truth of our message.’ The result is the ‘willingness and the desire to share the faith,’” Tirona said.
This was among the steps that Catholics must take before sharing their faith with others in the Year of St. Joseph and the Missio Ad Gentes, or Mission to All Nations.
Tirona issued the letter in preparation for Epiphany, or the manifestation of Christ as the Son of God.
He also reminded the faithful that sharing one’s faith did not only entail going to places “where there are people who have not heard about Jesus,” but also responding to the social challenges of poverty, migration and megapolises, as well as presenting cultural conditions and issues.
“[Missio Ad Gentes] calls to care, protect and save the environment, the youth, women and children. And it calls to work and help preserve justice and peace,” he said.
“The search for places where we can bring the Good News knows no end. New conditions and situations invite us for our new insights and responses,” Tirona added.
Don’t lose hope
Last year, Pope Francis declared Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021, the Year of St. Joseph, while the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines designated 2021 as the Year of Missio Ad Gentes.
Manila Archdiocese’s apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo has urged the public not to lose hope in 2021 despite the threats to human rights and disasters that Filipinos experienced in the previous year.
“Despite the impending challenges in 2021, such as the disagreements regarding the vaccine and who will be its recipients, and the threat of the second wave of lockdown and the new strain of the virus, we are not losing hope,” Pabillo said in his homily on New Year’s Day.
Pabillo recalled how 2020 brought unexpected tragedies, beginning with the eruption of Taal Volcano in January.
He also remembered how “our ordinary lives stopped” when COVID-19 forced nations to go on lockdown in March and how four strong typhoons wreaked havoc on our communities.
“The natural calamities and health problems [we faced] were already tremendous, but they were intensified by government abuses against the public. The antiterror bill was kept from the people and forcibly passed into law,” Pabillo said.
He said the law was hastily passed, while the Supreme Court was taking too long to work on the 37 petitions filed against the new law.
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