by Fr. Jason Laguerta and Margaux Salcedo
with Clyde Nolasco, Jefferson Quintero, Bro. Jesus Madrid
To see Thee more clearly,
love Thee more dearly,
follow Thee more nearly.
- Day by Day
This 2020, let us see the Lord more clearly. Let us have 20/20 vision!
It may not mean having "perfect" vision but it does mean having a clear vision of what lies ahead.
In the words of Father Jason Laguerta, head of the Archdiocese of Manila's Office for the Promotion of New Evangelization: "We do not have the power to predict the future. But we can see the horizon. It is thus crucial to know where we stand and which direction we must go."
Here are 20 things we want to see more of and more clearly this 2020:
A 24/7 Church for the Poor
The Church as a Safe Space
Dialogues Towards Harmony
Action from the Laudato Si Generation
Evangelization from the Evangelii Gaudium Generation
See the Full 20/20 Vision Below ...
1. A 24/7 Church for the Poor
Is it possible to have a church that never closes its doors? That does not have opening and closing hours?
Just last December 9, 2019, the first church in Italy that is now open 24/7 was inaugurated: The church of the Santissime Stimmate di San Francesco, or Holy Stigmata of St. Francis.
It is the site of a new initiative by Spanish Catholic NGO Mensajeros de la Paz (“Messengers of Peace”) with Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez.
Pope Francis' dream for a 24/7 "church for the poor" came true with this effort, noting in his letter to Fr. Angel that "churches with closed doors should be called museums.”
"I wish that the doors to the House of God are always open because it walks among the peoples, in the history of men and women”, Pope Francis said in a letter to Fr. Angel.
The Pope added, “I want God’s House to always have open doors, because it walks among the peoples, in the history of men and women; on the contrary, churches with closed doors should be called museums.”
The Pontiff also noted noted that it is said in the Gospel that “the ecclesial community is a tent able to enlarge its space so that all can enter, an oasis of peace, of the love of God, a place of hospitality, reconciliation, and forgiveness.”
See full story here: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/church-for-romes-homeless-opens/
Watch: Pope Francis gets a sneak peek at the 24/7 "oasis of peace" and breaks bread with the homeless before its official opening.
2. A Safe Space for the Abused
More than ever, we need a church that is welcoming and healing, a safe space for the abused and even the accused, a sanctuary for the hurt and the lost.
It can be done!
Remember the woman caught in adultery whom the Pharisees brought to Jesus? Instead of condemning her, he said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”
The Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) continue this kindness that Christ showed. They offer a hand to prostitutes to help them back to the right path and "sin no more". To date, they have helped prostitutes from Pampanga to Metro Manila (Quezon Avenue, Pasay, Ermita, P. Burgos in Makati), to Batangas and Cagayan de Oro by helping with medical check-ups, legal services, and counselling. They have also tied with with Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Makati where, through Martha's Kitchen, prostitutes and victims of sexual abuse are fed and assisted. The Good Shepherd nuns also have drop-in centers, shelter care and after care programs.
Watch how they do it in this feature by TV Maria:
3. A Sanctuary of Hope for Drug Addicts
Imagine a drug addict who, after going through not only rehabilitation but also spiritual formation, later becomes a priest?
It is possible!
Fr. Bobby dela Cruz was once an addict. Today, he leads the Sanlakbay para sa Pagbabagong Buhay, a pastoral accompaniment program helping addicts in their healing, recovery, & restoration from the enslavement of illegal drugs - a program launched by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle in October 2016 in response to the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte's "war against drugs".
Through this program, drug addicts undergo spiritual formation, counseling, livelihood projects, skills formation training, as well as arts and cultural program and sports activities to help them develop holistically.
Watch what the Sanlakbay program is all about here:
In fact, just last December 6, 2019, another batch of rehabilitated and now spiritually formed addicts graduated from the Sanlakbay program.
We pray for a church taht will continue to help drug addicts recover and become restored members of society.
4. A Place of Love: Welcoming the LGBTQ+ Faithful
We envision a church that is welcoming, not polarizing, guiding us to become our best selves, living morally upright lives in the fullness of faith and filled with love for the Lord.
We take the lead from Courage Philippines, who is incidentally celebrating its 25th year in the Philippines this 2020. Watch this video to know how Courage Philippines helps the LGBTQ+ rekindle and strengthen faith in the Lord.
5. A Source of Joy: Addressing Mental Health
With the rising number of people struggling with mental health issues, we need to explore a spiritual solution to the psychological concerns. During times of personal darkness, our faith community can be an important source of support. Churches and church-related organizations can also provide educational resources, programs, and connections to qualified help. Pastoral care should include assisting the flock to live life to the fullest! So we pray for a church that leads and inspires in recognizing the incomparable worth of each human person.
6. A Common Home: Sharing the Journey with Refugees
We can open not only our minds and hearts but also our homes to refugees.
“Share the Journey” was launched by Pope Francis in September 2017 as part of Caritas’ response to his vision of a “culture of encounter”, bringing migrants, refugees and host communities closer together to strengthen them, confront prejudice and to recognise our common humanity.
Helping refugees has been a big advocacy of Caritas Internationalis. Cardinal Tagle, as its President, has argued that refugees who becoe migrants can be bridges of peace instead of a threat to the economy.
We take inspiration from those who have opened their door, among them:
In Brazil, a report showed that Venezuelan refugees found sanctuary and later even jobs in Brazil, thanks to Catholic efforts.
In the United Kingdom last Christmas, a report revealed that there are now 65 Catholic-led projects for hosting the United Kingdom's Syrian Resettlement Program, with 23 groups having already welcomed families.
Now isn't that the true Christmas spirit?
7. An Open Mind and Heart: Dialogues towards Harmony
ECUMENISM. 2020 was declared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as the Year of Ecumenism, Inter-religious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples (logo above). This is part of the nine-year “spiritual journey”, which started in 2013, to prepare for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
The CBCP's objectives for this year are: (1) to celebrate the human fraternity by promoting the culture of dialogue as a path to peace; (2) to work for unity and harmony while respecting diversity; and (3) to recognize indigenous peoples’ identities, spiritualities and ancestral domain.
Cardinal Tagle, in a 2014 talk in Australia, mentioned the importance of having a three-fold dialogue: with cultures, with religion, with the poor.
We can also follow the example of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, created to promote a culture of dialogue as a path to peace. They seek to delve into a deeper understanding and create better relations among people of different faiths, cultures and traditions. (For more info, visit http://www.silsilahdialogue.com/) The movement was founded by Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra PIME, with a group of Muslim and Christian friends, in Zamboanga City on May 9, 1984. Today they continue to reach out and hold courses on Muslim-Christian dialogue. Recently they opened a theological school with the end in mind of educating people on harmony among religions.
8. Action from the Laudato Si Generation
Hey Millennials, Feelenials and even you Boomers! It's time to take action to save the earth!
This 2020, let's respond to the call of Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si and do our part to end consumerism and environmental degradation!
Let's remember that, as Pope Francis emphasized, widespread indifference and selfishness worsen environmental problems so we must do our part!
If someone as young as Greta Thunberg can fight for the environment, we can do it too!
Bravo as well to the dioceses who are taking the lead such as the Diocese of The Diocese of Balanga in Bataan which has banned the use of plastic, in support as well of a city ordinance against plastic use. Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said his diocese is discouraging the use of plastic utensils, plastic flowers as decors in parishes, as well as tarpaulins.
9. Evangelization from the Evangelii Guadium Generation
Evangelii Guadium, the first encyclical of Pope Francis, translates to the Joy of the Gospel. In today's world of social media, let us share the joy of the Gospel online. May the Evangelii Gaudium generation lead in digital evangelization!
Remember the Samaritan woman at the well mentioned in John 4: 4-30? As she came to draw water, Jesus asked her for a drink and she was shocked because she was not a Jew yet he spoke to her. Jesus then revealed himself to her as the Messiah. She then went to town and told the people about him. If she lived today, she would probably have posted about her experience immediately on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter! That's what we do when we hear good news: we proclaim the joyful message!
That's what we are inspired to do with DominusEst.PH. Watch and don't forget to like,follow and subscribe! :)
10. Everyday Saints
Pope Francis once tweeted, The Church needs everyday saints, those of ordinary life carried out with coherence.
A fine example of this was Darwin Ramos, a disabled street kid who found God.
Ramos was born to a poor family from the slums of Pasay City and suffered muscular dystrophy so he could not stand or walk. His father abused his disability and forced hm to beg in the streets. Thankfully, street educators from Tulay ng Kabataan (TnK) found Ramos and took him in, where he lived with other children with disabilities.
The staff at Tulay ng Kabataan recall that Ramos was like a living saint, always gracious and grateful, even amidst his suffering. Although ill, the child insisted on leading others in the center in evening prayer. Ramos died on Sept. 23, 2012, at the age of 17 but was declared by the Vatican last March 29 as a “Servant of God,” the first step in the process for sainthood.
Let us, each and every one of us, do our best to be like the saints. If a disabled street kid who was forced by an abusive father to beg in the streets could find it in his heart to live with gratitude and be Christ-like, all the more should we!!
Let 2020 be the year that we have more everyday saints!
11. The Return of the Magi: more and better priests!
We pray for more priests who will guide us to living truly Christian lives.
And we pray for our priests, that the light of Christ continue to shine through them.
Here's a little reminder from His Eminence Cardinal Tagle to aspiring priests, though, on what this mission is about and not to have any illusions!
12. More Volunteers
Let the spirit of volunteerism come alive this 2020!
Here are a few groups that you might be inspired to join or that might inspire you to volunteer otherwise:
CORA (Communities Organized for Resource Allocation) CORA is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating sustainable programs to help solve global issues centered on hunger, poverty, inequality, climate change and the mission to beat plastic pollution.
iVolunteer is the Philippines' 1st volunteer website built by volunteers for volunteers to spread the passion of volunteerism.
Reach Out Volunteers PH (ROVies)
Reach Out Volunteers is a community engaged in positive change through volunteerism for fellow Filipinos.
13. More Youth Missionary Disciples
Remember that when we were baptized, we were consecrated to God, so we became missionaries, sent to share in the joy of Christ and spread the Good News of the Lord.
So it's never too early to become a missionary disciple. Take the example of Allendale Lasibal, a youth missionary disciple. Watch her story here:
14. Solidarity: Going Beyond Charity
This year, let charity be not simply about giving money or goods but about truly being one with the poor or the needy. Let it be about solidarity.
Remember the teaching of Black Saturday on solidarity: that to conquer death, Jesus descended to the dead.
Take inspiration from this video (albeit shaky) wherein Cardinal Tagle shares his encounter with Mother Teresa. Find out what her response was when he asked how she is able to practice solidarity the poor:
15. Community: Thriving Basic Ecclesial Communities
The Basic Ecclesial Community or BEC is a ministry of pastoral leadership and communion wherein priests are challenged to "become good shepherds close to the flock and with the 'smell of the sheep', collaborating with pastoral workers, lay workers and reoligious who make up parish formation teams for fellowship, evangelization and missionary and charitable efforts. This year, we hope that around globe, parishes are able to build strong faith communities truly immersed in the lives of its people.
16. Humility: Following the Pope's Example
It takes wisdom and courage to have humility. May we, especially our leaders, including church leaders, follow in the example of Pope Francis and have the humility to admit it and apologize when we lose our patience or our temper or when we are simply wrong.
17. Sincerity: Shepherds with the Smell of the Sheep
In the past couple of years, the Catholic Church was challenged with scandals relating to the abuse of minors. A summit or Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church was held last February 2019. His Eminence Cardinal Tagle was first speaker at this summit and he said, ""We need to recover and maintain a faith and ecclesial perspective to guide us, as stressed many times by Pope Francis."
He proposed: "We need to set aside any hesitation to draw close to the wounds of our people out of fear of being wounded ourselves."
Let us pray for the success of Pope Francis as he reorganizes and revitalizes the organization of the Catholic Church! Let us pray for our priests, that they may remember their true calling and have the courage to be shepherds with the herds with the smell of the sheep!
2019 saw the tragic bombings in various churches of different religions and the killing of innocent people, including the March mosque attack in New Zealand.
The first week of 2020 saw tension escalate between the United States and iran, with the US killing Iran's top general Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran responding with threats of retaliation and nuclear proliferation.
In this year of ecumenism, we want to see a church that follows the lead of Pope Francis, who called on Christians to unite in prayer for the victims of two mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 people dead and dozens wounded in one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history.
Remember the words of Pope Francis: “I am close to our Muslim brothers and sisters and their entire community. I renew my invitation to unite with them in prayer and gestures of peace to counter hatred and violence,” the pope said in his address.
We hope to see a world where people come together in peace!
19. Asia: Spreading the Love of and for Christ in Asia
After the Pope's visit to Thailand and Japan, we look forward to seeing a more thriving Catholic community in Asia.
20. New Evangelization
As Cardinal Tagle assumes the position of Prefect for the Congregation on the Evangelization of Peoples or Propaganda Fide, and the possible creation of a Dicastery on Evangelization, we look forward to a more dynamic, more enthusiastic, more joyful sharing of the Word, with "inactive" Catholics returning to the fold and Catholics the world over inspired more than ever!
May we achieve this 20/20 Vision for 2020!!!
Happy New Year!!!