Month: November 2014

Our hunger for wholeness

In one rendiconto session when I was in practical training, I recall sharing my struggle with my rector. In the daily resolutions I would write in my journal, I told him, I resolved to be compassionate, patient and an epitome of what a Salesian is before our aspirants and prenovices. But almost instantly when one of them tests these resolutions, I would fall flat on my face—almost instantly.

In concrete, I shared with him how confronting erring aspirants suck out my energy. And looking into my hapless situation, I was not just disappointed, I was utterly distraught.

His take on the situation was that in my resolve to trek the path of holiness, God might have wanted to show me the before—and after, the point of departure—from the point of arrival, the ugliness of that which I wish to leave—to highlight the beauty of where I wish to go.

In the context of our lesson on wholeness and holiness, I see myself as nothing else but a fragmented creation in search of, nay, desperately begging for wholeness.

Our discussion on Christian Holiness and my personal readings and reflection on Wholeness and Holiness brought me back to those confusing moments. And while I can proudly tell myself that that chapter of my life is already finished—at least for now—I am tad wiser to realize that I ought not to be complacent; that I ought to be prepared for the battle ahead; and that I am not yet done or better yet, God is not yet done with me.

For if there is one thing very much clear in me now, it is this: that holiness is a lifetime struggle and not a mere one-shot deal. And that one of the struggles I have to undertake is to courageously face my shadows—those facets of my personhood which I have attempted to put restraint—and integrate them into my being. This can only be done by fostering endeavors that promote self-knowledge and by allowing God to fashion me into the creation He envisioned me to become.

Wholeness then, for a creature like me, is that ultimate act of bowing before the Creator.  This does not only show an expression of humility, that is, whatever He would like me to become, I will just let Him. But also, and more importantly, that sense of filial trust to the Father who wishes only that which is the best for me.

For sure, this is easier said than done. Hence, there has to be a daily cultivation of such an attitude. That effort to examine whether my will is in congruent with the divine will, whether there is a need to name and claim my shadow. For only with these that I be able to tame it, befriend it and integrate it with my defragmented self which is looking for wholeness, in search for integration.

My greatest discovery in this regard is that to attain sanctity, one has to be grounded first in one’s humanity. That quest for sainthood is ultimately nothing but a quest to embrace one’s personhood. That in order to be with the divine, one has to be at ease first with his being human.

Handa na ba Tayo?

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Pagninilay sa Unang Linggo ng Adbiyento (B)

Kamakailan, nabalitaan natin ang schedule ng pagbisita ng ating Santo Papa sa bansa.
Darating siya sa ika-15 ng Enero, mag-mimisa siya sa Luneta, kakain kasama ang ilang pamilya sa MOA, at bibisita din siya sa Tacloban upang damayan ang mga kababayan nating nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Lilipad siya palabas ng ating bansa sa ika-19 ng Enero.

Pinaplantsa pa ang ilang detalye ng kanyang pag-bisita. Pero marahil, wala na dito ang atensyon natin. Basta, ang mahalaga, darating ang Santo Papa!

Alam na natin ang eksaktong araw kung kailan darating si Papa Francisco. Ngunit sa Ebanghelyo natin ngayon Linggo (Marcos 13:33-37), pinapa-alalahanan tayo ni Kristong maging handa sapagkat ‘di natin alam kung kailan ang takdang oras ng Kanyang pagdating.

Sa unang pagbasa (Isa 63:16-17.19; 64:2-7), narinig nating ganito din ang karanasan ng mga Israelita. Nang ipinatapon sila sa Babilonya ng mga sumakop sa kanila, napagtanto nilang nagkasala sila ng husto sa Diyos. At dahil dito, inakala nilang iniwan na silang tuluyan ng Panginoon. Nanaghoy sila sa Kanya; inasam-asam nilang muli ang Kanyang presensiya–tulad ng mga sandaling sinamahan Niya sila upang lupigin ang kanilang mga kaaway.

Sa unang pagkakataon sa Lumang Tipan, inari ng mga Israelita ang Diyos bilang isang Ama. At sila’y nagmakaawa sa Kanyang sila’y muling samahan. Hindi nila alam kung kailan sila papakinggan ng Diyos. Pero patuloy silang umasam na balang araw, muli nilang makakasama ang Panginoon.

Mayroong mga pagkakataong naiisip nating sa mga masasamang nangyayari sa ating buhay, ‘para namang walang Diyos.’ At kung mayroon mang Diyos, ‘parang walang Siyang pakialam.’ ‘Hindi nga ba’t kung mayroong Diyos, bakit hindi pa Niya wakasan ang paghihirap ng sangkatauhan?’ ‘Bakit mayroon pang sakit at digmaan?’ ‘Bakit kailangan pang may mamatay?’

Sa ikalawang pagbasa (1 Cor 1:3-9), tiniyak ni San Pablo na “tapat ang Panginoon,” at aalalayan niya ang mga taga-Corinto—hanggang wakas—upang matagpuan silang walang kapintasan sa araw ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo.

Ito rin ang madalas nating sambit sa ating panalangin. Ito rin ang ating inaasam-asam: madatnan nang “walang kapintasan sa araw ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo.”

Panahon ng paghahanda

Ngayong Linggo, sinisimulan natin ang bagong taong liturhiko. Nasa unang Linggo tayo ng Adbiyento. Ang ‘adbiyento’ ay hango sa wikang Latin na ang ibig sabihin ay “pagdating.”

Mapapansin ninyong ang kulay ng stola ng pari ay lila. Gayundin ang kulay ng kandilang ating sinindihan. Oo, nagagalak tayong darating ang Panginoon. Ngunit mayroon tayong kailangang gawin bilang paghahanda Ito ang tema ng ating liturhiya ngayong Linggo. Maghahanda tayo dahil inaasam-asam natin ang Kanyang pagdating.

Nitong nagdaang Sabado, may tatlong batang kalyeng napadpad sa ating parokya. Marumi sila, walang saplot, at nagugutom. Mayroon daw silang mga pamilya pero mas pinili nilang mag-palaboy. Ang mga bata ay nakatagpo ng pag-aaruga sa mga katekista: binigyan sila ng mga kamiseta, pinakain, ginamot ang sugat. Nakatikim sila ng kalinga ng isang pamilya.

Hindi nga ba’t noong nakaraang Linggo lang nang narinig nating sinabi ni Kristo na Kung ano ang ginawa mo sa pinaka-aba, ay siya rin mong ginawa sa Akin?”

Buksan natin ang ating mga mata, at patuloy na mag-bantay. Darating ang Panginoon at kailangan natin itng paghandaan. Ngunit sa mga sandaling may nangailangan sa ating mga kapatid, masasalamin natin si Kristo sa kanila. Dumarating na Siya … Nandito na Siya!

At kapag dumating ang panahong tumugon tayo sa panawagang tumulong sa iba, umunawa at magpatawad sa mga taong nakasakit saa ating damdamin, magmahal sa mga taong pakiwari nati’y hindi tugmang mahalin,  pwede nating sabihing handa na tayo para makaharap Siya.

SYM journal entry #2

download1. What do I think about the FoR?

As a reading teacher (once upon a time), I’d tell my students to not immediately plunge into the act of reading once they get hold of a book. Instead,they ought to examine first its physical attributes. After all, physicality is one of the first aspects one can take note of a book.

Thus, upon seeing a book, one examines first its cover page, or its thickness, its spine, even before leafing through its pages, or even before one finally pores over its table of contents for a more in depth assessment of what’s inside.

This is what I exactly did when I got hold of the book on Salesian Youth Ministry–Frame of Reference (SYM-FoR). I was thrilled to have a general feel of the book. Right off, it seemed like an eye-candy, indeed a very attractive read. Just merely looking at it makes me reckon that it’s simply a masterpiece.

I attempted to read the SYM-FoR months ago, before it has been made a compulsory read in the Salesian Youth Ministry course I enrolled this semester. The brand of English language used is rather strange for an Asian. And reading it gives me the feel that I am being drowned in the ocean of text.

My response here is unfinished since I still have to plunge into the act of reading.

2. What do I feel about it?

One classmate from another congregation saw the book from another Salesian classmate who brought the book in a subject before the SYM class. It must have piqued his interest since he started to ask questions about the book. In between, he could not hide his admiration for the congregation for coming up with such a book on youth ministry.

I was not part of their conversation, a mere eavesdropper in their exchange. But it dawned on me that the congregation has reached this mile in coming up with such a book (updating its previous editions, to be exact) which leads me to realize that youth ministry in the congregation must have been very important to merit such attention.

It is in this regard that with such a book, I feel the admiration to those who have endeavored on this project and a sense of pride for the Congregation for such a feat.

3. How can I somehow acknowledge the great effort behind the SYM-FoR?

At the very least, what I can do is to read the book. After all, the manuscript was produced precisely for this purpose. Another way of acknowledging the great effort of those who are behind it is to offer what I think about it in order to improve the output.

“Hungry For Glory”

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Checkmate? NOT. This King lives forever! Graphics by Br Paul Dungca, SDB

 Ito ang pamagat ng laban ni Pacquiao at ni Alghieri na magaganap ngayong araw ng Linggo, Dakilang Kapistahan ni Kristo, Hari ng Sanlibutan.

Katulad ng dalawang boksingerong m agpapaligsahan, ang ating Panginoong Hesung kinikilalang Hari ng Sanlibutan ay hindi pa rin natatapos sa pakikipaglaban.

Ngunit kumpara sa dalawang boksingerong nabanggit, ang kanyang pakikidigma ay nangyayari sa ‘ring’ ng bawat puso at isip natin.
Ang Kapistahang ito ni Kristong Hari ay itinakda ng Simbahan nito lamang nagdaang siglo upang bigyang diin ang kaluwalhatian ni Kristo laban sa labis na pagpapapahalaga sa mga makamundong-bagay. Sa pamamagitan ng kapistahang ito, binibigyang-diin ng Simbahan na ang ating Panginoon ay hindi lamang Hari ng simbahan. Bagkus, ang kanyang paghahari ay sumasaklaw din sa ating lipunan, pamahalaan, pamilya, ekonomiya, at sa iba’t-ibang aspeto ng ating pamumuhay.

Sa dakilang kapistahang ito, ipinakikilala nating tayong mga Katoliko ay hindi lamang pinag-haharian ni Kristo kung araw ng Linggo. Siyang dahilan ng ating pag-iral ay Siya ring hari ng ating buhay!

Ngunit ang pag-hahari ng ating Panginoon ay taliwas sa pamumuno ng ilang lider nating sakim sa kayamanan at kapangyarihan.
Sa unang pagbasa, narinig natin ang mensahe ng Panginoon sa pamamagitan ni Propeta Ezekiel. Dahil sa kawalan ng pagmamalasakit ng kanilang mga pinuno sa kanyang kawan, Siya na mismo ang mangangalaga sa Kanila. Hahanapin [Niya] ang nawawala, ibabalik ang nalalayo, hihilutin ang napilay, palalakasin ang mahihina, at babantayan ang malulusog at malalakas.

Sa ikalawang pagbasa naman, ipina-aalala sa atin ni San Pablo na sa pamamagitan ng muling pagkabuhay ng ating Panginoon, ipinatikim sa atin ang kaluwalhatiang inilalaan ng Diyos para sa atin na kumikilala at nagpapahalaga sa relasyon natin kay Kristo.

Sa Ebanghelyo, ipinasilip naman sa atin ang mangyayari sa hinaharap. Kasabay ng pagluklok sa Anak ng Tao sa maringal Niyang trono, matitipon sa harap Niya ang lahat ng tao. Sila’y pagbubukod-bukurin niya tulad ng ginagawa ng pastol sa mga tupa at mga kambing.

Ito ang Kanyang pamantayan: Nang gawin ninyo ito sa pinakahamak sa mga kapatid kong ito– sa mga nagugutom, nauuhaw, sa mga bilanggo, sa mga walang maisuot at matirhan–ito ay sa akin ninyo ginawa.’

Iba ang pamantayan Niya. Malayo sa nakagawian ng mga mahilig ‘mag-selfie,’ at lalong higit, sa mga taong hindi magkanda-ugaga sa pagsunod sa mga taong popular, tinitingala ng lipunan, mayaman at may kapangyarihan.

Ngayong huling Linggo ng taong liturhika, inaanyayahan at binibigyan tayo ng matinding hamong kilalanin ang tunay Hari at yakapin ang Kanyang gawi. Siya na isinilang sa isang abang sabsaban, na hindi nadamtan ng maringal na kasuotan. Siya na inihanay ang sarili sa maralita, sa mga taong tinalikuran ng lipunan.

Hungry for glory. Gutom ang Hari sa kaluwalhatian. Pero maiibsan lang ito kapag lahat tayo’y natuto nang magbigay, magpatawad, at magmahal ng walang kondisyon at walang hinihintay na kapalit. At kapag sumapit ang araw na ito, sasabihin Niya sa atin “Halikayo, mga pinagpala ng aking Ama! Pumasok na kayo at manirahan sa kahariang inihanda para sa inyo mula pa nang likhain ang sanlibutan.”

SYM journal entry # 1

These three questions below are for our course on Salesian Youth Ministry:

What is your happiest moment as a Salesian Youth Minister

Right off, this experience below, which took place when I was a novice, tops the list of my happiest experience of being a Salesian Youth Minister.
Back in the novitiate, my knowledge of the Cebuano language was meager. Fielding me to give formation and assistance to young people ranging from early teens to early adults wasn’t really much of a breeze. It was unimaginable. I felt so miserable.

One Sunday afternoon, I was suddenly thrust into the role of King Solomon when a crying little boy from the basketball club came to me and told me that a bigger boy punched him. I went to the ‘culprit’ and with an attempt to speak broken Cebuano, I figured out the reason why. They were arguing about whether the name of the male genital organ printed in the textbook of the little boy was obscene or not. They debated over it until the bigger kid couldn’t resist showing that he is correct by showing the little boy his ‘might.’

I must have consumed all the Cebuano vocabulary I know of to inquire further—and to hide my amusement. After the long series of questions, the bigger kid realized that what he did wasn’t right. Apologies were in order, I told him. And he sheepishly extended his hand to the smaller boy.

What is your saddest?

I was a newly minted practical trainee. Fresh from the walls of my post-novitiate formation, I was surely brimming not just with a distinct brand of idealism, but with an enthusiasm to make the motto of Don Bosco a concrete reality in this day and age.

Having been assigned in the pre-novitiate seminary, I must have been unconscious that I expected the young aspirants and pre-novices to keep up with the standards I imposed to myself.

One time, I was in the dormitory assisting when the first bell rang. Most of the aspirants were swift in their response. They banished the dormitory at once. I was, at the very least, pleased. I told myself that the reminders to heed the bell and be punctual are paying off.

When the second bell came, I was expecting that the hall would be completely free of people. But my heart sank when I saw a lone aspirant who was still wearing his socks. I reckoned that it was not the first time he’s late. And from what I made sense of his pace, he was taking his sweet time.
I screamed at him “Why is it that even if I am praying for you, nothing seems happening?” At that point, he rushed out of the dormitory.
That was the sad part because of the expectation I set which that aspirant did not meet, and more especially because with how I responded to situation, I fell short, too, of what I expected myself to be.  

What are some of your dreams/aspirations as a SYM, both for yourself personally and for the congregation as a whole?

As a Salesian youth minister, I dream to journey with the young people toward the path of holiness. This is also what I dream for the congregation: that it may remain faithful to the aspirations of Don Bosco, our founder.

The brand of holiness Don Bosco desired for his young people is that which fuses spirituality with practicality. He did not just celebrate the sacraments for them and with them—he also commissioned his young people to do something for the society: he taught them craftsmanship, and fostered service in their hearts. In a nut shell, he wanted them to be “Good Christians, Honest Citizens.”

This is also what I dream as a youth minister. This is also what I wish the congregation remains to be doing in order to remain a relevant force in the education and evangelization of the young people.

Ang yamang kaloob sa atin, pagyamanin natin!

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Nitong linggo lang, kumalat ang litrato ng isang traffic enforcer sa social media: Gamit ang kanyang motor, nakuhanan siya ng litratong naglalako siya ng kakanin sa mga motorista sa EDSA. Nang ipatawag siya ng chairman ng MMDA, nanginginig siya sa takot dahil baka mapagalitan siya. Pero mangiyak-ngiyak siya nang malamang kaya pala siya pinatawag ay para papurihan siya sa pagsusumikap niyang maitaguyod ang kanyang pamilya sa marangal na paraan: Nagtitinda lang siya ng kakanin kapag day off niya at hindi kapag naka-duty siya.

Ang kakanin ay niluluto ng kanyang asawa at inilalako naman niya upang matustusan ang pag-aaral ng kanilang mga anak. Sa loob ng dalawang dekada, walang dungis ang kanyang paglilingkod bilang isang traffic enforcer. At kahit mahirap lang sila, gusto niyang kumita sa marangal na paraan dahil ayaw niyang mapahiya sa kanyang mga anak.

Sa kuwentong ito, masasalamin ang Ebanghelyo natin ngayong Linggo. Sa pamamagitan ng pagsusumikap at pagiging malikhain, na-doble ng aliping nakatanggap ng limang libo ang halagang iniwan sa kanya. Ganundin ang nangyari sa ikalawa na tumanggap ng dalawang libo. Tumubo siya ng dalawang libo pa.

Ngunit iba ang nangyari sa ikatlo. Dahil sa kanyang “takot” sa amo, ibinaon niya lamang ang halagang natanggap dahil ayaw niyang mawala ito. Hindi ito ikinatuwa ng kanyang amo. Kung sabagay, matagal nga naman siyang nawala. Kung natakot ang alipin sa kanya, disin sana’y idineposito niya na lamang sa bangko ang halaga, kahit papaano’y tumubo pa siya.

Mababatid na sa tatlong alipin, ang tumanggap ng kaparusahan ay ang aliping hindi man lang sumubok na gawin ang isang bagay upang mapa-unlad ang kung anong mayroon siya.

Kung susuriin natin ang ating pamumuhay, marahil masasabi nating mahirap nga ang ilan sa ating maituturing. Hindi kagandahan ang ating mga bahay at hindi lang miminsang nagkulang ang budget natin upang tustusan ang ating mga pangangailangan. Pero kung tutuusin, marami pa rin tayong yaman na maituturing: ang matabang lupa sa likod ng bahay natin, ang presensiya ng ating mga anak, ang malusog nating pananampalataya, ang ating kalusugan, at higit sa lahat: ang ating buhay! Kailangan lang nating buksan ang ating mga mata upang makita ang napakaraming pagpapalang pinagkakaloob sa atin ng Panginoon.

Maaaring maging isang hamon para sa atin ang karanasang ito ng aliping iyon.

Noong mga panahong iyon, normal ang pag-babaon ng kayamanan o salapi sa lupa upang maitago ito sa mga tulisan at magnanakaw. Ngayon, marami sa atin ang may katulad na pag-iisip upang maingatan ang isang bagay: itago ito. Ngunit hindi gayun ang ibig ng Diyos para sa atin.

Pinagkalooban tayo ng Diyos ng talino, yaman at katangiang inaasahan niyang ating pagyayamanin. Sa sandaling makaharap natin siyang muli, katulad ng sa parabulang ating narinig, magkakaroon tayo ng pagsusulit kung napagyaman ba natin ang mga katangiang ipinagkaloob niya sa atin.

Sa unang pagbasa, narinig natin ang mga kapuri-puring katangian ng isang may-bahay na hindi lamang nag-aasikaso ng kanyang pamilya, ngunit nagtataguyod din ng mga naghihirap. Sa pamamagitan niya, ang kanyang pamilya ay nagiging isang tanda ng pag-ibig ng Diyos sa mundo.

Sa ikalawang pagbasa, binigyang diin na hindi natin alam ang oras ng pagdating ng isang magnanakaw—o kung mayroon ngang darating. Ang mensahe sa atin ay maging handa. Ito ang pag-uugaling inaasahan sa atin.

Sa Banal na Ebanghelyo, narinig natin ang isang parabula tungkol sa isang among ipinagbilin ang halaga ng salapi sa tatlo niyang alipin. Mapapansing iba’t-iba ang halaga ng salaping ipinagkaloob niya dito: Hindi ito pantay pantay.

Ganunpaman, inaasahan ng may-ari na pagbalik niya, mayroon tayong ginawa para paunlarin ito. Iba-iba man ang talinong ipinagkaloob sa atin, hindi man ito pantay-pantay, sa pamamagitan ng pagsusumikap at tiyaga, inaasahan ng Panginoong mayroong mararating ito.

Kung tutuusin, naging makasarili at mapag-imbot ang taong pinagkalooban ng kakaunting salapi. Inisip niya lang na isauli ang halagang ipinagkaloob sa kanya—walang labis, walang kulang. Kaya wala siyang ginawa. Nakakatakot nga naman kung pumalpak siya, hindi ba?

Ang isang mabuting Katoliko ay hindi lamang dapat mabait para tawaging mabuti. Dapat magaling din siya. Ito ang katangiang pinamalas ng dalawang aliping pinamahalaan ng kayamanan at ng ulirang maybahay sa unang pagbasa.

Napaunlad nila ang halagang ipinagkaloob sa kanila dahil sa kanilang pagpupunyagi. Nag-uunat sila ng buto hindi lamang upang may maipang-tustos sa pamilya, kundi upang makapaglingkod din sa pamayanan.

Hinahamon tayong tularan sila. Ito marahil ang isa sa mga pinakamainam na paghahandang puwede nating isagawa sa pagdating ng Panginoon: Ang kumilos, magpursige upang ang biyayang ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Diyos ay patuloy na mamunga.

Where does the Beauty of Church lie?

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The mural of the Angry Christ in St. Joseph in Victorias City, Negros Occidental in the Philippines. Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB.

Wikipedia ranks the Basilica of San Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas not only the largest church building in the Philippines, but also the largest in the whole of Asia.

Topping that list is no other than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (I heard that a Catholic church should not be constructed taller than it). However, St. Peter’s does not hold the distinction of being the first among the great basilicas of Rome, this merit goes to St. John Lateran Basilica, which is not only the mother church of all Catholic churches (this is under the care of the Holy Father), but also the earliest church ever constructed.

This Sunday, we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica which took place in the year 324. The liturgy invites us to ponder on the devotion we give to the church as this Sunday’s Gospel (John 2:13-22) speaks of Jesus’ utter deference to the Temple.

The Word in other words

The Temple used to be the center of Jewish worship until 70 AD when it was destroyed by the Romans. In this episode, Jesus pays a visit to it in time for the Passover feast. But the sight which welcomes Him must have surprised Him, rather negatively.

Vendors hawk animals used for the sacrificial offerings. On one side, a slew of money-changers is at the peak of their business. Since Passover was—and remains to be—one important feast for them, Jews from faraway places come to Jerusalem.

This puts money-changers in proper context: Jews who arrive from other countries need their currency to be converted so that they can buy the sacrificial offerings on sale nearby.

We see here that the religiosity of the Jews has created an industry of trade which pulsates with life, making the enterprising Jews and Temple priests smile big—except that Jesus is not entertained.

Customizing a whip from ropes, He drives them all out of the temple and overturns the tables of the money-changers, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade,” He screams.

Smarting from Jesus’ dressing-down, they retort “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”

Jesus plays their game and ups the ante. He dares them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews was baffled, they grumble “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”

But they are lost in Jesus’ rhetoric. Only the disciples will remember what He said—but only in hindsight—when He is already raised back to life.

This Gospel episode narrates how Jesus wishes that we give due respect to the church building. After all, it is a structure we set aside precisely for worship, a special place in the community which has been chosen to convey our devotion to God.

What is the Church?

However, Jesus also points out a deeper meaning of what a church is, which goes beyond mere structure. We in the Philippines ought to realize this more: A church remains to be a church even if its very building is smashed by earthquakes or ravaged by the strongest typhoons.

The Church is composed of the community who believe in God. Likewise, the Scriptures reminds us that we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19), as such, we ought to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Hence, to show love to the Church is not merely to provide flowers for its weekly upkeep, but to nourish the community that makes it up, to show concern for the future generations that will constitute its membership, to show love and concern to each person who suffers and is experiencing difficulty.

To consider each one as a member of the Church makes us see in each person a brother or a sister in the truest sense of the word: he/she belongs to your family, to our family. As such, he/she has the power to contribute to its growth or to its destruction.

Hence, special accolades given to a church will have no merit if the community that takes care of it fails to show appropriate care for those members of the community who need it the most: the last, the least, the lost, and the little ones.

In the final analysis, the beauty of the church is measured not by its height, antiquity, grandeur, but the love and compassion which springs from it.