serviam

[Speech] Lord, I am Yours!

What follows is the gratitude speech of one of the newly ordained deacon, Rev. Phil Vincent Dumanacal, of the Diocese of Monterey.

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Rev. Phil Vincent Dumanacal of the Diocese of Monterey gives the speech in behalf of the newly ordained deacons. Photo by Alexander Amora Juni

Good Afternoon!

This vocation is a gift, undeserved, from the Lord. He calls, we respond. The blend of smiles, appreciations, excitements, joy intensifies today’s aura of gratefulness and love. However, deep in the hearts of the newly ordained, our tears illustrate embarrassment and unworthiness. We are not worthy. The Lord’s generosity impels us to belittle and depreciate ourselves. We’ve been hiding from Him, but he searches faithfully. May panahon na nagtago kami sa kanya, ngunit hinanap niya kami. Nakita. Niyakap.

Indeed, when God calls he qualifies. This is our beautiful love story with the Lord. The real essence of love is found only in giving, in serving. We therefore chose the theme: “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” With your prayers, it is our earnest desire to perpetuate the fruits of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross by our life as servants of the Church. The Lord ordains us despite our weaknesses and limitations. He knows everything. We are humbled to face all our reservations with filial trust and confidence that this love story will inspire the whole Christian community to once again, trust and love. Thank you Lord!

We thank the Most Reverend Jesse Mercado for his ardent conferral of the Sacred Order to the Diaconate to us. Thank you for showing what it means to be real servants, in a concrete way. Thank you dear Bishop! A sincere gratitude, too, to our respective families: our parents, to those who have made it here, thank you.

To those who were hindered by inevitable circumstances, thank you for your prayers. I am sure, their hearts rejoice because we made a noble decision in our life. Their sacrifices and love shape our hearts to respond generously to God’s call. Their tears and hardships lay concrete on the way to persistence, as St. Monica struggled for her son who later became St. Augustine. Thank you Parents!

We would like to thank in special manner the following for making this ordination possible and meaningful: Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong, the Provincial Superior of the Philippine North Province, Fr. Godofredo Atienza, Provincial superior of the Philippine South Province, Most Rev. Richard Garcia, bishop of the Diocese of Monterey, Fr. Roy Shelly, Fr. Danny Torres for our wonderful retreat, Fr. Edwin Limpiado for the inspiration and care, Fr. Peter Zago, Fr. Valeriano, Fr. Raymond Ratilla, priests from different dioceses: Cagayan, Tandag, Parañaque and Monterey; the Seminaryo ng Don Bosco community led by our Rector Fr. Henry Mark Bonetti, Don Bosco Canlubang specially THE TRIO of our philosophy years: Fr. Mike, Fr. Joel, and our dear Fr. Provincial, Fr. Paul. Masters and Doctors of Don Bosco Center of Studies, who satisfy our eagerness to know our faith and love for the Lord, and all the Salesians on Don Bosco and concelebrants for your presence and brotherly love. For our friends, classmates and benefactors thank you for your continuous support and prayers. For Don Bosco Calauan Community, you are very lucky, you are very close to the Cross of Christ, thank you for coming, Word and Life Publications’ family, Rinaldi Community, thank you!

Thanks also to Timorese Students in the Philippines, Sisters from Timor, Indonesia and the Philippines. Representative of the ambassador of East Timor, Students affairs of East Timor, Tuloy sa Don Bosco community and our Kenyan, Congolese and African friends.

Archbishop Fransoni endorsed some of his seminarians to do their ecclesiastical studies under the guidance of Don Bosco. In fact, the archbishop was amazed with the dedication and love that the new members of the clergy revealed in their ministry. What I want to say is this: It is not the first time in the congregation to cater formation for the secular clergy; and my experience validates what the Archbishop believed. Salesians are capable of giving up their lives for the love of God, manifested in their love for the young. The young provides them inner joy.  And this is the blood that streams from their hearts. This is their breath, their life.

Let me mention some: Fr. Salvatore Putzu has taught me how to be strong and how to work selflessly for evangelization. He said to me once: “I will work as long as I live, I will just rest when I die.” Fr. Jose Reinoso’s love and holiness replicates Christ’s mercy and compassion. Fr. Henry Bonetti’s constant reminder to give what the people wants from us – God himself. Too many beautiful memories, too many to mention. There’s one thing that is sure… I am thankful for the rest of my life for this beautiful journey with you. You gave me love for the young. Don Bosco will be known in my life!

Diakonia does not cease after presbyteral or episcopal ordination. It continues. It becomes more precise and vibrant everyday. The problem lies when we become what we are actually not. Humility and love fuels us to walk in constant fidelity. Pope Francis says, “The Church does not grow by means of proselytizing but by attraction, by witnessing.” It is always beautiful to realize that we become the reason of people’s holy life. Don Bosco said, “Be cheerful, but let your cheerfulness be sincere, curtailing from a soul at peace with God.” The Lord calls us during this time where love becomes a weakness, where faith becomes a desperation, and where hope becomes a harassment to the soul. The world labels people. Humanity suffers from hatred and arrogance.

This ordination reminds us that love is still real. I was asked once, by one of the young people in my apostolate: “May Forever nga ba?” I would say “Yes.” God’s love is infinite and forever.

We cannot outdo Christ in generosity, in love. It is our hope and prayer that our ministry will be a ministry of life-giving love, that our lives may glorify the Lord forever, that our lives may inspire others to become holy. That we may be faithful always to the Salesian maxim: “Da mihi Animas Caetera Tolle.” With this intention, please… please accompany us with your prayers.

Thank you and May God bless you all.

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Let Me Be Your Servant

Here’s the text of the homily delivered by His Most Reverend, Bishop Jesse Mercado, DD, during our diaconate ordination. He is Bishop of the Diocese of Parañaque.

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Moments from now, following the example of the Apostles, I shall pray over you brothers and lay my hands upon you, thereby consecrating you, setting you apart, humbly dedicating you for the diaconal ministry to which you have been called. In so doing, I shall invoke upon you the Holy Spirit that you may be strengthened by the gift of his sevenfold grace for the carrying out of the diaconal ministry. May the Holy Spirit fashion in the depths of your being the image of Christ who came to serve and not to be served, to give his life as a ransom for the many. The ordination to the Diaconate is a cause for celebration not only within the seminary community and the diocese, not only with the families and friends but a celebration that extends beyond the local church to the whole Church. It is a celebration, a joyful reminder of who we are and should be people of love and of service. By the laying on of hands, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the life of the ordinandus is radically changed, one is so deeply marked so as to be reminded as well as to serve as a reminder that one’s life is  not lived for one’s self alone but for God and neighbor, one’s heart does not beat for anyone or anything else but for God and his people.

Brothers, ang magpaliyab nawa sa inyung hangaring maglingkod sa Diyos at sa kapwa ay walang iba kundi pag-ibig. Ang tanging magbibigay nawa sa inyo ng ligaya ay ang maialay puno ng pagmamahal ang inyung buhay sa paglilingkod sa Diyos at sa kanyang sambayanan.

In what does the diaconal ministry consist?

Your service is three fold:
Service to the living Word of God
Service at the altar of the Lord;
Service to those in need.

Allow me a word about each of these.

As deacons, you shall proclaim the Gospel, occasionally preach homilies, enunciate the needs of the people in the General Intercessions, and offer many other forms of instruction. In a word, you are to be good servants of the Word and enthusiastic agents of the New Evangelization.

Never offer your own word, your own views, in place of the Word of Christ as it comes to us through the teaching of the Church. Allow the Word you proclaim to shape your inmost thoughts, and to shine forth in your every word and deed. But do not merely read the Word!

Pray and live the Word you proclaim and make it your goal to help those you serve to embrace the truth, beauty, and goodness of our Catholic faith. Pray, proclaim, preach, evangelize! Be joyful servants of the Living Word!

You shall also serve at the altar of the Lord, preparing the altar for the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice, distributing Holy Communion to the faithful, as well as to the sick and homebound.

You will baptize, preside at weddings and funerals, and other prayer services. As a servant of the liturgy, always point to Jesus whose saving deeds are the cause of our joy! And back up your ministry to the Church’s public prayer by an avid life of private prayer and virtuous living, so as to make your service at the altar genuine.

Finally you are to serve the poor and needy, imitating the Lord who washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. In the Gospel account of the Lord’s washing of the feet of His disciples, we read how Jesus rose from table, removed his outer garments, and knelt to wash the feet of Peter and the other Apostles: the Creator before the creature, the Eternal Son of God, who stripped himself of glory so as to clothe us with his.

Because you have heard and proclaimed the Word and shared deeply in the sacramental life of the Church, you are prepared also to empty yourself by reaching out in love to the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, and the troubled, Christ in all his “distressing disguises” as Blessed Mother Teresa often said.

One final word: there are three parts to your ministry but it is only one ministry that you assume. The ministry of the Word and ministry at the altar in no way conflicts with the ministry of service.
On the contrary, the Word proclaimed and the mysteries celebrated oblige us to love one another and to be good servants of the poor. You must show how the three essential elements of the Church’s life, Word, Liturgy, and Service, presuppose one another and are inseparable.

And remember also that a deacon’s ministry is neither fully diaconal nor unified if he is only a servant of the Word or the altar, but does not serve the poor directly. Your ministry must include some form of direct service to the poor.

Allow me to end with this Prayer for Deacons:

Lord Jesus, You came to serve, not to be served.
Form within us your generous Spirit.
Fill us with your love, that we may love the Father as You love Him.
Fill us with your compassion
that we may see our brothers and sisters as You see them.
Fill us with your courage,
that we may give our lives in service to the Church as You give Your life for her.
Fill us with that Spirit which will make us
Preachers of Your Word,
Ministers of Your Sacrifice,

Servants of Your Bride,

Friends of the poor

and the Voice of the forgotten.
Transform us through Your Holy Spirit
     so that we may transform the world into your Kingdom of Justice and faith.
Amen.

(Fr. Benedict D. O’Cannsealaigh, Archdiocese of Cincinnati)

Psalm 139

Today’s the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. Examining the set of readings in the liturgy today, the psalm has particularly called my attention.

Mt. Batulao at Dusk.

                                                                     Mt. Batulao at Dusk.

This psalm is one of my favorites. It reminds me of a God who loves me, and that He has thought of me even before I came into existence.

I recall that when I had my retreat two weeks ago, the first two lines jumped out of the page and called my attention:

O Lord, you know me:
You have scrutinized me.

The Lord didn’t just come to know me because of His sheer power, but that He spent time thinking about me.  This psalm wrapped me in gratitude for my existence alone, and more so, realizing that He has called me to this state of life.

Make me a Servant

When I asked Br. Vince Sabal, SDB to play the song Make me a Servant, he readily agreed. He rendered this sans musical piece. As usual, Br Jerome Quinto, SDB did the video editing.

I don’t anymore recall the first time I heard the song, but it has significantly made its mark because of its soothing melody, which calms someone ahead of an impending threat. Not to mention that its words become a beautiful prayer of someone who yearns to serve the Lord despite knowing one’s fragile state.

Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord let me lift up
Those who are weak
And may the prayer
Of my heart always be
Make me a servant
Make me a servant
Make me a servant today

The song will used during the part of the investiture, where the newly ordained deacons will be handed on the signs of their diaconal ministry, the deacon’s stole and the dalmatic.

SJ Priest: 6 Bits of Advice for Deacons

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Looking for articles to read about the diaconate, fate brought me one afternoon to this article in which “six bits of advice” were offered by the Jesuit Priest Fr Bill McGarry to a group of young Jesuits waiting to be ordained as deacons. It may be found here.

I thought of posting them here for my own source of nourishment as I look forward to the D day, which is just 10 days from now.

1. Learn to wash peoples’ feet. Get on your knees and wash the feet and look up to the people you serve. Never look down on them. Our ordination to the diaconate is not your initiation into a club or caste of noblemen. You are commissioned by this ordination to be a servant. Servants are not supposed to look down. They wait at table standing up but the attitude is one of looking up, not down. Please remember that priestly ordination does not erase your status as a deacon. Nor will your ordination as a bishop or election as Cardinal or Pope. You will always be a deacon, always a servant. Beware of clericalism. My experience is that practically all my penitents in confession are better Christians than I.

2. Please don’t rejoice that studies are over. I hope that they never will be over for you. Too many priests short-change their parishioners by not keeping up to date or not trying to get deeper and deeper into the Word of God. Some bore the faithful almost to tears. Read books and articles? Yes. But most importantly use your ears more that your mouth and learn from people, especially the poor but also everybody, even dithery old men. I believe that praxis/reflection is the best book you can read. You try to change yourself or apostolic situations and then reflect on what you learned from that praxis. Never skip the Examen.  Of course, the best way to do praxis/reflection is to do it with others, your fellow Jesuits, your partners in the apostolate. Do it with others. I suspect that this practice would eliminate the need of many sabbaticals. You learn on the job.

3. Multi-tasking except in very moderate forms is a synonym for superficiality or inferior service. Father General is begging us for depth, the enemy of superficiality. Sometimes rather heavy multi-tasking becomes a temporary necessity. But it should always be temporary unless we want superficiality or inferior service to become a policy. No time for prayer, study, reflection, serious conversation with the brethren, rest? If this ever happens, drop something, like TV, Face Book, surfing, or ask your superior for relief. These things we say we have no time for cannot be dropped responsibly. We’re called to depth in our lives and work.

4. Our much-loved church (That means us.) tends lately to be quite expert in communicating bad news, I hope you Deacons will become expert at communicating good news. Want to help the world and the church? Be a witness to the resurrection. We are sent to bring good news, THE Good News. Take care of your emotional health. You can’t communicate the good news with a glum face. Pray to be cheerful.

5. When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say, ‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas but not your heart away… But I was one-and-twenty; no use to talk to me. …I heard him say again, ‘The heart out of the bosom was never given in vain. ‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty and sold for endless rue. And I am two-and-twenty and oh ‘tis true, ‘tis true.” Excessively pessimistic? I think so. Too selfish? I think so. However if you with your celibate chastity want to be happy and avoid endless rue, I ask you to try not to fall in love. “’Tis paid with rue, maybe not endless but tends to bring great sadness. A.E. Housman wrote that poem and he seems to have been selfishly self-protective. Hold on to your hearts but don’t spend your life in cold self-protection. Love people. Mix with people. Be their friend. But hold on to your heart not for the sake of protection fromliebesschmertz, but in order that you may warmly love and serve many and with a joyful face.

6. I strongly recommend Karl Rahner,Der Glaube des Priestes Heute, Orientierung 1962, Translated in Woodstock Letters with the title, “The Faith of the Priest Today”. This has turned out to be something like a charter for priesthood for me. It really talks about the depth we’ve mentioned above. It talks about walking with and learning from and with the people of the world of today. It repeats what Father Arrupe said about choosing tough over soft ministries. It agrees with the mission given to the Society by Paul VI to combat Atheism. It led the 32nd General Congregation to tell us clearly that our mission today is the Service of Faith and that Promotion of Justice which Faith includes. It is another reason for serious study. It asks us to face the fact that secularism and agnosticism are on the rise in all of our countries. We need to see that we Jesuits are not called just to repeat what other church people are doing no matter how wonderful these apostolates are. We should do what others don’t do for whatever reason. I think we are called to many kinds of people but I judge that the highest priority is to the poor, those allergic to the church, to agnostics. Yes, always the poor but also in the words of Father Rahner, “It is by entering into the world of today, and being with men in their difficulties, their anxieties, their doubts, that we can bring this world to faith, and not by posing as somehow different….Our faith must be such that even the unbeliever cannot deny that here a man believes who is like himself, a man of today, on whose lips the word God does not come easily or cheaply, who doesn’t think he has mastered everything, and in spite of all this, rather because of all this, he believes.”  A hard challenge but we can only do our best with the talents we have. At least no canonizations of saving the saved, superficial multi-tasking, only the majus servitium.

Simply Worth Remembering (A Birthday Speech)

Here’s my undelivered birthday speech for this year. 🙂 

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Taken during the 2015 Perpetual Profession at St. John Bosco Parish in Makati City. Photo by Mr. Jan Odivilas

Since I was appointed as the custodian of our newly restored community library, I thought that I should set a good example. And so, last vacation, I don’t know when exactly it was, I picked this little book from one of the recommended readings for the fourth year brothers. Written by Henri Nouwen,   it’s entitled The Living Reminder.

“The book is intensely profound,” this I remarked after skimming through the first lines of its preliminary pages. And I thought that, for me to digest it thoroughly, so that I could share something insightful in my first rendiconto with Fr Henry, I felt that I needed to write down passages from the book which caught my fancy.

And before I knew it, I already filled up nine pages of valuable lines from the book. That’s how powerful the pen of Nouwen is. That, it fills up the ink of my very own. And so, last night, after arriving from Batulao, when I couldn’t decide what kind of birthday speech to deliver, I was not just limited in choosing between a thank you speech or a sorry speech. Thanks to him, I have a third option to explore.

And so, let me share this wisdom from Nouwen, linking it up with the occasion, that is, my birthday, using my own voice:

The older we grow the more we have to remember, and at some point we realize that most, if not all, of what we have is memory. Our memory plays a central role in our sense of being. Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

This is my last birthday speech for the community. I am 100 % sure that I will no longer be here next year. And I am also sure that I’ll bring with me to my new assignment the memories I have over the past three years in this community, and the memories which the next 10 months will yield for me.

Our pains and joys, our feelings of grief and satisfaction, are not simply dependent on the events of our lives, but also, and even more so, on the ways we remember these events.

But memories speak of the past. Yet, we are here in the present. And so, let the memories we shall fashion now be something truly worth remembering so that when we advance in the future where we no longer have each other, we could manage to pause and look back to the years of the theological formation we have spent in the Seminaryo and whisper to ourselves that those years are simply worth remembering.