July 22, 2024

Advent means coming. Coming solicits preparation. If we prepare well, there is joy in waiting and celebrating. The coming is certain but the time is unknown.
On Dec. 8, 2019, the second Sunday of Advent and the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I received news about the demise of Bro. Art Guerrero. It was a dilemma of joy and tears.
Bro. Art was a former seminarian at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology but decided to leave. He was a young seminarian gifted with arts and music. He died at a young age. It was a big loss to the family and it left them with deep emotional pain.
The death of Bro. Art disturbs me. I had guilty feelings for not visiting him despite the opportunities.
I realized my helplessness and the helplessness of my priestly ministry when confronted by the reality of death. When I earned the courage to visit him, I officiated a prayer service in their house. Upon entering the house, I was emotional but I had to compose myself. I was helpless, but hopeful. When I started the prayer service, it was difficult to talk because I was immersed in the deep silence of the room, hearing only the sobbing of his brother who sat at the side of the coffin.
All I did was to clasp my hands in deep prayer for Bro. Art. I gained strength knowing that Jesus is among us.
To make up for the lost time with him, I made it a point to include him in my daily masses for the eternal repose of his soul.
Please include Bro. Art in your daily prayers – for his eternal repose, and comfort and strength for his grieving family.
Lesson learned, we must not postpone our visit to the sick for we will never know what lies ahead.
Last Jan. 1, Antonio Fangkingan, Sr. also bade his family goodbye.
To facilitate a prayer service for the dead on New Year’s day was difficult.
Manong Antonio used to be the carpenter and communion minister at Bontoc Catholic Mission. He gradually stopped his services when his illness worsened. He struggled to overcome his alcohol addiction but human weakness kept knocking at his door.
Manong Antonio’s son, Bro. Bar, is also a priest. At first, he was not in favor of his son’s plan to enter the seminary. But he eventually submitted to Bro. Bar’s plan when he saw his son’s determination to be a priest.
Bro. Bar was ordained on Nov. 30, 2018.During the ordination, Manong Antonio displayed approval of his son’s wise decision to respond to the call of priesthood. Manong Antonio serenaded the congregation during lunch. He sung many songs and he sung with passion. That was the last time I saw him with a face full of joy.
Fr. Bar was orphaned by his mother in 2015. Father Bar’s first assignment was with the Banaue Catholic Mission. He diligently reached the remote basic ecclesial communities by foot to administer the sacraments. As a token of love from the people, he always brought home a native chicken.
I encourage everyone to pray for the eternal repose of manong Antonio, for the bereaved family of Fr. Bar, and to pray for him as well to be strong in the ministry. We thank manong Antonio for his services to the church and for offering his gifted son, Fr. Bar to the church.
January 1 is also the solemnity of the motherhood of Mary.
A couple approached me after the mass. They narrated their story about the church and their beautiful plan for reception and church blessing.
The couple came back for the reception rites. It was a moving celebration seeing the couple shed tears of joy.
It was indeed a very good start for the year. I felt so blessed to have accommodated them and personally, it’s a motivational event to fuel my priestly ministry.
Mario and Maria (not their real name) were married civilly many years ago. Then they received the church ceremony at the Episcopalian Church. Due to religious differences, they were burdened by social pressure and religious policies of the Roman Catholic Church for the baptism of their children.
Mario belongs to the Episcopalian Church and Maria was an active youth leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Despite the religious difference, the couple decided to have their children baptized as Catholics but priests denied them without sufficient explanation and even without providing pieces of advice or remedies. The denial planted indifference and subtle hatred. Maria started to isolate her family from the church and went to another church to fulfill their Sunday responsibilities.
But on New Year’s Day, the good Lord granted their long awaited wish to have their family on one roof of faith. After a long and serious discernment with the inspiration of his wife, Mario offered the best gift to his family to be received in the Roman Catholic Church for the sake of his wife and children. They are now preparing for their wedding in the Roman Catholic rite. It was indeed a New Year’s day. The right and best way to start the year is to start it with the grace of God.
I leave the beautiful priestly blessing passage for you from the book of Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV).
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
This biblical passage is summarized in one word – “blessings” of God to start the year. So, I need to correct again the music ministries of Bontoc, Mountain Province using this biblical passage for the dead. Refrain from using this prayer during wakes and funerals. This beautiful passage is meant for the living, not for the dead.
Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-1653-669.