The eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the church expresses her gratitude to God for all His benefits, for all that He has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification.
The eucharist is called holy communion because by it we unite ourselves with Christ.
The eucharist is the sacrifice of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus which He instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross. It is a paschal banquet – a pledge of future glory is given to us.
The holy eucharist is the highest prayer and it is basically the source of spiritual nourishment. Therefore, I must celebrate the holy mass with my best. As a priest, I need to be generous with my time for the holy mass for the people.
It is not by obligation that I celebrate the holy mass. It is by love, in love, with love, and for love.
I happily recall the reminders of the late Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, before he ordained me on Dec. 3, 2002: “Celebrate the holy mass because it is your life. Celebrate the holy mass even without stipends. Celebrate the holy mass even if there is a very small congregation. Celebrate the holy mass with love.”
For three days, I accompanied the three deacons of the Diocese of Baguio in their spiritual retreat before their priestly ordination. Deacons James Castillo on Jan. 16, Nelson Domerez on Jan. 18, and Vicente Ancheta on Jan. 20. I emphasized the three deacons because of the fraternal wisdom of Bishop Claver.
I wish to share my message for the 10th Etag Festival of Sagada, Mountain Province.
Faith and culture are inseparable elements of life. Faith is our communion with God that nourishes our soul. Faith will spell our primary identity and dignity, that is, “the image and likeness of God” and nobody can strip that from us. Faith begins in our baptism. We are spiritual and cultural beings.
Culture is our way of life where we find our indigenous people’s identity. The gauge of a good culture is its openness to dialogue with the Holy Spirit and its openness to purify itself from its bad aspects.
Our cultural values must conform to the culture of Jesus. Our culture is blessed with the material facets like our indigenous garments, dances, songs, and traditions. We generate them with its cultural values and meanings.
We have to admit that our culture has its weaknesses and gray areas. We need to live with it in the love and justice of God. Hence, the culture that is open to dialogue and promote peace is a culture that is integrated. Faith and culture and dialogue with God is called inculturation.
We see the good aspects of our culture. We weave the goodness of culture with faith. We modify and rectify the bad aspects of culture. We reject what is contrary with the gospel values.
Greed and jealousy are obstacles of inculturation and good governance. The Christmas Story narrates the five kings. The Three Kings humbled themselves and were led by the star to Jesus, the King of all nations. King Herod was threatened by the good news. He planned to kill Jesus because of greed and jealousy.
King Herod murdered many innocent babies because of greed and jealousy. We must be vigilant against greed and jealousy. We purify our culture from the gospel values.
Let our culture be the culture of Jesus, to love, to forgive, and to work for justice in order to attain authentic peace.
The government, the church, school, and family must collaborate for peace because peace is the face of true development. Peace is the face of God in our communities.
Our best gift for Sagada in 2023 is to generate godliness and goodness in our genealogy. We don’t replicate but we generate goodness to become our light to serve, integrate, communicate, and collaborate for peace.
Congratulations, officials of Sagada led by Mayor Felicito Dula and church leaders.
Happy Etag Festival.
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