Filipinos in Texas pause from teaching, join Good Friday ‘visita iglesia’

Saint Anne Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland

Filipinos teaching in Houston public schools brought family and friends to seven churches for Good Friday ‘visita iglesia’ starting here at Saint Anne church

HOUSTON, Texas – More than a dozen women and men from the Philippines teaching in one of America’s largest cities drove in a convoy on their holiday, Good Friday, to pay a visit to seven churches in keeping with Filipino tradition of visita iglesia.

In the Philippines, the general practice is to visit seven churches on Holy Thursday or Good Friday and make the Stations of the Cross in them.

Where the teachers’ group went and what they found?

1. re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross at Saint Anne church

Saint Anne Houston Jesus NJ Viehland

Actors act out Stations of the Cross at Saint Anne church in Houston. NJ Viehland Photos

2. warm welcome and kind accommodation from parishioners of St. Raphael the Archangel

They had moved the Blessed Sacrament for exposition in a small chapel, covered all statues and locked up the church, but opened it up briefly for the teachers’ visit.

Saint Raphael Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland 2

Saint Raphael church, Houston on Good Friday 2015. NJ Viehland Photos

Saint Raphael Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland

Saint Raphael Houston                              

3. Saint Francis De Sales was busy with some service so the teachers’ group prayed in the hallway before a cross draped with red cloth.

Saint Francis De Sales praying

4. Saint Thomas More Catholic community has built a shrine in memory of aborted babies

Saint Thomas Moore Church Houston aborted babies NJ Viehland

The group also visited St. Michael the Archangel, Holy Ghost and Corpus Christi churches.

Saint Michaels Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland

Filipino teachers and their families visit Saint Michael the Archangel church in Houston on Good Friday, 2015 

Holy Ghost Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland

Holy Ghost church in Houston is run by Redemptorist Fathers. NJ Viehland Photos

Corpus Christi Houston Good Friday NJ Viehland

Blessed Sacrament Fathers (SSS) administer Corpus Christi church in Houston. NJ Viehland photos

The Catholic Church recognizes the great responsibility teachers bear for building a society instilled with values and hope.

Pope Francis, in a recent meeting with educators called teaching a “beautiful profession” noting that it “allows us to see the people who are entrusted to our care grow day after day.”

The pope said only mature and balanced personalities can take on the “serious  commitment” to teach.  A former classroom teacher himself, the pope also reminded educators, “no teacher is ever alone: ​​They always share their work with other colleagues and the entire educational community to which they belong.”

He told members of the Catholic Union of Italian Teachers, Managers, Educators and trainers  (UCIIM) on their group’s 70th anniversary in March that being teacher is “like being parents, at least spiritually.” 

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Philippines bishop at Chrism Mass warns against ‘homily abuse’

Facebook photo from Chrism Mass in Dagupan City, Kenneth Baldueza mobile uploads

Facebook photo from Chrism Mass in Dagupan City, Kenneth Baldueza mobile uploads

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan called on his priests to prepare better to “preach Jesus Christ” to avoid “abuse” of the faithful with their homilies.

“Long, winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest,” Archbishop Villegas said in his homily for the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass with his priests, other religious and faithful who came to Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City, north of Manila, this morning.

He said long, winding, unorganized homilies are rampant and widespread, and people have jokingly called them their Sunday “scourges.” These sermons “abuse the kindness of the people who are forced to listen,” the bishop added.  

Archbishop Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, advised priests to prepare spiritually for homilies.

Following is the full text of his homily sent to Catholic in Asia:

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. – NJ Viehland Photos

HOMILY ABUSE!

CHRISM MASS MEDITATION 2015

My brother priests:

Today we make a spiritual journey again to the Upper Room to remember our priesthood.  We come once again to thank the Lord for calling us to be priests.  The Lord took a risk. He entrusted to us His Church. The longer we stay in this vocation the more clearly we see that it takes more than will power to remain a good priest. It needs grace. We need God. We need God to stay focused. We need God to stay on track. We need God to protect us and preserve us.

We have seen many abuses among the clergy—alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, gambling abuse, money abuse, traveling abuse, vacation abuse. Today, I invite you to turn your hearts to another very rampant and widespread abuse among priests—homily abuse. Yes abuse of the kindness of the people who are forced to listen to long, winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared, mumbled homilies. In jest but certainly with some truth, the people say our homilies are one of the obligatory scourges that they must go through every Sunday.

If you listen more carefully to what our people say about our homilies, they are not complaining about depth of message or scholarly exegesis. They are asked to endure Sunday after Sunday our homilies that cannot be understood because we take so long with the introduction, we do not know how to go direct to the point and we do not know how to end. Be prepared. Be clear. Be seated.

We were all abused by the homilies of our elder priests when we were seminarians. When our turn came to deliver homilies, the abused became the abuser.

If a seminarian lacks chastity, we cannot recommend him for ordination. If a seminarian is stubborn and hard headed, we cannot endorse his ordination. If a seminarian cannot speak in public with clarity and effectiveness, we should not ordain him. He will be a dangerous homily abuser. Homily abuse can harm souls.

Long, winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest. Saint Joseph Cupertino said “A preacher is like a trumpet which produces no tone unless one blows into it. Before preaching, pray this way: Lord you are the spirit, I am your trumpet. Without your breath I can give no sound.”

It is not enough to prepare our homilies; the good priest must prepare himself. Preaching is a ministry of the soul and the heart not just of the vocal chords and brain cells.  Our spiritual life is the true foundation of our homilies. The question is not what we will preach but rather who will we preach?  We preach only Jesus Christ; always Jesus Christ.

How shall we rise from the prevalent culture of homily abuse? What is our remedy?

The first call of the times is priestly sincerity. You can preach to empty stomachs if the stomach of the parish priest is as empty as his parishioners.  Our homilies will improve if we diminish our love for talking and increase our love for listening. When our homily is simply a talk, we only repeat what we know, get tired and feel empty. When you listen and pray before you talk, you learn something new and your homily will be crisp and fresh. We will be better homilists if we dare to smell again like the sheep.

The second challenge of our times is simplicity—simplicity of message and even more, greater simplicity of life. Simplicity of life will also help us to stop talking about money and fund raising in the homily; money talk has never been edifying. Simplicity means resisting to use the pulpit as a means to get back at those who oppose us–patama sa sermon. Simplicity also demands that we keep divisive election politics away from the lectern. Simplicity in homilies means not desiring to make people laugh or cry—that is for telenovelas and noontime shows. Simplicity in homilies makes people bow their heads and strike their breasts wanting to change, seeking the mercy of God. To be simple is to be great in God’s eyes. The simple lifestyle of priests is the homily easiest to understand.

The third and last challenge is a call to study. Reading and study must not stop after the seminary. If we stop reading and study, we endanger the souls of our parishioners. If we stop studying, then we start forcing our people to read the so-called open book of our lives– the comic book of our lives, hardly inspiring, downright ridiculous and awfully scandalous. The homily becomes our story and not the story of Jesus. Reading a bank book too much is not a good way to prepare our homilies.

Be careful with your life. The people watch us more than they listen to us. Be sincere and true. A double life, a secret dark life is stressful.

Be careful with every homily. God will judge you for every word you utter. Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practise what you teach.’

Be careful with every homily. They want to hear Jesus not you; only Jesus, always Jesus.

Be careful with your homily. Pity the people of God. Stop the homily abuse. Let your homily inspire and set hearts on fire.

Amen.

Five wounds of the Church today [Invitation to Lenten reflection]

Five wounds of the Church ISA Pilipinas