The country’s new cardinal, Jose Advincula, recently called on laypeople to be living witnesses and “missionary disciples” even amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cardinal Advincula of Capiz said there are many ways to be missionaries—taking what they have learned and sharing it with others.
“Even if most of us are forced to stay at home, we can still carry out our mandate to be missionary disciples,” Advincula said.
“Through our words, actions and our total commitment to the faith, we can all preach the Gospel to others around us be it at home, work places, schools and within our small communities,” he said.
The cardinal was speaking in his homily during the Mass at the cathedral for Roxas City’s fiesta on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Advincula wore a face shield and a face mask during the entire celebration in accordance with the health and safety protocols suggested by the government.
According to him, Catholics should not just be at the receiving end of instruction and witnessing, but should also be prompted to instruct and give witness to their faith.
“We cannot be disciples only, we have to be missionaries,” he said. “We are missionaries that are mandated to proclaim the Good News of our salvation.”
Proclaiming the Gospel, he stressed, is not just the task of the clergy and consecrated persons reserved in pulpits, but also by the laity.
Such missionary mandate, he added, is coming from Christ Himself and was lived by the early missionaries that arrived in the Philippines 500 years ago.
The cardinal also recognized the acclaim that Filipinos are known worldwide as being devout Catholics.
“Filipinos are known throughout the world because of our devout Catholic faith [especially] through our migrant workers and missionaries [who] serves the Church in almost 200 countries around the world where Filipinos are present,” he said.
Youth urged: Use energy for the service of God
Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop encouraged young people to be true witnesses of faith by sharing their energy and service to the Church.
Speaking in the opening Mass of the Diocesan Youth Day of Cubao, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco pointed out the significant role of young people in the life of the Church.
“The challenge to our youth is we have a lot of energy. Hopefully, we use that energy to grow our faith to be able to inspire other people,” Ongtioco said in his homily.
“My dear young people, you are the hope of the Church, the hope of our diocese. Hopefully you respond,” he said.
Present during the Mass at a chapel in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City, were members of the Diocesan Ministry of Youth Affairs.
He called on the youth to draw inspiration from Blessed Carlo Acutis, who used the Internet to spread his faith.
The Italian teenager, who died of leukaemia in 2006 at age 15, has already been dubbed “the patron saint of the Internet.”
“As young people, you have much to share,” Ongtioco said. “You can make a difference.”
As the Mass was held on the eve of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, he also urged young people to imitate the Virgin Mary by abandoning themselves to God.
The bishop noted the Blessed Mother’s virtue of “single-mindedness” that may be “one of the things we can learn from this feast.”
He said it is important to have this virtue because it also reflects one’s strong beliefs and convictions and, in turn, affects how we influence others.
“Be like Mary who is vigilant,” he said, “Mary was single-minded in following the will of God.”
Due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s diocesan youth day was held online until December 12 through the diocese’s Ministry of Youth Affairs Facebook page.
The virtual celebrations feature talk and testimonies on the theme “Arise! Young Man, I Say to You, Arise,” which was adopted from Pope Francis’s message for the 35th World Youth Day 2020. CBCP News
Image credits: Sancta Maria Materet Regina Seminarium