MESSAGE to the PEOPLE OF GOD
Communioas Gift and Mission
We were called together by the Lord and now he sends us forth!
We your brothers and sisters, members of the Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan,came together in the name of the Lord around our Archbishop Socrates from the many different parishes, schools and communities of our archdiocese to study together, to pray together and to discern together the will of the Lord for us His Church.
We came from many different backgrounds with varied ages, occupations and vocations and yet we celebrated that which made us one—the call to be saints together, that calling that you and all of us received from the Lord on the day we were baptized. There were more than one hundred seventy reasons to be different but we had only one reason to unite us—Jesus Christ. Indeed our Lord gathered together our differences and gave us the blessing of pananabangan. CommunioGod’s gift is also our mission.
We celebrated the synod under the grieving shadow of the more than 13,000 countrymen who have been killed in the anti-drug campaign. Although we live up north, we were not detached from the terror and destruction that the ongoing war in Marawi has wrought upon our brothers and sisters in southern Philippines. We allowed the uncorrected and widespread corruption in public service to disturb us and to challenge us in our deliberations. We were aware of the deep divide between the faith that our lips profess and the immorality that our lives tolerate. We did not ignore the discrepancy between the memorized dogmas in our minds and the scandalous example of our lives as members of the Church and citizens of the country. We were aware of the many forms in which the truth is being attacked by trolls, by fake news and the continuing erosion of courtesy and civility in the way we use social media. We were cognizant of the deep longing of our youth and children for meaning, a search that is not always answered with satisfaction by us their parents and pastors.
Indeed there were many shadows that hovered over our heads as the synod opened but the shadow of God’s presence was even stronger, more palpable and ever present.
Communio is our Key
At the conclusion of our Synod on Communio, we offer communio as the answer to all the doubts and questions that we face right now as citizens and as Christian believers. We began by looking at communioprimarily as a gift and mission but we now end the Synod appreciating communio as the light that can dispel all the shadows. Communio is our gift, our mission and yes….our key. Communio if truly lived has the incredible power remove all the shadows of our lives and make this world a better and more beautiful place where God’s light always shines.
Communio and the Killings
If we only allow the message of love in communio that binds the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to rule the way we live, how can the killings continue? Love does not kill. Love is life giving. Love nurtures. The drug user is a brother and a sister. His dignity comes not from his good behavior but from the breath of the Spirit that the drug user received when he was created. When love is forgotten, violence prospers. When God’s face in every person is ignored, death becomes the only way to end criminality. The blood of those killed in the anti-drug campaign is the howling symptom that the spirit of communio is lacking if not absent. The sense of bayanihan or communio must be killed first before the brother or sister is killed. If communio is alive, the sacredness of life will always be safeguarded. We are our brother’s keepers (Gen.4:9).
The terror in Marawi invites us to stay in communio beyond geography and distance. The death toll in Marawi, the martial law in Mindanao, the displaced evacuees in Iligan—they all challenge us to pray for peace, to work for peace, to give peace. The communiothat the synod adopted as the main agenda is not just a communio in Pangasinan. It is a communio that even goes beyond the borders of the Philippines and our planet. The whole universe is my brother, the entire creation is my mother. We are all one Body. No man is an island. None of us lives for oneself (Rom 7:14).
Communio and Corruption
We offer the spirit of communio as the healing balm to cure the rampant culture of corruption that we all complain about. Many of us feel helpless about graft. Many have grown cynical if not numb. Corruption indeed thrives in hiddenness. The corrupt gets bolder thinking that no one sees. Lady Justice is blind and it only becomes wrong if you are caught. Communioas a spirituality will jolt those tempted to steal secretly that nothing is secret because God knows. If communio is lived, it will become the conscience to stand in the way of stealing public funds. In communionothing is hidden; stealing hurts right away and sin is punished always.
Communio and Technology
All human inventions most especially technology must be at the service of communio for humanity. Social media must be put at the service of communioso that it can do great things. It must connect not divide. It must build not destroy. It must help us do great things not diminish our human values. We have given computers the ability to think like humans but we humans have started to act like computers—without ethics, without courtesy, without truth, without mercy, without decency, without love. Trolls will remain trolls but why do we allow ourselves humans to become trolls? Indeed at the sunset of this earthly life, we will be judged not according to the “likes” we received on social media but on the imprints of love we have left on one another. Paraphrasing Mother Teresa of Calcutta, God calls us not be to successful and popular but to be faithful and loving. To live for love and service is the fruit of living in communio.
The Eucharist is Communio
The Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life is the source and summit of communio. God comes to us and we go to Him. In the Eucharist, God and humanity become a communio. In this communio, our youth and children can find the meaning they seek. So much still needs to be done if we wish to discover the hidden treasures of the Mass. The Mass as communiois the life of the entire people of the Church. In the words of Pope Francis, the Eucharist is an action for the people and of the people.
We dream to be a Church of the poor. There is a lot that we must let go in order to become better teachers of the Gospel. Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses…It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world. (EvangeliiNuntiandi, 41).
Communio challenges us to go beyond doing good things for the poor into living poor and being poor with the poor. The communio we profess for the poor would be plain lip service unless we live with the poor, eat the food of the poor and sleep with the poor. We are all poor in many and varied ways.
Communiodemands from us a deeper commitment to the Gospel of simplicity. We are called to self-effacing humility in service. Communio demands conversion and witnessing. The Gospel according to the poor is like a mine of infinite treasures and only the pure of heart can find it. It is not the Gospel dressed in gold that will convince the world about Christ but the Gospel of humility and simplicity. It is not the Gospel that threatens but the Gospel that invites that will inspire.
Here before the feet of Our Lady of Manaoag, the lady whose loving call we have heard, the voice that invites us to live in communio, we renew our commitment to be a Church in pananabangan. We invite you our brothers and sisters in the faith to embrace what we have seen, to follow what we have heard and to live what we here celebrate.
Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, take us into your heart where your Son always lives. With you, we want to live always in communio with Jesus.
We were called together by the Lord and now he sends us forth!
From the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, September 9, 2017 at the conclusion of the Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan, we the one hundred seventy members together with our Archbishop Socrates greet you in the communio of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.