PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK: FROM INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: ARDOR AND DISCIPLINE


JAN 18 ---As of yesterday, Filipinos have displayed discipline in welcoming Pope Francis. No untoward incident involving the throngs of adoring faithful has marred the Pope’s trips to and from his scheduled activities and his official residence during his stay. Not only those in charge of and implementing the security measures but also the people should be commended for the—so far—smooth proceedings. It seems like the public and private sectors had a good handle on the scope and challenge of properly hosting Pope Francis’ first visit to the Philippines. The planning actually began last year, immediately after the visit was announced, and continued almost nonstop throughout the Christmas season. (Earlier in Rome, the Pope had asked the people gathered at St. Peter’s Square to “please accompany me with prayers.” He himself had gone to pray at St. Mary Major Basilica, according to Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, head of the Holy See Press Office. “[He] prayed to the Madonna for a safe trip; he always does that,” Lombardi told the Inquirer’s Lito Zulueta.) READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD: Good news!  

The story is told about a priest who said in his homily: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is enough money to complete our church. The bad news is that the money is still hidden deep in your pockets.”  * * * Today is the Feast of the Santo Niño. In today’s Gospel (Jn. 1, 35-42), we hear of how two disciples encountered Jesus, and stayed with Him all day. It must have been such an amazing experience for them, so much so that they joyfully shared the good news with others. In particular, John told his brother, Peter, that he had found the Messiah, and brought him to Jesus. * * * Pope Francis is good news personified! His presence, his very person, and his message to us these past days have made us realize that we all can be good news, and that we, too, can be agents of good news. The “Francis effect” is simply the realization and acceptance that life has a purpose and meaning, that there is hope, and that there is a God filled with mercy and compassion. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: A Pope’s silent heart


Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines will be remembered for many highlights, especially the unexpected kind, but perhaps the true center of the visit was his powerful, deeply moving and, yes, unexpected homily in Tacloban City on Saturday. The daylong trip to Tacloban and neighboring Palo, ground zero of the “Yolanda” catastrophe, was the main reason for the Philippine visit; the Mass held near the Tacloban airport marked the first time he would meet many of the supertyphoon’s survivors. That the Mass pushed through, with at least 200,000 devout Catholics in attendance, wearing thin raincoats under stormy skies, was itself almost a surprise. READ FULL EDITORIAL...


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EDITORIAL: Ardor and discipline

MANILA, JANUARY 19, 2015 (INQUIRER) As of yesterday, Filipinos have displayed discipline in welcoming Pope Francis. No untoward incident involving the throngs of adoring faithful has marred the Pope’s trips to and from his scheduled activities and his official residence during his stay. Not only those in charge of and implementing the security measures but also the people should be commended for the—so far—smooth proceedings.

It seems like the public and private sectors had a good handle on the scope and challenge of properly hosting Pope Francis’ first visit to the Philippines. The planning actually began last year, immediately after the visit was announced, and continued almost nonstop throughout the Christmas season. (Earlier in Rome, the Pope had asked the people gathered at St. Peter’s Square to “please accompany me with prayers.” He himself had gone to pray at St. Mary Major Basilica, according to Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, head of the Holy See Press Office. “[He] prayed to the Madonna for a safe trip; he always does that,” Lombardi told the Inquirer’s Lito Zulueta.)

With memories still fresh of the attempt on the life of Pope Paul VI in 1970 and the plot to kill Pope John Paul II in 1995, ensuring Francis’ safety during his four-day visit is a top-priority undertaking. President Aquino appeared on TV to exhort Filipinos to do their part, invoking not only the government’s “obligation” but theirs as well. “Do we want the Philippines to go down in history as the country where a tragedy involving the Holy Father took place?” he said.

Malacañang had declared Jan. 15, 16 and 19 special nonworking holidays, thus the traffic-free streets on the papal route. The Philippine National Police had deployed 25,000 officers to provide security throughout the visit; the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, announced that the 150,000-strong police force would be on full alert. Yet the security measures center on both the Pope’s protection and the people’s wish to see him. “We are considering everything—his preferences, his personality, the crowds that will reach millions. That will serve as a challenge to us,” Mayor said earlier.

The Coast Guard declared Manila Bay off-limits to seacraft and civil aviation authorities declared “no-fly zones” over the various places where the Pope had scheduled events, in both Manila and Leyte. The public endured cut mobile and Internet services at certain periods, with due apologies from the top two telcos.

Still the faithful managed to give the Pope a rousing, indeed euphoric, welcome on his arrival. And they continue to do so at every stop, at practically every step of the way, waiting for hours at Villamor Air Base, the Apostolic Nunciature, Manila Cathedral, Mall of Asia Arena, Tacloban and Palo in Leyte, and the avenues leading to and from these places, with joy, fervor and hope. (“It’s like a big, big, big, big national fiesta,” enthused Cardinal Luis Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila.)

The contingency plans were clearly working yesterday, when powerful rain and wind brought by Typhoon “Amang” forced the Pope to cut short his trip to Tacloban and Palo. Instead of the originally planned 5 p.m. departure for Manila, he had to apologetically skip some events, was airborne at shortly past 1 p.m., and was safely back in Manila an hour or so later.

The big challenge remains today’s Mass at Luneta, where police estimates put the possible turnout at a mind-boggling six million. But for the faithful, it has already been a greatly satisfying visit, and something that Filipinos can be proud of. Director Carmelo Valmoria of the PNP National Capital Region Police Office has gone on record to express thanks. “The people really followed the rules. They listened to our safety reminders,” he said.

Observers will come away with a clear conclusion: It can be done. The faithful can be requested to keep their ardor in check for the orderly and peaceful visit of the man they call the Vicar of Christ. In the matter of crowd control, other than a number of reported fainting spells among those who had spent hours waiting to be blessed or to simply record a historic moment, there has been no mishap. Everyone must continue to do his/her part to ensure that everything holds even as each seeks his/her own grace.


Good news! Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:29 AM | Sunday, January 18th, 2015


 Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD

The story is told about a priest who said in his homily: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is enough money to complete our church. The bad news is that the money is still hidden deep in your pockets.”

* * *

Today is the Feast of the Santo Niño. In today’s Gospel (Jn. 1, 35-42), we hear of how two disciples encountered Jesus, and stayed with Him all day. It must have been such an amazing experience for them, so much so that they joyfully shared the good news with others. In particular, John told his brother, Peter, that he had found the Messiah, and brought him to Jesus.

* * *

Pope Francis is good news personified! His presence, his very person, and his message to us these past days have made us realize that we all can be good news, and that we, too, can be agents of good news. The “Francis effect” is simply the realization and acceptance that life has a purpose and meaning, that there is hope, and that there is a God filled with mercy and compassion.

* * *

A lot has been said and a lot will be said about Pope Francis, but one thing that stands out is the child in him. He is cheerful, simple, humble, spontaneous and sincere because of his deep conviction that he is a child of God, and he wants us all to accept and spread that good news as well.

* * *

A Santo Niño moment happened when Pope Francis started his homily at Manila Cathedral with “Do you love me?” and spontaneously the whole church reverberated with “Yes, we love you!”

And the Pope smiled and said, “Thank you very much!” But he went on to say that it was not he but Jesus who was asking that question. Here lies the strength of the Pope: He knows that it’s not all about him, that it’s all about his Master.

* * *

How can one person affect so many? How can his presence, even if for only a few seconds, be such a religious experience? There are so many things we cannot explain, for how does one explain grace, for that matter? Yes, we have seen a glimpse of the divine, and we have been embraced by grace through this one person called Pope Francis.

* * *

Sacrifice. The Pope’s visit involves a lot of sacrifice on his part, with 78 years behind him. But his is a joyful sacrifice, reaching out to the people, braving the wind and rain, going out of his way to make us feel the love of God. And our people also joyfully made a sacrifice just to catch a glimpse of him. And even held on to discipline! Yes, things fall into place when we all focus on God, and not on ourselves.

* * *

As I write this column on Saturday, the papal plane has just landed in stormy Tacloban City. It’s a brave-hearted pope we have, risking life and limb to be with his people who have been through so much pain and suffering. We have still so much to learn from him about what true sacrifice and sincere love are all about…

* * *

As of this writing, we don’t know how the Pope’s return trip to Manila would be in the afternoon. (The papal plane landed safely at Villamor Airbase shortly past 2 p.m.—ED.) His dedication and sense of mission are so strong, and his trust in God and the Blessed Mother is so inspiring. He donned a yellow raincoat just like the ones the people were wearing, and celebrated the Mass with it. The shepherd—one with his sheep, in mission and in worship. A new liturgical vestment is born!

* * *

The Pope declined a state dinner with government officials and the high and the mighty of our society and chose to have lunch with the typhoon and earthquake survivors. His visit is primarily not a state but a pastoral visit, in solidarity with the poor and the needy—his priority, even while a tropical storm is raging. May the Holy Spirit blow into the country winds of change and conversion, and blow away greed and

corruption.

* * *

Pope Francis taught us in his homily at Tacloban airport the power of speaking from the heart. He set aside his prepared homily, and asked the people that he be allowed to speak spontaneously, and in Spanish, his native language. He is one who speaks mula sa puso.

* * *

The Pope also taught us the power of prayer, and the power of silence—when we can really listen to God and feel His presence, embrace, and love.

* * *

One more thing we can say about Pope Francis is that he is not afraid to apologize, to ask permission, to obey, to be candid and witty! Mabuhay ka, mahal na Santo Papa!

* * *

One image I will never forget is the euphoria of the people as Pope Francis passes by, and how they go home with smiles on their faces, joy in their hearts, and precious images in their gadgets. Yes, they go back renewed, ready to face the hard realities of everyday life, and braving the greedy wolves that continue to prey on them.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Thank You, Lord, for bringing to us the good news through Pope Francis. By our very lives may we do the same. Amen.


A Pope’s silent heart Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:13 AM | Monday, January 19th, 2015

Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines will be remembered for many highlights, especially the unexpected kind, but perhaps the true center of the visit was his powerful, deeply moving and, yes, unexpected homily in Tacloban City on Saturday.

The daylong trip to Tacloban and neighboring Palo, ground zero of the “Yolanda” catastrophe, was the main reason for the Philippine visit; the Mass held near the Tacloban airport marked the first time he would meet many of the supertyphoon’s survivors. That the Mass pushed through, with at least 200,000 devout Catholics in attendance, wearing thin raincoats under stormy skies, was itself almost a surprise.

It has been reported that the possibility of canceling the flight to Tacloban as Typhoon “Amang” continued to bear in on the eastern Philippines was raised with him, but Pope Francis insisted on proceeding. Schedules had to be revised not only once but twice—a difficult undertaking in the best of times, given security protocols and the logistics of rescheduling the flight arrangements of a large contingent of Vatican staff, accredited media personnel and government officials. Amang made the task even more complicated.

But the Pope did land in Tacloban, something he had long been praying for. When it was time for the homily, he set aside his prepared remarks (“If you allow me, I prefer today to speak in Spanish”) and spoke from the heart.

He shared confidences. “I’d like to tell you something close to my heart. When I saw, from Rome, that catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here. And on those very days, I decided to come here. I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here.”

And then he addressed directly the perennial question of human suffering. “‘Father,’ you might say to me, ‘I was let down because I’ve lost so many things. I lost my house, my livelihood, my family. I’ve [an] illness.’ It’s true if you would say that. And I respect those sentiments. But [as he said this he turned to the wooden cross] Jesus [is] there nailed to the cross. And from there he does not let us down.”

And, shortly after, he extemporized the words that have since been shared widely among Filipinos, and which led many in the Tacloban audience to weep openly. “So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence. And I walk with you all with my silent heart.”

These words are an emphatic reminder of the mystery of suffering—a daily, ordinary reality for all of us, and in the case of such calamities as Yolanda, which rendered a million Filipinos homeless and claimed the lives of over 6,000 people, an extraordinary one, too. In the face of that mystery, Pope Francis did not offer himself as an expert, but merely as a witness, even a mute one, with finger firmly pointed at Jesus on the cross, “a Lord who cries with us and walks with us in the most difficult moments of life.”

The “word cloud” above shows the frequency of the words Pope Francis used in his spontaneous remarks in Tacloban; the bigger the word, the more frequently used. The word cloud shows us the emphases Francis chose to make: Jesus, lord, mother, cross. And, tellingly, also “let.” In the Tacloban homily as in his other statements, Pope Francis uses that specific word as an invitation. “Let us respect a moment of silence together.” “Let us look to our Mother.” “Let us move forward and walk together.”

It is an invitation to let the crucified God do the talking.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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