Year of the clergy and religious

Year of the clergy and religious

AS part of the 9-year plan of preparation of the 5th centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines in 2021, our bishops have declared 2018 as Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.

It’s a good year-long occasion to reflect and deepen ourunderstanding of the crucial role the clerics and consecrated personsplay in the lives of the people. Let’s hope that at the end of theyear, we could truly say there in a quantum leap in such understandingand in our love, appreciation and support for the men and women whodedicate themselves in a special way in the vineyard of the Lord.

In that way, we can say that we are really readyingourselves for this landmark event in the history of our country thatshould fill us with great joy and thanksgiving, and a stronger resolveto be more generous in our self-giving and fidelity.

At the moment, there is already a lot of talk about priests and religious to be truly “servant-leaders” who have to mediate or act as a bridge between God and men. In the Archdiocese of Cebu, for example, the monthly recollections for priests are themed after this ideal.

Let’s pray that the whole year will produce real fruits of sanctity in these men and women, myself included, that go beyond slogans, euphemisms and play-acting. Let’s pray that these men and women, myself included, will truly assume the very mind and heart of Christ, our Redeemer, to such an extent that like Christ they, we,would be willing also to be crucified.

We should be priests and religious through and through,from head to toe, from outside to inside, and not just priests andreligious in name only, nor priest-politician, priest-sociologist,etc. We should only be priests and religious who faithfully andconsistently show Christ to everyone, and who act out what Christ toldhis apostles: “He who hears you hears me.” (Lk 10,16)

And so we have to be clear that the only way we, priests,can truly become “servant-leaders” is when everyone strives toidentify himself more and more with Christ, the priest, thequintessence of a “servant-leader” who gave his all, including hislife, for the salvation of men.

In this regard, it might be helpful to remember thosefamous words of St. John the Baptist that expressed his attitudetoward his vocation. “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.”(Jn 3,30)

It might be good to make a good inventory of the issues relevant in making priests and religious true “servant-leaders.” The continuing formation should be beefed up, and greater attention should be given on how each priest and religious can be attended to spiritually. Very often they are left on their own, practically like a sheep in the midst of wolves and many have been eaten up.

We need to look more into how each priest and religious are living the crucial virtues of piety, poverty, obedience, chastity,fraternity, etc. These are basic and need to be lived well before we can be effective and credible in our ministry. These are no joking matter. These are where the temptations are most insidious and devious in the lives of priests and religious.

May it be that we, priests and religious, deserve thosewords spoken in the Book of Jeremiah: “I will give you shepherds aftermy own heart, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and goodsense.” (3,15)

Please pray for us, priests and religious. We need it badly!