Movements of the ship: Sail, carry and reach

Movements of the ship: Sail, carry and reach

Pastoral Message on the occasion of the 25th National Seafarers Sunday
27 September 2020

In celebration of our National Seafarers Sunday, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, let me express our gratitude for the services and sacrifices of our dedicated and devoted seafarers. With your hard works, strength in body and spirit, your ships reach their destination efficiently and safely. We proudly recognize the sensible and credible pastoral care of the Apostleship of the Seas-Philippines. Our seafarers find a caring and loving home in our Stella Maris.

The Philippine Catholic Church is not only very proud of you but we spiritually journey with you in our prayers and commitment to your welfare and well-being. We are one with you for the promotion of your rights and protection. In the assuring words of our beloved Pope Francis, “you are not forgotten.”

Thanking Apostleship of the Seas-Philippines and Scalabrini Migration Center for this Webinar, let me share with you my reflective message focusing on the movements of the ships. For me, these are the following:

Ship sails in the open seas.
Ship carries its load.
Ship reaches her port, readies to sail again.

First, the ship is made to sail, to venture in the open seas. A ship docked at the port is safe, but that is not what the ship is meant for. She has to sail. Her strength is measured how she faces the harsh weather and braves the unpredictable oceans.

Our life here on earth is a journey, as if we are sailing on earth towards our true home, in Heaven. Whatever life has to offer, we go on. Even life has its ups and down, we are ready to ride into it. Even life is not smooth-sailing as its road is rough and rugged, we always raise our sails and look beyond the new horizon.

Our dearest seafarers don’t let the storms of separation and loneliness break your spirit and make you withdraw into dark corner of your being. Don’t let the waves of material pleasure and luxuries distract your vision of harmonious homecoming to your loved ones. We must not let the temptations of easy money or vices ruin our dreams of happy and healthy family.

Just remember, with our innate qualities as brave and best Filipino seafarers, our potentials for being fruitful and successful are as immense as the seas. In spite of what lies ahead, sail on.

Second, the ship carries her load. It can either be cargo or passengers, or both. As the ship takes her load, you do everything to give your best. Everything is well-taken care of, protected and conserved. Nothing will be lost, damaged, or wasted. Everybody is protected and being served with utmost diligence and respect.

In our earthly sailing, we bring and carry our luggage. We bear our loads. We are advised that too many luggage slow down our journey. So in life, take only what is very necessary, cast aside what will hinder us from completing our pilgrimage to God.

Our dearest seafarers, you have heavy burdens on your shoulders and the load weighs you down. Climate batters our body. Sustenance at home and the present condition of family members sometimes undermine our mental disposition. So be strong. Set your sight on God. Let Jesus be the captain of your soul. Anchor your life on His words. Jesus will surely keep us safe and successful.

If you are in pain or nursing family problems, your chaplains are available to walk with you and work for you. If you feel alone or at lost, your Stella Maris are your home and your comfort. If you need rest and refuge, your Apostleship of the Seas are your shelter and family. Come to us. We will walk alongside you, and help carry your loads.

Facing trials is like being hurled into a ferocious storm in the sea. But be encouraged. God’s providence is greater than all the problems and afflictions in this ocean of life. Nothing and no one can hinder His plans for you. His voice will be like a beacon of light in the middle of the sea, telling us “take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14, 27).

Lastly, the ship reaches her port. Even though the sea journey is long and tiring, the ship will surely dock at the port. Amidst storms and the scorching heat of sun, the ship’s journey will still come to its completion. Whatever the hindrance may be, the ship sails. Difficulties and setbacks will not derail nor stop her from sailing.

Reaching the port, the ship gets reviewed, making sure everything is accounted for; getting repairs or restorations done. She readies for the next sea voyages.

Yes, along our journey we get tired or even hurt. Our hurts can come from being rejected or ridiculed because of our color or customs, or even our accent. We hear offensive words. We are in pain because of problems at home or with our working relationships on board. These are moments to turn to God and trust Him more. Remember, God is always beside you. Recall His goodness. Our almighty God will refresh our spirit and we will surpass all those hardships. He will strengthen us, sustain us for renewed service.

Our dearest seafarers, our journey does not stop. But once at the port or at home, we focus not on the past but what lies ahead. We nurse our wounds. We correct our mistakes. We equip ourselves better with faith, experience, and hope. As the ship prepares herself to sail, we likewise move on. We don’t give up, having the assurance that with God, we will have a very successful completion of our journey and ultimately He will lead us safely back home.

On September 11, Friday, I, together with the parish priest of Saint Michael the Archangel in Orion, Father Percival Medina, along with Italian Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, Father Pierpaolo Monella, were supposed to be at the Port of Capinpin in Barangay Puting Buhangin in Orion for the first crew change hub outside Manila. It is the commitment of our country to the International green lane protocol where the change of crew of a certain vessel is accepted and facilitated. But reflecting deeper, this is not only to fulfill the International protocol but it is also a manner of showing our true character. We are genuinely very hospitable people, always extending our hands to help.

With grateful hearts, we thank and appreciate the goodness of our municipal mayor, Antonio Raymundo, who promptly arranged everything, informing him that our Diocese of Balanga is always open and offering her pastoral and spiritual services. We in Bataan, especially Barangay Puting Buhangin and Orion are not afraid to welcome those seafarers amidst the threat of Covid-19 pandemic.

We narrated to Father Pierpaolo that Bataan was formerly a refuge and home to the so called “boat people” fleeing from Indochina wars. From then on, Bataan has no borders. Her roads, our homes are wide open especially for those who take the “journey of hope.”

Unfortunately, Father Percival Medina whom came to me twice was contact traced from baptism he ministered the Sunday of September 6. This temporarily put a halt to our plans. But like a ship on quarantine, we patiently wait until the time we can go to Port Capinpin to welcome our dear seafarers. Who knows? You may be one of them. Meanwhile, let us anticipate that moment by fixing our gaze at these three movements:

Ship sails.
She carries the load.
Ship reaches the port.

+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga
CBCP Bishop-Promoter of the Apostleship of the Seas-Stella Maris Philippines

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