Manila – On December 8th a group of persons with disabilities received the Sacraments of Baptism and First Holy Communion. Presided by Fr. Charlton Viray and concelebrated by Fr. Battista Omodei and Fr. Loyola Diraviam, it was a joyful event not only for the families of these children but also for the Guanella Center community. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella always insisted the importance of giving not only bread but first and foremost giving our Lord. As they received the Lord and the graces because of the reception of the Sacraments, let us pray that more and more special children may be privileged to receive the Sacraments. Unfortunately, very few parishes or dioceses have programs on how to catechize children with intellectual disabilities so that they can eventually receive the sacraments like ordinary Catholics do.
Our lives are beautiful gifts from God, and how we live them out is our prayer of gratitude for such a gift.
-St. Louis Guanella
The New Year’s fragrance staggered around the globe with its varieties of dreams, expectations and plans. We welcome the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one so happily. The manner of celebrating may differ from place to place. Nations use different calendars, but the passing of one year to the next is universally marked by deliberate reflections ‘change, to begin anew or making the gifted life as the best offering to God’ in the year to come. This is because we all hunger to be made new and, intuitively, we all know that means we must change within if we want to experience change around us. Today in this extremely-advanced world, this common hope ‘Changing or Newness’ stirs up everyone towards the ultimate destiny from where everyone sourced. But as for the truth, it can find its ultimate fulfillment only by turning to the One who can make all things new, Jesus Christ.
Adding significance to it, St. Gregory of Nazianzen once wrote, “The object of a New Year is not that we should just have a new period of time. It is that we should have a new soul and a new heart; new feet, new hands, new ears, and new eyes with the springs of Gospel and Christ. A life gifted by God must become reborn, renewed, rejuvenated in the Spirit of God, for unless a person be re-born and re-rooted in Jesus, he shall by no means cherish the life, the wondrous gift of God and make it a gratuitous prize for God.” For this, we are obliged to do three important projects in life: ‘Encountering God, Experiencing God, and Evangelizing God’. Encountering God or knowing the heart of the Father, through daily spiritual nourishment, Experiencing God, in conformity with Christ through personal holiness and moral maturity and Evangelizing God, through a life witness based on Gospel and natural norms.
Over the years, we have come to realize that every end truly can become a new beginning for the man or woman who has living faith in a living God who invites us to begin again, again and again. This invitation does not glow only with a bed of roses but is always accompanied by a bed of thorns. But God endowed upon us or has sown in us a divine gift to battle against all the challenges and clutches of the world. This gift is called grace – and through receiving this grace we become what the Apostle Peter called “Partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Pt 1:4). For our sustenance, God gave us an example of how we are to live, by sending His Son to preach forgiveness and mercy for repentance and to allow Himself to be the final and complete sin offering for all the collective sins of mankind for all time.
The next greatest example is Mary, the Mother of God. Mary is sometimes referred to in Catholic circles as the Mother of the New Creation because the One whom she held in her womb is the only One who makes all things new! Mary was the first disciple, the prototype, the symbol of the whole Church. Along with her Son, she sought for peace and holiness in the world. We who are members of the Church, the Body of her Son, are invited to emulate her ‘Yes’ to the invitation of God and make it our own. We are called to make a place for Him within us and become bearers of Christ to the world. For He alone can make us new.
Therefore, I pray that in the Year of Our Lord, 2017, as a province taking refuge in the providence of God, we may all find the fullness of grace and the new beginning which comes through entering into a living relationship with the One who makes all things new, Jesus the Christ. (Rv 21:5). Let us make a renewed effort at daily prayer and spiritual reading, as well as regular participation in the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church. Let us renew our commitment to those given to our care to always appreciate the beautiful gift of life in them. Let our sins be turned into virtues and be the gifts we give to God the Son. Let us renew our willingness to die to all within us that is offensive to the God Child and renew our commitment and love for the Mother of God. Each day, let us rejoice at the wonderful gift of life in abundance and an eternity of bliss and live our lives to the fullest capacity we can. Let us invest our talents in service to our Divine Lord and thank Him every day for the splendid graces He brings us. Let us thank Him as well for those times of travail, for these too are a gift from Him designed to strengthen our patience and compassion for those who are also suffering.
“Whoever is in Christ is a New Creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”
(2 Cor 5:17)
E. Providence – In preparation for the sacred day they will meet the Lord in the Eucharist, the First Communicants participated in a Banner Night at Sacred Heart School in early April. Families gathered to create a lamb to use at First Penance and a banner which will decorate the church on their special day. Please pray for these children as they receive these sacraments for the first time in May.