2014 Year of the Laity

Fellow members of the Diocesan Catechetical Commission of San Pablo has instructed me to give a talk for the ongoing formation of the speakers bureau of the commission this coming July as an introduction for the Year of the Laity: Choose to be brave, called to be saints and sent forth as heroes.

We must remember that the year of the Laity is one of the preparation of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines 9 Year Program for the celebration of the Fifth Centennial  commemoration of the First Mass and baptism in the Philippine islands attended by those who first received the faith in Limasawa island in today's southern Leyte.  As a gratitude of joy, we celebrate the coming of Christianity in our archipelago last March 16, 1521 and on Easter of the same year March, 31, we remember the baptism of Rajah Humabon and his wife Harah Amihan to be called in Christian name as Carlos and Juana respectively. As well as on this occasion we set our eyes to the oldest religious icon in Philippines, the Sto. Nino as a gift of Ferdinand Magellan to the first Filipino Catholics. Last year, we started the prograin coincides eith the international Year of Faith called by Pope Francis. The nine year program or era of evangelization is:

2013 - Integral Faith Formation
2014 - Laity
2015 - The Poor
2016 - The Eucharist and the Family
2017 - The Parish as the Communion of Communities
2018 - Clergy and Religious
2019 - Youth
2020 - Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue
2021 - Missio ad Gentes

This is clearly stipulated in the Pastoral Exhortation on the Era of  New Evangelization: Live Christ, Share Christ promulgated by the CBCP. The Bishops would like to reach all sectors of society with special mention of the twelve, namely;
1. Young Professionals
2. Broken Families
3. Homeless and Jobless
4. Homebound and Prisoners
5. Farmer, Fisher folk and Laborers
6. Troubled Friends
7. Government Employees
8. Civic Organization
9. Public School Teachers
10. Indigenous People
11. Lay Saints and Catholic Filipino Heroes
12. Non Practicing Catholics

Keeping in mind these sectors of society which we wish to reach out will help us to will help us to embark in our spiritual journey towards the realization of Christ's mandate.

On our journey, we have also to see the three faces of Evangelization to help us widen our horizon that our present society demands:
1. Those who do not know Christ
2. Baptized Christians who are experiencing a new existential and cultural situation, which, in fact, has imperiled their faith and their witness
3. Baptized Christians but no longer practice the Christian faith

To understand more on the Era of the Laity, Let us define the word. The word comes from Latin word Laos meaning people. Though the meaning of the word if of general usage in the Latin world, the Catholic Church used it to coined for those people who received the sacrament of baptism and initiated to the faith as confirmed faithful.In short the baptized to differentiated it to those who received the sacred orders and consecrated life. The meaning in the negative sense are those who are not priest, brothers and nuns, simply the baptized and confirmed. 

This is to highlight that power God invested on our baptism. The gift of baptism which directs us to fulfill the mission Christ has entrusted before He ascended to heaven that not only been given to His apostles but even for those faithful followers who accepted his reign which is to 'go and make disciples of all nations and teach them  all of what He commanded". We have been called to share in Christ’s mission to spread the truth through our words and actions. To reach out to those who are in need of us.

The Year of the Laity Logo means:

The heart in the "Choose to be Brave" logo symbolizes LOVE.
The rays behind the hand symbolizes where the laity can be found: in the world, from all walks of life.
The open hand symbolizes the decision of the laity to respond to the call of mission. It also represents "generosity."
The rays symbolize the areas of the world where the Laity are called to bring the light of Christ. We are to "go out" and "make disciples"!
The flame over the heart symbolizes the ardor that the Spirit of Jesus ignites in our hearts so that we may "choose to be brave!"

The Second Vatican Council fathers in the Conciliar Decree Ad Gentes on the Mission Activity of the Church echoes once more God's generosity of giving us all baptized to partake the mission activity of the church (AG 2). A part of the universal design of which he deemed us to participate.  It is of this great gift of which we are invited and if truly we understand the nature of God's design in the history of salvation, we cannot be remain bystander in this great endeavour and privilege.

Choose to be Brave. We received the faith from God and must be accepted with an open heart. A heart, not with a faint heart. It must be a brave heart. To follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ requires bravery. It needs a loyal heart to withstand  not only pain but  series of pain and tribulation and even a lifetime of humiliation on the part of those who have other belief aside from being a follower of Christ. We need to choose to be brave. Christ chose to be brave in the sight of the cross and suffering. He knows that he is tracking a path of suffering. He did not depart from it. He accepted it with love and humility.
Called to be Saints. Sainthood is a calling, everybody is invited and we have to respond to it as followers of Christ. It is the gift that restores our place in the heavenly kingdom shattered by the sins of our first parents. Now, that it is offered to us back, we should not commit the same mistakes that our first parents have failed. This is the generosity that Conciliar Decree Ad Gentes is speaking about that we have to partake. The calling of sainthood to be truly received must be shared. No saint can enter heaven alone.

Sent as Heroes. Today, there is an ambivalent feeling to be called heroes because heroes dies. Yes, we have to die from our selfishness and materialistic ways. We have to live for others. Though Philippine situations does not require one to be martyred in faith like our two saints who dies in other lands because of faith. We have to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice for others so that they may live in Christ, so that they might know the teaching of Christ. We have to offer ourselves in whatever way so that others might live in Christ.

The Diocese in particular have not yet offered program in manner as envisioned above or had correlated it with the said national program. Maybe because we have new bishop and organizing the different commissions and ministries. However, each parishes can use the information that the National Committee had prepared. Please go to chosetobebrave.org. I have also embedded here the program for the year of the laity along with the workbook and manual.