The Philippines is the most populous Catholic nation in Asia. We ought to be aware that the Catholic faith has been in the Philippines for 5 centuries now!!!!

These days, among the many things Benedict XVI is doing, he’s meeting with the Filipino bishops who are praying at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, all in an effort to strengthen the bond of unity between the universal Church and the Church in the Philippines. This is the second group of bishops from the Philippines led by Archbishop Palma of Cebu, is in Rome for the ad Limina. A third group will begin their visit on the 21st. Benedict addresses the body the bishops and also meets individually with each bishop. Every 5 years a bishop who heads a diocese is to make a pilgrimage to Rome to pray, to visit with the pope to report on the state of evangelization of the local church and to visit with the various departments at the Holy See. A quinquennial report is sent ahead of a bishop’s visit to the Eternal City so that the pope can study the good and areas of need of a particular diocese. It is the expectation that the ad Limina Apostolorum, to the threshold of the Apostles, helps in the transparency in bishop’s concern for the salvation of souls. What Benedict told the Filipino bishops today is appropriate for us here in the USA. A portion of the text is given below with my notations for emphasis.

OL Lourdes at St Peter's.jpg

Filipino culture is also confronted with the more
subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of
our times. When self-sufficiency and freedom are severed from their dependence
upon and completion in God, the human person creates for himself a false
destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made
. The path
to rediscovering humanity’s true destiny can only be found in the
re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person.

Above all, to keep God at the center of the life of the faithful, the preaching of you and your clergy must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives. Your great task in evangelization is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfilment. In this context, the second Plenary Council of the Philippines continues to have beneficial effects, the result being that many dioceses have formed pastoral programs focused on conveying the good news of salvation. At the same time, it must be recognized that new initiatives in evangelization will only be fruitful if, by the grace of God, those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves.

This is surely one of the reasons why basic ecclesial communities [Ed. e.g., Communion & Liberation, Focolare, Sant’Egidio, etc] have had such a positive impact throughout the country. When formed and guided by people whose motivating force is the love of Christ, these communities have proven themselves to be worthy tools of evangelization as they work in conjunction with local parishes. Similarly, the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organizations which continue to draw people to the Lord. In order to confront the questions of our times, the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the LordI therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront.

This primacy is of particular importance when it comes to the evangelization of youth. I am happy to note that, in your country, the faith plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to the youth at all levels. I encourage you to continue to remind young people that the glamour of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness. Only true friendship with God will break the bonds of loneliness from which our fragile humanity suffers and will establish a true and lasting communion with others, a spiritual bond that will readily prompt within us the wish to serve the needs of those we love in Christ. Care must also be given to showing young people the importance of the sacraments as instruments of God’s grace and assistance. This is particularly true of the sacrament of matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God’s presence may sustain young couples in their struggles.

San Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.