The Word Exposed Advent Recollection


Friends, we have it here again: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will preach another Advent Recollection at the Loyola Schools Covered Courts at the Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday, December 2.


The half-day recollection, where registration is free, will start from 8:30 a.m. up to noon. A Mass shall follow.

Here is the invitation from Cardinal Tagle’s Facebook page maintained by Jesuit Communications:




Dominus Est!

The Church in the Philippines has another reason to rejoice.

After the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod, the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI in his weekly General Audience came as a surprise when he revealed that there will be six new Cardinals for the Church, all of whom are not from Europe.

One of the six is Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, lovingly called “Chito” by those who have worked with him.


While we see that this is a gift for the Philippine Church at large, Tagle’s appointment as Cardinal came sooner than expected.

Manila Archbishop-Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was given the red hat in 2006, three years after his election as archbishop. Cebu Archbishop-Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal received his in 1985, two years after he was installed.

Tagle, only installed as Manila archbishop in December of last year, became cardinal in less than 12 months.

The good archbishop’s affiliation with Benedict is very apparent. When the former received his pallium, that thin garment with six crosses worn by metropolitan archbishops in Masses within their archdioceses, the two spoke for the longest time. My friends from the Ave Maria online community also noticed this as we were running our coverage for the reception of the pallium months ago.

Tagle, still a priest by then, and the erstwhile-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger worked together in the International Theological Commission, that body of the world’s brightest theologians who meet a week in a year to discuss the most pressing questions regarding the Catholic faith.

I will not be surprised though if he will be named to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the rod of Catholic doctrine in the Vatican, and with Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas named to Manila.

Granting that Tagle has been named Cardinal, fears have sparked regarding the Pope’s health. This appointment of new cardinals is the second this year. Last February, four Italians have been raised to the cardinalate, raising their number of cardinal-electors to 30. With this development, how wide are Tagle’s chances in ascending to the See of Peter in the event of a conclave?

Nothing is impossible. In fact, John Allen, a journalist for the US-based National Catholic Reporter, said that Tagle may be a papabile. Allen goes on to cite instances in Tagle’s life as bishop of Imus, where he rode the bus to work and took the pedicab to celebrate Mass for a barrio having its fiesta.

He might be another silent contender in the papacy (Jaime Cardinal Sin was also seen as a Papal contender due to his role in the 1986 Edsa Revolution). We’ve already seen John Paul II as pope from 1978-2005. No one ever expected him to be elected; yet, the Holy Spirit rained down on the Cardinals and inspired them to choose the now-beatified pope.

In this Year of Faith, while we still hover over these questions in the days to come, we could not but say “Dominus est.” It is the Lord.

Mamalandong Kita! Reflection for Friday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Brother Alan Luigi Flores

“You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

This week, our series of Gospel readings focus on the calling, the commissioning and the warning to the apostles.

True enough, the Church has had its share of persecutions, and continues to suffer them to this very day.

Evidently, the ways of the world are always in conflict with the ways of Jesus who always taught us to be very radical – that is, to shun the ways of the world and stand for what we believe in.

This is the very message of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Church has its share of haters and will continue to have its share of haters. That is what we are though, a community of sinners and saints, strong and faint.

If we want to find meaning to our suffering in this vocation to holiness, we better unite our suffering to that of the Lord crucified for our sake on the cross. There we will find how beautiful holiness is.

If we trace our steps back to the days of the early Christians, their prayers were not always about the “bless me, Lord”, or “Lord, give me this.” Rather, their utmost prayer was “Make me holy, Lord…”

Today we pray for perseverance in our vocation to holiness in the midst of suffering. We pray that the Lord may continue to give us strength to overcome all these so that we may be fruitful in our mission on earth.

God bless us all. Amen.

The persecution of Christians in the Praetorium.

Pagtatalaga ng buhay sa Panginoon

I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts on the theme we now use as a title here. This has been posted on the Ave Maria Pilipinas Facebook page.

My thanks go to Brother Weldann Panganiban for this wonderful chance.

As we usher in the Ordinary Time starting tomorrow, the Lord gives us another challenge, and we are faced with this question posed by the rich young man: “How must I inherit eternal life? (Mk. 10: 17)” And the Lord tells the rich man to sell everything he has and distribute the proceeds among the poor. And yes, the rich man went away sad.

In these times today, how do we give ourselves to the Lord?  How much of ourselves are we to give up in order to attain heaven?

The call to give up one’s self is very radical. As Christians we are never called to be comfortable. Remember the Lord even said that if we want to follow him, we have to take up our crosses. The road is hard, but yes, the rewards are great.

And since we are in the month of the Blessed Mother, the discomforts of giving ourselves up for the Lord are often soothed by that motherly care and affection by the Blessed Mother. This is because we trust all our cares to her. The song goes: “I do not sigh for the wealth of earth, for the joys that fade and flee”. In casting our cares to the Blessed Mother we only wish to see that “bliss untold which Thy arms enfold: the treasure upon Thy knee.”

No one ever said the road to heaven, the road to eternal bliss with Jesus is easy. Following Christ has never been a way of comfort. It never was and will never be. However, with the Blessed Mother, we will all enjoy her unfailing help. We are assured that everything will have its fruition, its reward. We will gain our prize. Heaven is our destiny.

Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help, and the Help of Christians, we cast all our cares to you as we follow your Son Jesus Christ. We know our reward is great in heaven when we dedicate ourselves to your motherly love. Be with us as we follow that rough road.

Happy Birthday, Your Holiness!

Exactly 85 years ago in 1927, Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born in Bavaria.

Ordained priest on the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) in 1951, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich-Fresing on March 24, 1977. Ratzinger was ordained later as bishop on May 28, 1977. He became a cardinal a month later in Rome.

Ratzinger was a professor of theology at Regensburg and other universities and is highly regarded for his writings.

In 1981 he became Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002. During these years

During the death of Blessed John Paul II Ratzinger played an important role in the day-to-day operations of the Holy See, including the celebration of the funeral mass of the late pope with whom he also had a special friendship.

In a seemingly expected turn of events, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, became the 265th pope in the unbroken list of Pontiffs on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday. He received the pallium on April 24 and took possession of his cathedra at the Lateran on May 7, 2005.

On Thursday he will celebrate his seventh year as Pope. Let us pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Long live the Pope!

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

The Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, waving to the waiting crowd at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican after his election as Pope on April 19, 2005, three days after his 78th birthday.

Jose Tomas Cardinal Sanchez, 1920-2012

While I was at ABS-CBN Cebu today, one of our brothers Lance Nicole Catacutan called me up and informed me of this sad news. Jose Tomas Cardinal Sanchez died in Manila today at 5:00 a.m. He was a week short of his 92nd birthday.

Here’s the item from GMA News:

A retired Filipino cardinal who served in a key post of the Holy See died in Manila before dawn Friday, one week before he was to turn 92.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III said Jose Cardinal Sanchez died at 5 a.m. in Metro Manila.
Pumanaw ang butihing cardinal mga 5 a.m., ngayong umaga siya pumanaw,” Quitorio said in an interview on dzBB radio.
Quitorio said Sanchez retired as bishop 10 years ago at the age of 80 but spent time in Rome before returning to the Philippines.
He said Sanchez had been appointed to head a department of the Vatican but had since retired.
Siya ay nakadestino bilang head ng department sa Vatican. Nang nag-retire siya, nag-stay siya sa Roma at bumalik sa Pilipinas,” Quitorio said.
For now, Quitorio said plans are still being finalized for Sanchez’s burial.
The website said Sanchez was born on March 17, 1920 and became a priest of Sorsogon on May 12, 1946.
He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Caceres (Nueva Caceres), and appointed bishop of Lesvi. He was ordainted titular bishop of Lesvi on May 12, 1968, the same website said.
Sanchez became co-adjutory bishop of Lucena on Dec. 13, 1971 and became Lucena bishop Sept. 25, 1976. He became archbishop of Nueva Segovia on Jan. 12, 1982.
On Oct. 30, 1985, he was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican, resigning as Nueva Segovia Archbishop on March 22, 1986.
He was elevated to cardinal on June 28, 1991 and was appointed Cardinal-Deacon on S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna on the same day.
He was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and appointed president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See on July 1, 1991.
Sanchez retired as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy on June 15, 1996. He was appointed Cardinal-Priest of S. Pio V a Villa Carpegna on Feb. 26, 2002.


With the death of Cardinal Sanchez, does this mean that we will have new Filipino cardinals? If we look at the circumstances now, Archbishops Luis Antonio Tagle and Jose Palma of Manila and Cebu, respectively, are ordinaries of cardinalatial sees. Remember, their predecessors are cardinals, and most likely Pope  Benedict XVI may create them cardinals.

However, their predecessors are still alive, which makes the possibility for them to be cardinals actually remote at this time.

Should Tagle be appointed cardinal however, he may actually even be appointed to the Roman Curia, considering his credentials as former member of the International Theological Commission during the presidency of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. This development may bring back Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas to Manila as its new leader.

Palma, on the other hand, may still remain a strong voice in the Philippine Church especially in his stint as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He may be appointed Cardinal in due time.

As to when they may be created cardinals, one thing is for sure: it is the Pope who calls the shots.


Comments? Mail me at

Why Forty?

The significance of the number 40 in Biblical literature is actually obvious in the Old and the New Testament.

For 40 years, Moses and the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land.

The Babylonian exile lasted for about 40 years.

Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert.

But this actually makes me wonder, is this literally 40? 40 years ba gyod ni siya?

We should note that the Bible should be read contextually, not at all time literally. Maglibog ra mo.

Now the purpose of making that point is that we never actually know how many days the Lord was actually led by the Spirit to the desert to be tempted by the devil. The number 40 is a symbolic number; meaning, it connotes a long time. Taas-taas gyod ni nga panahon.

Since today is the First Sunday of Lent, and since we read today in our Gospel about the temptation of Jesus, we will try to connect this one to our celebration of Lent.

How are the forty days of Lent counted?

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, the date of which is also dependent on the date of Easter Sunday.

The forty days of Lent are actually the weekdays from Ash Wednesday up until Holy Saturday. The Sundays of Lent are not counted as Sundays are always considered mini-Easters. A weekday in the Church also counts Saturdays.

Now try counting the number of days from February 22 up to April 7, the last day of Lent. Exclude the Sundays in the counting.

This Lent, like Jesus Christ, we are faced with a lot of things. Attachments, temptations, everything this world offers.

My confessor told me today that while this may sound contradictory, we may have to be proud–proud of God, and at the same time, be cowards–cowards toward the things of the world which are often presented as lovely and blissful.

True bliss, happiness and joy will only be felt if we actually defeat the temptations with the help of God. One just has to note though that being tempted is not the sin; rather, what is not good is when we succumb to it. However weak we may be, we are always strengthened in the hope that we will be able to fight temptation. Jesus today gives us an example of how it is to defeat those things: by reforming our lives and believing in the Gospel (Mk. 1:15).
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Be Gentle

This song by Jose Mari Chan actually describes what we need now for us to be able to live life to the full: peace.

Be gentle, be gentle
And all the world is yours
A river flowing home to sea, you shall be.

Be strong and know your heart
Protect the small, the weak
And love like morning rain shall fall on a song.

There is no peace in an angry heart
The wise know the truth
There is no power stronger than gentleness of heart.

Beneath the waters and the rock will turn to sand
It took a wounded man to show the world
That if we want to live, we must forgive.

O Lord, the night is long
The dawn cannot be far
When gentle winds of peace fill every heart.

A river flowing home to sea
I shall be.

Thanksgiving of the Tigol-Flores Clan

Silver Jubilee of Religious Profession of Sr. Mae Ann Flores, FMM
Stella Maris College, Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental
Luigi Flores
December 3, 2011

“You did not choose me, it is I who chose you.”

These are the words of our Lord that resonate to us as we celebrate another milestone in our family story.

It has been 25 years since our beloved Tita Mae Ann, or Tita Binyang to us here in the family, has left the comforts of this world in order to find something higher, something noble: marriage to Jesus Christ.

I must say that she was chosen from among so many of us here present. Apil na ko niini. Imagine that even before entering the religious life, she even had three boyfriends. And, my dear brothers and sisters, they have been loyal to her, thanks be to God.

God must have spoken to her through these events, even in her work with one of the largest department store chains in the country. Even before, she already had a strong desire to embrace the cross of Christ.

Tita Mae Ann has transformed so much (bisa’g maldita gihapon)  and thanks to your prayers and help, she continues to grow and journey with you, with us.

On behalf of our family, the Tigol-Flores clan, we thank you so much for receiving Tita Binyang into your lives as friend, sister, mother, co-journeyer in the faith, in her quest for the truth through love.

We thank the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, most especially to the delegate of your provincial superior and directress of this institution, Sr. Isabelita Suarez, FMM, for receiving her renewal to not boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ug labaw sa tanan, to Almighty God for granting her the perseverance to follow closely her call in imitation of Blessed Mary of the Passion and of our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Daghang salamat, Pax et bonum, ug maayong buntag.

On Priestly Celibacy

Tonight, allow me to share to you a thought on carrying one’s cross. Today’s Gospel talks about giving up everything in order to follow Jesus. How do we best live up to the standards of Christianity in our own ways?

Father Roy Cimagala, chaplain of CITE in Talamban, Cebu City, shares to us on his Facebook notes page the joys of priestly celibacy. In this way, may we reflect on how we as Christians love the sweet load that is given to us as much as priests like Father Roy try to live out to the standards imposed by Jesus himself, especially in the context of today’s gospel readings.

     I KNOW I am treading on dangerous water here. But I feel the issue has to be aired somehow. Priestly celibacy just cannot be marginalized, especially now when it is vastly misunderstood and a persistent wave of misconceptions continues to assail it.

    There are those who think that priestly celibacy is just an ecclesiastical law meant perhaps to serve some practical purposes in the life of the priest and of the Church.

    For sure, there is a good amount of practicality in a priest leading a celibate life. For one, it would make his life simpler, largely undisturbed by domestic concerns. The priest’s heart, time and attention could get more focused, more undivided for God and others if he is celibate.

    The Church leaders, bishops in particular, who are supposed to take care of their priests even financially, need not worry about having to support the families of these priests. The Church can run more smoothly with celibate priests.

    But there are those who also think that a priest can manage to work properly and even to be holy without being celibate. Proof of this, they say, is the growing number of married people who are also very active in Church affairs and thus are practically working like priests themselves.

    Some even say that these lay people can be more dynamic and effective than some priests. So, why can’t priests be considered like them? Or at least, why not make priestly celibacy optional? For those who want it, fine. But please don’t impose it on everyone!

    They claim that priests are also men and that they have certain needs that cannot be met in a celibate life. To rub it in, they say that many priests are actually not leading continent or chaste life. Ok, the point is made. Pertinent pieces of evidence are aplenty. So let’s stop there.

    We can actually go on and on with the pros and cons of priestly celibacy. I imagine that arguments, examples and statistics to support both sides will never be lacking. But I think we would be missing the point if we frame this issue within the parameters of practicality, human needs and ecclesiastical law alone.

    The law on priestly celibacy is not just about practicality. It has a deeper reason. And ultimately it rests on the truth that priests are conformed to Christ as head of the Church. They act “in persona Christi,” and as such, they are expected to live like Christ in his full status as the Son of God who became man to redeem mankind.

    Priests are the sacramental image of Christ wherever they are, 24/7. While their priesthood is most lived when they renew the sacrifice of Christ’s on the cross in the Holy Mass, they continue to be “in persona Christi” even in their sports, shopping and sleep.

    Priestly celibacy is actually an intrinsic requirement of priesthood, because Christ himself, on whom priests are conformed sacramentally and ontologically, that is, affecting one’s being, was/is celibate, his will fully engaged with the will of his Father.

    Recent studies show that while the law on priestly celibacy was first recorded in the 4th century, it must already have been required and lived during the time of the apostles. In short, the apostles must have understood their priesthood to involve celibacy.

    Proof of this can be gleaned from that gospel passage where Peter who, like many of the apostles, was married, told our Lord that he has left everything behind to follow Christ. (cfr Mk 10,28ff.)

    “Behold, we have left all things, and have followed you,” Peter said. And Jesus answered: “Amen, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who shall not receive a hundred times as much, now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

    And so, it is quite clear that during the time of the apostles, those apostles who were married understood that once they were ordained, they had to let go of their conjugal relations, of course in a voluntary way between the spouses.

    This mindset is reflected in all the historically recorded laws about priestly life and celibacy in the Western Church. The Eastern Church followed a more tortuous path but somehow also upheld priestly celibacy. Those laws were precisely made to protect, not impose, this intrinsic requirement of celibacy in priesthood.

Sweet the load of the priesthood. Alleluia.

Who's crying now?


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