“In the Year of Mercy, widen our horizon–not to be lax that there is no sin–but that people far away from the Church would feel welcome because they are lead by…leaders in the parish who will welcome them, especially people in difficult marital relations,” sternly reminded the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D., Bishop of Novaliches, in his homily during the Holy Mass of the Diocesan Orientation on the Jubilee of Mercy held last February 20, 2016 at the Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd in Fairview Park, Quezon City.
The Bishop cited that the theme of the Jubilee of Mercy is to be “Merciful As The Father” and emphasized that “we can only approximate the mercy God is extending us”. As such, he reiterated that we must never limit the mercy we extend to others–to those in our families and our immediate communities.
He went on to cite the recently-held Synod On The Family where the situations of married people was one of the topics discussed. He then differentiated a civilly married couple from those simply living together and how the said situations will differ in the dispensation of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
“The civilly married are people who have been living a good married life minus the Sacrament. They are faithful to one another and work night and day for their family,” he explained, immediately adding, “Huwag natin silang kulitin! Just be kind to them…Maybe they, in the end, will come to the point that they wll be married properly.”
Bishop Tobias elaborated that the Catholic Church respects even natural marriage or those involving people not yet baptized. This then extends to those civilly married, which is only one step before final marriage or Holy Matrimony.
He raised the question if those civilly married should be given the Sacraments considering they are not in their proper order in the Church. To which he answered, “Mercy and compassion demands from the parish priest to give them Holy Communion at least once a year after receiving the Sacrament of Confession.”
According to the Bishop, the occasions a priest can give a civilly married couple Holy Communion are once during Christmas, once during Easter, and, depending on the situation, on the birthday of each one of the couple.
The Bishop said he has been practicing this in the 12 years he has been the Diocese of Novaliches as its Shepherd. He then called on the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) members to do the same, along with the rest of those serving in the Church as a means to extend the mercy of the Father to the Faithful.
The Diocesan Orientation on the Jubilee of Mercy was an activity spearheaded by the Pastoral Office through its Commission on Faith and Formation, Commission on Family and Life, and Social Action Commission meant to arrive at a common direction for the Diocese, its Commissions, and its Ministries in the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis alongside the celebration of the Year of the Eucharist and the Family declared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for the year 2015-2016.
The said event, also referred to as The Year Of Threefold Blessing, was attended by close to 700 people–comprised of Clergy, Religious, and Lay–from the 63 parishes (11 Vicariates) and from the different Commissions and Ministries of the Diocese.
Speakers from the said event included Vicar General for Administration Msgr. Jesus Romulo Rañada who delved on the Bull of Indiction On Indiction On The Extraordinary Year Of Mercy through the talk, “The Face Of Mercy Is Jesus, In the Eucharist and With The Family”; the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD on “How To Lead The Diocese Towards The Path of God’s Mercy”; Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs Rev. Fr. Antonio E. Labiao, Jr. on “The Present Ministries Of The Diocese As A Response To The call Of The Pope”; Caritas Novaliches / Social Action Commission Overall Lay Coordinator Atty. Ira Carlota-Agustin on “The Experience Of The Laity In Ministry”; and Commission on Religious Extra-Ordinary Visions and Phenomena Director Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Nonato Legaspi on “New Acts Of Mercy According To The Present Needs Of The People”. (~Minnie De Luna)