Transcript of Msgr. Jesus Romulo C. Rañada’s Talk “Salient Points and Present Challenges to Our Life and Ministry as Priests” During The Symposium On The Priesthood And The Gospel Of Mercy, June 13, 2016, Santuario De San Paolo, Casa Milan

Msgr. Jesus Romulo Ranada during the Eco-Eucharistic Celebration at La Mesa Eco Park last June 11, 2016, which was the 1st Day of the Eucharistic Days of Mercy in the Diocese of Novaliches

Ang title ng ating Symposium, “Ang Pari at Ang Awa at Habag ng Diyos.” Maganda sana na tanggalin na natin yung “at,” But we need to speak about the priests and God’s mercy and love. But the real hope is for us no longer to separate and intend to put them together. When you say, “Ang Pari,” parang kasama na dun yung Awa’t Habag ng Diyos

So this is a Symposium On The priesthood and the Gospel of Mercy. What I am going to give you is an attempt of the synthesis. Mahirap pong magsynthesize–ang gaganda ng mga narinig nating mga ideas and they are really worth reflecting upon. Kailangan pa nating more time to really digest and to benefit from these in our priesthood and ang mga Layko at mga Religious natin to better understand also our situation and to help us in our effort to be faithful priests.

So I would like to present the salient points which, to me, are really the most important. But I know that for you, siyempre depende po sa atin ito, so for you, you would be choosing perhaps, other salient points, but these are to me, the most touching, which I consider the most important for me.

I will also try to mention vital opportunities and crucial challenges to our life and Ministry as Priest. Pagdating dun sa mga opportunities, meron talagang mga opportunities na prinesent sa atin that is really something vital. It determines our life as priest–kung tayo ba ay maging masayang mga pari o mga sabi nga eh, maasim na mukha, eh.

So, what are the opportunities presented us and what are the challenges crucial sapagkat if we are able to face the challenges and deal with them effectively, then it would spell the continuity of our Ministry with a sense of joy in serving the Lord. So yun po ang ibig sabihin nung vital opportunities and crucial challenges.

Now this is my attempt at the synethsis for the four conferences we have heard. The first given by Fr. Dani, “Jesus’ Message of God’s Mercy and Compassion Towards A Joyful Living Out Of Our Priesthood”. The second conference was “The Priest In Pope Francis’ Vision Of A Church That Goes Forth To The Peripheries: Rekindling Our Sense Of Love And Mission”.

The third conference was given by Fr. Cruz, “Nurtured And Nurturing: The Priest And The Sacrament Of The Holy Eucharist He Celebrates”. And the last but not the least, given by Bishop Mylo, “The Pastoral Ministry Of Mercy And Compassion To Priests And Among Priests: The Grace of Shepherding the Shepherds”.

Let me just present to you some of the most important points especially for the first conference. Four theological elements have been given to us by Fr. Dan.

Number one: Mercy is a relevant but forgotten concept. Karl Casper was the one who wrote a book and made this very important point. And when Pope Francis became pope, he took this up, inspired by what Cardinal Casper has written. Mercy is a relevant but forgotten concept.

Many of our theologies have gone to the metaphysical way reflecting on the attributes of God–the ontological attributes. Natutunan natin yan sa seminaryo. But mercy is something that, that is really biblical. It is something that we need to preach.

Wala naman sa ating nagthetheologize pag tayo’y naghohomily. But, really, one of the most powerful homilies that we could ever hear is when we preach about God’s mercy. And this remains relevant for us.

And It’s good that we have come to rediscover it, thanks to Pope Francis. Mercy is God’s main attribute and yan ang binigyang diin. Sabi, it is the Name of God–Pope Francis in his latest book–Miserando Atque Eligendo, again highlights the experience of Pope Francis as one who has been chosen to lead the chuerh aware if its being lowly, after Matthew who was called, sinful but chosen. Unworthy but chosen.

The fourth theological element that Fr. Dani gave us is the idea of, “we are called to be merciful just as the Father is merciful”. Yan po ang pinakamessage ng Jubilee Year of Mercy, and I think for us priests, napakasignficant nito.

We are called to be merciful just as the Father is merciful. I just want to add something here, Walter Casper also has a written a book on Pope Francis at ang title ng book nya, “Reflecting On The Papacy of Pope Francis, The Revolution Of Tenderness”. I hope we get, you could also read that book, “The Revolution of Tenderness”.

Pope Francis would always tell priests and bishops not to be afraid to be tender. And I think this is, this is very specific to this call for us to be merciful just as the Father is merciful. Yung powerful image na ito ay yung the return of the prodigal son–when the prodigal son was embraced with such tenderness. If I may add, tayong mga pari, if we reflect on our own experiences, sometimes, talagang nawawala yung tenderness natin. Medyo tayo, parang ma-mahigpit, masungit and so the call for a revolution for tenderness: to be merciful.

Now second conference: “The Priest In Pope Francis’ Vision Of A Church That Goes Forth To The Peripheries”. Fr. Kroeger gave us ten councils. I reduced it to five.

The first, “the priest, who is, the priest in the mind of Pope Francis in the context of a Church that goes forth to the peripheries”. One, he is a friend of Jesus who enjoys close friendship with Jesus and that, therefore, he is close to the people as Jesus is to them.

Inunderline ni Fr. Kroeger yung need for us to anchor our priesthood in a special relationship with Jesus and that relationship is friendship. How can you not be friendly, tender and loving to people to whom Jesus is close? Maganda pong mapagnilayan din natin.

The second point is, “the priest, in the mind of Francis, is a man who holds mercy as a treasure above all”. Marami tayong mga treasures but mercy is number one if mercy is the essence of the Gospel.

The priest in the mind of Pope Francis is a model of integrity–a man of joy, capable of receiving and giving affection. Maganda rin po ito in terms of our growth ah. Kung kukumustahin natin yung ating mga relationships, are we capable of receiving and giving affection?

The third point is, “the priest is a man who watches himself”. Bantayan mo ang sarili mo, lest he falls into diseases, which weaken our service to the Lord. ‘Pag hindi tayo nag-ingat, baka tayo rin ay maging masakitin.

Ang unang-unang nabanggit diyan eh, yung terrorism of gossip. Another point is, about a priest–he is a man who appreciates the evangelizing power of popular piety. Huwag po nating ah, huwag po daw nating matahin yung mga popular piety because it can be an effective means of evangelizing.

The fifth, “he is a man genuinely sensitive to those who are in the fringes and margins of society, and so he goes out to them as a missionary disciple of Jesus and like Jesus, passionate for God and the mission of God”. So yun po yung five points–na kinollapse ko na yung sampu–kasi po magkakaugnay din po naman yun. So yun po yung kay Fr. Kroeger.

How about yung kay Fr. Manny?…Still fresh in your mind, nurtured and nurturing, theories and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist he celebrates. Meron po siyang dalawang bahagi , the priest is nurtured, sabi niya. Yung isa naman, the priest is nurturing.

As far as “the priest is nurtured” is concerned, the priest is nurtured by the word of God. Kaya nga inemphasize ni Fr. Cruz yung, “the priest is a prophet”. The priest is a prophet who speaks God’s Word. Kaya sabi niya, kahit daw out of season, let us not be afraid to preach God’s Word. The priest is nurtured by the Body and Blood of Christ. So yung una pong source ng ating nourishment is the Word of God. Secondly, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The priest is also nurtured by the Communion Of The Faithful. This is something very important also kasi, kadalasan, yung nourishment akala natin, from the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ, but even the Faithful–ang mga tao–who we are supposed to be ministering to would nurture us and, indeed, makikita lang natin how we are encouraged, inspired by our people.

And the priest is nurtured by the Brotherhood of the Presbyterium. Mahalaga din po pala ito kaya inemphasize niya yung ating ordination and how we are all related to other priests. I think, ah, ah, napakahalaga nung, nung nga pong, yung tayo ba ay magkakasama, like this. We are encouraged by the presence of one another, so we are nurtured by our brotherhood.

Now, about yung part nang nurturing priest. This is the part that we do po to people. From a nurtured listener, di ba meron po tayong nurtured by God’s Words, so we are nurtured by God’s Word, now we become a nurturing preacher. So tayo naman po yung magprepreach ng God’s Word. Maganda rin po yung sinabi ni Pope Paul 64th, yung sabi niya, “Before the Church can evangelize, it must first be evangelized.”

So ganun di po sa ating mga pari, bago tayo siguro makakapagpreach, eh, ipreach natin sa ating sarili muna yung Salita ng Diyos. Nurturing priests through a meaningful and authentic Celebration, yun po yung hinahanap ng mga tao pag sila’y nagsisimba. Yung ating pong, yung atin pong, maibibigay sa kanila na magigig lakas at baom nila for the next week. And how can they find nourishment if we do not have a Celebration that is truly meaningful at tunay–authentic?!

And finally, merong sinabi si Fr. Cruz, “Communion in the Eucharist as place of Sanctification”. Medyo very difficult ito pero nakita ko na ang point ni Father, ni Fr. Cruz dun yung communion natin sa isa’t isa. We priests should nurture that because sometimes, may nangyayari din, we can be a cause of division instead of us nurturing communion and building up our community.

So yun po yung sinabi ni Fr. Cruz na, that could be one of the things that we could do: nurturing communion, especially the communion that we find in our community.

Now, I’d like to present these vital opportunities and crucial challenges for us having listened to the conferences. Hindi ko na sinama yung kay Bishop Mylo kasi alam ko na very fresh pa sa mind ninyo yung napakagandang prinesent ni Bishop Mylo. Baka ma-magulo ko pa. Bishop, ayos na po iyon.

But there are vital opportunities and crucial challenges for us and one, “Rediscovering the Gospel at its very core”. Ito yung magandang opportunity sa atin, especially being presented to us during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Sana madidiskubre nga natin ang ebanghelyo at its very core. What is the core, the essence of the Gospel if not Mercy ?

But rediscovering the Gospel at its very core is not enough, we need to become merciful priests. Ito yung challenge sa atin. Paano tayo magiging masmaawain at masmakabago?

Another vital opportunity and challenge for us is rekindling in us priests, the sense and love of mission and by mission, it’s not, in the sense of going to Africa or America or other parts of Asia, but even in our own parish. The peripheries. We need to rekindle that sense and love of mission to bring the Gospel, to bring the Word God to those areas least visited, nurtured.

And then another opportunity and challenge for us renewing our sense of the priesthood at the table of the Lord. Ito yung kay Fr. Manny, “allowing ourselves to be nurtured and be nurturing ourselves”.

Napakahalaga na tayo pong mga pari, mabigyan natin talaga natin ng, mareview natin yung Love natin for the Eucharist, in the sense that it is where we are nurtured and where we exercise that important Ministry of nurturing our people. And then finally, revitalizing our communion, our fellowship with fellow priests and love and respect for our bishop.

Dun po sa Misa, hindi ho ba, we pray, ah, “Remember Lord your Church, spread throughout the world. Make us grow in love, together with Francis our Pope, Antonio our Bishop and all the Clergy. It’s not just a prayer. It is a, a challenge for us to really revitalize this communion. Sometimes, po nangyayari sa atin bilang, sa Diocese natin, kung minsan may pari, nagtatampo siya sa Obispo, nagagalit siya sa Obispo.

Sometimes, I, I, I would ah, counsel the priest na kahit na may tampo ka sa Bishop, huwag mong kalimutan yung Clergy. Kahit na anong sama ng loob mo, nandun yung brotherhood natin. Kasi kung hindi ka aatend ng mga meetings natin, you stay away, then where would you find yourself? Napakalahala nun sa atin. Kaya kahit na may tampo, huwag mong iwaglit yung relationship natin as magkakapatid na pari.

And I think, also, it’s important for us priests yun bang maunwaaan natin at ah, mahalin natin, at ah, maawa’t mahabag din tayo sa ating Bishop. Sometimes, we could expect so much and it is really our fault when we, we come disappointed. Maganda rin po na makita natin na, na, ang ang humanity ng bawat isa sa atin, especially our Bishop.

And to be able to, to be realistic and I think that’s ah, our way of exercising also mercy and compassion. Sometimes, we would expect so much from our Bishop but little do we realize that our parishioners also could expect so much from us. At sometimes, tayo’y nagreresent pagkamasyadong mataas ang demand ng mga parishioners sa atin, pero sometimes, tayo hindi natin narerealize, ang taas din ng demand natin from our Shepherd. So maganda po na sa lahat ng ito marevitalize natin ang ating communion, fellowship with our fellow priests and our love and respect for our Bishop.

Alam po ninyo, I would like to end with a personal note. I was a minor seminarian when Bish—Msgr. Antonio Tobias–was Rector of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And when I look back, Bishop, I ah, I experienced God’s mercy with you.

Because I remember, when I was a young seminarian, you could have kicked me out. I remember every year po, meron kaming dialogue with the bishop bago kami umuwi sa Summer. Yun na yung pinakanakakatakot na sandali nung kami’y mga young seminarians.

“Nandito pa kaya ako next year?” Pinag-uusapan naming ng mga kapwa kong mga seminarista noon. But my experience with Bishop, every time na magmaglast colloquium for the year, sasabihin niya if we would still come back or not come back–everytime is an experience of God’s mercy.

Bishop, natandaan ko, sabi mo sa akin noon: malakas yung bokasyon ko. Malakas daw yung bokasyon ko kaya siguro’y eh, ah, kahit na andami kong mga foolishness when I was a young seminarian, the Bishop has shown mercy to me. Kaya nagpapasalamat po ako sa, sa bagay na ito. And looking back, when I saw Sr. Amelia today, there are three things that I really valued when I was in the minor seminary. Natutunan ko is discipline.

Imagine mo 5:30 gigising kami. Mag-aalarm yung bell, eh in 15 mins dapat maligpit mo yung iyong higaan, yung kulambo, yung kumot, nakapaghilamos ka, nakasipilyo ka, nakapagsapatos ka and at 5:45 you must be in the chapel.

And then we have our Mornimg Praise. And the at 6:00 o’clock, we have our meditation. Si Sr. Amelia pa ang naglelead po sa amin noon sa meditation. And I remember, one time, Sister, nahuli mo kami noh?

Aba’y nung kami’y na-aasign sa Blessed Sacrament Chapel, eh yung mga kasama ko’y nag-iikot sa floor and I remember Sr. Amelia watching us like this. Until finally, we realized andun pala si Sr. Amelia. Sister, yun lang ang aming kalokohan and I am sure there are many more.

But in all these things, ah, we have experienced God’s mercy and compassion, and through Miserando Atque Eligendo , lowly, miserable but chosen to become priests. So yun po, marami pong salamat! (Transcribed by Jyn Aragon, MD.)