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GILBERT GARCERA, BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF DAET, ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOTHERHOOD OF MARY
"THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY JOURNEYS WITH US THIS 2012" As we usher in the Year 2012, we sing at the top of our voice hymns of thanksgiving in appreciation for the manifold blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon each one of us and to the Local Church of Daet as well. This solemnity that opens our calendar is also observed as the World Day of Peace as introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as drawn from the title of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace. I wish to bring before your consideration the following points so as to better understand the great gift of salvation that God has wrought for us. Mary’s Unique Place in Salvation History “You brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you (Ps. 71:6)”. This passage gives us a glimpse of how God makes use of a mother’s womb in order to bring forth new life into this world. Thus, today’s celebration of the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of creation and salvation. It is meant to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the "holy Mother...through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life."(Roman Missal, 1 January, Entrance Antiphon and Collect.) Indeed, Mary’s extolled place in the History of Salvation brings us to consider the “wonderful works the Lord has done for us.” This day underlines the importance of Mary’s role in the redemptive act of Jesus whose birth, passion, death and resurrection paved the way for our salvation. Mary Accompanies Us in Our Pilgrimage of Faith The Church invites us to take a closer look at Mary as we begin this year 2012 for She remains an inspiration and guide for all of us who desire to follow the way that the Lord Jesus Christ has set out for us – as individual persons and as a community. In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear that “…the disciples joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (Acts 1:14)”. These words describe how Mary, our Mother, accompanied those who believed in Jesus Christ in their journey of faith. In the same way, Mary continues this journey of faith with us. She guides and protects us as we tread the treacherous roads of this world that seek to draw us away from Jesus. For the past few months, we heard reports of the growing number of crimes that have spawned fear in our hearts and lives. In fact, some of us must have experienced personally these crimes that disturbed our peace and our sense of security in the province of Camarines Norte. There have been hold-ups of business establishments in the capital town of Daet, the hold-up and murder of a couple who were transient businessmen in our province, the violence and murder in some of our mining sites in the province particularly in the towns of Paracale, Jose Panganiban and Labo and the ambush of people who are
liquidation targets for one reason or another. It seems that ours is a time that is constantly buffeted by the stormy winds of greed, violence and the unbridled quest for riches and power. This is the road that we tread upon these days. This is the road where we seek the maternal guidance and accompaniment of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I reiterate the message of Pope Benedict XVI, in these words, "we entrust to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary our daily prayer for peace, especially where the absurd logic of violence is most rampant; so that all men are persuaded that in this world we must help each other as brothers and sisters to build a civilization of love.(rf. Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 22, 2010) An Affirmation of Our Love and Devotion to Mary Truly, the Blessed Mother journeys with us, for we believe that as “Filipinos, we have always had a very tender devotion to Mary as Mother; and this devotion has brought down numberless benefits on our people. The loyalty of our people to Christ has been closely bound with our devotion to Mary who is his Mother and ours” (CBCP Pastoral Letter on Mary, Ang Mahal na Birhen, February 2, 1975). This devotion is also made manifest in the local Church of the Diocese of Daet. Thus, it is with great joy that we welcome the approval of our petition before His Holiness, Pope Benedict the XVI, to have the canonical coronation of our Nuestra Señora de Candelaria during the closing ceremonies of the Quadricentennial Celebrations of the First Three Parishes in the diocese, namely; Parroquia de San Juan Bautista in Daet, Camarines Norte, Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol in Vinzons, Camarines Norte and the Parroquia de la Nuestra Señora de Candelaria in Paracale, Camarines Norte. This distinctive gift from the Lord serves as an affirmation of our love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under Her title, Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. Looking to the Future with Hope Imitating the example of Mary, we look forward to the future with hope knowing fully well that God will continue to lavish us with His choicest blessings through the powerful intercessions of Mary, our Mother. We believe that She will remain with us as we try to discover and fulfill God’s plan for us. Like Mary, we are being called to be vigilant lest evil forces overwhelm us. As a popular adage would put it “For evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing”. Let us do our share in working for peace in our province and in our country by being pro-active. Let us join hands with our local government and the different law enforcement agencies in driving away the dark clouds of evil from our midst so that justice and peace will reign once more in our locality. We also offer this year before the Lord our desire to make the Local Church of Daet more vibrant and fruitful by the following events that will hopefully bring us closer to God plan for us. We shall celebrate this 2012 the Year on Liturgy through which we desire to express our worship of God with more dignity and solemnity. We shall also reorganize this year the Parish Pastoral Councils and the Parish Finance Councils in order to become more effective and efficient in responding to the peculiar needs and challenges of the present times.
I hope and pray that the year 2012 will be an opportunity for all of us to grow more in our faith, hope and love for God. Imparting to you my paternal blessings, I remain Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera, D.D. Bishop of Daet January 1, 2012