“Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.. (Mk. 16/15). To proclaim the faith: this is still the essential mission of the church in contemporary society as it has always been through the centuries. Pastoral concern dictates that it is appropriate to sketch some instruction on the Ministry of the Word in the Diocese of Lucena.
The basic elements of the Ministry of the Word so indispensable in the formation of Christian Communities has been transmitted to us by the Second Vatican Council, especially Dei Verbum, Inter Mirifica, Christus Dominus, Lumen Gneium, Ad Gentes and subsequent Papal Documents. With its declarations in mind this Synod propose the following instruction on preaching, permanent diaconate, lay ministry, catechesis, family life apostolate and means of social communication.
1. The Gospel reveals man’s infinite destiny and salvation through Christ and His Church. The Savior Himself gave us a strict command to preach His message of salvation to all men, everywhere and always till the end of time when He said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go. Therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20).
2. No other duty can take precedence over that of announcing Christ: and it is true that we shall be judged or examined on the specific obligation in charity of announcing Christ’s doctrine. The indefatigable and courageous Apostle of the Gentiles said: “Woe to me if I preach not the Gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16).
3. “In the exercise of their teaching office”, the Council says, “it is the duty of pastors to preach God’s word to all” 1 “In presenting this doctrine they should proclaim the maternal solicitude of the Church for all men, whether they be Catholics or not, and should be especially solicitous for the poor and the weaker brethren whom the Lord has commissioned them to evangelize.” 2 For the Christian people, who are already rooted in faith, hope and charity, the Word of God makes them grow in Christ, thus the Christian community may bear witness to that of charity, which the Lord commanded. 3
4. On the part of the Bishops, the Council enjoins them to “present the doctrine of Christ in manner suited to the needs of the times, that is, so it may be relevant to those difficulties and question which men find especially worrying and intimidating. They should also safeguard this doctrine, teaching the faithful themselves to defend it and propagate it.” 4 Pope Paul VI in this Encyclical Evangeli Nuntiandi, wrote: “There is no doubt that the effort to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today, who are buoyed up by hope but at the same time often oppressed by fear and distress, is a service rendered to the Christian community and also to the whole humanity.” His Holiness goes deeper into it by saying that. “. . . This fidelity both to a message whose servants we are and to the people to whom we must transmit it living and intact is a central axis of evangelization.
5. Preaching, is an important part of the prophetic function of the Teaching Church. It is intimately linked with the Eucharistic Celebration, from which it acquires a special force, “The Homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself.” 6 The guiding principles of the Christian life as well as the mysteries of the Christian faith are explained form the Sacred Scripture. Outside the liturgical celebration, preaching may take the form of spiritual conferences. Allocution, catechesis, even recollection and retreats conducted by the priest.
RESOLUTION: 1. Deepening of Priestly Spirituality. Priests should deepen their spirituality through fidelity to their daily prayers, attendance at retreats and recollection, the practice of Holy Hour, shared prayer during vicarial meeting, and a simple life-style.
R-2. Updating the Sermons. The Office of the Diocesan Commission on Liturgy shall make a list on suggested materials useful for sermons and prepare themes for the current liturgical for some uniformity of homilies in the whole diocese.
R-3. During monthly recollections, Theology professors and other experts shall occasionally be asked to give talks on better understanding of the Gospel, on Church teachings and on current homiletically approaches.
R-4. Priests should be encouraged to keenly observe and study the current problems of the Christian community through pastoral home visitations and involvement in community affairs.
R-5. Means shall be devised to get feedbacks from the parishioners for the evaluation of sermons.
R-6. The provision of a good sound system and the improvement of the Church acoustics shall be given priority among the needs of the parish.
R-7. Living What One Preaches. The priest are enjoined to exemplify in their life and relationship with others what they preach.
6. “For the nurturing and constant growth of the people of God, Christ the Lord instituted in the Church a variety of ministries, which are for the good of the whole body. From the apostolic age the diaconate, has had a clearly outstanding position among the ministries, and it has always been held in great honor by Church” 7
7. Deacons, according to the Constitution on the Church, are the lower level of the hierarchy, having received the imposition of hands “not unto the priesthood (thought), but unto the ministry,” 8 In the present circumstance of the Church, the function of deacons are becoming extremely necessary for the life of the Christian Community, especially in areas where there are very few vocations to the priesthood. For this reason in many countries the diaconate is gradually being restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy. 9
8. St. Paul, in his letter to Timothy illustrates the qualifies and virtues that deacons must have in order to be “worthy of their ministry’ (1 Tim. 3:8ff). Among the qualities expected of a deacon particular expected of a deacon particularly mentioned are “irreproachable life and wisdom”. (Acts 6:3).
9. Among the pastoral duties entrusted to deacons, the preaching of the word of God occupies an important place for they are ‘entrusted with the mission of attending to preaching the word of God in accordance with the express will of the Bishop.” 10
10. The Didascalia Apostolorum from ancient times describes deacons as “the bishop’s ear, mouth, heart, and soul”. 11 In addition to the office of preaching in accordance with the will of the bishop, deacons serve the whole people of God by also taking care of the sick, the poor, the widow, and the orphans as well as by conferring baptism and distributing the Holy Eucharist to the sick. 12
R-8. In view of the indecisive result of the evaluation of answer to the questionnaire passed before the Synod, this Synod recommends a further study of the advisability of establishing a permanent diaconate in the diocese.
11. The late Paul VI promulgated the new attitude of the Church on the Lay Ministries in his apostolic letter. Ministeria Quaedam. The more salient points of the letter are here below quoted:
12. “Certain ministries were established by the Church from earliest times for the proper ordering worship and for the service of God’s people as the need arose. By this means, certain liturgical and charitable duties suited to varying circumstances are entrusted.
To the faithful. The conferring of these ministries was frequently accomplished by a special rite, in which God’s blessing was invoked, and which established the person designated in a special rank or class for the performance of some ecclesiastical function.”13
13. “Minor orders have not always remained the same, however at one time many function which went them were in fact exercised by the laity, as is now happening once again. It seems opportune , therefore, to reform this discipline and to adapt it to present-day needs, eliminating what is obsolete, retaining what is useful and determining what is necessary; and at the same time setting out what is required of candidates for holy orders.”14
14. The Second Vatican Council decreed that, “in liturgical celebration each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principle of the liturgy.”15
15. “Among the special offices which are to be retained and adept to present day needs there are some which are especially connected with the ministries of the word and of the altar. These offices are now reduce to two, that of the reader and that of the acolyte.”16
16. “These are not anymore called “minor orders”. There are thus no longer to be regarded as reserved to candidates for the sacraments of orders.”18
17. “Ministries may be committed to lay Christians. They are thus no longer to be regarded as reserved to candidates for the sacraments of orders.”18
18. “The offices of the reader, and it is proper to him, is to read the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Accordingly it will be his task word of God the liturgical assembly. Accordingly it will be his task to read the lessons from the Scriptures (but not the Gospel) at Mass and at other sacred function; when there is no psalmist, he will recite the psalm between the readings; he will announce the intentions at the prayers of the faithful when the deacon or cantor is not present; he will direct the singing and the participation of the faithful; he is no instruct the faithful in the worthy reception of the sacrament. He may also, when necessary, prepare the faithful who are temporarily appointed to read the scriptures so that he may more fittingly and perfectly fulfill these functions.”19
19. “An acolyte is appointed to assist the deacon and to minister to the priest. It his duty therefore to attend to the service of the altar, to assist the deacon and the priests in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass. It also fails to him to distribute Holy Communion, as an extra-ordinary minister, whenever the minister listed in Canon 845 of the Code of Canon Law are no present, or are themselves unable to distribute Holy Communion for some other reasons. It is also permissible to entrust to him in similar extraordinary circumstances, the task of exposing the Blessed Sacrament for the veneration of the faithful and of replacing it subsequently. He may not, however, bless the people. He will perform these duties more worthily, if he participated in the Holy Eucharist with ever increasing fervor, is nourished by it and deepens his understanding of it.”20
20. “He will offer himself entirely to God and in Church will be an example of gravity and reverence to all. He will also have a sincere love for the mystical body of Christ, especially for the weak and sick.”21
21. “The offices of the Lector and acolyte are reserved to men, in keeping with the venerable tradition of the Church. Before a person can be admitted to these ministries, he must fulfill the following conditions: a) He must freely draw up and present a signed petitions to the ordinary who hast the right to acceptance; b) He must have the firm intention of serving God and the Christians people; d) The conferring of ministries does not carry with it the right to sustenance or salary from the Church.”22
R-9. The faithful should be sufficiently educated about the role of lay ministers in the Christians community.
R-10. The Bishop shall form a body composed of priests to take charge of the training and formation of lay ministers shall be institutionalized through the establishment of a Pastoral Training Center.
R-11. Aside from the qualification mentioned above, the following qualification shall be taken into consideration in the choice of candidates for the lay ministries; (a) zeal, (b) loyalty to Church, (c) piety, (d) sufficient educational attainment, (e) moral uprightness, (f) 18 to 50 years of age, (g) with special qualification needed by their special ministry.
DIOCESAN COMMISSSION ON CHRISTIAN FORMATION
R-12. The Diocesan Commission on Christian Formation shall be well staffed by adequate trained personnel.
R-13. The Diocesan Commission on Christian Formation shall regularly prepare a program of action geared towards the achievement of the overall objective of the pastoral plan of the diocesan.
R-14. The Diocesan Commission on Christian Formation shall be adequately financed.
22. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation describes God’s communication of Himself with these words: “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal Himself and to make known in the Mystery of His will. His will was what men should have access to the Father, through Christ, will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made Flesh on the Holy Spirit, and there becomes sharers in the divine nature. By this revelation, then, the Invisible God, from the fullness of His love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them in order to invite and receive them into his own company”.23 From this loving communication of God the blessed work of Catechesis takes it beginning.24
23. Catechesis is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, 25 and the proclamation of liberating salvation.26 it is evangelization. Through the evangelizing activity of Christ and the twelve Apostle the Church was born. Having been evangelized and sent, the Church herself becomes an evangelizer sending out evangelizers.27 in carrying out this task of evangelization, the Church places her hope in all the members of the Christian community. “Everyone – bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay people – should by all means fulfill his mission, each according to his responsibilities.” 28
24. From the beginning in our diocese Catechesis has taken the form of religious instruction given to in-school or out-of-school youths. Catechism for adults has also started to become a tradition in may parishes. The present Synod appreciates with Christian’s joy in many parishes. The present Synod appreciates with Christian hoy the army of Catechists, lay as well as religious, volunteer as well as professional, who have preserved in this blessed apostolate. The same Synod continues to encourage them to pursue this ministry in the spirit of the late Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Nuntiandi and following the latest guidelines, the General Catechetical Directory of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and the Message of the 1977 Synod of Bishop with reference to Catechetic.
25. The communication aspect of Catechesis must always be taken into account. “Catechesis is not simply a task for certain individuals; it is always carried out as a dimension of the Christian Community itself.”29 Therefore, catechesis must be undertaken under the supervision of the respective directors in the diocesan and under supervision of the respective directors in the diocesan and vicarial level and spiritual guidance of the respective parish priests with the objective of reaching not only the community of the family, the parish and the school but also the many other emerging communities where “catechesis can find new settings” and where “the members actually communicate the mystery of Christ to each other.”30
26. According to one study “a catechesis is a prophet sent by the Christian Community, who in a spirit of openness and dialogue and by means of his human active and the presentation of Divine Word, endeavors to help his fellow human being to discover and consciously accept God and His Message.”31 This prophetic mission of Christians demand of them no little physical and spiritual energy in proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
27. “The function entrusted to the catechist demands of him a fervent sacramental and spiritual life a practice of prayers, and a deep feeling for the excellence of the Christians message and for the power it has to transform one’s life . It also demands of him the pursuit of Christian’s humility, and prudence which allow the Holy Spirit to complete his fruit work in those being taught.” 32
R-15. The awareness of the value of proclaiming the Christians Message and the Sublime role catechist shall be promoted through a) seminars for students of at least high school level, members of Catholic Association, Parents and other parishioners; b) provisions in the curriculum for theology practicum (i.e. exposure and actual experiences) in Catechetic; c) parish meeting and convocations etc.
R-16. Catechists shall be given due recognition by means of canonical installation by the competent authority.
R-17. Catechists shall be given moral and spiritual support by Bishops and priests.
R-18. Professional catechists shall be adequately compensated and given social security; the other shall be given adequate allowance.
R-19. Qualified candidates shall be sent to the Catechetical Formation Center of the diocese for their initial formation.
R-20. The on-going human and spiritual formation of catechists shall be intensified through seminar, in-service training, recollections, retreats, for a more fruitful work of evangelization.
R-21. Youth and adult catechesis shall be given emphasis through: a) pre-sacramental instructions; b) Bible-Study clubs; c) between catechist, priests and school authorities; and e) the establishment of forums wherein catechesis will be given, especially in the barrios.
R-22. The Learners shall be helped in order to reach the high school or college level through: a) the establishment or rapport with school authorities by parish priests and catechists: b) the organization of student forums for catechesis; c) the involvement of parents and encouragement of students to attend religion classes.
Program of Action
R-23. The Diocesan CCD office shall be staffed by persons especially trained in catechetics.
R-24. The Diocesan CCD office shall be plan the entire catechetical program in harmony with the other pastoral activities of the diocese under the supervision of the Bishop.
R-25. A uniform catechetical syllabus shall be provided by the Diocesan CDD office.
R-26. Aside from the CCD Director/Directress, the parish priest or his delegate shall participate actively in the supervision of the catechists in his parish.
R-27. The Diocesan CCD office shall hold annual evaluation of the entire catechetical program.
R-28. The Diocesan CCD office shall be adequately financed.
Catechetical Formation Center
R-29. A CATECHETICAL FORMATION CENTER shall be staffed by especially trained persons.
R-30. The Catechetical Formation Center shall be staffed by especially trained persons.
R-31. The Catechetical Formation Center shall be adequately financed.
FAMILY LIFE APOSTOLATE
28. The apostolate of and among married person and families of unique importance for civil society as well as for the Church. For God has ordained that conjugal partnership be the beginning and basis of human society. Furthermore, by His grace, He has made marriage “a great mystery” in Christ and the Church.33 This Synod of Lucena, therefore, establishes the family Life Apostolate as one of the necessary vehicles for the formation of individual Christians and of communities oriented towards Christ. The same Synod likewise reiterates and proposes for the implementation by the Diocesan Commission on Christian Formation the decrees of the Second Vatican Council on family as well as conjugal life.
29. With the Council, our Synod reminds Christian husbands and wives to fulfill their task with human and Christian responsibility. As cooperators with God and witness of the faith, Christians transmitting human life and of educating those to whom life has been transmitted.34 The true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of family should be oriented towards cooperation with the love of the Creator and Savior who wills to enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.
30. In decisions affecting both their own welfare and the welfare of their children, those already born and those which may be foreseen, couples should not only consult the interests of the family, group of temporal society, and of the Church herself, but they should also take into account the profound relationship of their action to the objective moral order established by God. 35 With the Council and with the Bishops of the Philippines we declare above all that life must be respected and protected with utmost care from the moment of conception.
31. This Synod, furthermore, declares the traditional doctrine regarding the sanctity of the freedom of conscience. In the matter of the family planning, the question is not merely that of skill and efficiently of method but also and more importantly of moral responsibility in the light of the authoritative teaching of the Church, the interpreter of God’s eternal law.
32. With the inspiration and assistance of the clergy, various organization, like the Christian Family Movement, Family Life Apostolate, Marriage Enrichment Seminars, should be able to lay out a coordinated program of instruction and activity to prepare your couples for the married state as well as to sympathetically strengthen couples in their life of Christian witness.37
The Sub-Commission on Family Life Apostolate
R-32. Under the Diocesan Commission on Formation a diocesan Sub-Commission on Family Life Apostolate (FLA) shall be established and adequately financed.
R-33. Every parish shall be required to organize its own FLA with the pastor or his delegate as its local moderator.
R-34. A group of Catholics with special expertise on natural birth control should be organized to instruct people regarding the natural method of birth control.
R-35. The real purpose of marriage, i.e., conjugal love, procreation and education of children, and its characteristics as a sacrament shall be taught in schools and in seminars and conferences on family life.
R-36. The diocesan sub-commission on FLA shall conduct formational activities on marriage such as seminars, symposia, at which the sacramentality and Christian characteristics of marriage shall be discussed, etc.
R-37. The diocesan sub-commission shall give incentives to attract couples to undergo such formational activities.
R-38. Priests in every parish should give full support to the program of the FLA.
R-39. The mass media shall be used to disseminate information about Christian Family Life.
Preparation for Marriage
R-40. Appropriate sex education should be integrated in the catechesis for all age levels;
R-41. Priests are enjoined to take active interest in the guidance of the youth through informational talks during gatherings or meetings of religious organizations;
R-42. In every parish, attendance at pre-marriage instruction shall be required of couple before marriage. For this reason the FLA is enjoined to prepare a uniform set of pre-marriage instructions;
R-43. Marriage at a more mature age (more or less 25 years) should be encouraged.
Christian Family Planning
R-44. The parochial as well as the diocesan FLA shall plan and supervise the implementation of various means of propaganda on Christian Family Planning;
R-45. The educated the laity, i.e. doctors, nurses, teachers etc. in the parish should be encourage to advocate, and teach that Christians Family Planning is the only one in accordance with God’s will.
R-46. The use of natural birth control where it is justifiable should be vigorously proclaimed and promoted adopting every opportunity and means available.
R-47. The doctrine of the Church and regards artificial birth controls as morally wrong should be given the widest dissemination and propaganda.
R-48. This Synod, echoing the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, of reason, of the Universal Church and of the Philippine Hierarchy, condemns deliberate abortion “as an abominable crime”
Movements for prosperous and stable families
R-49. This Synod supports movements which firmly uphold the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage.
R-50. These movements in the diocese shall initiate and pursue relentlessly the campaign against the evils of husband and wife swapping, trial marriage, “live-in”, exploitation of women.
R-51. The activities of these movement shall be so coordinated as to avoid overlapping and fragmentation of action and to increase their efficiently.
R-52. An annual evaluation of these movements shall be made by the competent commission or sub-mission.
MEDIA FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
33. The Synod knows that the media for social communication can be of great benefit to the task of propagating the Kingdom of God in the diocese. It believes that society is a network of political, economic, moral and spiritual arrangements of members who are undergoing a continuous process of learning and communicating. Society has provided form of communication through which human experiences and processes are described and shared for the benefit individuals and social groups.
34. “Pastors of souls,” according to the Council, “have the task of instructing and directing the faithful how to use these media in a way what will ensure their own salvation and perfection”38 Communication informs, instructs, Hence, in order to help achieve the goal of evangelization, we need likewise to get Christian involved in and through communication.
35. “The Church, our mother, is particularly interested in those (inventions) which directly touch man’s spirit and which have opened news avenues of easy communication of all kind of news, of ideas and orientations. Chief among them are those means of communication which of their nature can reach and influence not merely single individual but the very masses, and even the whole human society. These area the press, the cinema, radio, television and others of a like nature.” 39
36. These instruments of communication are by their nature indifferent. We know that these could be used both for the enrichment of men’s minds and for the perversion of the same, hence contrary to God’s design and damaging to man himself.40 Because the Catholic Church has been commissioned by the Lord to proclaim the Gospel to all men, it is her duty to preach the Gospel with the aid of the available instruments of social communication and to instruct laymen in the proper use of these instruments. “It will be principally for laymen to animate these media with a Christian and human spirit and to ensure that they live up to humanity’s hopes for them, in accordance with God’s design. 41
37. The present synod, therefore, encourages effective support of good radio and television programs as well as printed materials which promote the catholic faith. Efforts should also be made to produce these on the local level, but always in accordance with the standard of excellence. 42
R-53. A regular radio program for the evangelization of people shall be put up by a staff which shall be organized for that purpose.
R-54. Whenever possible, the stage shall be reviewed or utilized for evangelization purposed.
R-55. Each parish shall be encourage to publish its own bulletin.
R-56. An official diocesan newsletter shall be published.
R-57. In order to utilize the print media for the needs of the diocese a serious feasibility study on putting up our own printing press shall be undertaken.
R-58. A Board of Reviewers shall be created with the following function: to evaluate shows and printed materials and to recommend those which can morally uplift the people by disseminating such recommendation as widely as possible.
The delegates of this first Synod of Lucena gathered around their Diocesan Pastor pray that God’s Kingdom may come on earth. They are aware that is God who will make it so and who will make the work of the preachers of the Gospel fruitful for God’s own glory and the salvation of men.
The Synod recommends the work of all who proclaim and promote the faith to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the same mother who from the first day of Pentecost has been watching over the Church with great concern and solicitude.