CHRISTMAS is just around the corner, and if you turn more a little bit, you can take a sneak peek at the Papal Visit.

Slated for Jan. 15 to 19 next year, Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines will mark the fourth time that a Pontiff will come to the pearl of the orient.

On Jan. 18, UST, the only Pontifical university in Asia, will be blessed with the honor of being part of the official itinerary of Francis.

As Thomasians, we are expected to prepare spiritually for the upcoming visit. We are called to uphold the values of mercy and compassion.

Since the papal visit would also coincide with the declaration of the Year of the Poor, it is only right that the preparations stick to the true essence of his coming, which is to give priority to the needs of the poor and afflicted.

Instead of a materialistic Christmas, which many of us are sadly accustomed to, we ought to practice giving, the true spirit of Christmas.

“It’s not about how much you give, but how much you keep to yourself,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.

Through mercy, we can help alleviate each other’s suffering. Through compassion, we can provide genuine help.

“Do you feel that you have truly given a part of you?” Villegas, also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), challenged those who attended the University-wide retreat last Nov. 26 to 28.

The theme of Pope Francis’ visit to the country is “A Nation of Mercy and Compassion.” True to his name, Francis is very much concerned with the Church of the Poor. He often encourages the clergy and the laity to practice humility and open their hearts to the less privileged.

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“When the Church is humble, when the Church is poor, even when the Church confesses her wretchedness–we all experience this–then the Church is faithful. The Church says: ‘I am dark, but my light comes from there!’ This does us all good. Let us pray to [Him] to teach us to be the Church like this, giving everything we have in life: Leave nothing for us, [give] everything for the Lord and for others, [be] humble, without boasting of having our own light, always seeking the light that comes from the Lord,” Francis said during a morning Mass in the chapel of Casa Marta, Vatican last Nov. 24.

Francis is dubbed the “People’s Pope” for a reason. He often communes with the sick, poor, disabled and afflicted.

When Francis ventures on an apostolic visit to the country next month, he will bring with him the same act of humility and care for others.

The Pope is set to visit Tacloban on his second day here. There he intends to have lunch with Typhoon "Yolanda" survivors, bless the newly inaugurated “Pope Francis Center for the Poor” and meet with some religious leaders and families of the survivors at the Palo Cathedral.

The Pope’s itinerary is focused on genuine communion, not formalities. He will visit in order to personally express his love to those affected by the recent typhoon and the victims of the earthquake in Visayas.

The visit should be a learning opportunity for our government leaders and the faithful to practice simplicity and generosity.

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Such is the same message we are told to remember as we celebrated the birth of Christ, He who gave up his life to show us the way to the Kingdom of God.

1 COMMENT

  1. I sincerely thank the organizers of the January 18’s Pope Francis’ visit to UST.
    I was one of those who were willing to sacrifice and patiently waited to see him. During the more than 6 hours of wait inside the campus, what struck me was the intention of the university to gear the people away from being merely spectators. From 5-6 am, there was a Holy Mass, and beyond, there were video clips of appropriate and meaningful songs, a recitation of the Holy Rosary that included prayers in dialects, and a program with celebrities and orchestra to help sustain the what little energy we have from lack of sleep and food. There was even a video clip of what to do to avoid and protect oneself from a potential stampede.
    All these helped me to reach the cortical and spiritual experience of how meeting the Pope should have been. It was a feast of the senses and a buffet for the soul.
    Indeed, my alma mater is world-class! BRAVO! Thank you, UST!
    MA. ELIZABETH V. REY-MATIAS, MD
    UST MEDICINE CLASS 1988

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