In celebration of World Day of Consecrated life, the Master of the Order f Preachers, Very Rev. fr. Gerard P. Timoner III, O.P., shared his reflections in a webinar entitled “Quo Vadis: Lights, Shadows, and New Frontiers for Consecrated Men and Women” on February 2, 2021.
Pope Francis’s calling
Fr. Timoner reflected on Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter addressed to the consecrated people during the year of consecrated life and invited men and women to look at the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope.
Filipinos giving back to the Church
Reflecting on the commemorative logo depicting the first Eucharistic Celebration in the Philippines, fr. Timoner said the Filipinos are now ready to return the gift and lead the Catholic Church. “We have received the faith and after 500 years, we are ready to give the same gift,” fr. Timoner said. “It is interesting that the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples—the congregation of the Holy See that is in-charge for the preaching of the gospel to all nations–is headed by a Filipino, His Excellency Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle,” he added.
H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was named the prefect of Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) in December 2019. “It is as though the Filipinos are ready to give back the gift that we have received. And it echoes very well on what the Lord has told us in the Gospel: ‘The gift that you have received, give as a gift’. And we are doing that,” fr. Timoner added.
Another Filipino priest who is currently serving outside the country is Most Rev. Bernardito C. Auza, D.D., a Thomasian who was named the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain in October 2019. “It is like everything has come to a full circle; we have received the faith from our Spanish missionaries, and now the delegate of the Holy Father to Spain is a Filipino,” fr. Timoner said. “It is also important for us religious to realize that our desire to dedicate our lives to the service of God and to the church, to the service of our brothers and sisters is prompted by a desire to express our gratitude by giving back what we have received—the faith and all the many blessings and graces that we have received,” he added.
On Fratelli e Sorelli Tutti
Fr. Timoner said the biggest challenges that the religious can face will be the loss of passion. “So how do we recover passion? In his encyclical letter, Fratelli e Sorelli Tutti (On Fraternity, Sorority and Social Friendship), Pope Francis, before the publication of the letter, wrote in his own hand. He was inviting us help him share the message of Fratelli e Sorelli Tutti,” he said. Pope Francis’s letter was an exhortation of St. Francis to follow the message of Jesus, which is to recognize each other as brothers and sisters, and to live accordingly in the common home that God entrusted to his people. According to fr. Timoner, however, brotherhood and sisterhood alone cannot solve the problems. “Fratelli Tutti invites us to look at the Good Samaritan in the scriptures, and the characters,” he said. “The Good Samaritan tells us that a piety that forgets one’s neighbor, like that of the priest and the Levite who pass by the victim, is only a form of idolatry—a worship that is empty. Like the work of charity accomplished by the Good Samaritan, [it] restores humanity to the likeness of God,” fr. Timoner said. ”Christ is presented as the one who is present in the wounded person who needs our help,” he added.
On promoting and sustaining vocation
According to fr. Timoner, Vocation Promotion was not limited to the new vocations itself, rather it was a comprehensive term that embraced both new vocations and the vocation of all the professed. “Our capacity to be useful to the Church and the society depends on the promotion of our vocations, that we are able to live the present with passion is actually an important aspect of the promotion of the vocation,” he said. “It involves the renewal and rekindling of the vocation of everyone, of all of us religious and Christians, as preachers of the Gospel.” fr. Timoner added.
According to fr. Timoner, to look back at the past with gratitude, which can sustain one’s vocation, one can learn from the five timeless lessons: 1) Zeal for the mission; 2) Collaboration among Religious; 3) Learning from the People, to Evangelize the People (Interculturation); 4) Compassion and Mercy, Justice and Peace; and 5) Preaching in the Community.
The webinar was organized by Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.