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Health And Family

Take a sacred journey in 2016

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star

Pope Francis opened the Holy Year of Mercy with a beautiful invitation to repent and reform through confession and a pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage never fails to excite me. While I have crossed out a lot of pilgrimage sites on my bucket list, I happily stumbled upon local pilgrimage sites that I can visit with my family and friends here in the country. This is not unusual, of course, given our heritage. I remember that I used to have a book on all pilgrimage sites in the Philippines, which I unfortunately lost when we transferred homes. Whether here or abroad, a pilgrim site for me is such a power source of love, hope, peace, joy and faith.

As we end another year of countless blessings for ourselves, our families, and our nation, may we take the next few days to rejoice in thanksgiving and accept the invitation of Pope Francis.

The Holy Year of Mercy started last Dec. 8 during the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on Nov. 20, 2016 on the feast of Christ the King. The theme Pope Francis has chosen for the jubilee year is “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” When he first announced the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, he stressed that he wanted to promote the Church’s mission to be a witness of compassion.

“Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness,” he added.

St. Raphael The Archangel Parish in Calaca Photo from flicker.com

“I am convinced that the whole Church — which has much need to receive mercy, because we are sinners — will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time,” Pope Francis said.

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. Mercy if the very foundation of the Church’s life,” he wrote. “This (Holy Year) is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched! When confronted with evil deeds, even in the face of serious crimes, it is the time to listen to the cry of innocent people who are deprived of their property, their dignity, their feelings, and even their very lives,” he continued.

Emphasis will be on the availability and reception of the Sacrament of Penance in churches throughout the world. The Pope also encourages Catholics to make a pilgrimage during the year to Rome or any other holy place: “May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion (where) we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”

Each pilgrimage destination features a “Holy Door” to which pilgrims can journey. This door represents the compassion, love, mercy and consolation of God working in our lives. There are four Holy Doors in and near Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican), the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Since not everyone can travel to Rome for the jubilee year, Pope Francis asked every diocese throughout the world to open their own “Doors of Mercy.” Pope Francis wrote: “On the same Sunday (third Sunday of Advent), I decree that in every local church, at the cathedral — the mother church of the faithful in any particular area — or, alternatively, at the co-cathedral or another church of special significance, a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year. At the discretion of the local ordinary, a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion.”

A plenary indulgence is granted to pilgrims who receive the Sacrament of Penance and Communion, pray for the intentions of the Pope, cross through the Holy Door and pray the Profession of Faith, and reflect on mercy such as the Jubilee Prayer of Pope Francis or the parables on mercy. The faithful are also encouraged by Pope Francis to practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, “to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father.”

Pilgrimage sites in Lipa

We recently had an American couple with two young kids as guests. After a week on the beach, we decided to bring them to Tagaytay and booked a Taal Heritage Tour the following day. While we have toured some of the places before, we did it on our own. I strongly suggest that you go on a tour, which makes it educational, inspiring and enjoyable. That’s why at the end of the day, while my guests were profusely thanking us for the experience, we were actually more grateful because we wouldn’t have done it without them.

Part of the Taal Heritage Tour organized by Robert Arambulo (Pope Francis opened the Holy Year of Mercy with a beautiful invitation to repent and reform through confession and a pilgrimage. [email protected]) were two churches — Taal Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay.  In the Basilica, I saw a post on the Pilgrimage Sites in the Archdiocese of Lipa which I told Robert he should arrange for me and my family. There were 17 churches in the tour which is organized by the Archdiocese.

The Basilica of St. Martin of Tours or the Taal Basilica is considered the largest church in the Philippines and in Asia. St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of Taal and its feast day is celebrated every Nov. 11. When you enter the majestic church, it is like you are transported to the churches in Italy and Spain.

Nearby is the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay which is a coral-hewn chapel built in 1639. The feast day of Our Lady was celebrated last Dec. 8. By the church entrance is a huge painting of a fisherman named Juan Maningcad hauling in his fishing net from the Pansipit River in 1603. His surprising catch was the image of the Immaculate Conception. The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is less than a foot high. Marian apparitions and miracles were documented and the image was canonically crowned in 1954.

The other 15 churches listed are: Sto. Niño Chapel Montemaria in Pagkilatan; Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion and the Holy Infant Jesus in Batangas; Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in Sta. Teresita; St. Raphael The Archangel Parish in Calaca; Shrine of St. John the Baptist in Lian; Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Joseph the Patriarch in San Jose; St. Vincent Ferrer in Tuy; St. Padre Pio Shrine in Sto. Tomas; Nuestra Señora de la Soledad in Tanauan; Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart, St. Benedict Monastery, Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian, Carmelite Monastery and Parish of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace (all in Lipa);  and Parish of the Most Holy Trinity Shrine of the Glorious Cross in Batangas.

While we did not complete the whole pilgrimage, our family went to four out of the 17. Gratefully, petitions were miraculously granted.

Miracles still happen. May you all have a blessed New Year!

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Post me a note at [email protected] or [email protected].

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