22 August 1986 to 29 November 1986
A Pastoral Letter Addressed to Priests and
their Pastoral Collaborators,
to Religious Families, to the Faithful of the Catholic Church
and to all our Brother and Sister Filipinos
In the National Marian Year of 8 December 1984 to 8 December 1985, we called all our Filipino Catholic people to a year-long effort of Renovation of Life through profound CONVERSION of heart, penitence and amendment; through the OFFERING of the tasks and duties of our daily lives, performed with greater fidelity; through REPARATION, by time spent in eucharistic worship and by deeds of justice, compassion and sharing with those in need.1
We asked all of you to enter this project of personal and collective renewal in union of spirit with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, joining her intercession for our people on a time of trial and crisis.
The message which our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, addressed to our people on 8 December 1985 ended with these words:
Be confident that turning to Mary’s intercession in this difficult period of your history, will not be in vain. She will help you find your way out of your present crisis. It may be a way marked by such hardship and labor, a way that will ask from you even more difficult sacrifices. But as long as you call upon her, and strive to “do whatever her Son commands you,” she will not abandon you. Always, she will accompany you, and pray for you to Her Son.2
The events which took place in the month of February of the present year are now part of our history. And whatever be our own political stances, past and present, we are one, we believe, in the conviction that if Mary’s supplication for us and if prayer and penance played a role in bringing about the dramatic changes that have taken place in our country, they must again play a role in the “new journey” that our people are embarked upon, as our new leadership and government pursues our way towards tomorrow.
In the same 8 December 1985 Papal Message we have already cited, Pope John Paul II says:
It is my hope and my wish that you will not bring this renovation of life to an end with the closing of the Marian Year, but that you will continue it in the months and years that are to come, to bring down God’s grace and favor on all of your beloved people during this time of difficulty and crisis. My beloved Catholic people of the Philippines: May I urge you to continue to follow the way of conversion and penance during this “new Advent”… You will do this, with the profound conviction that Mary is indeed omnipotentia supplex, she whose prayer, while remaining human prayer like ours is yet all-powerful before God and before Christ who will not refuse the prayer of His Mother.3
It is with these reflections in mind that we bring now before you, our dear Catholic people, a “new crusade” which has been proposed to us by several Marian organizations in our country: ONE HUNDRED DAYS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE FOR RECONCILIATION, UNITY AND PEACE.
We ask all our believing people, all Christians, our Moslem brothers and sisters, all those who believe in the power of prayer before God, to join us (each person and community in the way that shall seem most appropriate), in this “new crusade” of prayer and penance. For our own Catholic people, we urge that their prayer and penance, directed to our Father in Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ, be offered in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that the symbolic image of the crusade by Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journeying –for what we ask is peace and safe journeying for our nation, for the new government, through reconciliation and unity: the reconciliation and unity we all seek, so that we may work together towards rebuilding our new nation in truth and justice, in freedom and love.
The problems that beset our nation at present are known to all; the media, often in a sensationalist way, parade them daily and in detail before us. The economic disaster, the billions of dollars in foreign debt, and the consequent climate of uncertainty that make up the major roadblock to national recovery; the massive issues of poverty and social and economic injustice which have been with us for decades, which have worsened in more recent years, with the growing insurgency as their most visible and most violent manifestation; the uneasy mix of divergent and opposed power groups within our present society–differences reflected within the new coalition government itself; the need of untangling interlocking networks of corruption, cronyism, and warlordism, and the like which prevent the setting in place of an effective machinery of democracy and justice; the impatience of people who want almost immediate miracles of reform and renewal… The new regime, and all of us, face a situation of undeniable difficulty. A long and ardous journey lies ahead to peace, progress and justice for which we have longed and sacrificed.4
But despite all these problems, there remains with our people at this present time, a genuine sense of hope. This is no small thing. The events of February have renewed in us our faith in each other, our faith in our people, and deeper still, our faith in God. Today we possess a confidence that if somehow we can come together truly as one people, setting aside factional differences and finding a common ground in our love of country and our faith in God’s help, we can together build a future in hope, a more prosperous, more humane, more just, more responsible society. Today we have regained the confidence that we can–given time and good will–turn together to the tomorrow we want, and construct it with joined minds and hearts, side by side as one nation under God.
The past few months especially have taught us to take with all seriousness the words we meditated on, from the 2nd Book of Chronicles:
If my people, upon whom my name has been spoken, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence, and turn from their evil ways, I will forgive them their sins, and I will revive their land.5
So many of our fellow Filipinos believe that we have seen the fulfillment of that promise God made to this own people–in our regard, in the recent developments in our national life. They have thus been strengthened, and in different ways all of us have been strengthened too, in the conviction that even if a new “miracle” is necessary, we can pray (and work too!) for such a “miracle”, by taking God’s word into our lives, by renewing once again our efforts with God’s prevenient grace, of course–in prayer and penance, in conversion, life-offering and reparation. There are mountains of problems and difficulties our nation and our new government confront, no doubt about it. But there is once again a sense of hope, rooted in faith, that if we listen to God’s promise in all seriousness, and do what the Lord bids us do, then “new miracles” are really possible, through the goodness and mercy of God. Once again we can say: this is no little thing.
It is within the context of all that we have just said that we, the CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES, desire to launch the crusade of “ONE HUNDRED DAYS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE” for reconciliation and peace, for unity in our effort at national reconstruction.
We do not say–far from it–that prayer and penance are by themselves enough to make national reconciliation and reconstruction possible. We do not say–far from it–that well-considered, wisely-chosen, massive efforts in the economic, socio-political and cultural areas are not necessary and urgent; they are! In fact we believe that rarely in our history has the national situation demanded from all of us such a total, all-encompassing, decisive unity of mind, heart and hand,–such a collaboration “with blood, sweat and tears” toward the realization of common goals of our nation. We cannot say this strongly enough or insistently enough.
And yet, as Bishops and pastors of our faithful, it is incumbent on us to remind our people of the faith-dimensions, the spiritual dimensions of the task at hand, to recall to them the words of the Psalmist that we labor in vain to build even the earthly city unless the Lord labor with us.6 It is our part to remember that as we believe the Lord in his providence brought about our passing over to a new moment in our history, so he will bring about too, a lightening of (and hopefully, in time, deliverance from) the burdens of want and poverty, and of so many other burdens which press so heavily on the backs of the majority of our people.
Hence the ONE HUNDRED DAYS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE should serve to keep before our eyes our debt of gratitude to God for the gifts he has already given us, and our duty to learn from those very gifts the lesson that we must now not “grow faint in prayer”7 as we strive for genuine reconciliation, peace and unity. In a special way, these days should keep alive in our hearts our special love and affections toward our Blessed Mother, to whom we turned so fervently during the Marian Year and who, we believe, accompanied us in the days of our struggle and deliverance.
Concrete Programs for “The One Hundred Days of Prayer and Penance”
In this part of the Pastoral Letter, we will try to spell out in some detail what each diocese, each parish, each family can try to do, as a possible program for these “100 days”. These are suggestions merely; we must leave it to you, dear pastors and people, to work out concretely what will seem to you the best ways of practicing deeds of prayer and penance in your own situations.
- The “ONE HUNDRED DAYS” should begin on 22 August 1986, Feast of the Queenship of Mary. They should end on 29 November, the Saturday just before the First Sunday of Advent for 1986. (On 30 November, Sunday, Advent begins, and likewise the Novena before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.)
The one hundred days will thus include (a) several religious feast days, e.g., the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity on 8 September; the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on 7 October (October, of course, is dedicated to the Holy Rosary); the Solemnity of Christ the King, 23 November; the feast of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, 27 November;
(b) in our national life: the hoped-for completion of our country’s new Constitution, its presentation to our people and the referendum regarding its ratification; the announcement, most probably, of local elections and the beginning of electoral campaigns; the stepped-up efforts for fuller reconciliation of opposed forces in our country, for national economic recovery, and the like. All these can enter into the objectives and purposes of our one hundred days of prayer and penance.
Particular groups may wish to include special intentions in this crusade of prayer and fasting, e.g., the beatification of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, Foundress of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM).8
To repeat: the 100 days begin on 22 August and end on 29 November.
- The most important dimension we wish to point to, of this period we are setting aside for prayer and penance, should be the continuation, in some way, of the C-O-R program we pursued during the Marian Year. As we indicated above, the Holy Father’s message urges us to follow through on that program, based as it is on the message of Our Lady in her appearances at Fatima.9
We do not need to develop here what we said in our Pastoral Exhortation, “Pilgrimage of Hope,” given on 24 March 1985.10 We urged an ever-deepening and ever more authentic CONVERSION, OFFERING OF OUR DAILY LIVES, and REPARATION. The “societal translation” of these objectives should also be reflected on and converted into programs of action.11
- For concrete “practices” of Prayer and Penance, the following might be suggested as examples:
- Every day, three times daily, the Angelus bells might be rung, to call people to prayer, –principally to remind the faithful of this crusade of prayer and penance.
Let the ANGELUS be recited with this: to implore the Lord to give to our people his gifts of RECONCILIATION and PEACE, and UNITY, toward national recovery and reconstruction. We recommend, too, that a brief litany be added to the Angelus prayer.
- Every evening, at 8:00 p.m., promptly, wherever and whenever possible, families and other groups and communities pause to say together five decades of the Rosary of Our Lady (or at the very least, one or two decades) for “the intentions of our hundred days.”
In connection with this daily recitation of the Rosary, some Marian groups have suggested the following projects:
- That parish, diocesan or national organizations try to get time on local and national radio stations (even TV stations, when this is possible) for the evening recitation of Our Lady’s Rosary. It is suggested that local and national leaders of exemplary Christian life and other like representatives take turns leading the prayers on radio and television;
- That this procedure be followed, whenever and wherever possible: when the family or other group begins its prayer, the house or hall lights be dimmed, and a light (electric light, lantern or candle) be placed by the window to invite others to join in prayer. Would it not be beautiful if this practice spreads, and in time, at 8:00 p.m., we shall be truly “a nation which prays together?”
- Could Friday or/and Saturday be set aside each week as day or days of Penance?
- Each group or community can determine what the most effective form of penance could be, for the individuals and groups. E.g., one meal less for the day? or part of a meal? other acts of self-sacrifice… We suggest, though, that the acts of penance as much as possible have a “correlative part” which is directed “to others”.
E.g., giving up one meal means sharing something with others, especially those in need. Sacrifice can reach into our time, our efforts, our resources–economic and other, etc. Our penance should have a dimension of love and solidarity toward those in need.
- We encourage too, the practice of “fasting for justice”–accompanying our fasting with an education towards justice-issues, etc.
- These suggestions are given merely as suggestions; with them we intend merely to “prime the pump”. More concrete programs and ways of implementing these 100 days we leave to your own initiative and prayerful discernment. We only urge that they challenge the generosity of all those involved; demand more and deeper prayer and penance, rather than less! Let the spirit of generosity and self- sacrifice be renewed in the hearts of our people, especially our young people!
- We come back to the “intention” behind this crusade, which we must never lose sight of.
TOGETHER WITH OUR BLESSED MOTHER MARY, IN UNION WITH HER IMMACULATE HEART, WE BEG FOR THE GIFTS OF RECONCILIATION AND PEACE, THE GIFT OF UNITY IN OUR EFFORTS TOWARD NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION AND RENEWAL IN OUR SOCIETY.
The “means” we will use are the same ones which made up our renewal-program during the Marian Year 1985: C-O-R, conversion, the offering of our daily lives, reparation. We will try to put “C-O-R” increasingly into our personal and public lives, so that our people “can journey into the future in peace and hope.”
- Thus the symbol of this crusade of ONE HUNDRED DAYS OF PRAYER AND PENANCE will be, we suggest, the image of OUR LADY OF PEACE AND SAFE JOURNEYING.
Our Lady of Antipolo, Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, has her feast celebrated on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December. She is thus–as Mary of the Immaculate Conception –patroness of our nation and our people. (The Jesuit Fathers who took over the mission of Antipolo in 1591 dedicated it to the mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception). Thus we invoke Mary, Patroness of the Philippines, in a special way during this period. And these one hundred days will end just the day before the Novena to the Immaculate Conception begins, just before Advent begins.
Is it not altogether fitting that we pray for RECONCILIATION, PEACE AND UNITY, with Our Lady of Peace; that we pray for a happy and safe journey forward for our nation,with Our Lady of Safe Journeying? For are we not embarked on a new journey forward to our future?
We might recall the words of our national hero, Jose Rizal, addressed to Our Lady of Antipolo, in his Junto al Pasig:
Salve, rosa pura, reina del mar,
salve, blanca estrella, fiel iris de la paz…
Antipolo, por ti solo, fama y renombre tendra:
De los males, los mortales, tu imagen nos librara.12
We ask our beloved priests and other pastoral collaborators, teachers in our schools, diocesan and parish groups, especially Marian organizations, to take active leadership in this campaign for the “things that are to our peace.13 Let all the People of God show their Christian spirit of responsible citizenship, by fulfilling their tasks, in this difficult period of national reconstruction. Let us all without exception do this with the dedication, the spirit of sacrifice, to which our Faith summons us. Let us thus give witness to the Hope that is in us and the Love which urges us14 to the tasks of both the City of Man and the Kingdom of God.15
As we end this pastoral letter, we recall the words of Pope John Paul II which we cited at its beginning:
Be confident that turning to Mary’s intercession in this difficult period of your history will not be in vain.
May Our Blessed Lady, with her loving Son Jesus, accompany these one hundred days of prayer and penance.
May the God of Peace, Father, Son and Spirit, bless our beloved people and our beloved land with their gifts of unity, of justice and freedom, enduring peace.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
(Sgd.)+RICARDO J. CARDINAL VIDAL, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu
Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration
6 August 1986
A SUGGESTED “LITANY” TO BE ADDED AFTER THE ANGELUS PRAYER
(to be translated into different languages and dialects)
That in the midst of conflicts and enmities, we may be granted the grace of reconciliation in truth and justice, Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journeying, Pray for us to God.
That we may have peace throughout our land, in our hearts and in our homes, wherever we live and work together; that unity and solidarity may be both God’s gift to us and our earnest task, Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journeying, Pray for us to God.
That our people and our government may safely make this journey forward to national recovery, reconstruction and the renewal of our society, despite the troubled times and seasons, Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journeying, Pray for us to God.
A MESSAGE FROM HIS EMINENCE JAIME L. CARDINAL SIN
The motto, the leit-motif of our 1985 Marian Year was C-O-R; it was a program of Conversion, Offering of our daily lives, Reparation . Based on the message of Fatima, it stressed three “basics” of the Christian life, which Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on Penance and Reconciliation, a text summing up the teaching of the Synod of Bishops of 1983, also proclaimed.
In all Christian renewal of life, there is a call to CONVERSION, a “turning around” from sin and evil in our lives, towards God and obedience to His will. Without conversion, constantly renewed, we build on shaky foundations.
In all Christian renewal of life, there must be the core-effort of making the tasks and duties of our daily existence the “stuff of our dedication and consecration to God”–hence our lives, our “day to day living and being,” –are offered in mind and heart and deed, OFFERED too in the worship of the Church, in the Eucharist above all.
Finally, in all Christian renewal of life, there must be a “setting aright” of whatever we have turned from the right way –undoing injustice and harm done to others, righting wrongs which have brought evil in our neighbors’ lives, and the like; there is need of REPARATION. We cannot just walk away from harm done to others, from sin’s rebellion against God. Reparation completes Conversion.
The new program we now propose to ourselves must link the objectives of C-O-R to the urgent, pressing task of national reconstruction, of building our country again from the ruins which the overthrown dictatorship has left us, renewing Filipino society itself from the devastation that was our heritage from the two decades of mismanagement and corruption, waste, pillage and injustice. We must continue C-O-R on a personal level, on the level of family, yes, but now we must consciously project it onto the social and even political scenes. Now the “social dimensions” of C-O-R must be especially the object of our care and concern, commitment and collaboration.
Our President, in her address of 30 April 1986, outlined a three-fold set of priority goals for economic and social reconstruction. These objectives were:
1. The alleviation of mass poverty;
2. the generation of jobs and employment;
3. the more just and equitable sharing of the fruits of development.
These, rightly understood, may truly be made equivalent to “social translation” of C-O-R.
1. To turn to the alleviation of mass poverty as a first priority is an effort at social conversion . It means turning away from the pursuit of personal profit as our first concern. Pope John Paul II has repeatedly spoken of the”preferential option for the poor ” as a truly Gospel-based priority, as a Christian option. Making the alleviation of mass poverty our first priority is making, in fact, this “preferential option for the poor.” That is the first step in our national conversion, our conversion as a Christian society.
2. Secondly, when we generate more jobs for the millions of our unemployed or under-employed brothers and sisters, we give them the possibility of fulfilling themselves in productive work, restoring to them their human dignity and sense of personal worth, enabling them to become co-creators of the society and community within which they live their lives. We enable them, through their human work, to offer their daily lives and tasks to God. This becomes the “social translation” of the objective of the offering of our daily lives and duties to the Lord . Thus, more and more of us can become co-creators, with each other and with God, of the human city and human culture which is the task God has given man to do in the world.
3. Lastly, as we work toward a more equitable sharing of the fruits of development we do a work of reparation. We foster the rule of justice, that justice which is the basis of peace. Opus justitiae pax was the motto of Pope Pius XII: the work of justice is peace; peace is the flowering of justice . If we, as a nation, are to move toward progress and prosperity for all Filipinos, the secure foundation for that striving must be social justice. And since there has been and is so much injustice in our society, the task of promoting, struggling for, justice and human rights, takes on the character of an effort of reparation, renewing our society by righting injustice and removing oppression wherever we can. If only we could really work toward the justice in all areas of our society then we could bring about social peace which will, in turn, flower in further progress and a society of true brotherhood, in hope and love.
We can work toward these three objectives drawn from the President’s program for national recovery, from the motivation of the Gospel, and with the energy which Christian love gives us. If we do this, we will have at hand a wonderfully apt way of “REAL-IZING C-O-R” at the present moment of our nation’s history.
May Our Lord and his Sacred Heart, may Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart gain for us both the light and power of grace “to do the works of faith, justice and love” at this crucial hour which we face, as a people and a nation under God. God grant us the power to accomplish this, for “without Him, we can do nothing”. As we believe He worked in us and through us and with us “the miracle at EDSA,” so –with our President –we believe God can work this new “miracle” of deliverance, not only from bondage, but also from want and need.
We join our hearts to “the Alliance of the Two Hearts” of the Son of the Mother (Pope John Paul II). Trusting in their help, we cannot fail. We will not fail.
(Sgd.)+JAIME L. CARDINAL SIN, D.D.
Archbishop of Manila
Manila, 6 June 1986
Some of the footnotes refer to the book BIMILLENIUM: KAARAWAN NI MARIA: 1985 MARIAN YEAR BOOK, edited by Howard Q. Dee, published by BAHAY MARIA, No. 146 Jupiter St., Bel Air II, Makati, Metro Manila, 1986. They are referred to simply as BIMILLENIUM
1 Cf. “CBCP Proclaims 1985 a Marian Year,” and ” A Pilgrimage of Hope”, CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on the Celebration of the Marian Year, 8 December 1984 to 8 December 1985, in BIMILLENIUM, p. 5.
2 “Message of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II,” 8 December 1985, BIMILLENIUM, P. 5
3 “Message of the Holy Father,” op. cit., p. 5.
4 Cf. Jaime L. Cardinal Sin in “Miracle at EDSA,” BIMILLENIUM, p. 51.
5 2 Chronicles 7, 14 f. Cf. “Conspiracy for National Renewal,” text from the National Marian Year 1985 Council, 15 August 1985, BIMILLENIUM, p. 101.
6 Psalm 127.
7 Cf. Luke 21, 36.
8 Each diocese or region will no doubt have some special concern or need in relation to reconciliation, unity and peace to which it will wish to turn the prayerful attention and action of the faithful and other people of goodwill in this or that particular locality.
9 Cf. Our exhortation “Pilgrimage of Hope,” BIMILLENIUM, p. 17.
10 Cf. footnote (1) above, BIMILLENIUM, pp. 16-18.
11 Cf. Appendix II, below, “A Message from Cardinal Sin” to the Archdiocese of Manila, 8 June 1986.
12 From Rizal, “Junto al Pasig”. A free translation might run like this:
Hail, purest rose, queen of all our seas
Hail, white star of morning, rainbow at day’s end, promising us our peace!
Alone, you will give Antipolo her fame and renown,
And your image there enshrined will grant us deliverance from death and from every harm.
Vid. Monina A. Mercado (editor), ANTIPOLO: A Shrine To Our Lady, 1980,
Craftnotes/Aletheia Foundation, Makati, Metro Manila, 1980, p. 23.
13 Cf. Luke 19, 42.
14 Cf. 2 Cor. 5, 14.
15 Cf. Gaudium et Spes. Pastoral Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Chapter IV.
Back to: CBCP Documents