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Top 10 Images From Pope Francis' Journey to the Philippines

10:28 AM Posted by Paulus , No comments
Top 10 Images From Pope Francis' Journey to the Philippines - Aleteia

In my experience attending corporate training programs — especially those involving team dynamics and motivation approaches — I have always been impressed with the way the really good trainors are able to create a euphoric pumped-up vibe in the participants over the course of the session. The courses that are conducted away from the office over several days are particularly effective as they also create a community spirit amongst the participants in the program. Not surprisingly we come out of such training programs carrying with us that ‘high’ that supposedly will fuel a change in behaviour for the better.
Key challenge for Filipinos is to find lasting meaning in the recently-concluded papal visit.(Photo source: USA Today)
Key challenge for Filipinos is to find lasting meaning in the recently-concluded papal visit.
(Photo source: USA Today)
Those trainors certainly are worth the big bucks they’re paid. And it’s good money — considering they are not accountable for what happens to their training subjects after they leave the nest. It is really up to the boss — or whoever forked out company money to have their employees trained in an expensive course — to ensure that the expected outcomes of the investment are met by actual results.
Scale this up to a national level and you get an idea of the expectations now resting on Filipinos in the aftermath of the visit of Pope Francis. Tax money as well as the enormous costs to do with disruptions to business all over the country thanks to the security measures and holidays effected during the papal visit have been incurred. Even more to the point, Filipinos and their top opinion-shapers, have waxed heavenly poetry over how the pope has “inspired”, “unified”, “uplifted”, and “blessed” Filipinos during his brief stay.
The bottom line, if we are to believe all this, is that Pope Francis’s presence in the Philippines over the last few days brought about “a renewed sense of hope” among Filipinos.
Hope in what exactly? Well, that depends on the answer to this question:
Will the costs incurred by the papal visit be capitalised? Or will they merely be written off?
Excuse for now the accounting-speak but this is worth bearing in mind. When you capitalise a cost, you do so recognising that a lasting asset was created. When you write off a cost, you recognise that there will be no significant legacy left by the outcome of said expense over the foreseeable future.
What exactly is the tangible asset that Pope Francis will be leaving behind in the Philippines? To be sure, he did not build a factory that will employ a hundred thousand Filipinos over the next 20 years. So far, too, there is no evidence that he has implemented any significant reforms in the Philippines’ Roman Catholic leadership that would change the primitive way Catholicism is imparted on the majority Catholic population. And neither did the pope commit to some kind of economic treaty that could contribute to the country’s development.
Of course, none of those are things that could be reasonably expected of a visiting pope. Pope Francis, after all, came as a spiritual leader, not a diplomatic Santa Claus. What the Pope will have supposedly achieved is to contribute to the spiritual enrichment of Filipinos. In short, Filipinos, in theory, will have come out of the experience spiritually wealthier. The legacy left by the pope is expected to be an intangible spiritual wealth.
So are Filipinos wealthier in spirit following this momentous papal visit?
That is the 100 million-peso question. Much the same way defenders of the extravagant “royal wedding” of Filipino starlets Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera like to point out that such spectacles serve an important purpose in society — to deliver a similar spiritual experience to their legions of fans in the form of momentary distractions from their wretchedness, the pope’s legacy is a similarly euphoric state. And we all know how long those things last.
The challenge therefore is for Filipinos to make the Pope Effect last. To be sure, millions of Filipinos saw the pope and shared the experience of being in his holy presence as a community. The question in this light, however, is a bit more confronting:
Did Filipinos actually hear what he said?
There are many rock stars who write great meaningful lyrics. The trouble with their fans is that they hear the music but not the words. Pope Francis certainly earned the distinction as the modern-era’s rock star pope. His Philippine visit affirmed that title. The thing with rock’n roll is that it is best experienced with sex and drugs. But, as my colleague Paul Farol pointed out, “The worst time to tell a person he’s an alcoholic is while he’s drunk.” The key lesson, therefore, is that the wealth in the pope’s visit lies in the messages he brings supposedly as God’s earthly vassal. Hopefully, Filipinos listened.
So perhaps we will wait out the next 100 days following this momentous occasion and review in hindsight what the papal visit really meant to Filipinos.


3:09 PM Posted by Paulus No comments
WASHINGTON DC - Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) introduced a Senate resolution thanking Pope Francis for his help in securing the release of prisoner Alan Gross from Cuba.
Durbin, who has been critical of past pontiffs and Catholic theology in general, said: “Pope Francis seems to find new ways every day to make the world a little better,” said Durbin. “Over the past 18 months, that included sensitive negotiations for the release of an American aid worker and helping to mend the relationship between the United States and Cuba. Because of his work my friend Alan Gross is home again with his family.”

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

First International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking

8:23 AM Posted by Paulus , No comments
The First "International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking" will be celebrated in all dioceses and parishes in the world, in the groups and schools on 8 February 2015, the Feast Day of Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave, freed, who became a Canossian nun, and was declared a Saint in 2000. The initiative is promoted by the Pontifical Council of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG and USG). 

The statement sent to Agenzia Fides highlights that "the primary objective of the International Day is to create greater awareness on this phenomenon and to reflect on the overall situation of violence and injustice that affect so many people, who have no voice, do not count, and are no one: they are simply slaves. Another goal is to attempt to provide solutions to counter this modern form of slavery by taking concrete actions".

The phenomenon concerns the whole world. According to official data roughly 21 million people, often very poor and vulnerable, are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging, illegal organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation.

Each year, around 2.5 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery. On the other hand, for traffickers and pimps, this is one of the most lucrative illegal activities in the world, generating a total of 32 billion dollars a year. It is the third most profitable “business” after drugs and arms trafficking. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/11/2014)

Epiphany of the Lord

7:40 PM Posted by Paulus , No comments
For Catholics (and a few other Christian traditions), Christmas isn’t over on Christmas day. We continue to celebrate for 12 days after, until the 6th of January, which is the Epiphany of the Lord, the celebration of the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus, as told in Matthew 2:1-12. (In the West, we celebrate on the Sunday between the 2-8th of January, which would of course be today.)
“Epiphany originally celebrated four different events, in the following order of importance: the Baptism of the Lord; Christ’s first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana; the Nativity of Christ; and the visitation of the Wise Men or Magi. Each of these is a revelation of God to man: At Christ’s Baptism, the Holy Spirit descends and the voice of God the Father is heard, declaring that Jesus is His Son; at the wedding in Cana, the miracle reveals Christ’s divinity; at the Nativity, the angels bear witness to Christ, and the shepherds, representing the people of Israel, bow down before Him; and at the visitation of the Magi, Christ’s divinity is revealed to the Gentiles—the other nations of the earth.”
“The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles.”
“On the Feast of the Epiphany [in the West], the priest, wearing white vestments, will bless the Epiphany water, frankincense, gold, and chalk. Chalk is used to write the initials of the three magi over the doors of churches and homes. The letters stand for the initials of the Magi (traditionally named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), and also the phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates as “may Christ bless the house”.”
If you check out Wikipedia, you can read some of the more interesting Epiphany customs all over the world, such as in Bulgaria, where a priest throws a wooden cross into a body of water and men race to retrieve it. Because it’s so cold, it’s considered an honorable act – the home of the first to retrieve the cross is said to be blessed with good health.
Happy Twelfth Night!

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