25 March 2012

An satong mga Tadâ

A Pastoral Letter on TADÂ, a program for the benefit of the poor in the Diocese of Legazpi

 "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works." Heb 10,24

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on this passage when he wrote his message for Lent this year. He spoke about our common and constant duty to be responsible toward our brothers and sisters, especially those suffering from various forms of poverty – spiritual, moral and economic.

The Pope’s message brings to mind the call of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines to become a “Church of the Poor”, which means embracing the evangelical spirit of poverty and practicing a preferential option for the poor.

In response to this call, the Church in the Philippines has instituted the traditional Lenten practice of the ALAY KAPWA Program to raise awareness on the plight of the poor, and help them in their needs through different forms of support and assistance, mainly through almsgiving and donations.

This year 2012, following the directions set by our recently concluded First Diocesan Pastoral Assembly, I am inviting every member of the Diocese of Legazpi to join a modified form of ALAY KAPWA, which we shall henceforth call TADÂ, and which will continue as a diocesan project beyond the season of Lent. In other words, TADÂ will be a year-round program for the poor of the Diocese of Legazpi.

Tadâ – a Bikol word that means crumbs or leftovers – is based on a very simple rationale. In everyone’s life there are things that may be considered leftovers, things no longer needed. These things are oftentimes taken for granted, even discarded, because they no longer have that much value to us. But they can still be of some value, they can still be of use, to others – especially those who have very little in life. These are the tadâ in our lives. Let us gather and bring them together. For sure, if we do, they can help the poor in some form or other.

Immediately, we discover, for example, that there are many monetary “change” that we do not mind anymore: P0.05, P0.10, P0.25, even P1.00. Let us collect these in plastic bottles (which you can get from your respective parish rectories, or you may very well come up with your own!) and bring them to church, preferably on Sundays, and offer these at the offertory procession during the Mass. We will collect them and whatever amount gathered will be set aside to assist the poorest among us in their various needs – medical, nutritional, educational, and others. I am certain that the little tadâ that will come from each of us, like the five loaves and two fish that Jesus used to feed five thousand, will become plentiful enough in order to feed those who are hungry and help those in need.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his Lenten message: “Each part should be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, a practice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – is rooted in this common belonging. Christians can express their membership in the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest of the poor.”

The invitation to offer our tadâ is by no means an encouragement to be mediocre in generosity or be miserly in charity. The needs of the poor are big and many, and we cannot supply them all, at least not by our strength alone. But by God’s grace anything can be accomplished.

Starting with our tadâ means starting small, but with a view to a bigger end. We start by opening our eyes to the reality of poverty and our capacity to empower the needy. We proceed with instilling a habit of giving in everyone in order to form our hearts to become ever more generous with our gifts and ever more trusting in the Lord, the Giver of gifts.

Once again from the Pope’s Lenten message: “Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and working for the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodness and its demands.”

In this regard, I have asked our Diocesan Social Action Center (SAC) to develop a formation module and train the Commission on Social Concerns in our parishes, so they in turn may be able to provide their fellow parishioners the necessary catechesis that will make this program properly understood, appreciated and owned by all in the local Church of Legazpi.

Thus, I would like to ask our Parish Priests to send representatives from their respective Parish Commission on Social Concerns for orientation on TADÂ, and allow them with more or less five minutes to explain to our people what TADÂ is all about during designated Sunday Masses.

Our SAC people will also be doing the rounds of schools to share this project with them, as well as to those communities of the faithful – associations and movements – that may be interested to participate in this worthy endeavor of our local Church.

May the Lord of the poor and His Blessed Mother bless this effort of ours and make them successful according to His Most Holy Will!

Given this 22nd of March 2012 at the Diocesan Chancery in Legazpi City.

Bishop of Legazpi

Rev. Fr. Rex Paul B. Arjona

Pastoral Letter No. 2, Series of 2012

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