500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE PHILIPPINES
(1521 TO 2021)
A PROPOSAL FOR THE RE-EVANGELIZATION OF THE NATION
We are facing exciting times in the life and mission of the
Catholic Church in the Philippines. By extension, since the
Philippines has a prophetic calling to be a light in Asia
and even to the world, what happens in this nation will have
a big impact on what happens in the world.
Our nation received its Christian faith from Spain. Ironically,
that nation, plus all the other Christian nations that God
used to spread the faith throughout the world, are becoming
more and more secular and humanist. The foundational aspects
crucial to the faith, that of family and life, are severely
The Philippines, even though still considered a strongly religious
nation, is threatened as well by the dark forces that are
engulfing the world. While the churches are packed, only 15-20%
of all Catholics regularly go to Church on Sundays. While
divorce and abortion are not legal, more and more Catholics
are separating, aborting and contracepting. While society
is still fairly conservative, premarital and extramarital
sex are becoming widespread, and there is increasing homosexual
Today the dark forces are marshaling their strength for a
final push against the culture of life and against the Catholic
Church. These are powerful forces, such as the European Union,
the US government under President Obama, elements of the United
Nations, billionaire philanthropists, liberal media, homosexualist
and radical feminist forces, etc. Given the position of our
nation as still a bastion of Christianity, of traditional
family and of the culture of life, the Philippines is a major
We need to prepare for the onslaught of evil upon our land.
This is especially critical since the enemy is already within
the Church, whether these are increasingly liberal Catholic
educational institutions, feminist nuns, Catholic politicians
promoting reproductive rights, etc. But more importantly,
we need to prepare to fulfill our destiny as God’s light
to the world.
This then is a proposal, to be implemented in 2011 and for
ten years thereafter, culminating in 2021 on the 500th anniversary
of Christianity here, for the re-evangelization of the Philippines.
MAJOR ASPECTS OF THE PLAN
there are many things that should be looked to in order to
strengthen the Church and prepare her for the ongoing struggles
of this third millennium, we should focus on the most important
fundamentals. These are the following:
1) Re-evangelization. Living transformed lives in Christ.
2) Family renewal. Strengthening the nuclear family.
3) The culture of life. Defending life.
4) Building the Church of the Poor. Working at social justice.
Re-evangelization is crucial. Nothing much else can be done
unless our people are renewed in Christ and living in the
power of the Holy Spirit. This is for both laity and clergy
alike. To be God’s light in the world, we must grow
in the very holiness of God.
Family renewal is crucial. The family is the basic unit of
society, and as Pope John Paul II has said, the future of
humanity passes by way of the family. The enemy, knowing this,
seeks to destroy the family. The family is the most basic
ecclesial community and is the mission base for doing evangelistic
work outside the home.
Defending the culture of life is crucial. This is the fight
of the third millennium. The evil forces are concentrated
on promoting the culture of death, and are committed to spread
its errors throughout the whole world. The US government is
leading the charge, with a strong commitment to having abortion
as a universal human right.
Working against poverty and social injustice is crucial. The
very mission of Jesus is to bring good news to the poorspiritual,
material, emotional, societal. Building the Church of the
Poor is the only way true peace and even prosperity in the
land can be achieved.
There should be a program that is effective in bringing people
into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The program
should be replicable throughout the parishes, to be conducted
by laypeople under the guidance of the clergy. The program
should provide for an ongoing support environment, so that
the initial transformation in Christ will deepen.
It should be a program that has proven effective in bringing
people to Christ in every situation and with people of different
backgrounds. Such a program is the Christian Life Seminar
(CLS). This consists of 9 different sessions. With simple
training, mature parish leaders can handle this program. The
CLS effectively leads people to accept Jesus as their Savior
and Lord, and to look to living their lives in the power of
the Holy Spirit. It promotes a charismatic spirituality, which
is the spirituality of the early Church.
After the CLS, the graduates find their support group in the
many different associations within the parish. These associations
have many different formation programs, which can serve to
deepen the faith of their members. An important aspect of
formation is the Biblical apostolate, with a program such
as the Liturgical Bible Study (LBS) that builds capability
to proclaim/share the Good News to neighborhood groupings
such as the BEC model of being Church.
While the program starts with individual renewal, since each
individual needs to personally experience transformation in
Christ, it must move on to renewing marriage and family life.
Family is crucial to the well-being of individuals and of
the whole nation. Family is also the most basic educational
institution for raising God-fearing men and women.
Crucial to the evangelization of the family is the role of
the men. Traditionally many of those who are active in the
Church are the women. But family renewal cannot happen unless
the men assume their proper role as head of the home according
to the plan of God.
Here there should be marriage enrichment seminars and retreats,
as well as youth and family formation courses. Further, there
should be smaller cell groups to which couples and other individuals
can belong to, where they relate to their peers and support
each other in the Christian life.
The culture of life
There should be intensive pro-life formation. The different
pro-life groups already have all the material. What is needed
is to have a deliberate and sustained pro-life teaching and
training, conducted by laypeople but supported and even pushed
by the parish priests.
Pro-life groups should also form an effective coalition (not
necessarily formal) where there is united effort whenever
needed, where there is a sharing of resources, and where functions
would not have to unnecessarily overlap.
Work with the poor
should be a program that effectively works at poverty eradication,
while providing the poor with spiritual inputs. It should
be concerted and replicable, and able to be done by parishioners
on an ongoing basis.
One such program is a holistic work of poverty alleviation
that involves values formation, building homes, and providing
soft programs for education, health, livelihood and environment.
It builds physical communities among the poor, which communities
would be perfect as Basic Ecclesial Communities.
Under the leadership of the parish priest, this work would
involve all parishioners and all parish organizations. Funding
will come not only from parishioners but also from the national
and international organizations of the parish groups, from
Filipino associations abroad (connecting provincial and regional
associations with their own provinces and towns), and even
from sister parishes in the First World.
This program, if supported by all the parishes, can rapidly
work at poverty reduction, without necessarily straining the
resources of particular individuals or groups. At the same
time it strengthens the faith, the family and the culture
THE CURRENT SITUATION
things are already happening in the Church today. There is
much activity. There are many good programs. However, we do
see that Church attendance is low, and even those who are
regularly attending Church are not necessarily growing in
lives of holiness. This includes the clergy.
Let us examine our situation.
How many percent of Catholics attend church regularly? How
can this be increased to a much higher percentage?
many Catholics live out their faith when in government or
How many Catholics are still living without benefit of marriage,
especially among the poor?
How many Catholics who have more in life actually share
their resources with the poor?
many clerics are true men of God and are true pastors?
Why is such a project important?
The Philippines, according to God’s plan, has a prophetic
role to be His light in Asia and to the world. But unless
something is done, the Philippines may go the way of all other
Catholic nations where the faith has greatly diminished.
Is the Philippines on that downward road?
The Philippines is still recognized as a strongly Catholic
nation. Churches are still full on Sundays. But what is the
Only 15-20% of all Catholics attend Mass regularly every
Many corrupt government officials, tax-evading businessmen,
and miscreants of all kinds are Catholics.
Many Catholic women use contraceptives, and many Catholics
favor the reproductive health bill.
Many Catholic couples among the poor are not married in
Many Catholics are being lost to fundamentalist sects and
cults. Not many Catholics go to regular confession.
Of the Catholics who are basically good people who still go
to church, many are not striving to live lives of holiness.
And most do not participate at all in the life and mission
of the Church.
HOW IS THIS PROGRAM DIFFERENT?
There are already many pastoral programs and activities in
the Church. Do we need another one? It is precisely that there
are many programs and activities, but still there is that
downward direction, that we need another fresh approach, one
that hopefully would truly be Spirit-inspired.
What would distinguish this approach from others?
There would be a number of distinct elements:
would be a concerted project of the whole Church, mandated
and led by the hierarchy.
It would target the critical basic areas that are needed
for revival, and those are: evangelization, family renewal,
the culture of life, and work with the poor.
It would mobilize the laity through means that enable
massive implementation from the top down, all the way
to each and every Catholic throughout the whole nation.
This includes the culture of person-to-person evangelization.
It would utilize proven programs and approaches.
What is needed is a concerted deliberate program of action,
supported at the very top and by all the clergy.
What are our goals?
The following indicators, many of which are not evident in
the lives of many Catholics today, should be our goal:
Having a deep personal relationship with Jesus.
Looking to grow in holiness of life.
Having a well-established prayer life.
Knowing and living the Bible.
Fidelity in promises/vows made, be it marriage, priesthood
or the religious-consecrated life.
Vibrancy in Christian family living.
Purity among the youth.
Couples adhering to NFP and not using contraceptives.
Sharing their faith and evangelizing.
Financial stewardship and transparency in government/Church
for and empowering the poor.
If we can say that the above are happening in the lives of
Filipino Catholics today, then let us just go on with what
we already have. But the reality is that the above are more
of the exception rather than the rule. Many Catholics are
in fact not really living Christian lives.
PRACTICAL PROPOSALS ON HOW TO PROCEED
starts with a decision of the Catholic hierarchy (through
the CBCP) to embark on this 10-year program of re-evangelization.
Then a central committee is formed to do the planning. This
will be a two-month planning, from February to March 2011.
The committee will regularly report to the CBCP on its progress.
After this time, people will undergo training on the different
programs of formation as needed.
March 2011 will be the formal launch of the program, with
a Eucharistic celebration on Limasawa Island in Leyte (officially
declared as the authentic site by the Historical Commission),
at the site where the first Mass was celebrated by the Spaniards.
Some practical elements
Annual conferences -- one national and several
echo conferences regionally on the level of the ecclesiastical
Themes for the annual conferences for the
Proclaiming Christ (evangelization)
Renewing the family
Uplifting the culture of life
Building the Church of the Poor
The Filipino diaspora in the service of the nations
The Christian in society, politics, economics and the
Serving Christ and his Church
The Blessed Virgin Mary in evangelization and family
The Philippines as God’s light to the world
* Underlying all the above would be the call to holiness.
Logo, song and prayer
for the decade.
An annual day of fasting for this intention.
February 2011 - March 2011 (Preparatory stage)
Approval in principle by the CBCP.
Appointment of a working or central committee. Working out
the whole framework of programs and activities for the decade.
Coming up with the logo, song and prayer for the decade.
Launch of the decade of re-evangelization of the Philippines,
with a Eucharistic celebration on Limasawa Island.
Continuous training of lay implementors, with the attendant
clerics, in Manila as well as regionally in each ecclesiastical
province. Training means they actually go through the programs,
and are given inputs on how to then mount the programs themselves.
From the ecclesiastical provinces, the training and programs
can move down to the dioceses, and from there down to every
The programs are implemented as trained laypeople are able
to conduct them. These programs are ongoing throughout the
Eucharistic celebration by the Holy Father in Manila.
very first is the Christian Life Seminar (CLS). It is designed
to bring participants to conversion, transformation and renewal
in Christ. It consists of 9 separate sessions, which can be
given in nine consecutive weeks, or in a shorter compressed
way (e.g., three weekends, or even in one weekend if necessary).
The CLS is a proven way of bringing lapsed or inactive Catholics
back to the Church, transforming nominal Catholics to a vibrant
and committed life in Christ, and deepening the faith of those
who are already active.
After the CLS, for continuing support and formation, there
will be a monthly prayer assembly in the
parish (or a diocesan facility). Here there will be worship,
personal testimonies, teachings, and fellowship.
Many follow-up formation programs will be
made available. Among others:
For married couples -- Marriage Enrichment Retreat
For youth -- various youth formation modules
For Bible appreciation -- Liturgical Bible Study
For pro-life -- SAFE and other pro-life modules
For work with the poor -- Church of the Poor Retreat
For servant leadership -- various leadership modules
The dynamics of the program for re-evangelization
Everyone goes through the CLS, hopefully including the clergy.
For the clergy this is desirable for the following reasons:
So that every Filipino Catholic will be on the same
page on this common journey to the 500th anniversary
of Christianity in the nation;
So the clergy, especially the parish priests, can be
fully knowledgeable about the CLS and thus be able to
better promote and support it; and
So that their own spirituality can be further enhanced.
The CLS, in Manila as well as in the various ecclesiastical
provinces, is first mounted for lay leaders already involved
in the dioceses/parishes and in the various religious groups
and lay movements. This is so that they can then be trained
to mount the same program for people down the line.
From the initial batches, participation in the CLS is fueled
by the person-to-person evangelization of those who have already
gone through it. This is actually important for the evangelizers
themselves because such a lifestyle of evangelization goes
a long way to deepening one’s spirituality. Further,
it is the only way to eventually reach everyone.
The dynamics of the program for the poor
There are many ways to serve the poor. Many of these ways
are already happening, and of course should continue. But
we propose a particular program that should be more effective,
for the following reasons:
It is a holistic approach to addressing all the important
needs of the poorshelter, health, education and
It is replicable throughout the nation, and so can be
done on a massive scale;
It will not unduly burden individuals and groups in
serving the poor, as the work and financial requirements
will be shared;
It gives parishioners a live situation where they can
truly care for the needs of the parish’s poor
on an ongoing way; it is Church of the Poor in action;
will be a vibrant model for BEC.
first step is to explain the program (which we will call work
with the poor or WWP) to the parish priest and to the Parish
Pastoral Council, perhaps together with leaders of the parish
organizations. Hopefully they will take on the vision.
Next is to solicit a piece of land, good for perhaps 30 to
100 homes, with each home lot perhaps 50 square meters.
This is not difficult in the provinces, where we can usually
find a land-owning Catholic willing to make such a donation.
There should also be space for a multi-purpose hall cum chapel,
a pre-school, a courtyard, and perhaps space for agricultural
purposes, such as vegetable patches, etc.
A team then trains the parish team.
Beneficiaries are selected, and given values formation. The
different parish groups can be allocated a certain number
of beneficiaries, for whom they will find the funds for
the house, and help build the house.
The support programs of health, education and livelihood follow.
In these, the expertise and resources of the different parish
groups will be tappeddoctors, nurses, teachers, etc.
The WWP can be implemented first by having a pilot site in
each of the ecclesiastical provinces. Then it moves on to
a site in each of the dioceses. Then it goes to a site in
each of the parishes. The parish adds more sites until there
is no more homeless Filipino family.
The trainors for the expanding work will come from the dioceses/parishes
that have the initial sites, which sites will also become
Additional funding can later be secured abroad. These can
be from charitable foundations, from Filipino associations,
from sister parishes in the First World.
are five very important, if not crucial, aspects to be considered,
if this decade-long evangelization program will be effective,
and result in revival in the Philippines.
(1) Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The baptism in the Spirit is intended for growth in holiness
and worldwide evangelization. Jesus himself said, “But
you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea
and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
It is the baptism in the Spirit that will enable us to become
witnesses (to be so, we need to grow in holiness) and to be
empowered to effectively proclaim the gospel to the whole
Baptism in the Spirit happens in the sacrament of Baptism,
and then is reinforced in the sacrament of Confirmation. But
many baptized and confirmed Catholics are not living Christian
lives, not growing in holiness, not evangelizing. What is
needed is a renewed infilling of the Spirit, that will result
in a renewed outpouring of the Spirit. The CLS is designed
to start that process.
Baptism in the Spirit confers spiritual gifts. There are two
kindsthe sanctifying gifts and the charismatic gifts.
The former help us grow in holiness. The latter help us serve
and do the work of evangelization. Both are crucial. There
are seven sanctifying gifts (Isaiah 11:2-3a). There are 9
basic charismatic gifts (1 Cor 12:4-10). There are additional
charismatic gifts (1 Cor 12:28, Rom 12:6-8, Eph 4:11, 1 Pt
In the Church the spiritual gifts are often spoken of. The
charismatic gifts are less so. But for the work of massive
evangelization, the charismatic gifts are crucial.
Baptism in the Spirit results in a so-called charismatic spirituality.
Such is very important for growing in holiness, for vibrant
worship, for building community, for service to the Church.
Consider that charismatics in the Catholic Church and Pentecostals
in the other churches are the fastest growing segments of
the Christian churches in the world. In the Philippines, consider
that the largest religious groups are charismatic in their
spiritualitythe Catholic El Shaddai, the evangelical
Jesus is Lord, even the cult Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Consider that the spirituality of the early Christians, reflected
in their worship, was charismatic. Even our ancestors in the
faith, as reflected in the book of Psalms, were charismatic
in their worship.
No one of course is forced to become a charismatic. Other
types of spirituality are valid and desirable in the Church.
But the evidence in the experience of many Christians is that
more are prone to grow in holiness and to become evangelizers
if they experience charismatic spirituality.
(2) Growth in holiness
Holiness is hardly talked aboutwhether in homilies, teachings,
even recollections and retreats. But holiness is the one key
aspect that is necessary if a Christian is to walk in the
footsteps of Jesus.
Many Catholics are unrepentant sinners who need to repent.
But it is not just a question of turning away from serious
sin. It is not just being a good person. The call is to be
like Christ, to be holy as God is holy, to be perfect as the
heavenly Father is perfect. The call is to deny self, take
up one’s cross, and follow Jesus. The call is to a life
of integrity, of living the truth, of self-sacrificial love.
This is not about theology, or catechism, or fulfilling
Church obligations, which are of course all important,
but it is a matter of knowing Christ and the power of his
resurrection. It is about putting on the mind of Christ. It
is being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is leaving all and
living all for God.
The Philippines can only become a light to the world if Catholics
grow in holiness. It is only then that the very light
of Christ will shine in and through us.
(3) A covenant
Christians have a covenant with God, by which God reveals
to us that He is our God and we are His people. If we live
the life He has prescribed for us, we will experience peace
It would be helpful to have an actual written covenant that
we would voluntarily enter into that would describe important
aspects of our relationship with God and commitments that
we make to Him. Those who finish the CLS and wish to participate
in the decade-long evangelization program would then be like
“card-carrying members.” We would have a concrete
and constant reminder of God’s call to us. It will be
a tool for growing in holiness.
The covenant could be something like this:
Trusting in the Lord’s help and guidance:
1. I shall live as a follower of Christ.
and read the Bible daily.
Strive for holiness and Christian perfection.
2. I dedicate myself to the task of building a strong family
Invest myself in time and effort for home and family.
Live out and defend the culture of life.
3. I shall be a committed and active member of my parish
Love and serve my parish.
Relate in love, loyalty and respect with all parishioners.
Actively participate in parish events.
Support the parish with my time and finances.
4. I shall be a witness to the world of God’s love.
Actively evangelize and do mission.
Love and care for the poor.
May the Lord Jesus Christ, with the intercession of our
blessed Mother Mary, help me to faithfully live this covenant,
for His greater honor and glory and for the good of my brothers
(4) Evangelization and mission
Most Catholics have no idea about being evangelizers or missionaries.
But this is a fundamental call to all Christians. In fact,
if we are aware of the Great Commission and do not do it,
then we are committing a sin of omission. It is a serious
matter, as the salvation won by Jesus on the cross can be
experienced by people only through the work of proclaimers
of the gospel (Rom 10:13-17).
The program of re-evangelization can only reach every Catholic
Filipino in a decade if those who are evangelized become evangelizers
themselves. Everyone can participate because we will promote
person-to-person evangelization in the normal day-to-day environments
of our lives. We reach out to those whom we interact with
on a regular basisrelatives, friends, co-workers, schoolmates,
Becoming evangelizers also moves us into holiness, as we more
and more think and speak about Christ, and deliberately amend
our lives to become more effective witnesses.
(5) Lay empowerment
The laity need to be empowered. The whole Philippines cannot
be re-evangelized in a decade unless the laity take their
proper place and role in the mission of the Church.
The laity need to know their inherent dignity as Christians,
and the attendant privileges and responsibilities. They participate
in the life and mission of the Church not as a concession
given by the Church hierarchy. They are not extensions of
the parish priest, but of Jesus himself.
For good order, the bishops, and through them the clergy,
exercise overall responsibility and authority over the Church
(each bishop in his diocese).
In this decade of re-evangelization, much of the actual work
will be done by the laity. The clergy are already burdened
with what they are doing, and so will just basically oversee
and provide guidance to the work of the laity.
A DECADE OF GRACE
Given the call of the Philippines as God’s light in
Asia and to the world, the decade of 2011-2021 will be time
of bountiful grace for the nation, where God will work powerfully
to build this nation to fulfill its destiny. God’s grace
and strength will be more than enough. We just need to do
(December 28, 2010)
 This is basically the
pastoral approach of CFC (CFC-FFL). CFC grew in 20 years to
over one million members, eventually brought its ministry
to 160 countries, and was recognized by the Holy See as one
of the new lay ecclesial movements. With the support of the
hierarchy, its work can be easily replicated and become even
 For both laity and clergy.
 Including life and service in the parish, and BECs.
 This is the CLS of the CFC-FFL. It is like a slightly
longer Life in the Spirit Seminar. The last talk will be modified
to become generic and pave the way for continuing participation
in the parish.
 This is not an exhaustive list.
 Subtle Attacks against the Faith Explained.
 Especially the lapsed or nominal Catholics who cannot
be reached by the parish priest or by parish groups.
 CFC-FFL is currently building Restoration Villages. The
name is appropriate, to signify the restoration of the dignity
of the poor through decent housing and community living.
 The house itself is 20 square meters.
 They can choose from among their poor, homeless members.
 The groups can tap on to their national and even international
 The bayanihan style will help bond rich and poor in the
 These can of course also be simultaneous if warranted.
 Regional and provincial Filipino associations abroad
will be encouraged to build villages in their home provinces
or home towns.
 By and large, these five aspects are not emphasized in
current official Church programs. For purposes of this paper,
we do not mention other all-important aspects such as the
Eucharist, the Bible, family renewal, pro-life, work with
the poor, etc., because these are already emphasized.
 There are in fact many dissident theologians.
 Head knowledge will have to be applied to day-to-day
 Many Mass goers do not live Christian lives the rest
of the week.
 This is for both laity and clergy.
 This is for every member of a family, whether married
or single. Everyone belongs to a family. For clergy, they
have their spiritual families.
 Except for those in religious communities, though they
are welcome to participate in the parish also.