Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in the northern Philippines called on the faithful to offer reparation for “our personal and national sins” ahead of this year’s national elections.
The archbishop appealed for a Lenten season of “reparation rosary for truth, integrity, and wisdom” starting Ash Wednesday, March 2, until Holy Wednesday, April 13.
He urged everyone to pray the rosary in all churches, at home, and “even in our work places.”
“I invite our brother priests to make confessions more available to our people especially this Lenten season and I beg our faithful to go to confession,” said Archbishop Villegas.
He called on the faithful to offer their “reparation adoration” for the same intentions from Easter Monday, April 18 to May 8, “the vigil of our national elections.”
He said the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed publicly for an hour in parish churches, chaplaincies, and pastoral stations.
He urged the faithful to stay in silent adoration, as much as possible kneeling down, to atone for the sins of the nation.
“We will pray for twenty-one days for all the voters in the coming elections,” said the archbishop.
“We cannot delay offering reparation for our personal and national sins. The bitter fruits of our sins are already strangling us,” he said.
“We are reaping what we have sown. Catholic values will erode further if we ignore the guidance of God,” he said.
In the Archdiocese of Manila, Catholic priests will hold a “penitential walk” on Thursday, February 17, to pray for people’s discernment for the May national elections.
“We particularly pray for our people as we choose our next leaders this coming May,” read a statement from the clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila.
“We ask our fellow Filipinos to be “maka-Diyos kaya makabayan (pro-God to be pro-country),” to discern their choice well and prefer leaders who embody and promote the values of the Kingdom of God,” it added.
The activity, which marks the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of three Filipino Catholics priests during the Spanish occupation, will start with a Mass at the Manila Cathedral.
Filipino Catholic priests Mariano Gomez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, were executed on February 17, 1872, in Bagumbayan, now Rizal Park, by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.
“The execution awakened the nationalistic ideals and aspirations of the Ilustrados (Filipino students studying in Europe) and the Katipuneros (Manila-based revolutionaries led by Andres Bonifacio),” read the statement by the clergy of Manila.
“It may be argued that if there was no [Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora], perhaps there is also no independent Philippines,” they said.
“The sacrifice of these three diocesan priests of Manila birthed a nation,” added the priests.
After the Mass on Thursday, the penitential walk will follow from the cathedral to the memorial marker at the Rizal Park, and then to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia in Ermita, Manila.
The event will be a “liturgical and devotional activity” and “an act of public worship and piety,” said the clergy of Manila.
It will take a form of what Filipinos describe as “alay-lakad (walk for a cause)” according to the pious Filipino sense of “penitensya (sacrifice).”
“For us Filipinos, doing acts of “penitensya” or sacrifice is never just for oneself, but always intercessory, that is, in behalf of others and in solidarity with others,” said the priests.
“As a clergy, we shall make this act of sacrifice not only for our personal piety but also for the sake of our people and in communion with our people,” added their statement.
“Indeed, when we were ordained, we promised to pray unceasingly in order to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to our care,” they said.