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Today, as we begin Lent, we once again hear the cry of the Prophet: Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment (Joel 2:12-18).

This invitation to a deep change is an invitation for us to rectify our course; to reorient our hearts, minds, and deeds to our Lord; to separate ourselves from whatever might lead us off the right path or distance us from the Lord. Each time we rectify and, seeing something that is not going right, we try to amend our lives, we being ourselves nearer to the Lord. Lent is a special time for prayer, for penance, and for practicing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, all of which should leave a deep impact on our spiritual self. It provides us an opportunity to strive more diligently to behave as true children of our heavenly Father.

As we at Holy Angel University prepare ourselves during the Season of Lent, we do so with the awareness that all is not well in our country. There are many whose condition makes it difficult for them to know the treasures of our faith. I am referring not only to the incidence of poverty or extrajudicial killings, but also to the grave injustice against women and children – a topic that is made timely by today’s secular celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Human trafficking and the prostitution of women is a documented significant issue in the Philippines. About 400,000 Filipinos are trafficked within our country every year. The U.S. State Department, in its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, has this opening sentence: The Philippines is a source country and, to a lesser extent, a destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. We are talking not only about a crime against humanity, but also practices that go against Catholic social teaching. As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of every human life and vehemently oppose human trafficking and modern-day slavery as it contravenes basic human dignity. As Pope Francis has stated, Human suffering is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.

Through the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of slavery and human trafficking, let us include in our prayer intentions the deliverance of the victims of human trafficking. Through our prayers, let us reflect on the experiences of those who have suffered through this affront to human dignity, and ask for God’s grace to comfort, strengthen, and help empower the survivors of human trafficking.

Laus Deo semper!

you can also download a pdf version of the message   here

Date Posted: 02-13-2018