Bring Christ closer to those who refuse to believe, priest says

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MANILA, July 23, 2013—CATHOLIC priest on Saturday has called on the faithful to heed the call of the Holy Father to renew one’s faith by knowing Christ deeply and bringing His presence to those who do not believe.

 Fr. Joseph Walter Villamiel, a registered nurse who chose to devote his life to the priestly ministry, said that as part of the celebration of the Year of Faith, the faithful must strive to carry those who are lost in the journey of faith toward Christ.

“As history progresses, there are more and more individuals who are left in this journey of faith. We have to do something to help them become part of this saving reality,” he said in the vernacular during his talk at the Katolikong Pinoy recollection held at the San Carlos Seminary.

He added that the notable decline in the number of church attendees as stated in recent reports must serve as a wake-up call for everyone to strengthen their resolve and establish a firmer grip to their faith, influencing non-believers to rediscover their spiritual connection with the Divine.

“In renewing our faith, we have to rekindle our spiritual ties with the Lord. We are heralds of the word of Christ not only to ourselves, but to those who distance themselves and refuse to listen to the Lord’s call,” he said.

“We can never grasp all of faith’s mysteries. What is the sense of being united in this one holy, catholic, and apostolic church if we could not bring Christ to our brothers and sisters?”

However, he noted that the misdeeds of some Catholic individuals are sometimes associated to the entire church, making non-believers doubt and negatively perceive Catholicism as a whole.

“We have to be careful in our actions because sometimes, our misdeeds as Catholics push others to refuse to know God. There are times when we fail to realize that our wrong actions cause others not to believe and shun Christ from their lives,” he said.

“Every time we fail to act as followers of Christ, we push our brothers and sisters away from Christ. Sometimes, even if they want to believe, our misdeeds push them farther away,” he said.

Know Christ deeply

Villamiel said that to accomplish this mission, Catholics must strive to go back to the word of God for them to be efficient heralds of Christ in fulfilling the mission of new evangelization.

“Our task is to bring them closer to the church and help them find Christ—the oasis that will nourish their drying spirits,” he said.

He added that bringing others to Christ will only be possible if His followers would get to know Him more personally and deeply, noting that loving is an act that will only be possible through knowing.

With this premise, he noted that loving the Catholic Church will only be possible through knowing Jesus Christ who founded it.

“You have to know someone before you learn to love him. In the case of the Church, you first have to know Christ and be with Him to establish a strong connection with the institution He has established,” he said.

Knowing Christ can be achieved through listening to His word and fervently praying. Once this is achieved, it is only then that the faithful would be able to bring His message to the whole of humanity, Villamiel added.

According to him, the identity that Christ leaves from one person to another varies as knowing Him greatly depends on the personal connection established by each person with Christ.

“The door of faith is always open not only for ourselves, but for everyone. We all have to praise God both in words and actions,” he said, echoing the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Humans as loving beings 

Villamiel emphasized the need for human beings to relate well with others, noting that they are meant to be interactive individuals fueled by love and care for each other.

He added that this purpose is fulfilled in the church where love and unity reigns among all of mankind despite their personal differences and diverse backgrounds.

“We are not created to become similar individuals. Love is only operative when we are different,” he said, noting that imperfections are among the factors that strengthen love for each other.

Differences are also present among Christ’s apostles who are far from being perfect, but that does not matter because being with Christ does not require perfection, Villamiel added.

“The only virtue that makes the church whole is love. Without it, the church would never survive the many crises it faces,” he said.

He urged people to offer themselves wholeheartedly to the plan of salvation by living the faith they profess.

“You can only experience true love if you learn to offer yourself wholeheartedly. Through this experience, you become one with Christ who offered Himself for the redemption of all,” he said. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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