A Christmas Letter 2016

cbf-logoCatholic Biblical Federation

Sankt Ottilien, Christmas 2016

 cbf-manger…for a son has been born for us, a son has been given to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, ‘Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace (Is 9:5)




Dear Members, Friends and Benefactors of the Catholic Biblical Federation,

One more year, we are preparing to celebrate the presence of God in our world – a presence wrapped and represented these days in the tender setting of lights and Christmas decorations.

But we are also preparing to celebrate Christmas in a context of an accumulation of human conflicts, wars and tragedies greater than in the entire history of humanity. The whole of humanity seems to be crying out louder than ever before, “Where is your God?” (Ps. 42: 3). And, in fact, with greater obstinacy than ever, many are devoting themselves to denying the existence of God, to ridiculing faith in Him and even to persecuting those who confess it.

And we, once again, present to the world a poor child born in a stable, amid animals, as the son of an immigrant couple. And we tell the world, “God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong, those who by human standards are common and contemptible — indeed those who count for nothing — to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something” (1 Cor 1:27-28).

The logic of the world and the logic of God – in these days we see how far apart the one is from the other, how annihilating is one and how liberating is the other. It would seem that the oracle of the Prophet Amos has been fulfilled: “The days are coming- declares the Lord Yahweh- when I shall send a famine on the country, not hunger for food, not thirst for water, but famine for hearing Yahweh’s word. People will stagger from sea to sea, will wander from the north to the east, searching for Yahweh’s word, but will not find it. ” (Am 8:11-12).

But God has not abandoned us, he has not remained silent – he is accompanying us and he is still speaking to us. “Something which has existed since the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have watched and touched with our own hands about the Word of life” (1 Jn:1,1) …let us announce this to others more boldly than ever, let us bring them hope, the Word of Life – the Word that became Life and that dwelt, and continues to dwell, among us.

Merry Christmas to all!

Fr. Jan J. Stefanów, SVD

CBF General Secretary





We, the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered to celebrate the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Philippines (January 24-31, 2016) now relive the beautiful experience of the two disciples of Emmaus.

We are convinced that the Holy Spirit sends us forth in order to proclaim the story of Jesus. This congress is like the gathering of the early disciples when they joyfully shared stories of how each of them encountered the Risen Lord in the Sacred Scripture and in the Breaking of the Bread.

Bread of Hope. The Eucharist, being a living and life-giving encounter with Christ in the totality of his Paschal Mystery, is truly the source of and impetus for hope. Through the Eucharist, we come to feel that we are possessed by the love of God and with this conviction, conversion of the heart begins. When our worship is done through Christ, with him and in him, then the Eucharist becomes source of healing and our hope of glory. The Eucharist is our bread of hope for it challenges us to live thankfully and joyfully, notwithstanding all the difficult realities of life.Only those who have endured a lot or have faced various crises in life, those who suffer almost on a daily basis, can know and possess spiritual resilience and truly celebrate life’s joys and remain hopeful.

Bread for the Poor. The Eucharist commits us to the poor, to love and to come to their help. We are challenged to reach out to the poor and help uplift them materially and spiritually as a concrete way of living out the Eucharist. The Eucharist compels us to act and to give them something to eat. The example of Jesus, particularly the meal stories, teaches us what every Eucharist should be: breaking bread with the poor and the marginalized. The presence of our brothers and sisters who have less in life is a constant reminder that the poor is the privileged place of encounter with Jesus outside the Eucharist.

Bread of Dialogue. The Eucharist which is the sacrament of the bread of life fills our spirits and strengthens our resolve as we take the tortuous path of dialogue with religions, cultures, youth and the poor. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit for mutual understanding, openness and conversion of hearts and minds. The Eucharist – the real presence of Jesus – sustains our hearts and nourishes our souls as we journey towards the convocation where God gathers us all in an inclusive communion, banishing distinctions that alienate and celebrating the gift each one brings.

Bread for Mission. Energized and renewed by the Eucharist, Christ’s missionary disciples are sent into the world to be broken bread for a broken world. They move from Eucharistic celebration to Eucharistic commitment. The Eucharist is not just a gift but also a task and mission that can change the world. Indeed, Eucharist enables us to effectively respond to the cry of the poor, the cry of the earth and the cry of Jesus Christ. Missionary dynamism springs from an encounter with Jesus through deep prayer because the lungs of evangelization is prayer. We are a people on mission; truly, IEC 2016 is a clarion call to mission for all of us. Our Eucharist is the source and goal of the Church’s mission.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word and the Eucharistic Lord, accompany us, missionary disciples, in order to share Jesus Christ is us our hope of glory.




Pope’s Message to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress 2016

Pope’s Message to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress 2016


We are posting the Transcript of Pope Francis’ message to the 51st IEC, for your reading and reflections —

With this Message…

Pope Francis announces the next International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all of you gathered in Cebu for the Fifty-first International Eucharistic Congress. I thank Cardinal Bo, who is my representative among you, and I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Palma and the bishops, priests and faithful in Cebu. I also greet Cardinal Tagle and all the Catholics of the Philippines. I am particularly happy that this Congress has brought together so many people from the vast continent of Asia and from throughout the world.

Just one year ago, I visited the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. I was able to witness at first hand the deep faith and resilience of its people. Under the protection of Santo Niño, the Filipino people received the Gospel of Jesus Christ some five hundred years ago. Ever since, they have given the world an example of fidelity and deep devotion to the Lord and his Church. They have also been a people of missionaries, speading the light of the Gospel in Asia and to the ends of the earth.

The theme of the Eucharistic Congress – Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory – is very timely. It reminds us that the risen Jesus is always alive and present in his Church, above all in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his Body and Blood. Christ’s presence among us is not only a consolation, but also a promise and a summons. It is a promise that everlasting joy and peace will one day be ours in the fullness of his Kingdom. But it is also a summons to go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child.

How much our world needs this message! When we think of the conflicts, the injustices and the urgent humanitarian crises which mark our time, we realize how important it is for every Christian to be a true missionary disciple, bringing the good news of Christ’s redemptive love to a world in such need of reconciliation, justice and peace.

So it is fitting that this Congress has been celebrated in the Year of Mercy, in which the whole Church is invited to concentrate on the heart of the Gospel: Mercy. We are called to bring the balm of God’s merciful love to the whole human family, binding up wounds, bringing hope where despair so often seems to have the upper hand.

As you now prepare to “go forth” at the end of this Eucharistic Congress, there are two gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper which I would ask you to reflect on. Both have to do with the missionary dimension of the Eucharist. They are table fellowship and the washing of feet.

We know how important it was for Jesus to share meals with his disciples, but also, and especially, with sinners and the outcast. Sitting at table, Jesus was able to listen to others, to hear their stories, to appreciate their hopes and aspirations, and to speak to them of the Father’s love. At each Eucharist, the table of the Lord’s Supper, we should be inspired to follow his example, by reaching out to others, in a spirit of respect and openness, in order to share with them the gift we ourselves have received.

In Asia, where the Church is committed to respectful dialogue with the followers of other religions, this prophetic witness most often takes place, as we know, through the dialogue of life. Through the testimony of lives transformed by God’s love, we best proclaim the Kingdom’s promise of reconciliation, justice and unity for the human family. Our example can open hearts to the grace of the Holy Spirit, who leads them to Christ the Savior.

The other image which the Lord offers us at the Last Supper is the washing of feet. On the eve of his passion, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of humble service, of the unconditional love with which he gave his life on the Cross for the salvation of the world. The Eucharist is a school of humble service. It teaches us readiness to be there for others. This too is at the heart of missionary discipleship.

Here I think of the aftermath of the typhoon. It brought immense devastation to the Philippines, yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. People set about rebuilding not just homes, but lives. The Eucharist speaks to us of that power, which flows from the Cross and constantly brings new life. It changes hearts. It enables us to be caring, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to be sensitive to the cry of our brothers and sisters in need. It teaches us to act with integrity and to reject the injustice and corruption which poison the roots of society.

Dear friends, may this Eucharistic Congress strengthen you in your love of Christ present in the Eucharist. May it enable you, as missionary disciples, to bring this great experience of ecclesial communion and missionary outreach to your families, your parishes and communities, and your local Churches. May it be a leaven of reconciliation and peace for the entire world.

Now, at the end of the Congress, I am happy to announce that the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. I ask all of you to join me in praying for its spiritual fruitfulness and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all engaged in its preparation. As you return to your homes renewed in faith, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your families as a pledge of abiding joy and peace in the Lord.

God Bless you: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Bandung Statement 2012



Bandung, Indonesia

August 6-10, 2012


“That which we have seen and heard ,

we proclaim also to you so that you may have also fellowship

with us and our fellowship is with the Father

and with his Son Jesus Christ”

(I Jn 1, 2-3) VD 2.

In the 6th CBF-SEA Workshop, with the theme Verbum Domini: The Word in Our World Today, we the 57 participants from six countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines) came to Bandung, Indonesia, home of the CBF-SEA sub-region coordinator Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU, for an important event.  We came to celebrate the gift of our life and mission together as CBF-SEA and to move ahead by planning the programs that will implement the exhortations of the Verbum Domini in the contexts of our countries.  This hopefully prepares the CBF-SEA for the celebration of the Year of Faith.

This gathering of five days was a continuous encounter with the Lord walking with us, as in Emmaus (Lk 24, 13-35).  At the heart of this gathering is encountering the risen Lord, teaching us how to pay attention to him who comes to us in new and surprising ways as we walk along the road of discipleship and mission.

The timing of the workshop was perfect.  It began on the feast of Transfiguration and concluded on the feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr.  The Lord’s message to us as biblical pastoral workers was clear:  He wants to transfigure us as servants of the Word and encourage us to give of ourselves cheerfully relying on his providence and assured of the blossoming of his Word.  Indeed the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy is always living and effective through the power of the Holy Spirit (VD 52) and that from the gospel we discover anew the direction for our journey (VD 51).

We feel fortunate to have been richly nourished through the wisdom of our pastors and speakers who have guided us towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of the message of the papal document.  Their bearing, so expressive of the humble, listening and loving Shepherd, has inspired us.  These experiences, together with our enriching celebration of the Word and the Eucharist, of the reports from the different countries, of fellowship, and of cultural and interreligious exposures, have challenged us to make concrete responses.  Hopefully these will make many others partakers of the same treasures of the Word and of the document.  We therefore believe in pursuing the following, either as CBF-SEA or individual local Church:

1. Translation and Production of Bibles, Programs, documents, Homiletic Aides, Bible References Guide

This is still a priority concern in all SEA countries as the Word is still a privilege of the few and many are left either without it or have to do with one in a language not their own.  This goes true for the other pertinent documents such as Verbum Domini, Bible Study Programs, Homiletic Aids and relevant pastoral-biblical ministry materials.

2. On-going Integral Formation of Pastoral-Biblical Workers

The present set of pastoral-biblical workers need an on-going integral formation in line with the thrust of the Verbum Domini.  It is also noted that more workers are to be engaged in the same apostolate and for whom a relevant formation program is to be drafted and implemented.  For all of them, both old and new, an integral pastoral care needs to be extended.

We commend our pastoral biblical workers for their commitment and sacrifices.  There is a need to provide them with skills training, updating, financial assistance, and to encourage more faithful to join them in the task.  We commit to training new co-workers especially from among the young.

3. Formation of the Faithful in the Word of God

Moved by compassion for the multitudes, “sheep without a shepherd”, the  CBF-SEA sees the importance of cascading the life-giving power of the Word through holding of seminars and workshops that will empower the laity.  In many instances, resources run short in order to realize this undertaking.

The means of the mass media cannot be underestimated and therefore every country must try to find ways how to explore and make use of it for the benefit of the proclamation of the Word.  Establishing a web site, producing videos, CD’s, magazines must be seriously considered.

 4. Collaboration with Existing Institutions/Communities

The spirit of collaboration is the heart of the CBF, bringing together the different local and international institutions united by the common concern for the Word.  It is therefore part of the CBF life to bring together these institutions through assemblies and partnerships in the different undertakings.   Assemblies in the form of mandated regular gathering of the members and open to associates and guests or for purposes of formation through seminars and workshops, may be enriched when done with the help of the expertise available within the SEA and made easier when financial constraints are overcome through generosity of some funding agencies.

We acknowledge the undertakings and programs of every country and we urge them to continue the present initiatives.  Pragmatic concerns may come into consideration but the CBF-SEA, well anchored in the providence of God proven in many ways and instances, believes that these programs cannot be hindered or delayed by lack of help from the outside.  With the existing resources within the SEA sub-region, especially in terms of expertise from among our members, much can happen.  Each must be always aware of the urgency to spread the Word, make it understood, the way Jesus commanded his apostles, “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the laborer deserves his keep” (Mt. 10, 9-10).  Our little contributions like the boy with five loaves of barley bread and two fish (Jn 6, 7-15) will surely bring a lot of fragments to gather and our harmonious working together in the spirit of angklung symphony will produce a liberating music to the spirit.

We thank all those who have made their contributions to make this assembly indeed fruitful. We make special mention of the Ursuline Sisters, the Diocese of Bandung and the members of the Angela Merici Biblical Center  and all the other lay collaborators.

May the Lord, through the help of the Virgin Mother, help us prepare the soil and let the seed grow, blossom and yield much fruit.

The Participants

headed by

Sr. Emmanuel Gunanto, OSU

Subregional Coordinator

10 August 2012



Let us be concerned for each other,
to stir a response in love and good works
” (Heb 10:24)


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favorable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a brief biblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews:“ Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works”. These words are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust in Jesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up a pathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord “sincere in heart and filled with faith” (v. 22), keeping firm “in the hope we profess” (v. 23) and ever mindful of living a life of “love and good works” (v. 24) together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain this life shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy and community prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God (v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct, valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life: concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.

1. “Let us be concerned for each other”: responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be “concerned”: the Greek verb used here is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospel when Jesus invites the disciples to “think of” the ravens that, without striving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf. Lk 12:24), and to “observe” the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to “turn your minds to Jesus” (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb which introduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for “privacy”. Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be “guardians” of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationships based on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being, the integral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for one another demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters in humanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize in others a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant of God Pope Paul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lack of brotherhood: “Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations” (Populorum Progressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail, because God is “generous and acts generously” (Ps 119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion. 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. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. Sacred Scripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sort of “spiritual anesthesia” which numbs us to the suffering of others. The Evangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite “pass by”, indifferent to the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf. Lk 10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of the poverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19). Both parables show examples of the opposite of “being concerned”, of looking upon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of “showing mercy” towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy. “The upright understands the cause of the weak, the wicked has not the wit to understand it” (Prov 29:7). We can then understand the beatitude of “those who mourn” (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable of looking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others. Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and blessedness.

“Being concerned for each other” also entails being concerned for their spiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities that are truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physical health of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health and ultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: “Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more” (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternal correction – elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11). The Church’s tradition has included “admonishing sinners” among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. As the Apostle Paul says: “If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness; and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way” (Gal 6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness. Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.

2. “Being concerned for each other”: the gift of reciprocity.

This “custody” of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducing life exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatological perspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. A society like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritual and moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christian community! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom 14:19) for our neighbour’s good, “so that we support one another” (15:2), seeking not personal gain but rather “the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved” (1 Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.

The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. This reciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the community constantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of its members, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charity present in her midst. As Saint Paul says: “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 also express their membership in the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest of the poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace that Almighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. When Christians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoice and give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).

3. “To stir a response in love and good works”: walking together in holiness.

These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us to reflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of the spiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever more sublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for one another should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, “like the light of dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day” (Prov 4:18), makes us live each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously grows towards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation to encourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situated in this dynamic prospect of growth.

Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, today as timely as ever, to aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christian living” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizing and proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is also meant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to “anticipate one another in showing honour” (Rom 12:10).

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2011





My dear Friends in the Word,


I would like to inform you of an important

BIBLE event that will take place very soon:

On 6 – 7 February ECBA-CBCP Philippines

will have their 6th national planning and consultation

followed by the 19th National Workshop

on Biblical Apostolate from 7 to 12 February in Dumaguete.

To view the details you can click onto the following link:


As a sign of communion in the family of God’s Word,

let us pray for the above-mentioned event,

for the organizers, staff members and participants.

May this gathering, guided by the Holy Spirit,

become a new Pentecost that brings new life

not only for the Philippines,

but for Asia and the whole world

so that Inspired by the Word we build a better world,

God’s Kingdom on earth.

With every good wish,

yours in the Lord,

Emma Gunanto, osu



Biblical Pastoral Training

For a Renewed Mission of the Word

January 4 – April 2, 2010

Biblical formation is an important means of educating people in the faith and equipping them in the task of proclamation (cf. Ecclesia in Aisa, #22)

In response to the need of the local churches for pastorally oriented courses on the Bible, this training program is designed for all animators in the biblical pastoral ministry.

It’s purpose:

– to provide a deeper understanding of Scripture

– to train participants in various methods of proclaiming the Word

– to help participants to apply biblical teaching to the complex realities of life in Asia and Oceania

– to provide opportunities to share home-grown wisdom resources and various methods of pastoral ministry.

The training program covers:

– Personal spiritual formation and renewal

– Updating knowledge of the Bible through modules on recent developments in biblical hermeneutics and the Church’s understanding of the Word of God.

– Pastoral skills for facilitating Bible Sharing, proclaiming the Word, bibliodrama, utilizing media, and using the Word in community building

– Training in developing simple biblical-pastoral programs/resources for small communities in the use of pedagogical methods to communicate the Word in different cultural and pastoral contexts.

The training program is conducted in collaboration with the South East Asian sub-region of the Catholic Biblical Federation.

Cost:  US$2,880.00 (Tuition + board and lodging)

For Particulars Kindly e-mail to:

Sr. Emma Gunanto: <ambc@bdg.centrin.net.id>

Star del Mar: <stellamaris_ph@yahoo.com>


CBF-SEA BA Link 2009-2sr-emma

Dear friends in the Word,

Greetings of peace to each one of you!

Something went wrong with my computer. I lost the addresses of CBF-SEA group. So I asked Fr. Doms to post this directly to our web.

We have been following the war in Gaza. Not many know that there is a catholic parish in the troubled area. I forward to you a letter from Father Manuel Musallam, Holy Family Priest in Gaza.

Thank God there is also GOOD NEWS from the Middle East. Fr. Ayoub Chahwan, CBF Coordinator for the Middle East wrote enthusiastically about their forthcoming 11th Biblical Congress.

Let’s keep our friends in our prayers.

May I ask you a favor? Please find your place in our Web and then please update your report of 2007 or earlier for the year 2008? You can send it to me, emmanuel.gunanto@gmail.com or to Fr. Doms frdomsramos@yahoo.com

I’d like to end this link with a quote from President Barrack Obama’s inaugural speech which I find very relevant for us in the biblical apostolate, in the CBF. May the Spirit keep us young!

Then we wish to congratulate Fr. Wim Wijtten SVD who will celebrate the 50th ordination anniversary on February 1st, 2009. Thank you for being a model of fidelity and dedication to the BA. We are united with you in praising and thanking the Lord for his loving kindness.

God bless us all.

Yours in the Word,

Sr. Emma G.

From God’s church in Gaza to the beloved saints in Palestine and the rest of the world.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

From the valley of tears, from blood-drenched Gaza, whose one and a half million residents have been robbed of the joy they once had in their hearts, I send you these words of faith and hope. As for love, that’s a word that even we Christians no longer dare utter, not even to ourselves. Today, the priests of the church are raising the banner of hope. May God have mercy and pity on us and leave a remnant in Gaza. May he not put out the light of Christ, which was spread by the deacon Philip at the time of the early church. May the compassion of Christ be what reawakens our love for God, which is currently like a patient in a hospital’s intensive care unit. As a priest and a father, I bear the sad news of the death of a beloved girl who was a tenth grader at the Holy Family School and the first Christian to die in this war: Christine Wadi’ Al-Turk Christine passed away on the morning of Saturday, January 2, 2009, due to fear and cold. The windows of her house were open to protect the children from being hit by flying glass fragments, and as missiles passed over her house and her neighbors fell victim to Israeli attacks, her entire body would shake with fear. When she could not longer bear it, she cried on her Creator’s shoulder and asked Him for a home and shelter with no crying, shouting, or wailing but joy and happiness.

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, what you see and hear on your television screens is not the complete painful truth about what our people in Gaza are going through. Their suffering is so widespread over our land that no television or radio could report the whole truth about it. The brutal siege on Gaza is a storm that escalates by the hour; it is not only a war crime but a crime against humanity. Today, the suffering people of Gaza are appealing to the conscience of every human being with goodwill, but it will soon be our just God who decides the case.

The children of Gaza have been sleeping with their families in the hallways of their homes (if they have them) or in bathrooms, for protection. They tremble with fear at every sound, every movement, and every violent F-16 attack. While it is true that so far the F-16 jets have for the most part targeted the headquarters of the government and Hamas, they are located in residential areas no more than six meters away from people’s homes, the minimum distance required by construction law. That’s why people’s houses are severely affected by the violence, and it leads to the death of many children. Our children are suffering from trauma, anxiety, undernourishment, malnutrition, poverty, and lack of heating.

The situation in hospitals is unspeakably deplorable. Our hospitals were not properly equipped before the war, and now there are thousands of injured and ill patients streaming in, to the point that operations are being done in the hospital hallways, and many patients are being sent to Egypt via the Rafah Border Crossing. Some of them never return because they die on the way. The conditions in the hospitals are horrifying, heartbreaking, and hysteria-inducing.

I would like to tell you a short story about something that happened in a hospital to the Abdul-Latif family. One of the children disappeared during the first attack, and his parents spent the first two days of the war looking for him but did not find him. On the third day, as the family was walking around a hospital, they found some people from the Jarada family gathered around a disfigured and injured boy whose leg had been cut off. His face was distorted not because of the F-16 attacks he had suffered but because of the glass that had fallen onto his face when part of the hospital was attacked. The Adul-Latifs approached the Jaradas to console them. When they reached the injured boy, Mr. Abdul-Latif realized that it was his son and not the Jaradas’. The families argued with each other over the issue and waited for the boy to wake up and tell them who he was so that he could be taken by the Abdul-Latifs.

I will keep my letter brief. I lift our suffering up to God just as I have presented it to you. Our people in Gaza are being treated like animals in a zoo; they don’t get enough to eat, and they cry but nobody wipes their tears away. Instead of water, electricity, and food, there is fear and terror and restriction. Yesterday, the baker refused to give me bread, because he did not want to let me eat something made from flour not suitable for human consumption – which he had begun using when he ran out of good flour – so as not to insult my priesthood. I vowed not to eat any bread for the remainder of the war.

We want you to pray to God fervently and continually and to mention the suffering in Gaza before God in every mass or service that you hold. I send short letters with Scripture to the Christian community here to bring hope to their hearts. We have all agreed to say the following prayer every hour on the hour: “O God of peace, shower us with peace. O God of peace, bring peace to our land. Have mercy on your people, O Lord, and do not be angry with us forever.” I ask you to stand up now and say the same prayer. Your prayers with us will stir the world, showing it that any type of love that is not extended to your brothers and sisters in Gaza is not the love of Christ and His church, which does not let religious and social obstacles or even wars stand in its way. When your love is extended to us here in Gaza, it makes us feel that we are an indispensable part of Christ’s one universal church. The Moslems among us are our brothers and sisters. We share with them their joys and their sufferings. We are one people, the people of Palestine.

Despite all that is going on, our people in Gaza reject war as a way to achieve peace and insist that the road to peace is peace itself. We in Gaza are patient and have decided that we have no choice other than bondage or death for our country. We want to live so we can praise God in Palestine and to witness for Christ – we want to live for Palestine, not to die for her – but if we must die, then we will die honorably and bravely.

Let us all pray together for the true peace that Christ gives. May wolves and lambs one day live together, and bulls and cubs graze together, and children be able to put their hands in the mouths of snakes without being harmed.

And may the peace of Christ, “into which you were also called in one body,” be with you all and protect you. Amen.

Your brother,
Father Manuel Musallam,  Holy Family Priest,  Gaza

Quoted from : http://www.custodia.org/spip.php?article4878

11th Biblical Congress for the Middle East

chahwanWith great joy we hear from Fr. Ayoub Chahwan regarding the enthusiasm for the 11th Middle East Biblical Congress, from January 25th to 31st. The participants come from various countries: 14 from Egypt, 18 from Syria, 7 from Iraq, 5 from Sudan, 3 from Palestine and the Holy Land, 40 from Lebanon, 1 from USA, 1 from Belgium, 1 from Rome, etc. Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics will be together during the whole week of the congress about the Psalms. Lay people, nuns, monks, priests, bishops, etc., will be gathered around the Word of God. Yes, this must be the work of the Holy Spirit!

Here is an excerpt from his letter:

The Middle East XIth Biblical Congress

January 25th-30th, 2009.

Theme:  Psalms, man in front of God.

Around 100 people from different parts of the Middle East and North of Africa are expected to attend the Biblical Congress. The main lecturer will be no other than Prof. Andre Wenin from Belgium, Dean of the Faculty of Theology in Louvain Catholic University. He will be giving 5 lectures. The other lecturers are from the area. In sum, 35 lectures will be given. Let us hope that everything will be okay and that the political situation will not spoil it. I rely on Christ and on all the prayers coming out of a great Christian heart like yours.

I thank you,


Coordinator of the Catholic Biblical Federation in the Middle East

Holy Spirit University, Kaslik

P.O.Box 446 Jounieh


Tel: +961.9.60 00 00

Fax: +961.9.60 01 00

Mobile: +961.3.67 45 03

e-mail: olmpac@hotmail.com

Quote from President Barrack Obama’s inaugural speech:

obamaToday I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008-37

Merry Christmas and a Blissful New Year

to one and all….


Dear friends in the Word,

We wish each of you a joyful Christmas and a grace-filled New Year.

Yes, Christmas is JOY.

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI

on December 18th, 2005:

christmas“God is close to us,

so close that he made himself a child.

The incarnation is good news

for the world today,

where God is absent.

A world dominated by fear, uncertainty.

A dark world, in which many need anesthesia in order to live.

JOY is the true gift of Christmas,

and not the expensive gifts

that cost time and money.

And joy we can express in simple ways, with a smile, a gesture, with helping out a little, with an act of forgiveness.”

merry-christmasSo this is our prayer for you and for all of us:

May the Joy of the Lord fill our hearts to the brim,

and may we radiate that joy to the world,

so all may know that Christ is the Savior of all mankind.

Your Trio CBF-SEA Coordinators’team:

Emma, Doms, Star


CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No.36

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No.36


My dear friends in the Word, we are approaching Christmas and New Year. The year 2008 has almost come to a close – with 36 links … Hopefully they have linked us closer together.

The past week  I sent you 30 Synod propositions as they came to us from Zenit.  Fr. Ludger just informed me there are 55 in all. You will get the rest in the coming days until Dec 14. And the following will be Dec 23, because I will be away for my annual retreatFr. Doms will put them together in our Web.

Here is a Christmas present for all of us: a beautiful sharing from Star, and two reactions to the Synod propositions from Fr. Ludger and Sr. Miriam.

Estrella del Mar wrote:


Star in Dar Es Salaam

There are two warring fraternities in Cebu who are constantly at war and kill each other for years.  A number of their members on both sides have died already in their war.  The police authorities had apprehended them and after court proceedings, the offenders from both fraternities are now in jail.

The Prison Ministry regularly visit our jails and conduct a bible sharing to those who are willing to participate.  The two warring groups participate in these bible sharing sessions in jail.  Lo and Behold!  They were touched by the power of the Word and realized their sins and promised to reform their lives even in jail.  The two warring groups are now friends inside the jail.  The young people were interviewed by the TV newsmen in jail.  These young criminals, live on TV, said “We are very happy to have discovered the Word, know Jesus and try our best to reform.  We hope it is not too late to change and follow God’s Word.  We thank very much the people who came and brought the Bible to us and helped us read it and listen to God’s message.” (paraphrased from the Cebuano interview)

I almost cried listening to the short clips as part of the evening news.  But I had to hurry to go to Church or I would be late for the First Friday mass.  I thanked the prison ministers and I thanked the Lord for touching these young men’s lives.  And I realize more and more, the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.  We need more people to bring God’s Word and be the living word to others.

pwgc2smtnI also hope and pray that we, in the ministry of the Word, do not kill each other in one way or another!
If those who had not heard the Word, who became hardened criminals, returned to the Lord and reconciled with their enemies when they encountered the Word – how much more for us, who have committed ourselves to Evangelization through Scriptures???  Perhaps we need to read again, listen again to what God is telling us.  Perhaps we need to be “imprisoned” and be alone with the Word in our hearts in order to hear what God is telling us!
God bless us and guide us!

Fr. Ludger wrote:


Fr. Ludger with Bishop Ablondi

Even though I am disappointed that CBF was mentioned only in connection with spreading the Bible – together with the Bible Societies – I think there is so much in the propositions that can legitimately be considered as fruit of the members of CBF. But more important than claiming paternity is the question: What do Federation members make out of the rich material of the Synod? Of course, the final document will be the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation (or whatever it will be called) of the Holy Father. But we don’t have to wait for that. Already now we can gradually familiarize ourselves with the thinking and suggestions of the Synod.

Fr. Ludger’s challenging question “What do Federation members make out of the rich material of the Synod?” has been answered by Sr. Miriam. Thanks, dear Sister. We are looking forward to your paper.

Sister Miriam OSB:

Thank you so much for the updates.



You are truly God-sent; the materials you are sending me are helpful and useful for the conference I am preparing for the Religious Week in the Institute for Consecrated Life in Quezon City this January 24, 2009.  The topic assigned to me is “Jesus, the Living Word of God and the Prayer of the Religious Community.”

I will surely send you a copy…

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.