CBF-SEA Celebrates the Natal Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Hail, Mary, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole universe, lamp that is never extinguished, crown of virginity, support of the true faith, indestructible temple, dwelling of him whom no place can contain, O Mother and Virgin! Through you all the holy Gospels call blessed the one whom comes in the name of the Lord.

Hail, Mother of God. You enclosed under your heart the infinite God whom no space can contain. Through you the Most Holy Trinity is adored and glorified, the priceless cross is venerated throughout the universe. Through you the heavens rejoice, and the angels and archangels are filled with gladness. Through you the demons are banished, and the tempter fell from heaven. Through you the fallen human race is admitted to heaven.

Hail, Mother of God. Through you kings rule, and the only-begotten Son of God has become a star of light to those who were sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.




We Rejoice! We have a new St. Teresa!



Mother Teresa with Star del Mar and the Missionaries of Charity


CBF South East Asia and Cebu Lay Formation Center join the Universal Church in rejoicing for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on September 4, 2016

MotherMother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was already known as the “living Saint” even when she was alive.  This is due to her works and words that are summed up in one statement:  total obedience to God’s will by doing what Christ asked each one of us to do.

When she came to Cebu City to visit her Sisters here, we met her at the airport and straight from there, she visited first our Cebu Lay Formation Center (CLFC) in Talamban.  She is a short woman and looks very fragile and yet her mind is sharp and her heart is centered on Jesus Christ.  Her mission is to love and help the poorest of the poor in every way as Christ loves them.

Fr. Willi was very proud to introduce to Mother Teresa our Institute for Lay Spirituality.  Mother Teresa reacted to that.  She said “what lay spirituality?  There is only one spirituality and that is the Christian Spirituality.  There are many religious congregations claiming the spirituality of their founders.  But there is only one spirituality and that is the spirituality of Jesus Christ!” She was so emphatic when she said that.  That is why what she said stayed in my memory.

Mother-5Then I brought her around the building, which at that time, had a veranda all around it.  Fr. Willi was busy entertaining the other Sisters so I had Mother Teresa all to myself walking around the veranda of the CLFC building.  She asked me if the vacant lot next to our property belongs to us.  I told her that it belongs to a rich Doctor.  She said, we should get it since our property is too small for a retreat house. I told her that it is not for sale and we do not have money to buy it anyway.  Then she whispered to my ear how we can at least use it and pray to Mother Mary that the good owner will donate it to us.  I smiled, half believing it will happen.  Fast forward:  the good Doctor allowed us to use it for parking and for retreatants to walk around.  So I opened a big gate to the property.  Only that we could not develop it for our purpose since it is not ours.

Mother Teresa-1Mother Teresa is a kind, generous and loving person but firm in her beliefs and aggressive in her plans with full trust and faith that God will help her in every way.

She said many things and I wanted to record them but I did not have the gadget for it at that time.  I did not have a camera too. Someone took that one group picture at the airport and happy to get a copy of it.

But picture or not, it does not matter.  What matters more is the encounter with someone who speaks the words of Jesus Christ and inspires others to do what Jesus did if only to assure everyone,Mother-6.jpg especially the poor, that God loves each one of them! God loves us so much that we cannot but love others as well.

Mother Teresa did not only preach.  She lived her preaching.  She lived her faith.

Mother Teresa, pray for us, that we find the time and the courage to help the poorest of the poor in our midst!

Star del Mar


Saint Teresa of Calcutta… pray for us… the Catholic Biblical Federation of Southeast Asia!

The CBF Crossing Ariccia to Nemi!

The CBF Crossing Ariccia to Nemi

Most Rev. Pablo “Ambo” David, DD

Bishop Pablo David, DD

Bishop Pablo David, DD

Dear Colleagues in the Catholic Biblical Federation, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord:

When Pope Francis came to the Philippines, he popularized what we now call the image of the sleeping St. Joseph. He mentioned during his meeting with families that when he couldn’t sleep because of too many preoccupations and problems that need to be attended to, he would write down these concerns on a piece of paper and press them under the image of the sleeping St. Joseph. That image of San Jose Durmiendo has since become the best-selling image in Catholic religious stores in the Philippines. The last one I got even came with a day bed!

 Today’s Gospel which coincides with Fathers’ Day suggests to me that Joseph had really served as a good foster father to Jesus. He had taught him well; he taught him how to sleep through it all, even in the midst of the storm. Perhaps it’s about time we also popularized the icon or image of the “sleeping Jesus”. The New American Bible’s version reads: “Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.”

 My late professor Jerome Murphy O’Connor, OP, suggested to us in my student years that Jesus may have already fallen asleep on a cushion or a mat while they were preparing the boat. When the boat was ready, they must have decided to just carry him sleeping rather than wake him up. How very kind of them! And what a stark contrast to the brusque way they woke him up later!

 POPE-FRANCIS-AND-SLEEPING-ST-JOSEPHI wish to share three brief points on how to sleep like Jesus and Joseph – especially during those troubled moments when we feel like Job in our first reading, lamenting or perhaps even cursing the day we were born, asking—like the disciples did—“Do you not care that we are perishing?!”

  • Learn to leave the crowd every now and then.
  • Quiet, be still!
  • Have faith—in the sense of “remember”.
  1. Leave the crowd. Sometimes we get to believe so much in ourselves and our efforts that we begin to behave like everything depends on us. Then we begin to act like we’re indispensable. We plan everything so well using the latest strategies in tactical planning, only to find out one day that not everything would happen as we planned them.

For personalities who are the controlling type, a situation like this may be the beginning of a nightmare. You panic, and the more you do the more you sink. The controlling types of leaders and pastors think everything would stop or would go wrong without them. The result is: they soon get wasted and consumed by worry, stress and nervousness.

Leave the crowd, like Jesus did, if you want to get some sleep. Sometimes, you would have a troop of fans who will say what the disciples themselves said to Jesus, “Where did you go? Everybody is looking for you!” Meaning, “You are a celebrity! Things will stop without you!” When you begin to hear something like this, you can be sure of this much: it’s the devil speaking. Watch out! As the Jesuits would say, agere contra! Don’t rest on your laurels. Leave the crowd; cross over.

  1. Second point for learning how to sleep like Jesus: Quiet, be still! This may sound like a tall order in the noisy and distracted world in which we’re living today. For many people today, silence and solitude have become equated with desolation and isolation. “It’s so quiet here; it feels lonely.”

The crisis that shook up the CBF happened right on the eve of the Synod on the Word of God in 2008. The devil could not have thought of a better timing. We were like a crystal clear lake that was suddenly shaken by a turbulence. Suddenly, the water became murky and muddled up. Of all times, it was at that time that I sat in the EC to represent Asia Oceania – confused by the raging storm. Honestly, I really thought there was no way at all that we could still be saved. The atmosphere of antagonism, doubts about loyalties, fear and panic – extended for years. Correspondences did not help very much. The blame game, the finger-pointing, the mutual distrust, they only worsened the more people spoke and reacted to one another. We were like the disciples in a locked upper room waiting for the Lord to break in.

“Peace be with you” is the Johannine version of “Quiet! Be still!” This is even better stated in the Old Testament: “Be still and know that I am God!”

  1. Third and last point on how to sleep like Jesus: Have faith! Which I propose to restate as “Remember!”

Do not forget the deeds of the Lord! Remember! This is a message that we can perhaps echo to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East as they face a great turbulence called the ISIS. The long applause that we gave Fr. Ayoub after his presentation on the Middle East was an expression of our deep desire to be in solidarity. Have faith! Remember! We have been through countless tough times like these in our twenty centuries of history as a Church; remember the times when we were awed, caught in amazement by God’s saving actions. People who fail to remember will tend to dismember. Perhaps that is why we are constantly brought together around the table of the Eucharist to remember, to break bread “in memory of Him.” Remembering for us is not just about recalling a past event but about sacramentalizing it, actualizing it, making it into a reality in the here and now.

Leave the crowd; quiet, be still; have faith, remember. I propose that we keep these points and make them part of our survival kit in the CBF.

Let me now end with these thoughts. Yesterday, I found myself awed by our GS, Fr. Jan Stefanow’s calm and confident presentation of the Action Plans of CBF for the next six years. As I listened, I caught sight of his Eminence, Cardinal Tagle (our new President) struggling to keep awake, his eyes drooping, his head nodding and… falling asleep. I imagine how tired he must have been, given the load of new responsibilities that have been entrusted to him. I don’t know why, but somehow I felt a certain peace and calm as I saw him that way. Our Cardinal President has learned well from our sleeping Jesus and Saint Joseph! Somehow I heard a voice inside me echoing what we heard from Paul in the second reading: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come for the Catholic Biblical Federation!”

Let us therefore hush for a moment of silence so as not to awaken the Lord sleeping in the boat.

From Ariccia to Nemi, we have crossed over the lake!


The CBF Asia Oceania with Bishop David during their recent meeting with the General Secretary preparing for the 9th PA.

The CBF Asia Oceania with Bishop David during their recent meeting with the General Secretary preparing for the 9th PA.

A Blessed Pentecost to All!



Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts
of your faithful
and kindle in them
the fire of your love.

Send forth
your Holy Spirit
and they shall
be created.

And you
shall renew
the face
of the earth.

Oh, God, who by the light
of the Holy Spirit,
did instruct the
hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same
Holy Spirit we may be
truly wise and ever
rejoice in His consolations,
through Christ our Lord.


A Blessed Pentecost Sunday!



“New Spirit . . . A New CBF”

“New Spirit . . . A New CBF”


The Asia-Oceania Zone's sub-regional coordinators of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) with the new President Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and new General Secretary Fr. Jan Stefanów, Fr. Tarsis Sigho of Northeast Asia (NEA), Sr. Emma Gunanto, Ms. Star del Mar, Fr. Doms Ramos the coordinating team of Southeast Asia (SEA), Fr. Alvin Fernando of South Asia (SA), Sr. Anna Damas of Oceania and Bishop Rene Mayugba the Representative of Asia-Oceania to the Executive Committee of the CBF.

April 28, 2015. The Asia-Oceania Zone’s sub-regional coordinators of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) with the new President Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and new General Secretary Fr. Jan Stefanów, Fr. Tarsis Sigho of Northeast Asia (NEA), Sr. Emma Gunanto, Ms. Star del Mar, Fr. Doms Ramos the coordinating team of Southeast Asia (SEA), Fr. Alvin Fernando of South Asia (SA), Sr. Anna Damas of Oceania and Bishop Rene Mayugba the Representative of Asia-Oceania to the Executive Committee of the CBF.

The Dinner Meeting of the CBF Asia-Oceania Sub-regional Coordinators hosted by the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Mos Rev. Pablo

April 27, 2015. The Dinner Meeting of the CBF Asia-Oceania Sub-regional Coordinators hosted by the Chairman Bishop of the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Most Rev. Pablo “Ambo” David, DD.

THE HOST SUB-REGION OF SOUTHEAST ASIA April 29, 2015. The Coordinating Team of the CBF Southeast Asia (CBF-SEA) with the New President of the Catholic Biblical Federation Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, DD

April 29, 2015. The Coordinating Team of the CBF Southeast Asia (CBF-SEA) with the New President of the Catholic Biblical Federation Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, DD


CBF-SEA Congratulates the New CBF President


Tagle-2On Thursday, the 5th of March it was officially announced that Pope Francis has confirmed the election of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the new President of the Catholic Biblical Federation.

Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle was born in the Philippines, in Manila, on the 21st of June 1957, to a Chinese mother. He studied philosophy at St. Joseph´s seminary Manila and graduated from the Athenaeum of the University of Manila. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Manila on the 27th of February 1982. For some time he ministered in parishes and seminaries – in one of which he was rector. He was sent to the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. to complete his studies (1987 – 1991). There he received his doctorate in Theology having defending his thesis on the notion of episcopal collegiality according to the Second Vatican Council and the influence of Pope Paul VI on the same. In 1997 he was appointed as a member of the International Theological Commission.

He then worked in various parishes and taught theology in four seminaries for some years when Pope John Paul II on the 22nd of October 2001 appointed him bishop of Imus, a diocese of 2.6 Million Catholics. On the 13th of October 2011 he was appointed Archbishop of Manila.

Cardinal Tagle is a theologian, and a much sought after conference giver. He has collaborated with Giuseppe Alberigo on The History of the Council, a work in which he expounds his vision for the Catholic Church in the third Millennium. He was made cardinal on the 24th of November 2012, at the age of 55, receiving the red biretta and the title of San Felice da Cantalice a Centocelle. In the Roman Curia he is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the family, (he is president of the committee), and for Pastoral Ministry to Migrants and Travelers.

Cardinal Tagle has participated in various Synods of the Vatican (1998, 2005, 2008 and 2012). In the Synod on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church (2008), he was a very active participant with his famous statement: “A Church which does not listen to the poor cannot celebrate the Word of God”.

Monsignor Tagle has a television program “The Word Exposed” which has been running in the Philippines since 2008. There, each week, he comments on the readings of the Mass for the following Sunday. He is also the most popular cardinal on Facebook. As well as being an academic, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is a singer and composer. You can find on YouTube some of his Christian musical compositions which he performs himself.

At an ordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of the Catholic Biblical Federation, this took place in Rome on the 24th – 25th of October 2014; Cardinal Luis Antonia Tagle was elected unanimously President of the Catholic Biblical Federation. The election was confirmed by Pope Francis and made public on the 5th of March 2015.

Cardinal Tagle will take possession of his new responsibility during the Ninth Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation which will take place in Nemi (Italy) from the 18th – 23rd of June of this year. He will succeed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who has been President of the Catholic Biblical Federation since September 2002.


It’s Lent


By Estrella (Star) Cui del Mar

Lent 2015February 18 to April 5, 2015 is the season of Lent.  It starts with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.  Lenten season runs for 40 days but not counting the Sundays since every Sunday is a Resurrection day.  The Church celebrates Lent with similar messages of Advent in a different backdrop – the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Our lives are also a cycle of joys, pains and glorious moments.  We take each moment as sacred and memorable.  We savor and enjoy the joyful moments.  We reflect on the message of each painful moment.  And we are redeemed and brought back to the zest of life at each glorious moment.  Think about those moments in your life and you will find God has always been there with you, accompanying you at each moment whether or not you were conscious of God’s presence.

During Lent, we are reminded to focus on a few important things in our lives:

Lent 2015 b1. God loves us so much “He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 It is good to savor on this love.

Think how many times we had given ourselves to others beyond what are expected without expecting a Thank you or a recognition.  Sacrifices for love and service are often taken for granted.

Think how many times, we take for granted God’s blessings.

2. God wants to communicate with us. “In the prayerful reading of Sacred Scriptures, God and man talk together for we speak to him when we pray and we hear him when we read Scriptures.” Vat. II, Divine Revelation No. 25Lent 2015 c

Think of the times we are in prayer.  What is the content of our prayers?  Do we only ask?  How about listening? We tell God what we want.  Do we also listen to what God wants of us?

Lent is a time conducive for intimate union with the Lord – a time just for the Lord – for prayer and contemplation.

3. Our life on earth is temporary. From the time we were born and grown up, we have come to love this world and all that it offers.  Some have enjoyed their wealth and power.  Some have enjoyed a happy family life even with limited material possessions. Some are struggling to get even a day’s meal.  Some have practically nothing –no house, no work, no possessions except children.  Many of them are on the streets. 

Rich or poor, life in this world is temporary.  Physical death is inevitable.  It’s a matter of time.  Lent reminds us that we come into this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing.

Parents are busy working on what to leave to their children.  Some are working for a legacy for the next generation.  Some are busy putting up monuments to remind people they existed.  Some die as martyrs.

Perhaps more important is to ask ourselves:  Is God happy with the life He has gifted me?  What would be the answer to the question:  “how much have you loved unconditionally and served the least of God’s children?”

Lent 2015 d4. Ours is the choice. Good Friday does not end in Jesus’ death.  He resurrected and left in us the power to choose Life over death.  And it is not only to choose Life but to give Life to others as well.

5. Jesus’ Mission continues in each one of us. Jesus left us the Holy Spirit to help us continue the mission of redemption, compassion, healing and sharing God’s love. “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.  It is by your love for one another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.”  John 13: 34-35

It is easy to say “I love you” and probably not mean it the way God has commanded us to love.  It is easy to love those who love us.  It is more difficult to love those who are giving us pain.  It is not easy to forgive those who are destroying our personhood to others perhaps due to pride and prejudice.  It is not easy to love those who are rejecting us in various ways perhaps because of our limitations to please them.  It is not easy to love those who have negative thoughts and feelings toward others. The litany can go on…  What is clear is that God accepts us all and understands us where we are coming from and not give up on us.  God is willing to die for us each time to save us IF we want to, if we ask Him, if we repent and change.  Ours is always the choice.

Lent 2015 e