Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ecclesia Dei Commission Update



The Ascension: Summit of the Incarnation

On May 1, 2008 is a solemnity of the Ascencion in the Traditional Roman Calendar (Roman Missal of 1962). Thursday is a first class feast and the liturgical color is white. The Collecta of the Mass says thus: "Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God; that we who believe Thine only begotten Son, Our Redeemer, to have ascended on this day into heaven, may also ourselves dwell in mind amid heavenly things. Through the same Christ Our Lord.
The collecta is that variable part of the Mass where the priest by reciting that presidential prayer presents to God the petition of the faithful present and the whole intention of the Church. Ascencion is believed to be one of the important feasts in the Church because it is considered as the culmination of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Thus it is celebrated with such ardour and magnificence because it shows the final union of God and Man, and the reconciliation effected by the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER: OUR FIRST SUNDAY MASS IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM

On the fifth Sunday after Easter, Fr. Abe, CRS celebrated the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. A group of lay faithful assisted in the Mass. I was privileged to be present to assist in this Mass. The inclement weather outside brought heavy down pours, but despite of that Fr. Abe and the rest of us were able to fulfill our Sunday obligations. Fr. Abe had just concluded a weeklong retreat with the Somascan Sisters plus the series of activities in the convent and in the school. They were also preparing for the 'despedida" for priests and religious who will be leaving for new assignments. Fr. Richard Germanetto, CRS, his superior was transferred to their Seminary in Tagaytay. Fr. Richard was the one who gave encouragement to Fr. Abe to say this Mass. In fact before leaving for his new assignment, Fr. Richard bequeted to Fr. Abe a copy of the Liber Usualis. Due to stress brought about by the demands of the work, it was inevitable that Fr. Abe sufferred from his sinusitis, but he said that the thought that he would be celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass strengthened him and by a miracle this Sunday he was already feeling well. He was able to say the Mass for all of us. I observe that as time goes on things are getting better with our celebrations. Hopefully by June we shall be able to have the Missa Cantata.




The Appearance of the Altar after the Dismisal

Based on available resources, Fr. Abe and his Knights of the Altar made every effort to make the altar beautiful. The altar is the focal point of the Celebration because it symbolizes, Christ and His Passion. Looking at the Altar and reflecting on what it stands for, brings us to a deeper realization of what it took Our Lord to redeem us. Does this thought moves us to love Him all the more and to love our neighbor for the sake of Him who loved us?

The Mass Begins!

The simplicity of the St. Jerome Emiliani Chapel in Sorsogon City evokes the noble intentions that Our Lord desires from us. True faith is unassuming, and above all it is obedient. For the Lord said that, He desires obedience and not sacrifice. For what shall we render unto the Lord for all His goodness? I will take the cup of salvation and bless the Lord!


The Major Elevation

Lord, you are the source of Life, by your blood you have redeemed us to be your own. Ought not that we die to our selfishness and give ourselves to you? The Lord said to the disciples, "can you take the cup that I am about to take?" " And if I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself".



The Communion

"Grant to us, O Lord, who are filled with strength, from this heavenly Table, that we may both desire what is right, and obtain what we desire, through Our Lord." - Post Communion Prayer.

"Consumatum Est!" It is Finished: The Ablutions

Just before Christ expired on the Cross, He exclaimed "Consumatum Est!" What a profound statement from a dying man, both vivid and sincere. But this cry of the Lord is the life of the World. He has entered the Holy of Holies and concluded the sacrifice. "What shall I render unto the Lord for all the things He has done unto me?" This is the meaning signified by the ablutions. May this liturgical action bring us to that realization.


The Leonine Prayers

In the quietness and stillness the offering is done.

Fear not little flock!

Christ said to his disciples, "Fear not little flock for it has pleased the Father to give you the Kingdom!" What consoling words from Our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed buffeted we are from persecutions and weariness, there Our Lord stands to console us and to give us strength. In hope is our Salvation. A recurring theme in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI.


"The Confradia"

These ladies are tertiary members of the Oath Alliance of Two Hearts in Sorsogon City. Father Abe jokingly said that they are Oath members but here in St. Jerome Emeliani Chapel they are the "Confradia". These Ladies requested to be allowed to join in the Tridentine Mass. They encountered problem with their pastor who refuse to give them communion because they prefer to receive communion kneeling. I think that pastors should be solicitous and sensitive to the needs of their flock. There is nothing wrong with kneeling when receiving communion. Besides the shallow reason given was that it can delay or prolong the communion line. But how could that be when there are plenty of extraordinary ministers of communion? Even exceeding the numbers required. But you can see the happiness in the faces of these ladies. At last they have found a place where they can freely receive the sacrament. Besides no questions at all because the rubrics of the Tridentine Rite dictates that communion be received on the tongue and in a kneeling position.

Pray for us, pray for this apostolate and labor of Love.

Friday, April 25, 2008

TLM ON THE FEAST OF ST. MARK, THE EVANGELIST, FOUNDER OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE OF ALEXANDRIA

On April 25, 2008, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, Fr. Abe, CRS celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite [Traditional Latin Mass], together with a group of Somascan Sisters. The sisters were concluding their weeklong retreat. Fr. Abe served as their retreat master and he wanted them to experience the TLM. The Mass was held in the Chapel of the Sisters' Convent and their orphanage in Pangpang, Sorsogon City, Philippines. Although we're not part of the Somascan Community we are glad to have been invited in the said celebration. Indeed it is a privilege have the chance to assist in the Mass. No matter what circumstances we are in as long as it is for the service of God we should always make ourselves available. I invited two of my students to accompany me. In the evening after returning home, one of them send me an SMS on the cell phone and told me how he appreciated being with us in that mass. He noted the solemnity and the serene athmosphere pervading in the celebration, especially the punctuated silences. The young man told me that he is entertaining thoughts of being a priest. Which was indeed a good inspiration coming from the Lord. I just hope that his experience wih the TLM will inspire him more. I remember the parable of the Sower and I hope that the Seed of the Sower would have fallen on good grounds which later on will bear fruit unto life eternal. I marvel as to how this form of celebrating Mass is making an impression on the young even though they have been used to the Novus Ordo. I think that there are many things that these young people will appreciate in this form of the Mass.
Enjoy the pictures below:


The Altar: Stands for Christ and for His Calvary.

It is an altar designed for the Ordinary Form [Novus Ordo] but Fr. Abe and the Sisters temporarily arranged the altar to suit the requirements of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The altar is a bit small. I told Fr. Abe that the celebrant in the Extraordinary Form has to be conscious of the Sides and Middle of the Altar because the rubrics dictate that there are certain functions in the Mass where the priest is instructed to be on either sides and at the middle. In Olden times, in Churches where the altar is made of stone, it is customary to place relics of martyrs and saints in the stone altar. The installation of these relics are done when the altar is consecrated by a Bishop. Some historians wrote that the early Christians valued their martyrdom so much. Many Chrisians of the first four centuries of the church desired martyrdom because they believe that this is a way of expressing their union with Jesus Christ who died on the Cross. Thus even after the persecution ceased, the Christians continued to venerate the relics of the martyrs and to express the desire in the spiritual sense to follow Christ in His footsteps. In fact one scholar said that even after the persecution ceased, the Christians still continued to celebrate Mass in the catacombs. Not because they were hiding but because they wanted to venerate the saints. They consider this veneration as a form of honoring Christ. This is also the reason why in the Canon of the Mass, the names of the Apostles and Martyrs are invoked. Taking this historical note into consideration will help us understand why in the Roman Canon, the names of the Martyrs are invoked. This is the rationale behind this practice. By reciting this and by praying this canon we are transported and connected with the patristic era and with hundreds of centuries of tradition. Just as St. Paul said to Timothy, that what I have received that I also transmit to you. This is the reason why even our Pope recognize the value of preserving tradition. It connects us with our spiritual roots, the faith of the Martyrs and the Apostles, and the Faith of Jesus Christ. Everytime we celebrate the Mass we are transported into the level where we commune not only with the Lord but with all the saints. This is an important article in the Creed..."the communion of the saints." For whether we live or die, we always live unto the Lord. For the Lord is not the God of the dead but of the Living. Hence the Holy Mass itself is a pledged of Love from God to us - a promise of the resurrection!

The Canon of the Mass

The recitation of the Canon of the Mass is the Holiest Portion of the Sacrifice. This event reminds us of how the High Priest in the Old Covenant enters the Holy of Holies to render God the supreme worship. In the new testament the church continued this practice in light of the new covenant. St. Paul spoke of this, "Having therefore brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies with the blood of Christ. A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say his flesh, and a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water..." (Hebrews 10:19-22, Douay Rheims Version). At this point the Priest inaudibly recites the Canon. In the Novus Ordo the Canon is recited aloud to the hearing of everyone. But in the Traditinal Latin Mass, the Canon is recited by the Priest inaudibly. The reasons for this is that prayers are addressed to God and not to the people. At this point the Ordained Priest or Bishop performs his sacerdotal role of intermediary between God and the faithful. The faithful are invited to join their hearts and intentions to the acts of the minister on the altar. Silence prevails over the congregation as they see the Priest, the persona Christi enters the Holy of Holies. Christ when he died on Calvary entered the Holy of Holies to offer the Eternal Sacrifice. So as the Canon is recited we kneel in worshipful awe to this act of Supreme Worship, both vicarious and propitious, beneficial and meritorious, for both the living and the dead. By virtue of his ministerial priesthood, the Priest silently recites the Canon because it is only He who can perform this. The laity assists but cannot confect the Body and Blood of the Lord. Here in the communion we recall and honor the humility of the Centurion when he said "Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the Word and I shall be healed..." The recitation of the second confiteor at communion time brings us all to the foot of calvary where we behold the Crucified Lord. With a mixture of penance and joy we acknowledge that it was our fault that Jesus underwent this pain for us. But in our hearts we are also filled with gratitude for this healing balm. People who are not familiar with the TLM often say that in the Latin Mass the Priest has his back on the faithful. This is not the correct description. The description should say that the Priest is leading the people, together they turn their faces to the East, the Rising Sun Symbol of Christ and His Resurrection. Thus when the altar is arranged, it is designed to face towards the deriction of the Crucifix, symbolic of the East and symbolic of Christ. When the priest turns his back, he is turning his back together with the people. They face the East, the Easter hope and turn their back on the world. Christ teaches us that if we want to be saved we must turn our backs from the world. St. Paul further said: "be not conformed unto this world but be transformed...". Now who will accuse us that the Holy Mass is unscriptural? When its ethos, rationale and history are all rooted in Scripture.


The Offertory

The Priest says, "Pray Brethren that my Sacrifice and yours be accepted...." Here the priest makes the distinction between his role and that of the faithful, thus he says "my sacrifice and yours..." Everyone feels the unworthiness to offer the Supreme Sacrifice, but every one is filled with Hope and Chairty. The theological and didacic significance of that line is important. Here the Church teaches us that there is one sacrifice but that distinction has to be made between the Ministerial Priesthood and the Common Priesthood. The Ministerial Priesthood is important because it is the ordained manner by which Christ perpetuated his sacrifice for the benefit of the Church. Here the Church makes the act of Calvary present to us. This is the transcendence of God's saving work. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Here he continually feeds us with the real manna from heaven until we dine with Him in the eternal banquet when He will come again the Second time to Judge the world and to redeem His own. St. John in the Apocalypse saw a company of people in white clothes with palms on their hands. He asked the angel, who are these? The Angel replied... "these are they who have cleased themselves with the blood of the Lamb." May the Eucharist we receive clease us and prepare us for eternal life. Amen.


The Leonine Prayers

These are called Leonine Prayers because Pope Leo XIII ordered this to be said in order to help solve the Roman question at a time when the forces of Emmanuel I were invading the Papal States. But today the Church even after the resolution of the Roman Question through the Lateran Treaty of 1929 continues to recite these prayers for the conversion of Russia and of the world.


The Somascan Sisters, Fr. Abe, CRS and us.

The nuns posed for a picture. They stood still but I said "Fr. Abe we need to keep our hands in an Amen position". This is the usual position for photo session in pre-Vatican II era. No we are not returning to archaic practices we are rediscovering them. Doing so helps inspire piety and love for the Lord.

To our friends continue to pray for our TLM apostolate. May God be gracious to all! This Sunday will be the first time that our weekly TLM will be scheduled on a Sunday. It will be at the St. Jerome Emiliani Chapel in Sorsogon City, at 10:00 a.m. We are holding this TLM not on an inaccessible time but on a prime time! God is gracious indeed. Some members of the Allinace of Two Hearts will be joining us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SEMINARIANS TO LEARN TLM


Its interesting that
Catholic Online run Adkins' [Zenith] report of interview with Cardinal Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the Cardinal's views about the Summorum Pontificum. The Cardinal said that seminarians who are undergoing liturgical formation shoul be taught the Summorum, the rite of the extraordinary form and the theology behind that rite. He further emphasize that even for priests who never had the experience of celebrating the Traditional Rite, learning the older rites will be beneficial because it will influence the manner by which they say the Novus Ordo. And hopefully it will encourage a reverent celebration the Mass. You can read more about this by visiting the link specified above.

This is now my opinion: I think that the Cardinal is right. Seminarians should be taught how to say this mass. Its not just about the rite but the history and theology behind it. We can never appreciate this Mass if we lack the theological understanding behind it and also the history and the ethos of the time that shaped this rite. Only when one is equipped with these backgrounder that one would understand, appreciate and love this rite. To those who posses a genuine devotion to this rite may find therein a genuine expression of their Catholicity. The confusion brought about by the liturgical reforms of the 70s has engineered the unlearning of these vast wealth of liturgical tradition. But the rediscovery of this rite and by bridging the present with the past will bring about the synthesis desired by the Pope. Catholic Tradition is dynamic, its dynamism rest on the trancendence of the then, now and to come. This is the meaning when we say "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." In here also finds the reality of Christ's words, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."

SANCE MARCE, ORA PRO NOBIS

Coptic Icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist

In the Liturgical Calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, April 25 is indicated as the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. He is referred to as the Apostle of Africa. He is also believed to be the author of the Gospel According to St. Mark. St. Mark is considered by the Coptic Church as the first Pope of the See of Alexandria, one of the centers of Christianity in the eary centuries of the Church. St. Mark was mentioned in the Acts of the Apostle 12:24-25, "But the word of the Lord increased and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, having fulfilled their ministry, taking with them John, who was surnamed Mark." [Douay Rheims Version]. The name of Saint Mark appeared first in the Book of the Acts at a time when the Word of God was increasing. He was associated with great missionaries of the time like Saint Paul who was considered the Apostle to the Gentiles and Barnabas a great and untiring evangelist. Later St. Mark was credited as having written one of the synoptic Gospels. The saint was also closely identified with Barnabas, thats why in the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, the latter took with him Mark while the former took with him Silas. But this seeming, human failure was a blessing in disguise, because their parting with St. Paul resulted in the spread of the Word of God (Read Acts 15: 38-41). The symbol of St. Mark is the Lion.

Prayer: Lord Almighty Father, you have given to us St. Mark the Evangelist to be an example and leader. You made him the instrument of the proclamation of the Gospel of your Son Jesus Christ. Just as you made him courageous in the proclamation of the Gospel make us also courageous in the face of challenges that we face in modern times. Make us beacons of your Word and Light. We ask this in Jesus name and through the intercession of Saint Mark. Amen. St. Mark, Ora Pro nobis.

Monday, April 21, 2008

PRAYING AS THE CHURCH PRAYS


"Pray without ceasing..." says St. Paul. Indeed frail as we are, we are all called to pray. In many ways the Church has found a way to fuflfill this mandate through the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. What other forms of devotional prayer could be more Biblical than the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office? Those in the Sacred Orders and the professed religious are bound by Law to recite the office. But since Vatican II the council has encouraged the faithful to recite the Divine Office in their own circumstances and as time permits. One thing that differentiate the religious life from the laity is that the religious have more time to devote to prayer, not like the laity who are burdened with the daily chores of making a living and supporting their families. But as I am reminded of a Hymn that goes this way..."Sweet Hour of Prayer... sweet hour of prayer...that calls me from a world of care..." Indeed prayer is a refuge... it is not the mere murmuring of words but the act of the mind that ascend to God by meditation and inspiration. Reciting the Liturgy of the Hours wether in private or in community setting is indeed more beneficial that our privately composed prayers because it is the prayer of the whole Church. When we meditate on these psalms, readings and prayers, we elevate our minds to God together with the members of Christ's Body. When I was younger in age and in spirituality, I though that prayer was more of recitation of words. When I reached puberty I began to question the rationale for memorization and recitation of prayers. But when I became older I realized that printed and recited prayers were aid or tools designed to help us set our mind attune to the mind of the Lord. Even if we recite the same words daily, yet if our hearts and minds are open to the Lord, He will always give us new insights that will revitalize our prayer life.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

RISING WITH HOPE IN THE MIDST OF DISAPPOINTMENTS


The St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, New York. Dwarfed by the skycrapers of New York. Its Gothic Spires rising above the Heavens. Symbolizing the endeavor of Men and Women of faith to rise to God.

Just like the rest of thousands of Catholics who have no opportunity to be physically present during the visit of the Holy Father in the United States, we were glued to the Television sets to witness the events in this Pilgrimage of the Holy Father to the United States. Last night (Morning in the US) we eagerly watch the Papal Mass at St. Patrick's with the Bishops, Priests and Religious. The Mass was superb and very reverent, every mass should be like that. of course not all parishes or churches could have that marvelous organ and choir loft, but the manner and the kind of songs that were sung were very reverent and traditional. Modern people often have negative connotation when the word Traditional is mentioned but on the other hand traditional is actually a positive term. It does not mean to stay static but rather it is a dynamic state that connects the past with the present and sees the future in a kind of unity. This love for the Old and the new was vividly expressed by the most Rev. Bruskewitz in his foreword to the Baronius Missal thus: "...older rites need not be disdained in order to appreciate the new, nor must the new rites be disparaged in order to love the old." In the Papal Mass it was noticeable that in the center of the altar was the presence of the crucifix. The altar appeared smaller and apparently could not accomodate the seven candlesticks, as a result the candlesicks were placed on the sides of the altar. There is one very interesting line in the homily of the Holy Father that spoke of the present crisis in the Church and I qoute: "For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church's mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear "what the Spirit is saying" to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7). In this way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today's world.Was not this unity of vision and purpose -- rooted in faith and a spirit of constant conversion and self-sacrifice -- the secret of the impressive growth of the Church in this country?" The full text of the Papal Homily can be read from Zenith the World as seen from Rome.
Here is my personal opinon:
In my own personal analysis and opinion I can say that the current problems we have in the Church are not the product of the Council but a misinterpretation of the council. Thus in fact in the 70s a few years after the Second Vatican Council many professed religious were dissillusioned by the many changes made in the name of Vatican II council. But the sad part is that some of those who were so eager to introduce novelties have never themselves read the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The "innovative" trend resulted in debacles in Liturgy, religious life, and church discipline. The Liturgy is the very heart of Church worship and teaching, because in itself the liturgy is not just rites, but it is a form of catechesis that embodies the way the church believes. Even as a Cardinal, Pope Benedict has recognize this problem. In the addressed given by then Cardinal Ratzinger in Santiago, Chile in 1988 [as published byDocumentation Service Vol. IV, number 12, 1991, p. 19] he spoke thus "The Second Vatican Council defined no dogma at all; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest." The main problem here is that when the documents of the Council are presented and interpreted without connection to the mageterial teachings of the Church for the last 2000 years, that is where the problem starts. Any changes or novelties that have no connection with the Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Deposit of the Faith is bound to fail. Thus it resulted not only in the dissillusionment of many religious people but of the laity in general. Engagement with the world as spoken by Blessed Pope John XXIII does not mean copying the values of the world but rather understanding the mentality of modern humans and infusing them with the gospel values so that they may be directed towards Christ. This understanding is a means to evangelize the world. Thus the sexual abuse cases that has plagued the Catholic Church in the US was a product of this confusion arising from the misinterpreations of the Reform [This is my opinion]. When Christians are detached from their root, i.e., Tradition it will naturally result to crisis of faith and life. Just like when a child is separated from its natural parents no matter what care it receive there is still a gap in that Child's development. This is also the case when we as Christians detached ourselves from Christ our root and from the Church, our Mother.
But this is not a reason for us to be pessimistic. in his recent encyclical on Hope, the Pope spoke to us of the need to have hope. In fact in his message to the US this was his recurrent theme. The crisis are all meant to purify the Church to make it stronger. Just like the Gothic Spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the faithful strives to raise itself to God and this they do by hope in God. The hope that saves us. The Holy Father said that the key to solving this problem is for us to seek Christ and to be reconverted. To be humble and be willing submit to the magesterial teachings of the church even if it does not conform to our personal opinions. Indeed, the greatest sin of modern Humanity is Pride, the unwillingness to submit and recognize authority. Even relativism in morals and faith is a form of pride because it recognizes no authority but the self. Like Lucifer who defiantly shouted at God by saying "I will not serve!". But here we are called to to submit to God because humility is the door to our redemption. Christ Our Lord has demonstrated this virtue when he offered the sacrifice on the Cross. He allowed Himself to be sacrificed, meek as a lamb he opened His arms in the cross and thus vicariously and propitiously effected our salvation. This humilty was also exemplified by the Blessed Mother when the angel announced to her the tidings, she said without doubt "Fiat" Let it be done accoding to thy word. When Simeon spoke of her prophesy Mary placed these words in her heart and submitted to the will of the Father.
Let us always pray for the minisry of Pope Benedict XVI, who when elected as Pope said that he was a humble servant in the Lord's vineyard and that his only program as pontiff is to follow the move of the Holy Spirit. Who else is more authoritative as far as Vatican II itself than the current Pope who was himself a peretus for the Archbishop of Munich during the Council. His various ecyclicals, letters and exortations were meant to bring us back to the right path. Manydisobey the Pope, but let us pray and humbly follow our shepherd.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HUMAN RIGHTS: LEGAL OR ETHICAL?

The Holy father in his Message to the United Nations Organization underscored the important achievement of the UN in many fields of Human interests and endeavor especially the quest for World Peace and Security. The Pontif lauded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the achievement of the Organization. He mentioned in his speech that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an expression of the values of the human family. Tha emphasizing the legal / litigation may obscure the real values promoted by the Universal declartion of Human Rights. These are the qouted words of the Holy Father:

" Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based."


You can read the full text of the Message of the Holy Father from ZENITH.

To some extent the concept of Religious Freedom has lend support to the mission of the Church. It is necessary for this fredom to exist in order to help every humans the chance to freely accede and accept the truth as promoted by the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In my opinion I would comment that the Role of the UN and the promotion and practice of Human Rights is a reflection of the Universal Values of the Human Family. But ultimately it should be recognized that Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace is the one and only source of true Peace. Thus without ceasing by her prayers and by her missionary works the Church continues to preach Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Savior.

PP. Benedict XVI's Message to University Presidents

In a message to Univesity Presidents and academics of Catholic Univesities in America, the Pope underscored the imporatnace of Catholic Doctrine. He said that any invocation of academic freedom in order to Justify teachings that contradics catholic doctrine cannot be justified. In fact it betrays the purpose and mission of Catholic Universities. The administrators of Catholic Schools and the teachers have the duty to promote and teach Catholic faith and way of life. This is the very main reason for the existence and the unique identity of the Catholic Universiy as differentiated from the Secular Universities. It is inconsistent for Catholic Universities to follow the fads and fashion of trends in education in the world today. A more detailed report can be read from various web links such as the Washington Post. Furthermore the Holy Father also emphaisized that reason should be open to the consideration of the Ultimate truths. This message clearly was put to challenge the prevailing "relativism" in intellectual life. In many universities today there is the perception that intellectual sophistication lies in the ability to ambigously make the self as the only rule for the determination of the truth. This kind of idea is very dangerous because this can become the bedrock of heresy under the guise of "academic freedom". This is the reason why in my opinion every University should have a very strong tehological programs for its students. With emphasis in Scriptures, Catechesis, and the Sacraments. The Chapel or the Church should be a the center of the Campus. There is no excuse for not promoting sound theological programs. This is the reason why Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools is because they want their children to grow with clear instruction in the Catholic Faith. Secular belief dictates that religion is personal. Thus making personal means relagating it to the private. Thus this popular belief is very subtle and can find its way into our mentality without us being aware of it. The consequence is growing lack of faith, lack of enthusiasm to share the faith and the weakening of evangelization. To read more on the full texts of Papal Messages visit the USCCB's Papal Visit Blog

Let us pray for the success of papal visit to the US.

TLM UPDATES

April 18, 2008, Fr. Abe celebrated a low mass in the extraodinary form of the Roman Rite.
To our friends and readers of this blog... did you notice any change in the altar since the first time we had this form of Mass?


Preparation of the Altar before the Judica Me...




Dr. herbert r. assisted the celebrant




Oratre Fratres...





Elevation of the Cup of the Blood of the Lord.

Mr. Andrei Balde, a Junior Student and Mrs. Gina Oropesa, a young instructor, both from Bicol University.

This is the Chapel of St. Jerome Emiliani at the Aemelianum Campus, Sorsogon City, where we hold the weekly TLM. This Chapel serves the spiritual needs of the College Community, the Somascan Community and the local residents near the area. In this picture the facade of the chapel is undergoing a clean up. Fr. Abe Arganiosa is the Chaplain.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE BENEDICT XVI

Through this blog I would like to extend my birthday greetings to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. I watch with eagerness tonight on the live coverage of his South Lawn Reception at the White House. President Bush met the Pontiff at the Andrews Airforce base. The first time that an American President went all his way to fetch a visiting leader at the airport tarmac. Protocol always dictates that visiting leaders will go to the White House for their calls. But in this instance it was the President who went all his way to the tarmac to meet the Pope. President Bush said that he did this because the Pope represent millions of people, he is not a politician but a Man of faith, who share the same values as far as right and wrong is concerned.
Happy Birthday Holy Father, we thank you for being our Pope, Father and guide.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

POPE TO USE PASTORAL STAFF OF PIUS IX IN US VISIT

In the upcoming events of PP Benedict XVI visit to the United States, he will be using the pastoral staff of Pope Pius IX. It is the staff usually used by Popes prior to Paul VI. You can read more about this on Webpage of the USCCB devoted to the Visit of PP Benedict XVI

The Good Man...

In the Old testament we saw how the patriarchs of old described their dying days, how it was spent in hardship and toil. We too in this modern world we often feel very tired because of the pressures and demands of our profession or occupation. Living in a society whose values are enimical to the gospel values is indeed stressfull. This afternoon I felt very tired from a full day of teaching and helping students with research work. Spending an hour in the evening for the trip home is another stressing event. While taking my rest I was thinking of a verse in the Bible that could somehow sooth my aching body and aching mind (stressed brain neurons???), so this verse from Jeremiah came to my mind. It says thus:
"Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture; and it shall not fear when the heat cometh, and the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit." [Jeremiah 17:7-8, Douay-Rheims Version].
The picture above was taken almost four years ago, when me and three of my students were walking the trails of San Miguel Island. The huge mango tree in the middle of the corn fields in the direct heat of the sun caught my attention. I took this picture as a matter of curiousity. The shadowy figures beneath were my students.
Indeed like what that verse in jeremiah says, they that trust in the Lord will be like that tree. It appears impregnable and strong amidst the balzing heat of the sun. Not only does it enjoy abundance but it also provide shade and shelter for other creatures. That is how the Good Man is.
Prayer: Lord Almighty you have planted us in your vineyards and you have set us in your temple like trees. We thank you for your goodness and love. Indeed we can never outdo you in your generousity. For indeed you are good and solicitous for everyone even with those who are not faithful to you. Forgive our lack of faith, increase it by your generousity and assist us when we are down trodden. Thank you Lord for everything, we send this prayer to you in the Name of your Son Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

TLM UPDATES

Fr. Abe Arganiosa, CRS a Somascan Priest assigned in Sorsogon City, celebrated a Low Mass according to the Extraoridnary Form of the Roman Rite at the Parish of Divine Mercy in Sikatuna, Quezon City last April 12, 2008. He was assisted by Gerald Cenir and Carlos Antonio Palad who served as altar servers. Fr. Jojo Zerrudo is the Pastor of said Parish who celebrates the Extraordinary Form on a daily basis. Fr. Abe has for a few times celebrated the Extraordinary Form in their Chapel at the Aemelianum College in Piot, Sorsogon City . Currently he is preparing to make this form of the Mass available on a regular basis starting May or June of this year. He said that he is doing this in obedience to the wishes of the Holy Father PP benedict XVI and in accordance with the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum. He is also very active in apologetics, he hosts a weekly TV Program in Sorsogon called "Splendor of the Church". At the same time he is also the Chaplain of the Aemelianum College. May we request the readers and fellow Catholics to pray for this TLM apostolate here in Bicol Region. Two weeks ago I accompanied Fr. Abe to Neumann Liturgical shop for his golden vestment. However, because vestments are quite expensive it was not possible to have all the liturgical colors. But we believe that the Lord will provide and through the generous help of the faithful and benefactors we will be able to complete the sets of vestments in due time. May the Lord touch your hearts for this TLM apostolate in Bicol. For more story please read the blogs of Prodeoetpatria, we also credit the photo to Gerald Cenir. You can also read Fr. Abe's account on his blog at Splendor of the Church.

SHOULD MASS BE HELD AT SHOPPING MALLS?

In recent days there have been news items critical of Holy Masses celebrated in political gatherings. I think that Church hierarchical authorities who farbade Mass to be said in political gatherings are right. The Holy Mass is a Sacrament and the rites appertaining thereto are also sacred. Our Lord has said that we should never throw our pearls unto the dogs. We also know that politics is divisive and exclusive. The profanity of political concerns will taint the dignity of the Mass and the sacred meaning it connotes. Our Lord when he was here on earth never meddled in the political issues of the Jews in His time. He even criticized the groups who were trying to coax him to take their sides. For Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world. He further siad that if His Kingdom were of this world then his disciples would take up swords and fight. But Jesus forbade them from fighting, because according to Our Lord, they that live by the sword shall die with the sword.
Another issue that is very common now a days are Masses held at shopping malls. Should Masses be held at shopping Malls? I browsed the web and found the explanation given by the Cardinal Rosales at the web page of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines . The Cardinal emphasized the need for a place, a corner or a chapel where the Mass can be celebrated with reverence and not be distracted by the passing and going of people. The Cardinal said that this practice can be justified in the sense that people who usually come from the provinces visit the mall. By bringing the Mass to them it gives them the opportunity to comply with their Sunday obligations. Moreover, it is the duty of the Parish priests to ensure that these celebrations are held in accordance with the approved norms. Thus any celebration in the malls or any places aside from the Church the permission of the Parish Priest should be obtained.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

EVERY PERFECT GIFT IS FROM ABOVE: A REFLECTION ON THE READINGS FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

The fourth Sunday of Easter opens us to a new dimension of our walk through the Liturgical Life of the Church. The Epistle for this Sunday is taken from the Letter of James 1:17-21. One striking portion of the reading says:"...every perfect gift is from above , coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration..." It beehoves us then to appreciate the gift coming from the Father. What is this precious gift... this is the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. He is the jewel that adorns the paradise of God, the Tree of Life. His life, His words as we read in the Gospel, and His passion are all gifts that seeks to revive our souls. Hence St. James adminishes us to be quick to listen but slow to speak because the anger of man does not accomplish the will of God. How much we truly need patience in dealing with our various circumstances. But we should remember that the foundation of patience is the confidence we have in the Providnece of God and His solicitude for our good and well being.
The gospel reading for today is taken from John 16:5-14. The Gospel reading speaks of Christ's promise of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost as our comforter. He will not only confort us but He will also teach us. How often we ignore the promptings of the Holy Ghost? How many times have we neglected to seek recourse in our Great Counselor? Let us believe in the promise of the Lord and Let us trust in His good will to lead us to the paths of the Lord.
Prayer: Lord Father of all Lights, you have given us your Son and now you have sent to us the Holy Spirit to be our guide and our teacher. Inspire us with greater hope, greater faith and greater charity so that we may spend our lives on earth with faith and devotion. That while we are in this dark world like stars reflecting the light of the sun, we may also be like the stars reflecting your light into this vast and dark world engulf in Sin. We believe in your power to save us and in your power to renew our lives. As we recall the promises we made in Baptism and the pledge of salvation through the Eucharist, we thank you and we pray for final perseverance. Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son and Our Lord. Amen.
Note: The picture above was taken by Dr. herbert r. many years ago while on a field research in Visita, San Miguel Island. The mooring fishing boat in the shore and under the shade of a huge Talisay Tree reminds the Christian Pilgrim of the solicitude of God. That the word of God and the Eucharist are like mooring places where we find refreshment and the strenght we need to take on our Pilgrim Journey.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"ALL POLITICAL TRUTH IS PARTIAL AND TAINTED..."

"All political truth is partial and tainted..." these were the words said by Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legazpi, Metropolitan of Caceres, during his homily at the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday. He underscore the importance of not using the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for political propaganda before the assembled clergy of the Archdiocese of Caceres and the faithful. In emphasizing the importance of the Chrism Mass, Archbishop Legazpi noted that the Last Supper of Christ saw the institution not only of the Priesthood but of the Church herself. You can read more about these at the webpage of the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Here is my opinion: I feel sad that today we see some members of the clergy and some professed religious being used by politicians to achieve political ends. As Christians we are called to be charitable, to seek ways to change oppressive systems. But we should not forget that the end of our charitable works is not this present world, but it is beyond. For Christ does not belong to this world and His Kingdom is not of this world. That is the main reason why Christ never was involved in the politics of his time and never intervened in the politics of the Jews. Even among his disciples this revelation was not clear. If we recall the conversation between the two disciples on the Emmaus Road, the two disciples in disappointment said, "we thought that this Jesus was the Christ who would liberate Israel from the Romans...." From these statements of the two disciples we can see a striking similarity in some professed religious, clergy and lay faithful. They think that the end of social action is to make this physical world better and sadly they believe that by mere human effort and by secularizing the values of the gospel they could obtain true liberation. This is the main reason why, in my analysis, I could see many people fall into the trap of Liberation Theology. If Christ were a liberation theologian, I would surmised that He would have gathered up His disciples and stage a rebellion. But Christ did not do so. He rebuked his disciples and told them that the prophesies have to be fulfilled. And in the breaking of the bread, Christ opened the spiritual eyes of the two Emmaus Disciples, and lo they recognized Jesus and there He banished from their sight. The two exclaimed, "did not our hearts burned within us while he spoke with us along the road?..." Indeed as we discover for us the reality of the Eucharist, we will come to recognized that it is the pledge of God to us of our salvation. Just as St. Paul Said, "As often as you break this bread you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes in glory!" Our charitable work, our social action should lead us to the realization that whatever good we do is our testimony to this decaying world and a call to the unrepentant to seek the Lord while He may be found.


How sad that in the confusion that we find ourselves, we see the Mass and the Eucharist dragged into partisan politics. Is this not a great offense to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Does it behooves us to offer sacrifice of reparation for these offenses? Should we allow politicians to offer messages within the context of the mass and should we allow the clapping of hands as if the banquet of the Lord has been reduced to a mere political "miting de abanse"?


Lets support our Church, Bishops and Priests who uphold the dignity of the Holy Mass and refuse to use the mass for political purposes. Above all let us pray for everyone. Let us learn to love our enemies and be forgiving. For Love cancels a multitude of sin.


Monday, April 7, 2008

PRAYER FOR ALL PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

Martyrdom has been an important aspect of early Christian History. The Book of Apocalypse depict the travails of the early Christians in the hands of the Pagan Roman Emperors. Indeed in various history of the Christian period martyrdom has been a way to demonstrate the way the Lord loves His people. Even in our modern times we still observe this phenomenon of grace. One very poignant story that inspires me was the story of Maximilian Kolbe. While as a youth he was given that vision of the blessed Virgin Mary, where Our Lady offered him two crowns, the white and red crown. The White represent purity and the red represented martyrdom. Without hesitation the young Kolbe chose both. And indeed later in life he will receive the crown of Martyrdom in the hands of the Nazis. Today we see this phenomenon. We particularly remember the Christians in Iraq and in Palestine. Let us offer them our sincere prayer so that the Lord will give them strength and that this will become an opportunity to show love. That we as Christians do not wish anyone harm and that we bless our enemies instead of cursing them. Like Jesus we ask the Father to forgive them, just as we also ask for forgiveness. For Christ said, Love will cancel a multitude of sin.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Father of all consolations, we bless your name and we honor you. We especially lift up to you our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Palestine and in other places where they are subjected to persecution and some have suffered martyrdom. Give them your consolation and peace. May the blood that have been spilled in the Name of Christ serve as a way to put a stop to all forms of violence of humans against humans. May this experience serve to purify our faith and strengthen our resolve to believe and to love. Let our prayers and sacrifices ascend to your glory in Jesus name. Amen.

THE ROAD TO EMMAUS (AGAIN?)

The Holy Father commented on the biblical narrative of the Road to Emmaus where Jesus met the two disciples whose animated discussion Jesus joined. "The Holy Father said that although the location of this event has never been identified with certainty, 'in reality Emmaus represents every place: The road that leads there is the journey of every Christian, indeed, of every man. Along our roads the risen Jesus is our companion on the journey, to reignite in our hearts the warmth of faith and hope and the breaking of the bread of eternal life.' " [Zenith.org] The Holy Father said that we as Christians suffer from pain and affliction and sometimes are led to think that we are abandoned. But we should learn from the lessons given to us in the Emmaus narrative. For more of this read at ZENITH.Org.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

THE TREATH OF SECULARISM

It seems that Secularism has become the norm of modern society. The globalized culture and economy has brought tremendous changes to humanity not only in terms of technology and science but also culturally. With the accessibility of communications the world is becoming a global village. No one is spared from this trend. In order to preserve the peace among human beings in this global community respect, tolerance and acceptance is important. While these values should be with us in our dealings with fellow humans and preserving the peace we should not forget that we Christians are called out and sent into the world in order to sow the seed of the Gospel. Secularism on the extreme relegates the practice of religion to the private sphere and often it also becomes a form of tyranny as it suppress the natural tendencies of humans for self expression which includes the freedom to profess and express one's religion. PP Benedict XVI in speaking to the religious of Salesian Society of Don John Bosco was reported by Zenith as saying that ... "the process of secularization that is gaining ground in modern culture" and that "unfortunately does not even spare communities of consecrated life. Hence it is necessary to be cautious with lifestyles that risk abating evangelical witness, rendering pastoral activity ineffective and weakening the vocational response." [for more of this read Zenith at: http://www.zenit.org/article-22162?l=english] As Christians we should not allow the values of secularism to dampen our enthusiasm to spread the gospel. Instead of allowing the world to influence us, we should be able to influence the world with the values of the Gospel. "For the Grace of God has appeared unto all men..."