Saturday, August 30, 2008

16th Sunday After Pentecost

The Crucifixion of Jesus, as Depicted by Justus Lipsius

2nd Class Feast: 16th Sunday After Pentecost

The theme of this Sunday’s Mass exhorts us to be faithful to our tasks as disciples. The grace of God is sufficient to fulfill its obligation for us and that there is nothing to fear.

The Introit for this Mass call upon God to have mercy on the Christian. “Have mercy on me Oh Lord for I have cried all the day…”

The Collect says: “May thy grace, we beseech Thee, O Lord, ever go before us and follow us: and make us continually intent upon good works. Through our Lord…”

The Epistle is taken from Ephesians 3:13-21. St. Paul Exhorts us to follow him, not to loose heart but to be able by God’s grace to comprehend the consolation that comes from God.

The Gospel is from Luke 14:1-11. Jesus teaches us that the humble shall be exalted. Thus when we are in deep problems or adversity the more that we should humble ourselves rather than complain. Complaining is also a form of pride and a lack of submission.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Very Touching Indonesian Mass Celebrations

Note: I would like to share with you a reaction to a post in the e-group apologia. I hope that this will give us some points to ponder upon especially the way we celebrate our Mass in the Philippines.

Twice I have been to Indonesia, especially in Bandung. The majority of the people in Bandung are Moslems, yet the Catholic Church is influential especially in the field of Education. They operate excellent universities and primary schools. In fact some of my Muslim friends have attended Catholic Schools. Upon learning that I am Catholic they try to win my confidence by demonstrating their little knowledge of Catholicsm. They talked about " Maria" and about "Missa". I inquired from them why they prefer to study in Catholic Schools when in fact there's a number of Moslem schools around, they replied by saying that they were impressed with Catholic education, and they go for quality.

When I was in Bandung I tried attending a Sunday Mass and a weekday mass as well. One thing I notice is that in the Cathedral of Bandung, they have excellent Liturgy. The Music used in the Mass was very reverent, unlike here in the Philippines. Here we use lots of loud music, and there are clapping of hands. But in Bandung they have a very reverent Novus Ordo Mass. Some of the common parts are sung in classical music by the Choir like the Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei. Even the modern hymns were rendered in slow paced singing to give the reverent mode effect. I have attended two Sunday Masses. On the first time after I attended, I lingered on for the next mass to see if the next mass will still be the same, to my amazement it was the same! The next Sunday I observed that it was still the same. I guess that this reverent way the Novus Ordo Mass is said is the norm. During communion time they have ushers that led the faithful. Those who intend to receive communion must move row by row, pushing is avoided and no crowding. During the consecration the faithful were very reverent. I was impressed. After this experience, I felt so embarrassed. Look we pride ourself of being a Catholic Country, but here in a Muslim dominated country, a Catholic Church celebrates mass so dutifully, beautiful and so reverent.

I do not know why many Masses in the Philippines are like these. Is this a cultural thing, or is this the influence of the Charismatic movement or just plain trying to immitate the techniques of the "Born-again" groups. I am entertaining this thought that some of our Catholic friends here are so impressed by the spontaneity of the Charismatic Prayer Meetings that they seem to believe that if that style is brought into the Mass it would produce the same effect.

I would opine that some of us need to be taught about the importance of the Mass and to realize that we cannot equate the Mass with the prayer meetings of the Charismaics and the services in a Protestant Church. In some Protestant and Evangelical denominations there is the predominance of preaching. And sometimes the entire worship service revolves around community prayers and preachings. But Catholic Liturgical worhsip is different. It is centered on the Eucharist as a Sacrifice, a propitiation. Although it takes the form of a meal, It is not a meal. [Please correct me if I am wrong]. St. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for treating the eucharistic meetings as a meal. Thats why Paul told them to eat at home before going to the meetings. That they should not take the eucharist as an opportunity to have a meal and get drunk. Rather they should examine themselves well and that they must recognize that it is the Body and Blood of Christ.


Dr. herbert

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Never Ending Fascination

Photos and Essay by Dr. herbert r.

"Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever." Ps. 105:1

Indeed what else could I say? God has blessed me for having been born and lived in a land filled with beauty. And I would say that I am proud of Mt. Mayon Volcano. Many times I have taken for granted its beauty but there are times when life is not in hurry, that I could renew and appreciate the majesty and beauty of this unique mountain. Every working day as I drove from my home City of Tabaco to the University where I work in Legazpi City, I always pass by this volcano. The highway that connects Tabaco City with Legazpi City is a strech of class A road that spans 30 kilometers, 45 minutes drive in the abscence of traffic congestion and an hour if the chokepoint is filled with commuters. But the drive from Legazpi to Tabaco is always a pleasant experience. Breath-taking views of Mt. Mayon Volcano, of the vast Albay Gulf, the mountains, the offshore Islands, valleys, hills and rice fields. This brings me to the realization that creation though affected and strained by the originl sin of Adam and Eve continues to exude beaty and delight. Giving praise to God it's creator and delighting the hearts of the children of men.

The Albay Gulf seen from a Distance. In the Background are the mountain ranges of the Municipality of Manito, Sorsogon Province. These mountains are source of steam used by the Philippine Geothermal to gnerate energy.

Mayon Volcano at sun set. The silvery cloud at the back provides a canopy which exudes a silvery light that illustrates the beauty and grandeur of God's Creation.

"I will look upon the mountains and call upon the Name of the Lord!"
Mt. Mayon as seen from Bogtong Diversion Road. Instead of taking the main Highway to the University, I always take this diversion road in order to avoid the choke-points in the city.

Mt. Maon Volcano on a noon time.

Mt. Mayon, as seen from behind the fence of a construction company.

Mt. Mayon as seen from the river banks of yawa river.

Another view of Mt. Mayon. Take note of the perfect cone shape of the mountain.

15th Sunday After Pentecost

Christ in the Storm in the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1632) in Oil

The 15th Sunday After Pentecost

Today's reminds us that Christ Our Lord by His work and grace has snatched us from death. Therefore our lives does not belong to us but it belongs to Christ. Thus it behooves us to live according to his will and renounce the work of the flesh. For if we live by the Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit.

Epistle: Galatians 5:25-26; 6:1-10

Gospel: St. Luke 7:11-16

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Tribute to the Immaculate Heart

"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph".

Today we delebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Immaculate Heart of Mary as depicted side by side with the Sacred Heart of Jesus poignantly show that Mary is intimately united to Jesus. The Heart of Our Blessed Mother is intimately united to the Passion, Death and Ressurection of Jesus. For as the lance of suffering for our redemption has pierced the heart of the Lord so the pains of sorrow struck the heart of the Virgin Mother. In today's celebration let us remember with faith and with love our dear Mother Mary. She who has been at the side of the Lord, co-redemptrix and mediatrix of all graces, knows our pains.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Leyte: Inside the Sto Nino Palace

Photos and Textual Essay by Dr. Herbert R.

Our stay in Las Navas, Northern Samar was indeed a test of will to adapt to unusual situations. With meager accomodation and very limited amenities, most of the company became weary souls. In order to revive our spirits we decided to spend three days in Tacloban City and in Dulag, Leyte. We took the grueling eight hours journey from Catarman to Leyte. Let me share with you some photos that will tell our story.

The Monument of Gen Douglas MacArthur. He is well remembrered for his famous statement, "I shall Return". He uttered these words while retreating from the Japanese Imperial Army.

We visited the Santo Nino House. A Spacious Palace built by Leyte's most famous woman, Madam Imelda Marcos, the wife of President Ferdinand Marcos. Is this statue of Sn Vicente?

The Image of the Immaculate Conception.

St. Francis

Station of the Cross

Wooden Statue of Sto. Nino

Portrait of a Younger Looking Madam Imelda R. Marcos

Silvery Sunset in Tacloban City

The students were delighted and amused at the long hardwood table in the conference room of the Palace

Amused or bewildered?

Northern Samar: Four hundred Years of Evangelization, Four Hundred Years of Christianity

Narration and Photos by Dr. Herbert R.

From my point of view, I would say that the greatest achievement of the Spanish Colonial regime was the evangelization of the Philippine Islands. Despite the difficulties and remoteness of the islands, the Spanish Missionaries were tenacious in their efforts to spread Christianity. Indeed, cultural practices influenced by native religions are still evident among the people in remote places yet the foundations of the gospel have been founded. Evangelization is like building a house. First one has to lay the foundation and later others will build upon it. The Franciscans, Augustinians, Jesuits and Dominicans have effectively laid down the foundation and today with the Church hierarchy fully established there is plenty of room for Building the Body of Christ. The Parish of Las Navas is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Catarman. Bishop Angel Hobayan is the recent Emeritus of the Diocese.

The Facade of the Parish Church of Las Navas. The patron saint of this church is the Nativity of Our Lady. The Church is undergoing renovation. Like many Catholic edifices in the country, building of churches is a localized activity. This means that the local population and the local hierarchy are the ones responsible for completing the project. Unlike in some religions where the building of churches are decided upon and supported by the top level organization, thus funding is more easy. But with the Catholic Church it may be different. Localization of projects like this is also advantageous because it engenders common ownership and thereby serves as the non-monetary incentive for people to care for it as if it is their very own.

The Main Church still undergoing construction and renovation. But despite of the seeming physical incompleteness of the building it exudes the fervent and quiet faith of the Samarenos. A Church of the Poor, bereft of physical amenities but rich in faith and highly favored by the Lord. During our week-long stay in Las Navas, I attended the daily morning mass attended by a handful of parishioners. The church looks spacious and it seems that at that point in time the parish has been implementing the provisions of the Redemptionis Sacramentum as evidenced by the altar arrangement. Notice the six candle holders and the crucifix. The arrangement though is modern.

The Altar, fully compliant with the provisions of the Redemptionis Sacramentum. Notice the Crucifix near the altar and the six candles. The Altar is located at the Center, while the ambo is near the reredo.

The parish church of St. Joseph the Worker, Catubig, N. Samar. Its antiquity is iconic of the faith planted by the Spanish Missionaries who introduced the Samarenos to Christianity. A small but beautiful Church. The Church actually faces the Catubig River, the entry and exit point for those going to the interior villages. Thus one will wonder why the Church was built facing the river. The early Franciscan Missionaries were bent on evangelizing the remote villages in the interior thus they set building this church to face the river, symbolic of their noble intention of reaching even the remotest village to show them the gospel of Christ. Do we still have this kind of missionary spirit? The practice of false ecumenism has dampen the missionary spirit in some people. They thought that all religions are the same and that we should not convert other people because it is offensive as they say it. But if the early missionaries practiced this form of false ecumenism, I doubt whether our people today would have been Catholics. Probably the religion of the Filipinos today would still be animism, since false ecumenism would say, respect other religions, it is offensive to convert other people. But thanks God, the heart of Charity have pushed the early missionaries to introduce the Gospel of Christ to our people.

The right wing of the Church Building. The building although small appears charming and evokes piety and pryaerfulness.

The Interior of the Catubig Church still undergoing repairs and restoration.

The Altar with the Risen Christ at the Center of the reredo

Northern Samar: Preserving the Integrity of Creation

The students from our department decided to observe and study Northern Samar from the perspective of appreciating the importance of respecting and preserving the ecological balance. This was in 2006 when issues on mining and logging were at the fore of discussions and analysis. Issues like these is not alien to the Church. Indeed ecological awareness is the constant concern of the Church since the Human Race was entrusted by God with the care of the environment. This concept was expressed by the Late Pope John Paul II in his message in January 1, 1990 celebration of the World Day of Peace. The statement runs this way:

"In our day, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life. The sense of precariousness and insecurity that such a situation engenders is a seedbed for collective selfishness, disregard for others and dishonesty." Read More

Here are some of the photos we had. Though these photos may seem too secular, but looking at the other side of the coin spiritual realizations can be derived from these experiences. Ever mindful of what the Psalmist said: "Creations declares the glory of God, the firmament his handiwork...."

My students enjoying the Boat ride upstream

Sitting Comfortably on the Boat

The Catubig River fed by tributaries and the forest basin. The waters of this rivers aside from serving the transportation needs of upstream residents, also feeds the irrigation of the the rice fields in low lying areas of Norther Samar. Planting Rice is the major economic activities of the people of Samar.

Enchanting Forests, made majestic by the golden glow of the morning sun.

Cool, quiet tributary to the mother river

Village houses with galvanized roofing, reflecting the glow of the Noon day Sun

Morning Fog on an early boat ride

Frolicking in the prestine waters of the Catubig River, with its enchanting caves.

Forests with hardwood species.

Jojo and Lance, my trusted assistants.

Northern Samar: The Last Frontier?

Photos and Narration by Dr. herbert

Discovered from my digital chest are the following pictures that reminds me of our Field Work in Las Navas, Northern Samar. It took us almost 22 hours of travelling to reach our destination - Las Navas. In order to save money we decided to do a cutting trip.l from Legazpi City we took a Bus to Matnog, Sorsogon. From Matnog we took the two hour ferry boat to Allen, N. Samar. From Allen we took a jeep to Catarman, the Capital and from Catarman we took a jeep going to Catubig. From Catubig we took the boat and went cruising the Catubig river. By evening we were at Las Navas. Las Navas is a small municipality in N. Samar. It is located at the edge of a rainforest. It is accessible only by boat where the Catubig river serves as the only means of transportation. Truly an exotic place to be. A town set on the marshes. At the time of our visit the place was considered a critical area because of the insurgency. Many of the people in the area wondered why we chose Las Navas for our field work. But despite of the seeming risk we say that it is worth the visit. We love and enjoy the hospitality and the kindness of the Samarenos. They were kind, friendly and treated us as honered guests. I am especially reminded of Mang Jose, the care-taker of Las Navas Elementary School. He was so kind to us. He was solicitous for our needs. he often invited me to their house and even offered their precious water supply and their comfort room. He was always there to see us through. Not only was he so kind to us but also his wife and children. Mang Jose if you are still there in Las Navas, no words is enough to express our thanks.

The Port in Allen, Northern Samar. An important entry point for vehicles travelling south-bound to the Visayas and Mindanao

Spending Lazy hours in the 2-hours fery ride accross the San Bernardino Strait, the Body of water sparating Southern Luzon and Samar

Allen as seen from the Ferry Boat. Samar is the 3rd Largest Island in the Philippines and has one of the last remaining virgin forests in the country

My students seen disembarking from the Ferry Boat. Their youthful excitement overcomes whatever fatigue we have from the 22 hours gruiling trip

Catubig, is the end of the road. We took the 30 minutes boat ride to Las Navas. Las Navas can be reached only through this river. There are no vehicles in Las Navas since there is no functional road and bridge that will connect the town with the National Highway

For many of my students, this was their first boat ride.

One disembarkation point in Las Navas

The entrance to the Town proper of Las Navas.

The classrooms of Las Navas Elementary School Served as living quarters for the group. Thanks to the hospitality of the Division of Schools of Northern Samar.

Las Navas Elementary School

The Temporary Kitchen we set up

The Municipal Hall of Las Navas. The mayor of the Municipality Treated us with Hospitality.

The Catholic Church in Las Navas.

Every one deserves a share of a cup of coffee and a breakfast on a cold and foggy morning.

Above all we were greatful for the protection the Lord has provided us. Later when these students were asked to enumerate their unforgettable experience in college, many of them mentioned their field work in Samar as memorable.

To be continued....