Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
"Catholics who joined Masonic lodge must be disciplined by local ordinary and a just punishment is to be meted out. These punishments may not allow to the Catholic who joined Freemasonry to receive Holy Communion nor stand sponsor in baptism, confirmation and wedding." For more on this read CBCP News
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Proclamation of the Gospel
The Offertory Procession
The Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord
The Doxology and the Great Amen
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
You can read more about Zamboanga City
Fort of Pilar. Established by the Spaniards in years past and was named in honor of Our Lady of the Pilar of Zaragosa, Spain.
The Main Gate to the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, A Jesuit run Institution. The Jesuits are famous for the excellent schools they managed and maintain.
Another view of the Cathedral. The upper floor serves as the main cathedral church while the ground floor is the chapel dedicated to St. Pius X the second titular Patron of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
For more of these stories read:
Church, LGUs to Keep Penafrancia Festival Safe, Solemn
Stone Throwing Mars Penafrancia Festivities
Pastoral Letter on the 300 years of Devotion to Ina
Pray for me, console me and save me. In my hours of peril, adversity & afflictions, above all, in the hour of my death, appear before your divine Son to help me and defend me. Tell him that I am your devotee, that having complete trust in your powerful intercession.
Photos and narration by Dr. Herbert R.
I was spiritually delighted to have the chance to visit again the Church of my childhood. I went to Oas to attend to the funeral of my aunt Delia who died a week ago. This church reminded me of so many things. This family event reminded me of the many good things my aunt did for me as a child. My aunt Delia kept the home most of the time since she was single and unmarried. She was a devotee of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and we used to attend and fulfill our Sunday obligations in this church. The religiosity of my aunt was a great factor in shaping my spiritual life. The love for the Church, appreciation for the church's devotions, her liturgies and the sorrow that went with it as a result of the pains of the liturgical reforms of the 70s that almost devastated our faith. But thanks be to God for seeing us through. My aunt died on the Morning of the 14th Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. She died in the morning just an hour or so after confession and after receiving Holy Communion. Our gratitude goes to the Pastor of the Parish of St. Michael for providing this great sacramental aid to the dying. The fact that she died peacefully and in the aegis of the Sacraments is a clear sign of the grace of God. Thanks to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medals, Our Lady Mediatrix of all Graces. May my aunt Delia rest in peace.
The Old Baptistry, now a museum piece!
The Main Altar at close range.
Figure of an Angel Carrying the Holy Water Container used for ablutions of the faithful. The Ancient Christians believed that every Church has a guardian angel
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The Interior of the Basilica Minore. The Central Reredo Enshrines the Original Icon of the Lady of Penafrancia, Venerated by the Bikolanos for almost 300 years. The Bikolanos is an ethno-linguistic group in the Philippines and considered the most ardent Catholics of the Philippines.
The exterior of the Basilica. proudly a Testament to the Bikolanos devotion to the Blessed Mother. A Crown Jewel of Faith. This was conceived in the 1950 - 60s and the building of this Basilica went piece by piece because of financial constraints. Thus you will notice that the interior still has the liturgical concept of the Pre-Vatican era, with its high altar attached to the reredo. But the railings were removed, but nonetheless the interior is still very much pre-Vatican in Design and suited for the tridentine Mass. But as of now there is no public celebration of the Tridentine Mass despite of the Summorum Pontificum. But the stream of devotees is indeed a testament of the love of the people for the virgin and the Virgins dispensing of the grace of her Son. The icon is said to be miraculous and has wrought countless miracles as testified to by her devotees.
The Old Church of Our Lady of Penafrancia that originally housed the Image now a parish church, but still a pilgrim site
The Blessed Sacrament
The Chapel of the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral. It is customary for large Cathedral to have a separate reservation for the Blessed Sacrament in order to protect the Sanctity of the Real Presence. In Cathedrals like these the steady stream of pilgrims, tourists and other non-Catholic people will unduly disturb the solemnity if the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the High Altar.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Caceres in Naga City. Naga City is a city of churches. Sort of Rome for Catholics here in Bikol. The Bikolanos were greatly honored when the Church elected the first Filipino Bishop from the Bikolanos, Bishop Jorge Balin. During the revolution, the revolutionaries drafted the name of Jorge Balin to be a member of the schismatic movement of Fr. Gregorio Aglipay, but Bishop Balin steadfastly clung to his fidelity to the Vicar of Christ and his steadfast adherence to the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Bishop Jorge Balin became the first Filipino Bishop.
Near the Cathedral Compound is the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary. Alma Mater to renowned prelates and clergy
Here are some useful sites for those wanting to read more and know more about Our Lady of Penafrancia. If the Blessed Mother touch your hearts please do visit these sites:
Images of Intense Devotion
Viva La Virgen!
Penafrancia Fiesta 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
My Reflections on the Pope’s Message to the French Bishops
The two day visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in France, though short has touched the hearts of many French Catholics. French President has said that religion has a public role as opposed to the strict secularism that dominated the political landscape of the country. There is a need to rediscover and recognize that Christianity is the foundation of European Culture. The disillusionment with ideology and consumerism should drive Europeans to search for the roots of their culture and identity. Indeed France has been for so long been a Catholic Country since the time of Charlemagne. It has produced numerous saints and has contributed considerably to Catholic Culture. In one of his address, the Holy Father has called on French Bishops to be servants of unity and underscore the importance of the priesthood as irreplaceable and a very important office in the Church. The Holy Father as quoted by zenit said thus:
"It can never be said often enough that the priesthood is indispensable to the Church, for it is at the service of the laity. Priests are a gift from God for the Church. Where their specific missions are concerned, priests cannot delegate their functions to the faithful. Dear Brothers in the episcopate, I urge you to continue helping your priests to live in profound union with Christ. Their spiritual life is the foundation of their apostolic life. You will gently exhort them to daily prayer and to the worthy celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, as Saint Francis de Sales did for his priests. Every priest should be able to feel happiness in serving the Church."
This short passage quoted from the message of the Holy Father rings with several important food for thoughts that perhaps could help us reflect on present realities. First it was underscored by the Pope that Priesthood is indispensable. There is no one that can replace the role of the Priest. The Ministerial Role of the Priest enables him to perform the sacred ministry. This is the reason why the Priest is called the minister of the Church because they are the one that dispenses, like vessels, the grace of God for all the faithful. The laity though possessing the common priesthood bestowed by virtue of baptism cannot perform the ministerial function of the Priesthood. The crisis in vocation today has posed problems for the Church. Second it is said that the Ministerial Priesthood cannot be delegated to anyone especially the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the Word of God. These two are the duties and mission of the priest. Third, The Spiritual Life is the foundation of the Priesthood. This can only be achieved when the priest practices spirituality by prayer and constant meditation on the Word of God and grounded in the living tradition of the Church. It is true that Priests like the faithful also experiences trials and problems as well as crisis. But a deep spiritual union will normally help them overcome these problems. The role of the Bishop is indeed pivotal. In many parishes today, we see priests more and more are acting like managers. Too interested in the social concerns of the faithful and less interested in the things that pertains to the worship of God? How many priests devotes time to the ministry of penance. How many priests sit on the confessionals on Sundays to hear the confessions of the faithful? How many parish priests dutifully recite the breviary? Fourth the priest should feel happiness in serving the Church. How is happiness experienced? Once vocation is internalized there will be happiness in serving. Let us pray for our Bishops and priests.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
September 14 is an important date in the Liturgical Calendar of the Church because it is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The veneration of the Holy Cross was indeed an ancient practice of the Church. This practice originated in September 14, 326 when St. Helena, the mother of Constantine miraculously discovered the true cross.[i] “The observance of the Feast of the Exaltation (probably from a Greek word meaning "bringing to light") of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since. In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, apparently inspired by the recovery of a portion of the Cross, said to have been taken from Jerusalem the Persians, by the Roman emperor Heraclius in 629.”[ii]
In Philippine folk tradition, there is a very interesting cultural practice that often is taken for granted. This is called “SantaCruzan”. Usually this Santacruzan festival is held on the month of May celebrated in the Philippines as the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Santacruzan features the mystical finding of the true cross by St. Helena. This is a novena festival where the members of the community every evening would recite novena prayers and after novena prayers there will be a long procession where the members of the community processed carrying lighted paper lanterns. The final day of the novena culminates in the “Katapusan” where a person personifying Helena and Constantine would be dressed up and paraded through the town. This is also a merriment and exciting time for children because as an incentive, children are given candies or cookies after the procession.
St. Helena of Constantinople
I would like to reflect now on the personalities involved in this story. First we have St. Helena, recognized by both the Western and Eastern Churches as a Saint of renown. St. Helena is the mother of Constantine I, refuted as the first Christian Emperor who proclaimed the edict of Milan which made religious toleration as the official policy of the Roman Empire and thereby put an end to the persecution of the Church. Very little is known about her life except that she was estimated to have been born in 250 AD. She undertook the pilgrimage to Palestine to seek the true cross when she was eighty (80) years old. Here is how she was described in a Wikipedia article:
Helena gave birth to the future emperor Constantine I in 272. In 293, Constantius was ordered by emperor Diocletian to divorce her in order to qualify as Caesar of the Western Roman Empire, and he was married to the stepdaughter of Maximian, Theodora. Helena never remarried and lived in obscurity, though close to her only son, who had a deep regard and affection for her. Constantine was proclaimed Augustus of the Roman Empire in 306 by Constantius' troops after the latter had died, and following his elevation his mother was brought back to the public life and the imperial court, and received the title of Augusta in 325. Helena died in 330 with her son at her side. Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementino Vatican Museum. During her life, she gave many presents to the poor, released prisoners and mingled with the ordinary worshippers in modest attire, exhibiting a true Christian spirit.[iii]
I don’t know much about St. Helena and I have never said any novena in her honor, but reading about her life and works has enkindled a spiritual liking for her and now I can invoke her in my prayers to seek her intercession in our most trying time. St. Helena, Pray for us.
Saint Helena, Depicted in Coinage
Constantine was credited for the Edict of Milan which gave Christianity the freedom it never had experienced in the previous Emperors. From a persecuted minority Christianity became a tolerated religion and later became the Religion of the Roman Empire.
Constantine the Great
It was said that in the midst of his struggle with Maxentius, Constantine saw the sign of the Cross emblazoned in the sky and he heard the voice “under this sign conquer”. Thus Constantine ordered his men to place the sign of the cross on their shields and clothes and he was convinced that this was the reason why he triumphed. His victory was met with jubilations by the Romans. He was magnanimous in victory and promised that there will be no revenge for the supporters of Maxentius. Unlike former victors, Constantine ignored the Capitoline Hill and never offered a Sacrifice in honor of the Pagan god Jupiter. Perhaps this was because of the influence of her Christian Mother, St. Helena. Constantine loved her mother and had great respect for her. And in many ways St. Helena had given her son good advices. St. Helena was a great woman and because of her Christian example won the love and respect of her son. That despite of her misfortunes in early life and in marriage, God gave her a son who would love and protect her. Her Son became instrumental in the spread of Christianity and the end of the persecutions. For a detailed story of Constantine’s life read more Wikipedia.[iv]
 Women for Faith and Family. “The Exaltation of the Holy Cross”. http://www.wf-f.org/ExaltCross.html
 WIKIPEDIA. “St. Helena of Constantinople”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_of_Constantinople
 WIKIPEDIA. “Constantine I”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_I