Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October 3 Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

St. Therese at 15 before entering the Carmelite Monastery.
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Obtain for us purity of heart and may we not use religion as cloak for malice.
Obtain for us purity and Sanctification. Ora pro nobis.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Church Position Regarding Freemasonry has not Changed

Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado of Ozamis has reiterated that the Church position on Freemasonry has not change. The CBCP News has reported thus:

"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

September 29 Feast of St. Michael, the Archangel

St. Michael, the Archangel, pray for us, defend us in battle.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saints Cosmas and Damian

September 27 is the designated feast of St. Cosmas and Damian. Catholics who are familar with the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite will also be familiar with the names of Cosmas and Damian. Both are mentioned in the Roman Canon along the roster of Saints invoked for intecession. The two sains are very popular in the ancient Roman Church. Their names are invoked in the Communicantes just before the consecration. These two brothers were famous healers and often they would not demand money or payment for their services. Their philantrophic activities served as a means for them to convert many people to Christianity. Thier names are involked in the litany of the Saints too and they are considered as patron saints of Physicians. The brothers were born in Arabia and later moved to the Roman Province of Syria. They suffered martyrdom in the hands of Emperor Diocletian. They died the martyrs death on A.D. 283. Sts. Cosmas and Damian pray for us. Pray for the unborn who died because of abortion. Pray also for those who kill the unborn either directly or indirectly. May they be enlightened and learn to value life. Amen.

More on the Votive Mass for Peace

Video Clips of the Votive Mass for Peace and Justice (Celebrated in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite or Novus Ordo Missae). See related story in the previous post. Rev. Fr. Steve Loria, SOLT celebrant.

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


On September 26, 2008 as part of the culminating activities in the observance of the National Peace Consciousness Month, the Students and Faculty members of the Department of Peace Studies of Bicol University sponsored a votive mass for peace and justice, celebrated in the Ordinary Form. The Celebrant was Fr. Steve Loria, SOLT Novice Master of the Society of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) of the SOLT Regionalate in Putiao, Pilar, Sorsogon, in the Philippines. The mass was celebrated with all simplicity and dignity. In the Philippines almost all social events are preceded by the Celebration of a Holy Mass. Not only in private but in cultural, civic and even in government activities. Although the constitution of the Philippines mandates the separation of Church and State, yet the church is very much and present in almost Levey aspect of the social life of the Filipinos. The display of religious symbols such as the crucifix, icons, images and Bibles is an omnipresent reality. Government offices are always decorated with religious images. And Masses and prayers meetings can be held even during working hours. In the Philippines separation of Church and State is interpreted not in the same way as is interpreted in some western country but as a means to support the free practice of religion.

"For this is my Body..."

The makeshift altar we prepared. Notice the simplicity but dignified altar furnishings and vestments. Indeed we are poor in terms of material things but we bring out the best that we can. God loves a cheerful giver and the Lord will see our hearts.

"For this is my Blood...."

The Novus Ordo Mass is here to stay. I would surmise that the congregation of students here will not be prepared for Latin Mass. They belong to the new generation born in the early 90s. But we celebrate it according to the norms of the books. We accept the validity and licitness of the Novus Ordo and we celebrate it according to the norms and rules prescribed the Holy Mother Church.

The Congregation of Students and Faculty Members

The Celebrant and Homilist, Rev. Fr. Steve Loria, SOLT

The Choir of Students who sang for the Mass

Offertory Procession

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Zamboanga City at the Frontier

Zamboanga City is one of the most progressive city in the Southernmost part of the Philippines. Zamboanga speaks a dialect that is highly influenced by Spanish, it is called Chavacano. Our Lady of the Pillar is the Patron Saint of the City. An article form the wikipedia speaks of this in this way:

"Zamboanga City brings its best foot forward during the popular Fiesta Pilar, celebrated in honor of the city's patron saint, La Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragoza Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza, Spain. A statue honoring the saint is prominently embossed above the façade on the eastern wall of the meter-thick walled fort called El Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza (also called El Real Fuerza de San José in its early days). This Spanish military fort was built on June 23, 1635, by the Spanish Jesuit priest Fr. Melchor de Vera in defense against pirates and slave raiders. Zamboanga City is one of the oldest cities in the country and is the most Hispanized. It is also one of the largest cities in the world in terms of area, with over 1,480 km², including its 28 surrounding islands. Its recorded population in 2007 was 774,407."

You can read more about Zamboanga City

The Author together with Miss Gina and Michael's Family at the Fort

The Baptismal Font at the Cathedral

UGAT Participants

Participants to the Anthropological Association of the Philippines Conference held in Ateneo de Zamboanga, the Author is a member of this Professional Association. Dr. Herbert R. read and presented his research paper on Donsol Whale Shark Eco-Tourism and its impact on Human Security in one of the panels in this conference

Fort of Pilar. Established by the Spaniards in years past and was named in honor of Our Lady of the Pilar of Zaragosa, Spain.

Zamboanga City is indeed a city in the cross roads because it is a metropolitan hub for the neigbhoring provinces of Basilan and Sulu. Indeed a beautiful city. Let me share some pictures as I reminiscence the visit we had on this beautiful city in the southernmost part of the Philippines.

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 Campus

Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Zamboanga, A New and Modern Cathedral with a basement chapel.

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

Marker at the entrance of the Chapel

Chapel of St. Pius X

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pastoral Letter on the Controversial Reproductive Health Bill

Arcbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P. DD of the Archdiocese of Caceres has issued a pastoral letter on the controversial Reproductive health bill, read more....

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Support of Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi

A few days ago in the translacion of the Image of the Virgin of Penafrancia and the Icon of the Holy Face in Naga City was marred by a stone throwing incident. The brawl resulted in the damage to the glass cover of that protects the icon. Earlier the Archbishop wrote the mayor a letter asking that civil authorities limit or prohibits the holding of street parties while the Penafrancia Celebration is on-going in order to preserve the solemnity and the religious character of the festival. Let us pray that the Civil Authorities heed the voice of the Archbishop and not allow commercialism to dominate this beautiful Bikolano expression of their love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and in their veneration of the Icon of the Holy Face. The Image of the Virgin of Penafrancia and the Icon of the Holy Face are two symbols that has nurtured and given identity to the Catholicity of the Bikolano people.

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

Prayer to Our Lady of Penafrancia

Turn to me thine eyes, oh most loving Virgin of Peñafrancia and have mercy on my soul that comes to Thee, full of repentance. Protect my family, my relatives, my friends and benefactors. Intercede for your devotees, both the living and the dead, especially for those whom I am most obliged to help.

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.

Virgin of Peñafrancia, pray for me, help me, console me, and deliver me from all evil.


The Church of My Childood

The Facade of the Parish Church of St. Michael, Oas, Albay

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.

I use to hear masses on this Church as a Child. Our favorite time for mass is the 3:00 p.m. Mass. I remember that in the 70s people use to attend mass wearing their Sunday's best. Women still use the mantilla or veil and clutching rosaries unabashed while walking the streets on their way to Church

The Side Altar with the Image of St. Michael, the Patron of the Parish

Thank God the authorities did not remove this Baroque altar. I could imagine the low masses said on this altar in years gone by. Nostalgia??? yes nostalgia. We are nostalgic because we miss those days and those practices that nourished our faith. We disdain the fancy and hallow novelties of the present times. Especialy the novelties found in liturgical celebrations which has robbed the church of its rich symbolism and spirituality and replaced with nihilistic and modernist art, whose meaning is abstract, uninspiring and dull.

The Old Baptistry, now a museum piece!

Oas is the town in Albay refuted for producing large number of priests. This town is very religious and deeply devout. During the revolution and during the schismatic movement of Fr. Aglipay in the early 20th century, the people of Oas declared their loyalty to the Bishop of Rome. During public processions, the homes along the streets display the papal colors of white and gold to declare their adherence to the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ.

The Massive and fortress-like Belfry

The Main Altar at close range.

I note with sadness that the Baroque reredo is gone and is now replaced with a giant image of the Risen Christ with the cross in the Background. The communion railings were also gone. I wonder why in the guise of liturgical reform, some people are not conscious or sensitive to cultural heritage. How can the practice of the past that has sanctified the life of countless faithful will now suddenly become outdated?

The Chapel of the Saints.

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

The Image of the Holy Face

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

300 Years of Devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia: God's Gift to the Bikolanos

Photos belong to Dr. Herbert R.

September is not only a month for important saints but for the Bikolanos [read the side bar about the Bikolanos] of the Philippines this month is very important because this is the month of the Penafrancia Festival. This festival is phenomenal, uniquely and phenomenally Bikolano in fervor. The Love and Devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus is celebrated and is a full expression of how Christianity has been inculturated among the Bikolanos. The gospel of Christ did not come to destroy culture but to refine and sanctify it so that it may conform to the light of the Gospel of Christ. The simplicity and the love of the Bikolanos for the Lord is manifested in this festival .


Icon of the Divino Rostro Displayed in the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia in Naga City, Archdiocese of Caceres

The Nave of the Basilica Minore

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.

Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia

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 Interior of the Penafrancia Church, a Jewel of Baroque Art

The Old Parish Church that originally housed the original icon. But with the growing number of devotees the church has become too small so ecclesiastical authorities decided to move the image to the Basilica.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Caceres in Naga City, Province of Camarines Sur, Philippines

The Main Altar and Nave of the Metropolitan Cathedral

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

Pope Benedict to the Bishops of France

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

TLM on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Elevation of Chalice on a Solemn High Mass

EWTN will broadcast on Sunday from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament a Solemn High Mass in celebration of the Feast on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It will be broadcast 8:00 p.m. Philippine Time.

Exaltatio Sanctae Crucis

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

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.

"We bless thee O Christ for because of the Thy Holy Cross you have redeemed the world."

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]

[1] Women for Faith and Family. “The Exaltation of the Holy Cross”. http://www.wf-f.org/ExaltCross.html

[1] ibid

[1] WIKIPEDIA. “St. Helena of Constantinople”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena_of_Constantinople

[1] WIKIPEDIA. “Constantine I”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_I