Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Sunday in Lent

Reflection by Dr. herbert r.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is one of the holiest season of the liturgical year. It reminds us of one of the most important aspect of salvation history and our redemption. It reminds us of the fall of our first parents and to the woes by which the human race was subjected as a result of the fall. The "original sin" as termed by the Theologians, is evident in our way of thinking and attitude. Our enmity with God as expressed for our disdain for the good and our weakness to follow holy and good inspirations. this truth is poignantly expressed by St. Paul in the following words: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened." [Romans 1:20-21 NRSV] But Christ's ministry demonstrated to us that by faith in his redeeming work we can overcome our weakness and obtain light. St. John the Baptist said, "For the Law came through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." The temptation in the desert demonstrated to us that we as Humans with the help of Christ can overcome the greatest temptations that leads to perdition. we can overcome our bodily desires, our desire for power and ambition and outr power to always presume and abuse the mercy of God. St. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me..."

The graduale for tommorrow says thus: "Angelis suis Deus mandavit de te, ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis. In manibus portabunt te ne umquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum." Yes, as we walk in this dark word. With manifold temptations and problems, God is ready to send His angels to protect his people from falling. "For god knows how to take care of his own," says the apostle. So how do we respond to this? What is required of us is to believe, to trust and to obey. Obedience is such a painful word these days and many people cant bear the thoughts of obedience. But true faith obeys and follows the will of God.


Lord you are our habitation as in ages past. We thank you for giving us your Son to be our example. By his works of fortitude and love has shown us that we can overcome the world, the devil and the self. Lord please help our unbelief. Thank you for your mercy and love. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bishop Williamson Apologizes for His Comments

Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the Bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefevbre in 1988 published an apology for the comments he made in reference to the Holocaust. The unfortunate comments of Bishop Williamson has jeopardize the smooth process of the ongoing reconciliation between the Lefevbrites and the Holy See. The apology was noted by zenit the excert of the zenit report - "In a statement published on his return to London on Wednesday after being expelled by the government of Argentina, the prelate explained that "the Holy Father and my superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy."


The Vatican Press office said that the Statement of Bishop Williamson is not enough here is an excert from
ZENIT. "Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said in a verbal statement today that the apology is lacking. He told journalists that the statement "does not seem to respect the conditions established in the Feb. 4 note from the [Vatican] Secretariat of State, which stated that [Bishop Williamson] must distance himself in an absolute, unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah." (Follow the link to read more on this story)

More Updates:

Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the FSSPX said the if Bishop Williamson will reiterate his views on the Shoa that he will be excluded from the Fraternity this can be read from La Croix there is also a report from Ulster Taig here is an excerpt: "The Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has declared that Bishop Richard Williamson would be excluded if he reiterates his holocaust-denial in an interview with the German weekly journal Der Spiegel to be published on Monday . 'If it's hushed, if it remains in a corner, well then that's most probably best for everyone. I hope that it disappears from public life for some time," Bishop Fellay said in this interview, considering that he'll exclude Bishop Williamson of the Fraternity "if he were to again deny the Holocaust."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Daraga Church: Another View

Pictures of Churches has always fascinated me. To me they are important because they embody the public worship of the Church. They said that the way we worship becomes the rule of faith. Here are some more of my photos. Enjoy and be blessed.

The Church as seen from the narrow road leading to the church.

These trees on the courtyard caught my attention. These images of trees speaks thousands of words.

The Courtyard as seen from the steps leading to the facade of the church

The Confessional

The Choir Loft

The Nave

The Sanctuary

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent is here!

"Immutemur, habitu, in cinere et cilicio, jejunemus, et ploremus ante Dominum:quia multum misericors est minittere peccata nostra Deus noster."

Let us change our garments for ashes and sackcloth: let us fast and lament before the Lord: for plenteous in mercy is our God to forgive our Sins [Anthiphon in the Blessings of Ashes]

More of the Daraga Church

If stones could speak up, I believe that the stones of this church will proclaim the faith and devotion of a people. This reference to the stones reminded me of the narrative in the gospel where the pharisees and the Jews told Jesus to stop the Children from singing "Hosanna to the son of David". Jesus rebuked the Jews and told them that if the children should stop then the stones will shout and sing the praises of the Son of David. Our hearts are made of flesh and blood and it is this flesh and blood that Our Lord wish to hear songs of praises. But stones are also artifacts that expresses a people's devotion and love. Hence we treasure our churches because this is the symbol of our faith. This is the place where the faithful community gather together to unite their hearts in praise of God. The liturgies celebrated in this building speaks of innumerable praises to God.

A Historic Jewel

The Western portion of Albay Province is mountainous and hilly with steep ravines. While the eastern portions are a combination of coasts and small valleys. Daraga stands at the edge of mountainous ranges. The church is built on top of a hill overlooking the town of Daraga and the city of Legazpi.

The Bell Tower as seen from the right side of the Church. Bell Towers are very important sacramentals. they symbolize the voice of Christ summoning the faithful for worship. The stones of this Church are silent witness to the living and ardent faith of the Franciscan Missionaries and the Faith of the Filipinos who embraced the Gospel with full submission.

The Decorations carved on this pillars are example of baroque art, characterized by lavish expressions.

National Historical Marker Recognizing Daraga Church as an Object of Historical Significance

"This stone church was built by the Franciscans in 1773. The faithful of Cagsawa moved to this church after the volcanic eruption that buried their Church in 1814. This church was consecrated in 1854 in honor of Our Lady of the Gate. This church was occupied by the Japanese troops and was badly damaged during the bombings in the Second World War in 1945. Restoration work was made in 1971-1973. This church is an example of a Baroque Art, showing the excellent workmanship of the Filipino Artisan during the Spanish colonial period. " [This is my translation of the marker. The historical marker is written in Filipino].

St. Paul

St. Peter

Monday, February 23, 2009

Visita Iglesia - The Church of Daraga: An Icon of the Bicolano's Journey of Faith with Mary to Jesus

As I have said in my earlier blog, the season of Lent is now in the air and we have to revive and continue with this beautiful tradition of our own - Visita Iglesia. This afternoon I happen to visit the church of Daraga trying to arrange for the Baccalaureate Mass for our College graduation. Fortunately I had with me my camera and I took this opportunity to take some photo shots. Let me share with you some of these photos and may I also share with you scriptures quotes and reflections:

"As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went on with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight." Luke 24:28-31 [NRSV]

How often in the walk of life we fail to see the Lord? How often are we led to trials because of our ambitions and lack of charity? How often are we blinded by our love for self? Sometimes we do not even recognize ourselves in our most pitiable situation. But there are moments when there are clouds we a silver lining. We see Jesus in the Bread and wine of the Eucharist. Unknown and unrecognizable by the world but manifests to us in reality by the eyes of faith. True faith does not question, it believes and obey. "Jesus, my dear Jesus, under the weight of this burden lift me up and may the Eucharist be a source of strength and life to me." That like the doubting St. Thomas we may exclaim - "My Lord and my God."

The Belfry of the Church, with Mt. Mayon Volcano in the Background. The evening sun, the clouds and silver linings gives this scene an other-worldly-atmosphere.

"Lord you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were broth forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." Psalms 90:1-2 [NRSV]

O, Lord my God, you are eternal. We may wonder at the works of your hands, we may misuse it because of ignorance and greed, but reality remains that you are God. Help us to realize our dependence on you. That without you we can do nothing. For we reap what we have sown and we weep because of our foolishness. But your mercy O, Lord is everlasting. You are a God who forgives and restores. Lord as we look at the vastness of your work, help us to realize your greatness and recognize it with the assent of faith. Amen.

The Municipality of Daraga as seen from the Hill where the Daraga Church is Built. At the background is Linon Hill

Another view of Daraga with Mt. Mayon at the background

"On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God." Psalms 87:1-3 [NRSV]

The Church is our New Zion, it is built on the mountain of righteousness. We should be glad that with this New Zion we have a foretaste of Paradise. The liturgy of the Church, her sacraments and sacramentals, her pious devotions and above all the Eucharist speaks of the cosmic and transcendent reality of the Kingdom of God. How lovely is your dwelling place O, Lord. where sahll we go for you have the words of eternal life. Shall we trust the murky waters of this world's philosophy? No, we shall forever trust in the words of God.

The Belfry

The main Door. Notice the carvings. This church is an example of 17th Century Baroque colonial architechture. Built by the Franciscan Missionaries of the 18th Century, this church is an icon of Spanish-mexican Colonial Architecture. In times past Church vicariates serve not only the spiritual needs of the population but also serves as civil administration centers.

The Parish Administration Building

"I will ascend unto the mountain of the Lord"

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts, My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God." Psalm 84:1-2, [NRSV]

Another view of the Church's Facade

"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mt. Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King, within its citadels God has shown himself a sure defence." Psalms 48:1-3 [NRSV]

Another angle of the facade

There church as seen form a nearby cafe

GMA News has a story of this Historical Church, follow the this link for the story.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To a Faithful and Renowed Liturgist of the Philippines

Rt. Rev. Msgr. Moises Andrade, STL 1948-2009

Condolences to the family and friends of the late Msgr. Moises Andrade, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela. I am not from Manila, but once I have assisted at a Mass celebrated by Msgr. Adrade at the Parish of Divine Mercy in Cubao, Quezon City. He is one of the few priests in the Philippines that devoutly celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass. I remember his impressive voice and the skill and grace by which he celebrates the TLM. His knowledge and skill in the rubrics makes one enjoy his TLMs. He will be missed by his flock and by the Latin Mass Community of Manila. Thank you Msgr. may you rest in Peace. Amen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Diocese of Boac: Revisited [Three]

I think that the church is made of brick. And it has withstood the test of time, earthquakes and typhoons and the humidity. A testament to the enduring evangelistic efforts of the Spanish and Mexican Missionaries. A testament too of the love of the Filipino people for God and the Church and for their enduring devotion to the Mother of God.

The courtyard on a rainy day

Old staircase in the chancery

The Shrine to Our Lady of Mercy.

The Bishop's Coat of Arms

Our Lady of Mercy

Sacred Vessels on Display at the Sacristy

Giant Image of Christ on top of cathedral hill, as if blessing the whole township

The Town of Boac as seen from the Cathedral

The Cathedral of Boac

Diocese of Boac: Revisted [Two]

I am not an expert in art and much less in conservation. But I was impressed by the work done by the Diocese in terms of preservation of ancient art. Many churches in the Philippines have underwent renovations and reorientation since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. And as a consequence many art forms were removed such as the railings and sadly some retablos of saints. But here in Boac they were able to preserve the old retablo with the saints. I would think that these retablos of saints far from causing disorientation will enhance the cosmic significance of the Salvation History. It portrays vividly in art and colors the "Communion of the Saints". That the Church is universal for all eternity. With Christ at the center of this cosmic reality.

The retable included a nich honoring Our Lady of Salvation. Our Lady of Salvation is the Patroness of Legazpi Diocese.

The Cathedra (Bishop's Chair)

The Sanctuary of the Cathedral

The Facade

The Bell Tower

Diocese of Boac: Revisited [One]

The Lenten and Ester Season is coming again and I really love this tradition of the Church of Visita Iglesia. It was almost a year ago that I and my students visited Boac for a field research and coincidentally it was also the 50th anniversary of the canonical celebration of the patroness, Birhen ng Biglang Awa (Mary, Lady of Mercy). That was in May of 2008. I always that cherished that visit to Boac since it was 20 years ago that I last went to Boac. The town is almost the same except for some improvements in the quality of the raod system. I took photos of the Cathedral and its mementos. We were lucky or shall I say blessed to be the first one to attend the first Mass to the newly inaguarated chapel of Our Lady of Mercy. We actually decided to attend the evening mass. The priest announced that it was the first mass for that newly built chapel, built to honor the 50th Anniversary of the canonical crowing of Our Lady. If photos speaks words of faith and devotion I hope that my collections of photos could speak such.

An old bell displayed on the grounds of the cathedral. I was not able to get the details about this bell. This is actually a broken bell, perhaps with the passage of time. Bells are considered significant sacramentals because of their role as instruments for summoning the faithful to prayer. Bells are consecrated before they are used.

The Chancery of the Diocese of Boac

Ornate Doors of the cathedral. It depicts the four evangelists in the New testament.

Our Arrival at Mogpog, Marinduque. Mogpog is the hometown of Rcoardo Cardinal Vidal, the Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu.

A giant image of Birhen Biglang Awa (Our Lady of Mercy), Patroness of Boac.

Interview with Bishop Fellay

There is a very interesting interview conducted by DICI with His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X. The link can be accessed here

An Icon of Lent: St. John the Baptist

In a few days time the season of Lent will usher in. I was sitting in my study desk at home and was trying to meditate if only for some moments about Lent. Lent of course is one of the most colorful and vivid Christian season in the Philippines. Celebrated with fanfares and age old traditions. But I was trying to see a symbol of faith that would symbolize the true meaning of lent. The figure of St. John the Baptist came to my mind. A man called to proclaim the coming of the Messiah and a man of penance who called his countrymen to prepare the way of the Messiah by prayer, fasting and repentance. His words "Behold! the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!" now immortalize in Scripture and Liturgy, symbolizes his greatness as a witness to the saving grace of God. For the Law came through Moses, but Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. Jesus Our Lord testified to the greatness of this Saint.

"A man cannot receive anything, unless it be given him from heaven..." John 3:27 [Douay-Rehims Version]. The art work posted above from wikipedia, a painting of Domenico Veneziano, portrays John the Baptist renouncing his worldly clothing in exchange of a camel's hair. A symbol of penance and dedication. What moral lesson does this offer to us? This leads us again to recall the time when Adam and Eve were sent out from the Garden. God provided them with clothes. This teaches us in a symbolic manner that there is a need for us to take the teachings of God for our clothes. How tempting it is to cover our nakedness - our ignorance with our worldly ideas, philosophy, and perception. This lent calls us, like John the Baptist to shed off our clothes of pride and arrogance with the pride of humility and repentance. We shall be reminded again that we are from dust and unto dust we sahll return.

St. John the Baptist, Painting at the Baptismal Chapel on the Parish Church of Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga City, Philippines

May this lent lead us also to medidate and include in our penances and good works the intention of the Holy Father. The past few weeks saw how many people criticize the Pope for his outstreach arms in this Pauline year to extend reconciliation to the Lefrebvrist group. The medicine of Mercy is better than the pain inflicted by the rod. But alas the secular world has totally misunderstood the gesture. For how indeed can the world accept the terms of mercy? For men would rather cast stones and brimstones to their enemies. But that is not the gospel message. The gospel calls for us to forgive and accept those that are far from us. The lifting of the excommunication of the four Bishops means that the sanction incurred during the illicit consecrations in 1988 is being lifted. It is only by doing this that an open door can be open.

Let us pray for the Bishops who do not obey the Holy Father. Let us pray for the secular media who have no symphathy and will never understand the ways of the gospel. Above all let us pray for ourselves that we too may have an open heart. Amen.