Saturday, June 27, 2009

Statement from the the Rector of the Seminary of Zaitzkofen

The Vatican finds itself in the middle of the tug of war between the SSPX and the german Bishops. I opine that there is a need for both parties to yield with humility to the best intentions of the Holy Father to heal this rift within the Body of Christ. Interestingly the recent priestly ordinations of the SSPX seminary in Germany has cause some controversy because of threats of new excommunications. Recently, the Rector of the Seminary at Zaitskofen has released a statement. An excerpt:

"These ordinations are bestowed with the intention of serving the Catholic Church. We bestow these priestly ordinations because we wish to express our unity with the Church of Rome. This unity consists of the same doctrine, the same sacraments, and the holy sacrifice of the Mass of all times. The newly ordained priests, as well as all of the members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, recognize the office of the Pope and the authority of the Church. Just as all other clergy of the Fraternity, the candidates for ordination will pray by name for the reigning Pope as well as the local Ordinary - an expression of solidarity, which theFraternity has practiced since its founding more than 30 years ago. We do not want a parallel Church, but instead wish to preserve the incalculable treasure of Catholic Tradition within the one true Catholic Church." [Emphasis supplied]

More of this can be read from DICI

Fr. Z in his blog has provided a very useful commentary which can be read from What Does the Prayer Really Say

Fr. Z said in his blog that these men (SSPX) need to be reconciled with the Church. I also agree. They will be very valuable for the church especially if we take into consideration the problems bessetting the present times and the modern trend of seminary training. However, there should be healing. The long years of struggle has hardened some hearts. Extreme views need to be purged. If we consider modernism and false ecumenism as worse, then equally religious extremism/extreme rightism is also worse. But the grace of God is greater than anything. All we need to do is pray sincerely.

The Church of St. Raphael: Port Area Legazpi City


Parish Church of St. Raphael, Port Area, Legazpi City

Last June 24 on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, I had a fortunate experience of serving as one of the prinicipal sponsors for the wedding of my former student, Ronnel. I also take note that the wedding day was set on the birthday of the bride, Joanne. It was a double celebration, a birthday and a wedding day. Of note also was the weather. A couple of days previously, the weather bureau had predicted that Typhoon Ferria would hit land. I was worried that the wedding might be postponed. But thanks be to God that everything worked out. The weather was a bit rainy but not too hot. Just enough to make us feel comfortable inside the Church (Philippine churches are not airconditioned and it can terribly be hot during summers and humid days). Incidentally the Bride's name was also taken from the name of John the Baptist. I always enjoy attending weddings not only because it gives me time to share the joys of the newly wed couple but because it always reminds me of one beautiful mystery of our Catholic Faith - the Love of Christ (Husband) for His Church (church). A beautiful eschatological imagery of the culmination of Salvation history.

While waiting for the entourage, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the church of St. Raphael. The pastor of this Church is the Auxillary Bishop of Legazpi, the Most Reverend Lucilo B. Quiambao, currently the administrator of the Diocese since untill now the Vatican has not announced any appointment. So the Dioces is still Sede Vacante because of the resignation of its former Bishop, the Most Reverend Nestor Carino.

Below is the image of the crucified Christ located near the entrance door. The crucifix is one of the most venerated icon in this Church. Perhaps for the reason that Filipinos can easily identify themselves with the pain and sufferings of Christ because they too suffers. But sadly I notice that crucifixes are now taking a back seat in some churches. Should not crucifixes be located in the main sanctuary?


A railing separates the congregations area with the lobby area. Perhaps the idea was to provide a space where the faithful could assemble without distracting the liturgical activities. This church is a busy church. There are daily funerals and weddings are held on Saturdays and also on other days, except Sunday.



The couple exchanging vows. Isn't this beautiful to behold. The wedding actually symbolizes the union of Christ and the Church. A visible sign of God's saving grace.

Below is the altar. Notice the candelabras. Three Candelabras on each side.



Notice the crucifix on the middle of the altar. In the past there was no crucifix on thi altar. Is this a sign that the liturgical reform of Pope Benedict XVI has reached Legazpi?



Photo session after the wedding.



The confessional.
The sanctuary as seen from the side chapel.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Celebrating the Feast of St. John the Baptist with a Bang


video

Fireworks Display to honor the solemnity of St. John the Baptist. Patron Saint of Tabaco City, Albay, Philippines

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Celebrating the Birth of St. John the Baptist

As a I write this blog, we are experiencing a stormy weather. But no bad weather could hold us back from celebrating the vespers of the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the patron of this parish. There is an approaching typhoon and we just pray that there wont be much damage. I do not have a photo of the image of St. John as he is venerated in this parish. One of these days when I get the chance I will share with you a photo of this saint. It is a life size image with St. John wearing a camel's hair with a small book in his hand and an image of the Lamb on top of the book, with the fingers of the saint pointing at the Lamb. Indeed, Christ said that there is no one among the prophets greater than John the baptist. His famous exclamation, "BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKETH AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD...." is now immortalize in the Roman Liturgy for all posterity to hear and imitate. Here St. John shows himself as servant of the Eucharist by directing us towards Christ Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World. Who would ever be greater than this Saint who thought of himself as nothing in comparison to Christ, Our Lord. He said in reference to Christ, " For I must decrease and he must increase..."



Parish of St. John the Baptist, Tabaco City, Albay, Philippines

To the Bishop of Legazpi, members of the clergy, Lay Faithful, devotees and friends, happy fiesta! May St. John the Baptist pray for us and intercede for us.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SSPX Ordinations in Winona

The ordinations of the Priests for the Society of St. Pius X proceeded as scheduled in Winona, Minnesota, USA on June 19, 2009 feast of the Sacred Heart. There have been no reaction from the ordinary of the Diocese as of the moment. This is in contrast to some German Bishops who are so opposed and who threatens to impose on the SSPX Bishop and ordinands the penalty of excommunications. The Superior General of the SSPX has already mentioned the imperfect situation of the society and we sincerely hope that the German Bishops should be as compassionate as Pope Benedict in trying to bring this rift to a close. Threats of excommunications will not help. But understanding and self re-eximations would be in place. Perhaps the Bishops in Germany should ask themselves why there is a decline in vocations.

Fulfilling My Vows

Fulfilling my vows to the Lord and to His Holy Mother is something that puts my life in the right perspective. Let me share with you some tidbits of this - my little "Sunday experience".

The Photo below is the bell tower of the Parish Church of home city in Tabaco. I took this photo using my mobile phone while I was on the van waiting to depart for Naga. I woke up early so I can be in naga in time.



I arrived in Naga almost 9:00 a.m. and was able to hear mass at around 9:30 a.m. in the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia. See photo below.


The Main Sanctuary of the altar. The blessed sacrament is reserved at the middle. there is a new golden altar cross, although sadly placed on the side. There are also two new candle holders on the altar. and the six candelabras are situated near the Blessed Sacrament. An improvement from the past. It use to be that they dont have these candles on the altar. They use the simple ordinary votive candle. But there has been much improvement. "Brick by brick" as Fr. Z. often say. I was also surpise to hear the priest celebrant say in the Preface " May my sacrife and yours be acceptable to God the Amighty Father....." then in the consecration he said "...this shall be shed for you and for many," instead of the usual "for all". I think that the priest is knowledgeable of issues in the liturgy and I find this a very positive development as many Novus ordo Priests don't espouse this kind of mentality. Lets pray harder so that Pope benedict's Reform of the reform will work.


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today as we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Let us remember in our petition the Unity of the Church and especially that at this moment that the on going process of discussions with the Vatican and the SSPX is undergoing rough seas.


The Image of the Sacred Heart from St. Michael's Church, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bishop Bernard Fellay Defends SSPX Position

There have been news report that there will be some changes in the structure of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. This was reported by Zenit. An excerpt of the report read:



"We know that, in the Church’s eyes, and with regard to the law of the Church, our situation is imperfect. This is nothing new and is closely bound to the crisis which the Church is undergoing and from which the state of necessity stems. Hence, it is useless to invoke the law in an attempt to stifle the life of our priestly society The other ordinations will take place as scheduled; there never was a question of their suppression. Indeed, the benevolent act of the Holy See cannot be interpreted as a desire to asphyxiate the Society of St. Pius X. We hold fast to the plan indicated in the decree of this past January 21, which foresees “requisite discussions” concerning the Second Vatican Council and its novelties. We reiterate to the Holy Father the assurance of our prayers so that from these doctrinal discussions may come forth the full light of complete Truth." The full text of this communique can be access at DICI


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reflections on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi


One of the Side Chapels at Uppsala Cathedral, Photo taken by the Blogger December 2008. The Diorama on the Altar depicts the lives of Our Lord and Lady and are manifested fully in the Eucharist.


In the new liturgical calendar Corpus Christi is celebrated Sunday, while in the traditional Calendar it is celebrated Thursday. I listened intently on the homily of our Pastor and his thoughts on the matter and it struck a chord in my consciousness. He lamented the fact that now a days the term "Sunday's Best" is already missing from our vocabulary. He made the observation how church goers attend mass wearing thongs and casual clothes, while on non-church activities these same people would be dressed up so nicely. So ,he posed the question - Is this trend an indication that we as Christians don't recognize the Body of Christ any longer? Is it a failure to recognize His Body? A lack of faith in the Real Presence of Christ? To underscore this observation he brought our attention to the religious images in the Church. He said that these images are the likeness of Christ, they seem to our sight as the image and likeness of Christ, but in reality they are not, because these are mere objects made of wood, shaped and painted to look like Christ. But he pointed to us again the Bread and Wine on the Altar. He said that the Bread and Wine are objects but they don't resemble the image of Christ from the human point of view, but in reality though they do not show the likeness of Christ, yet the Bread and Wine is the REAL CHRIST. That's why he reminded the congregation that not a hundred novenas and devotions to the Saints could ever compare with the glory, dignity and efficacy of a single Mass. He said that these novenas to Saints are mere sign posts guiding us to Christ. Hence the apex of through devotion is the Eucharist which we celebrate in the Mass.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our Lady of Penafrancia: The Bicolanos' Pledge of Love and Devotion

I have already posted several articles in the past about Our Lady of Penafrancia. Today I feel again moved to post another article about this topic. The Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Penafrancia is the patroness of Bicolandia under the ecclesiastical province of the Archdiocese of Caceres which includes the suffragan dioceses of Legazpi, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate and Libmanan. The region south of Luzon island in the Philippines is inhabited approximately by almost five million Bicolanos. Bicol is one of the ten major ethnic ethno-linguistic group in the Philippines. The Bicolanos are renowed for their religiousity and devotion to the Catholic Church. Christianity was introduced to Bicolandia by the Franciscans and other Spanish-Mexican Mendicant Orders. Today, it has been 400 hundred years since the evangelization of this region, and indeed by the grace of God the spirit of the gospel has been sown and planted. Historians attributes the successful evangelizatiion of Bicol to the Franciscans. In an account related by Reyes in his book, it says thus: "In 1578 the first Franciscan missionaries who reached Camarines Sur were Fray Bartolome Ruiz and Fray Pablo de Jesus. They were the ones who formally commenced the evangelization of the natives of Camarines. The historical evidence points out that Bicol Christianity was forge not by relentless force of arms by the Spanish conquistadores but by the sweet, self-instilling power of the gospel which the early Franciscan missionaries had brought to the pillaged, scattered villages that remained after the conquest years. To the Franciscans then should go the richly deserved sobriquet of 'Apostles of Bicolandia." (p.109, Bikol Marhalika, By Jose Calleja Reyes, 1992) It was said that when the missionaries preached the gospel, the natives of Bicol embraced Christianity with passion and devotion. They all of a sudden gathered their household idols (anitos) and burnt them in bonfires. A demonstration of grace from God that here a people who had been clouded by the dark religion of paganism for hundreds of years have seen a great light and renounced the power of the evil one. The Bicol Region is known for its religiousity and many devout Catholics live in this region of the Philippines. The devotion to Our Lady is a jewel of a testament and a Divine Gift to the this region.


The Photo above shows the Facade of the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Penafrancia. Construction of this structure started sometime in the 1960s. The late Archbishop Pedro P. Santos conceived the construction of this modern structure upon observing the increasing number of devotees, of which the old Church can no longer accomodate. The construction was halted sometime due to financial stress but in the 70s and 80s the construction continued until in May 22, 1982 the Church was dedicated with the Late Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila officiating the rites and with Julio Cardinal Rosales also present. in 1985 the present Archbishop, His Grace Leonardo Z. Legazpi received from the Sacred Congregation of Worship the conferment of the title Basilica Minore to this church. For more of this visit The Basilica of Our Lady of Penafrancia. The structure looks modern but the interior design conforms with the traditional form. The planning of this Basilca was done way back in 1960 before the liturgical revolution, hence the church is design in cruciform and there is the high altar and generous space for the sanctuary designed to accomodate large number of clergies.


The Side View of the Basilica. The Basilica is constructed in a 3 hectare donated lot in Balatas, Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines



The Side walls depict the stations of the Cross and the stained glass windows depicts the 15 mysteries of the Holy Rosary.



The Image of Our Lady of Penafrancia Enshrined in the Basilica. Resplendent in her golden robes holding for us her Child Jesus, as the redeemer and hope of Mankind.



The Miraculous Icon of the Holy Face. Venerated in the Basilica side by side with the Icon of Our Lady.

The veneration that the Bicolanos have for the Holy Face is associated with the devotion to Our Lady. It was related that in 1882 a dreadful cholera broke out in Manila where many died of the epidemic, and soon the epidemic reached Naga. The then Bishop Casimiro Herrera ordered that the image of the Virgin of Penafrancia be moved to the Cathedral so that prayers can be offered to beg our Lady to intercede. Fr. Pedro de la Torre the Vicar General remembered the Divino Rostro and what miracle it wrought in Osa de la Vega and told this story to the people of Naga. from thenceforth the Bishop ordered that a relica of the Divino Rostro be placed in the Cathedral and implore the Lord to stem the tide of the epidemic that was taking the lives of so many people. He made a solemn promise that there will be special festivities that will honor the Holy Face and that it would be honored side by side with the Icon of Our Lady. On the third day the epedimic was stopped. This by a miraculous intervention of Our Lord and Our Lady. For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. Today year after year Bicolanos congregate to this place to honor Our Lord and Our Lady and to thank them for their love and compassion.



A Cafe and Bookstore to refresh the weary pilgrim.




The Votive Prayer to Our Lady of Penafrancia. Click the picture to read the prayer.



The Church of Our Lady of Penafrancia. This is the old Church that use to house the original copy of the Icon. But because of growing numbers of devotees the original image was transferred to the larger Basilica in Balatas. Thi chuch was originally made of light materials constructed by Fr. Miguel de Covarrubias to honor our Lady and to serve his ministry with the Cimarrones.

The Facade of the Church with the Image of Our Lady beckoning the Pilgrim to come.


A Painting of the Old Church. This is the artist's depiction of how this church looked like in olden times.



The alley at the Back of the Church leading to the Cemetery.





The Cemetery at the Back of the Church of Our Lady of Penafrancia. "Eternal Rest Grant Unto them Lord, and let Thy perpetual light Shine Upon them.


Creeping Secularization in the Liturgy

Here is an excerpt on Zenit's report of the Homily of the Holy Father for the Corpus Christi.

"Today there arises the risk of a serpentine secularization even within the Church, which can convert into a formal and empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking this participation from the heart that is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy," he cautioned. According to the Pontiff, "the temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, letting oneself be carried away by earthly activities and worries." And nevertheless, he added, the Eucharist is "the bread of eternal life of the new world that is given us today in the holy Mass, so that starting now the future world begins in us." "With the Eucharist, therefore, heaven comes down to earth, the tomorrow of God descends into the present and it is as if time remains embraced by divine eternity," the Bishop of Rome explained. (Quote from Zenit.org)

The Holy Father in His Corpus Christi Homily made mention of the creeping secularization even in the way the liturgy is celebrated. I think that the Holy Father’s homily is very timely. In my observation there is a growing minimalism in the way the liturgy is celebrated. During communion time there is the unnecessary hurry and sometimes the priest does not want to use patens to protect the sacred species from falling down , the lack of meditation and the lack of silence. Sometimes some pastors do not even observe the proper vesting. In our country I observe that many priests don’t wear the alb during celebrations. Sometimes they would simply wear the chasubles over their ordinary street clothes. Very seldom do we now see the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Perhaps this is based on a wrong notion that the Eucharist is something that should be eaten and not to be look at. However, the modern secularists do not realize that the adoration of the Eucharist is an outgrowth of that devotion arising from the consummation of the Sacred Species. It is an expression of gratefulness for the one true sacrifice that Christ offered on Calvary.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Marriage of the Lamb

Happy are those who are invited to partake of this banquet....


Marriage is a relationship between two persons, it imparts life to both partners and gives birth to new life. Much like a tree exposed to the elements and yet grows stronger as time goes on.


Recently I was invited by a former student of mine to be one of the principal sponsors of his wedding. The wedding was held at the Personal Parish of St. Jude Thadeus in Legazpi City that caters to the needs of the Filipino - Chinese Community. Weddings are really happy moments to cherish but as I went along with the rite, this led me to medidate on the beauty of Marriage and how its symbolism is closely tide up with the coming kingdom. This is precisely why Christian marriage is a sacrament because it points us to that reality of the Marriage of the Lamb and His bride (the church). Jesus in His teachings have compared marriage to the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 22:1-14 the Lord likened the Kingdom of God to a King who had set the wedding of His Son. Those specifically invited did not respond thats why the King destroyed them. Those who were not supposed to be invited were the ones invited, but the invitation also needs preparation. Christ expects us to attend in poper attire. Thus in the parable the Master castigated the person who responded to the invitation but was not properly attired. Hence the Master responded, "Friend, how comest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. Then the King said to the waiters, Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkeness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (v.12-13). This parable of Our Lord made use of the wedding scene in order to illustrate to us the reality of the Kingdom of God. This further illustrates to us the eschatological teachings of Christ. That in the end, the Last Judgement Day is like a wedding ceremony everyone is expected to be dressed in a wedding garment. This wedding garment represents holiness. As Christians we should be dressed up in holiness. Our faith, the merits of Christ's Sacraments, and the goodness imparted to us by God should be our wedding garment and jewels on the last day. If we are clothed in holiness then we are ready for that great day. I feel blessed in attending that wedding ceremony because it gave me opportunity to meditate and to reflect on the truth of the gospel. Today even as the concept of marriage is attacked by secularism, which seeks to altaer the true meaning of marriage. The more that we should be earnest in upholding the truths of God.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trinity Sunday


The Mystery of Our Faith is as solid as a Rock. Hence we are baptized in the Name of the Trinity.

"The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the 'mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God'. [Dei Filius 4: DS 3015.] To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel's faith before the Incarnation of God's Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit." (from the Catechism of the Church).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Communion by Hand was Ordered by Manila Archdiocese to Prevent Spread of H1N1 Virus

Here is a very interesting news item from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines:

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales ordered his priests to take precautionary measures to avoid the spread of the virus. Fr Genardo Diwa, head of the Liturgical ministry of the Manila archdiocese, said the advisory was sent to all parish priests on Friday. “In view of detected presence of the A(H1N1) virus in our country, Cardinal Rosales has ordered that for the meantime Communion be received by the faithful only by hand,” Diwa said. The priest also said that other forms of close contacts like holding of hands will be discouraged inside churches.

The full text of this quoted material can be read from CBCP News .

I am a bit hesitant to comment on this. But I do not know how this will affect the communities celebrating the Extra Ordinary Form. I still don't know how the virus could be spread by communion on the tongue. Unless perhaps the priest would touch the tongue. And I don't think that a well experienced priest would ever touch the tongue of any communicant. For the meantime let us pray that this dreaded virus will not spread and that a calamity can be averted. Perhaps the Archdiocese should compose a prayer for deliverance or perhaps sponsor some forms of liturgical and para liturgical activities that would express atonement and penance.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Christ is the Mediator of God's Gift - Mystery of Pentecost


“Every time that we celebrate the Eucharist we experience in faith the mystery that is accomplished on the altar, that is, we participate in the supreme act of love that Christ realized with his death and resurrection. The one center of the liturgy and of Christian life -- the paschal mystery -- then assumes specific "forms," with different meanings and particular gifts of grace, in the different solemnities and feasts. Among all the solemnities, Pentecost is distinguished by its importance, because in it that which Jesus himself proclaimed as being the purpose of his whole earthly mission is accomplished.”

“….. The Holy Spirit, the true fire, was brought to earth by Christ. He did not steal it from the gods -- as Prometheus did according to the Greek myth -- but he became the mediator of the "gift of God," obtaining it for us with the greatest act of love in history: his death on the cross.”



Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on Pentecost. Source and Full Text in English can be read from ZENIT.ORG