Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christ is King

This sunday is the last Sunday in the Liturgical year. Next Sunday will be the First Sunday in Advent. What is the significance of the last Sunday of the Liturgical year? This reminds us of Christ as the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. After our earthly strivings we have to recognize that we are finite and that we need Christ.

The Jews of Christ time made the mistake of believing that the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom. But Christ is not of the earth and that this world is a past decaying world. How many times our Lord has admonished us to shun the world. Jesus said that if the world hated him it will also hate us.

The Photo on the right is the Christ the King Plaza. The image of Christ standing on the background is the early morning sun.

Jesus told Pilate that his Kingdom is not of this world, otherwise his followers would fight so that he would not be turned over to the Jews. But when Pilate asked if he was king, Jesus told him that he was born as such and that was his mission and destiny.

Lipa Apparition of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace

I've read a very interesting news in the Philippine Daily which reported "that Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has formed a new commission to revisit the series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the Carmel monastery in Lipa, Batangas, in 1948." For a full report follow the link above.

I found this interesting because I remember a childhood experience. When I was eight years old I fould this old image of Our Lady hidden under the closet wrapped in old news papers. I asked my late grandfather why such a beautiful image of our Lady was hidden inside the closet, he told me that the Church has forbidden the veneration of the image because of the controversy that has arisen over the Lipa Apparition. I clearly heard my Grandfather that it is best to obey the orders of the Church and obey the directives of the hierarchy rather than our own feelings and sentiments. Those were the early lessons I;ve learned about obedience. Obedience entails humility because you have to submit to the teaching authority of the Church. I am glad that the message of the Lipa apparitions are being revisited. I too believe that our Lady is the Mediatrix of All Grace as prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Wioth confidence I can always state the ejaculation - Oh Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee." Those of you who want to read about what happend to the visonary and other personalities involved in this manifestation you may read the article "Vindicated, novice of Lipa apparitions keeps low profile" from the PDI

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gubat, Sorsogon, Church of St. Anthony of Padua

This afternoon I happend to visit Gubat Sorsogon and passed by this old ancient colonial church, the Church of St. Anthony. I could not fail but notice the stunning beauty of this Church glowing under the afternoon sun. So majestic and regal. I always love St. Anthony. Indeed in this far flung islands St. Anthony remains a favorite saint, a wonder worker. A Saint who proclaimed the Word of God with zeal and enthusiasm thus holding the Child Jesus in his arms the simple beauty of Childhood and innocence radiates with much power that cannot be matched by any earthly glory. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. If we persevere in our faith as Jesus promised we shall become like the stars in the heaven. Eternal and shining. To all Gubatenos living abroad I know that as you look at this pictures you will be nostalgic for this church and for this town.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Catholic Art as Reflected in the Islands of Leyte and Samar, the Philippines

One thing I appreciate about my country is its versatility and its contradictions. While we are acclaimed as a Country in Asia-Pacific that commands a majority we are also a country beset with problems that calls for a demonstration of the Christian virtue. Often, and amazingly sometimes religiosity is mixed up with lavishness amidst poverty and deprivation. With both rich and poor expressing their religiosity in their own way. Today while looking back to my digital files I found this photos I took several years ago. We visited Leyte and Samar provinces. Leyte is the home province of the former first Lady Imelda R. Marcos. We visited the Santo Nino Palace Museum. At the height of their power Imelda constracted this marvelous palace in Tacloban City, Leyte. Today since it was confiscated by the government it is now maintained as a museum. Sadly wanting restoration.

The Photo below shows a painting of the Madam Imelda R. Marcos, young, regal and authoritative. She was famous for her lifestyle and also for the marvelous infrustrcutures she helped build.

The Santo Nino Palace is quite a house containing religious art pieces. Below is a photo of a mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The main hall also serves as a chapel. On the side wall there is the stations of the Cross.

At the center of the Chapel is the image of the Child Jesus. Known as Santo Nino de Tacloban. The image ofthe Holy Child is a much venerated image in Visayas as this symbolizes the Christiabnization of the Visayan Islands four hundred years ago.

A statue of the Immaculate Conception.

A huge silver monstrance.

McArthur Monument in Palo, Leyte. My student Jinky found it amusing to have her photograph taken with the more than life-size statues. if a photo taken of the monument without anyone standing by will give an illusion that it is life-size. But if someone would stand between them will give us the idea that the statues are really big.

The San Juanico Bridge. At the time of its construction in the 70s it was famed as the longest bridge in Asia. I do not know if until today it still bears the title.

At the Catubig river.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meeting Between the Holy Father and the Patriarch of Moscow Possible

"Today it can be said that we are moving to a moment when it becomes possible to prepare a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow," Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Department for External Church Relations, told reporters in Moscow. from Interfax

The Catholic Church and the Moscow patriarchate is moving towards a closer relationship as they face the common enemy - secularism and relativism in Europe.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Let us pray that the Mother of God will intercede for the success of this undertaking. I remember during the start of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate where he said that ecumenism will be one of his priorities. These ecumenism will not be solely based on emotional expressions but concrete agreements and result. Indeed this pope is not only a pope of peace but also a pope of Christian Unity. The Visible Church is the Church of Christ as such she posses all the means given to men to be saved through Christ. hence it is but logical that those who seek the truth will drawn to it.

"This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic "subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity."11 In the light of these ecclesiological principles, this Apostolic Constitution provides the general normative structure for regulating the institution and life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This Constitution is completed by Complementary Norms issued by the Apostolic See."

The Holy See has finally published the constitution governing the union of Traditional Anglicans with the Catholic Church. The text can be read from HERE

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This Ungodly Generation...

I found this news interesting:

"Italians reacted with outrage on Tuesday after a European court ruled that displaying crucifixes in the country's schools violated the principle of secular education. Italy's education minister condemned the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights, saying that the Christian cross was a symbol of the country's Roman Catholic religion and cultural identity. Mariastella Gelmini, a member of the conservative government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, argued that "no one, and certainly not an ideological European court, will succeed in erasing our identity," said Other ministers said they were appalled by the ruling, calling it "absurd," "shameful" and "offensive."

You can read more of this from the sourceYAHOO NEWS

Is this the tyranny of secularism??? Does secularism have to banish the practice of religion to the closet? I am glad that here in our country, the Philippines freedom of religion is guaranteed. And that the state though secular, tolerates and encourage the public display of religion. In our government offices and schools we have religious icons and display them freely. Our public celebrations are always preceded by a celebration of Mass.

What kind of Human Right is that to ban the display of crucifixes in public places??? To ban the display of crucifixes in public is a violation of our right to freely express ourselves. Religion is not only a private matter it has social and communal dimensions. What we need is simple tolerance for those who believe differently but not at the expense of the right of the majority to self expression.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Feast of All Souls: Purgatory the Clearest of Our Church's Teaching

Feast of All Souls

Today I went on an early Mass (6:30 a.m.) to commemorate the feast of all souls. A solemn feast in the Liturgical Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. I appreciate the simple but clear homily of the celebrant. He explained why we Catholics believe in purgatory and why purgatory is necessary. This teaching about purgatory has been one of the most controversial teachings of the Church as far as those who do not believe and are enemies of the church. We Catholics are often subject to redicule by the nemies of our religion because of this teaching.

But personally, I adhere to this teaching and for me it is one of the clearest teaching of our Church about the dead. This teaching does not deny or minimize the absolute power of Christ's atonement but rather this teaching gives prominence to the love and justice of the Almighty. As I examined the teachings of our Church, the more I am convinced of the necessity of purgatory. And far from being unbiblical, this teaching finds its basis not only on Sacred Tradition but more so in the Scriptures. Let me share with you some passages from Scriptures that gives us clear idea why purgatory is a necessary thing (qoutes from Douay-Rheims Version):

"It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." 2 Machabees 12: 46

"And whoseover shall speak a word against the Son of man, shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. [emphasis supplied]" Matthew 12: 32. (Note: this verse of a forgiveness extended in this world and in the hereafter which make it necessary for us to pray for the dead who died in grace but with venial sins or those that has temporal debts to settlle because we know that sins offends God and neighbor and restitution has to be made.)

"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebres 12: 29.

"Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison; which had been sometime incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in days of Noe, when the ark was a building; wherein a few, that is eight souls, were saved by water." 1 Peter 3:18-20 Note: This passage speaks of an abode of the dead, a prison. Which in Hebrew means Sheol, to Greeks Hades, for the Latins Purgatio and English Purgatory. This is the reason for the gospels to tell us that when Christ expired on the Cross, the veil of the temple was rent and many souls long dead were seen walking on the streets of Jerusalem. This is to demonstrate that Christ descended into Hades and preached to them that were there awaiting redemption. What more can be clearer than this teaching? Christ rebuked the Sadducees for their unbelief in the ressurection. This is the main reason why Jesus told the Jews that if they refer to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob then we can conclude that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. For all live in God. This is the cornerstone of our faith.

However we should understand clearly that the souls in purgatory are the souls of persons who died in the grace of God or who are in a state of Grace, but due to the temporal pains inflicted on those affected has to pay for the temporal punishment to serve the justice of God. This is the main reason why there are indulgences and the church grants indulgences in order to remitt the temporal punishment due to sin. Take note also that the souls of the damned are not in purgatory. Thats why we say that the souls in purgatory are holy because they are destined for heaven. Unlike the unbelievers and unrepentant sinners who are in hell, of which no amount of prayers and work of mercy on the part of the living would ever avail.

I love the concluding statement of the priest in his homily. He said that this feast of all souls reminds us poignantly that ultimately our citizenship is not of this world but of Heaven. What a consoling statement!!! It leads us to take refuge in God and how are we encouraged to live by faith, hope and love. As St. Paul said everything will perish but only these three will remain and the greatest of this is love. Therefore if we want to be included in the eternal kingdom of God we must possess these eternal virtues.

Let me share with you some of the photos and their story. I took this using my Nokia E63 phone its only 2 megapixel and therefore the quality will not be as good as that of a professional camera. After the morning mass I went around visited the Church cemetery and tool these pictures.

A couple of days ago before all saints I requested the transfer of the remains of my grand parensts Miguel and Maria to the Church cemetery nearby. I feel relieved and consoled that the remains of my grandparents are now rested just beside the Church they loved, where they were baptized, confirmed, married, lived and where requiem mass were said for them. Here their remains will rest and will wait for the ressurection of the dead when they will see the Lord face to face, and where their eyes shall behold their Lord in Paradise. I made them a promise that once financially able I will retrieve their bones from the general cemetery and take them here near the Church. We who are alive have the responsibility for taking care of the remains of our departed family. It is also our tribute to them and our public expression of our faith in the Ressurection of the Body, a cornerstone of our Creed and the foundation of the Christian religion.

This is the Church cemetery located on the west wing of the Church. Now everythime I will attend Mass I will be able to visit the remains of my grand parents and could offer them prayers for the repose of their souls. Are we not moved by charity to pray for the souls in purgatory?

The outdoor altar, Christ the King Plaza, located at the courtyard. This is an ad orientem altar but now outdoor masses always prefer the popular altar (ad populum).

The massive bell tower. I always like the idea of bells. I consider church bells sacred because they are the instrument use to call the faithfull to prayer. They toll before every mass, during processions, during funerals, angelus and festivities. In the 18th century this bell tower also serves as watch tower to see the approaching Muslim raiders. At that time Muslims from Mindanao are expert mariners. They could run those fast sea craft and in order to harrass the Spanish authorities they would raid and sack Christian towns and settlements. Thus Churches at the time being the only fortified building serves as sort of a fort to protect the Christian population. Hence churches were built like fortresses.

This is the facade of the Church of San Juan Bautista. Votive candles are lit on the walls. Church authorities has discouraged the excessive lighting of candles inside the building because they detract from the celebration of the liturgy. Hence many of the faithful lit their votive canldes outrside of the Church building.

One of the most well loved grotto in this church. Our Lady of Lourdes. Day and night one can observe devotees standing in prayer and offering votive candles.

When the Saints Go Marching In

The Feast of All Saints

Today we celebrate one of the Church's beautiful feast, the feast of all saints. In my personal experience I would say that this celebration elicits profound feelings and meanings. When I was younger, I could not understand why we Catholics pray to the saints and pray for the departed. As a teenager in the 80's and beginning to read the New Testament, I was always searching for justification why we need to pray to the saints and to pray for the departed. Later in my early adult years my parish priest gave me a hard bound copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. By closely studying the doctrine based on the creed, the teaching on the communion of the saints was like a bolt of lighting that suddenly opened my understanding on the true nature of the Church. That the Church is not a mere human organization, it is Divine in origin and as such inheritor of eternal life. As such the apex of this Body is Jesus Christ, immortal, the Alpha and the Omega, unbounded by time, encompassing and transcending the cosmos. For in Him all lives. This is the main reason Christ rebuked the Sadducees for their unbelief in the resurrection of the Body. For why do Jews have to invoke the names of the Patriarchs if they are not inheritors of eternal life? Why do we pray to the saints? We pray to the saints because we know that they are in paradise, in communion with God and with one another. There they pray for us as we struggle and "work out" our salvation in this world. For we who are alive is in a constant battle against the Self, the world and the Devil. We need to be faithful and we need the grace of God to see us through. The saints in their nearness to God can plead for our sake. In the Bible there are many examples of how angels and holy men intercede on behalf of others. Now as to the question why there is a purgatory, the simple reason is that though we are saved by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, we need to satisfy the justice of God. Sin not only brings eternal death it also brings with it tangible consequences. How do I illustrate this truth? For instance if a man would live an unhealthy lifestyle naturally he will suffer the tangible consequences and perhaps he may repent of what he has done but that does not negate or erase the physical results. Another example would be that of man who left his wife and children for another woman. At the end the man may repent and find forgiveness, but that does not erase the long years of pain of abandonment suffered by the wife and children. hence even if the man finds salvation because of his repentance he need to realize and pay for the pain inflicted on his wife and children. This clearly shown by this passage in the New Testament "But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor. 3;15 NAB).

Thus, the feast of all saints is one feast in the church that consoles us, strengthens us and increase our love for one another. Let us honor our Saints and pray that we may be aided by God's grace so that at the end of time we shall march in the wedding feast of the Lamb.