Thursday, January 28, 2010

Carrying of the Cross: A Must for Priests says Cardinal Vidal

His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Archdiocese of Cebu has this much to say in his homily for priests and I quote from the CBCP News report.

“The best way a priest can know the condition of God’s people is through the confessional. Like St. John Mary Vianney, a priest should spend much time in the confessional to know the real needs of the people he serves. We do not know the needs of people by virtues they exercise; we know their problems by the sins they commit,” the cardinal said.

Jesus Carrying the Cross by Hieronymus Bosch

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here is a message from D.P. Maturan:

The Bishop of the Diocese of Cubao, his excellency Bishop Honesto F.Ongtioco, D.D., has permitted the erection of a personal parish for those who are attached to the Extra Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite. The church building will be dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and will under the auspices of Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo and the Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph to consolidate efforts aong various groups advocating the return of the form of Mass popularly known as the Tridentine Mass. The parish will also be available for other Sacraments to be administered according to the liturgical books of 1962 or prior to 1970. It will also be a venue of training for priests who would like to learn the ancient usage of the Roman Rite and others who would like to learn the rubrics of serving at the traditional rites, including schola and choir training. The Diocese is now looking for a venue for the said personal parish and funds are solicited in order
to commence such as august aposolate. Funds may be channeled through Fr. Michell Joe B. Zerrudo, Parish of Our Lord of Divine Mercy, Diocese of Cubao, Maamo cor. Madasalins Sts., Sikatuna, Quezon City, Philippines or may call his parish at 029213337. We therefore appeal to traditonal Catholic communities to help us in such endeavor.

Dennis Raymond P. Maturan
Founding Chairman
Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph

Pope Benedict Affirms Trust and Confidence with Cardinal Bertone

 Pope Benedict on Cardinal Bertone:

"I have always admired his 'sensus fidei,' his doctrinal and canonical preparation and his 'humanitas,' which helped us very much to live, in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a climate of genuine familiarity, unity and a decisive and determined discipline of work," Read more at CBCP News .

Let us pray for the Pope's program on the "Reform of the Reformed" in the Liturgy.  Cardinal Bertone is a great help for the Pope in this respect.

We need priests who will .....

"The lay faithful enjoined the clerics to work with them in attaining peace that “honors human dignity, protects human rights, and condemns institutional violence/forms of cruelty.”  CBCP News 

My comment:  The Clergy need not take on the roles of social revolutionaries.  If the Clergy will only diligently teach the Doctrines and the Catechism, not from the lens social activism but form the lens of the gospel, then every lay faithful who comes to church and to mass will be edified to become good citizens.  We need priests who will instruct us in the teachings of the gospel, we need priests who will sit in the confessionals, we need priests who will stay in churches rather than stay invisible. How we long for homilies that seek to explain the mystery of the gospel rather than politics.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pope's Message to Filipino Prelates

The message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Filipino Prelates holding their plenary meeting at the St. Pius XII hall in Manila and I am presenting here some excerpts.  The full text of this new item can be read at CBCP Online .  I found the message touching because it goes to the heart of the role of a Bishop and of a priest and it shows how important are their role for the sanctification of the Church, which is very much needed by the Filipino Church.  The active participation of the Church of the laity, which is so evident now, should not make drive away priests nor make them complacent of their role in teaching the doctrine of the faith.  How many times do we see Bishops and priests give to much emphasis on issues like politics or the environment.  Although I would opine that these issues can legitimately be the concern of the Church because pastoring the flock is also integrative.  While attention is given to the temporal well being of the flock, the Bishops and priests should give more attention to the administration of the Sacraments and the teaching of the Word of God, by preaching, homilies and catechism.  Sacraments can only be performed by the ordained clergy and is intended to sanctify the faithful.  Teaching the Word of God is also the major concern of the Ordained.  Although in some cases these functions can also be shared by the lay faithful.  Sometimes I feel sad that many secular issues have overridden this concern for the spiritual needs of the Church.  Sometimes concern for the environment or for politics is misconstrued as catechism. I feel sad that the basic teachings of the Church are not imparted on the faithful.  It is sad to note also that many homilies now are centered on how to vote, and how to fight for the integrity of the environment and seldom do I hear homilies that expounds on the words of the Scriptures, of the church fathers and other useful lessons.  We should remember that Sunday masses more often is the only time that Catholics do see their parish churches and this is a very good opportunity to impart teaching.  I  hope that our Bishops and priests will give more attention to how the liturgy is celebrated and how beautiful it should be.  These things cannot just be delegated to the lay.  But the Priests should also give attention and supervise.  I wish that our priests should give more time for the celebration of the sacred mysteries so that people will be encourage to go to church and grow fervent in their faith.  This is also one way of encouraging vocations to the priesthood.  The many times our priests engaged in secular concerns tends to discourage young men to enter to the priesthood.  This is perhaps because who would want to be ordained if one would simply be a social worker or an environmentalist.  No one needs ordination to be an environmentalist. 

"He said a bishop’s role is to sanctify, and in order to do this one must first tend to his own holiness of life.  “By preaching the Word, offering Eucharistic sacrifice, and administering the sacraments to God’s people, the clergy in your respective dioceses ...may grow in holiness,” Benedict XVI said. ....Bertone said the pope is urging Filipino prelates to continue acting their role as the chief catechists of their respective pastoral jurisdictions. This means, he said, that bishops must be willing always and everywhere to stand up and teach those in need of instruction and for them to “manifest ever more clearly the spirit of God at work in the world.” In parting, Cardinal Bertone assured the bishops of the pontiff’s “apostolic blessing” while commending their works for the Catholic Church."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Caramoan Revisited

For a lighter moment let me share with you some pictures I have of the Church in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. Although I have posted some pieces before about Caramoan, but let me do this again.  Perhaps some of you who are planning to travel can consider Caramoan to your itinerary.  Caramoan is known for its islands and beaches, but seldom do every one take notice that despite the remoteness of Caramoan it has one of the most beautiful brick church in the entire Bicol Peninsula and a wide courtyard.  I would suggest that Bicol historians to explore the history of this municipality.

The Photo below shows the facade of the Church dedicated to St. Michael, the Archangel. The two niches below shows the image of Sts. Peter and Paul, patron saints of Rome and the apostles credited for having founded the Church in Rome.

My students, Richardson and Jose.

The Church has a spacious grounds and courtyard littered with Narra Trees and with statues and shrines.  The Parish priest usually helps in cleaning the lawn.  The altar boys also volunteer their services to help clean this spacious yard.

The Risen Christ.  The church would have been beautiful if it had the old retablos.  The parish priest is planning to restore the retablos.  Because according to him that the reredos are more appropriate for the architecture of the church.

The statue and shrine of St. Joseph.  I found this statue inspiring.  It evokes awe and admiration for the greatest of all fathers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Between Belief in Visions and Obedience to the Church: Which is which?

I just feel sad reading about the events in Medjugorje.  As a faithful Catholic I feel sad that there are fellow Catholics who would trust in so called Marian visions, unauthorized by the Church, and yet disobey their local bishop.  We should be reminded that the teaching of the Church is based on the teaching of the apostles, the fathers, as guided by the Holy Ghost.  No apparition or visionary  can overthrow that.  Apparitions and visions are private revelations and therefore when they contradict the teachings of the Church and foment disobedience should be rejected.  Belief in visions are not obligatory, but belief and obedience to the teaching authority of the Church is necessary for salvation.  St. Paul has this to say and we better pay attention:

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema." Galatians 1:8 (Douay-Rheims)

You may visit the Diocese of Mostar for the statement of His Excellency Ratko Peric, Bishop of Mostar.  let us pray for the suffering church of Mostar.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pit Senor

"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them." Isaiah 11:6 (Douay-Rheims)  

After the celebration in Quiapo last January 9, the people of the Visayas will be celebrating tomorrow the Sinulog Festival in honor of the Child Jesus.  The Image of the Child Jesus, venerated in the Visayas as the Santo Nino de Cebu is very much Spanish in origin.  Though Spanish in origin, it has captured so well the innate religious sentiments of the Filipino people.  Historically the Santo Nino is also linked to the evangelization of these islands.  I myself is also a devotee of the Santo Nino.  I do not know and I cannot explain the charm and the peace that this form of devotion evokes in me and in my fellow Filipinos.  In my office desk and in my bookshelves I have the image of the Child Jesus prominently displayed for everyone to see.  There are many explanations given by some modern theologians so called about this attachment of the Filipinos.  But I would prefer to stick to the simple explanation that our national character of religiosity tends favorably to a closer devotion to the Lord.  This is our national destiny.  Christ seen as a Child, demonstrates to us his paradox once again.  It demonstrates to us that faith in God Almighty is demonstrated not by human power but by his power.  In our weakness the power of God is more manifest because faith can move mountains as our Lord said.  But on the other hand there is also a lesson to the ordinary devotee and Catholics, that our religious fervor is a good sign and a valuable trait.  But these are not ends in themselves but as a means to an end.  If our religious fervor nourishes us in the same way a baby is nourished by milk, so let this devotion be our milk to help us grow in maturity.  For indeed our maturity is made more manifest when we are increasing in our love for the Eucharist, that is to say the Holy Mass.  For they that hear the word of God shall live and they that eat of his body and blood shall have everlasting life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let us Pray for Haiti

Port-au-Prince Cathedral in Haiti

Haiti suffered from a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale.  It was reported that the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince was one of those who were killed.  Let us pray for the suffering people so that they may find consolation and hope.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Black Nazarene

January 9, 2010 will see again the fervour of Filipino Catholics as they honor the feast of the Nazarene.  This is a devotion that honors an icon that depicts Christ carrying the cross to calvary.  I pray and I hope that this feast will not only make manifest the extraordinary devotion of the Filipinos but also be a way to teach us the ways of Christ and His gospel.  To hear the gospel and obey it is indeed the greatest form of devotion we can show our Lord.  There will be excessive expressions but let this be a means to uplift our faith and to make it mature.  True devotion to Christ is eloquently expressed by living a penitent life that seeks reformation of life and a desire to follow in the teachings of the gospel.

Hymn to the Nazarene by Lucio San Pedro

"Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)
Dinarangal ka namin (We honor you)
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)
Nilul'walhati ka namin (We glorify you)
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)
Dinarangal ka namin (We honor you)
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene)
Nilul'walhati ka namin (We glorify you)"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Creativity in Liturgy: Authentic or Inauthentic?

I want to give emphasis on this quote from Msgr. Guido Marini, Pontifical Master of Liturgical Ceremonies, this was taken from his speech at the Clergy Conference in Rome, January 6, 2010, A conference for the year of priests:

"From this perspective it is not difficult to realise how far distant some modes of conduct are from the authentic spirit of the liturgy. In fact, some individuals have managed to upset the liturgy of the church in various ways under the pretext of a wrongly devised creativity. This was done on the grounds of adapting to the local situation and the needs of the community, thus appropriating the right to remove from, add to, or modify the liturgical rite in pursuit of subjective and emotional ends. For this, we priests are largely responsible."
the full text of the speech can be read from NLM

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Archbishop Socrates Villegas Urges Clergy to Celebrate Liturgy with Utmost Decorum

"Saying that a decorous and solemn celebration of the liturgy is a mandate imposed on priests by virtue of their ordination, a young Catholic prelate called on his clergy to celebrate the Eucharist with the dignity and solemnity it deserves. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a fraternal letter sent to his priests on December 31, said it is a solemn duty of priests to celebrate the Mass with utmost reverence and attentive care." More of this can be read from CBCP NEWS "

Here is my comment:

Amen Archbishop Soc Villegas, Mabuhay ka!

How many of our Filipino clergy take to heart the care of sanctuaries and the celebration of the Sacraments?  This laxity is shown in the way even vestments are worn.  To site as an example priests are beginning to neglect the use of the alb as primary vestment.  Another is the way vessels are cared for.  Nobody uses now the Paten to protect the host from falling down.  I have seen several times how the hosts fell from the hands of extraordinary ministers and picked up just like as if an ordinary thing falls without due care for the particles of the sacred species.

In our diocese today one thing I lament is the poor way by which some liturgies are executed. Many priests don't wear the alb anymore and much less the cincture.  Sometimes the chasuble are designed to cover the entire body so as to make the excuse not to wear the alb.  But often the material is so thin that street clothes could be seen.  Some of the vessels are not well maintained.  I am glad though that I have no longer seen priests use earthen or ceramic vessels.  Thanks to "Redemptionis Sacramentum".  Priests tend to be very busy, they give prominence to their social work functions and etc... But some have forgotten that we lay people always have in our mind our priests as ministers of the altar and hence we expect them to give full attention to the liturgy, the confessionals, to lead us in prayers and to sanctify us.  In most cases this image of the priest is wanting.  Thus how could we expect young men to have the vocation to the priesthood if what they see and observe does not fall into their mental image of a priest.  I only hope that our priests will pay more attention to this.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Octave of the Nativity - Solemnity of the Circumcision of Our Lord

January 1 - Solemnity of the Circumcision of Our Lord.

Christ Baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.  Painting from the Baptistry of the Our Lady of Pnafrancia Church, Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines

O God, it was through the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary that You bestowed the gift of eternal life upon mankind. Grant that we may feel the powerful intercession of Mary, through whom we were privileged to receive the giver of life, Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord; who lives and rules with You . . . (Collect)

The Quiet Time

Note:  The Christmas season has afforded me the opportunity to have a couple of weeks vacation and this has afforded me a respite from the busy and cramp schedule.  I also took this opportunity to clean up mu bookshelves and fortunately I found a file of old manuscripts I have written almost twenty years ago.  I would like to share with you this piece entitled The Quiet Time. I wrote this article way back in 1990 and was published in the youth section of the bi weekly journal The Messenger of Truth in June 20, 1990.


On of the spiritual exercises that are indespensible to Christian growth is the quiet time.  Each and everyone of us feels the need for an inner fortitude to sustain us in our daily walk of life.  Therefore the apostle Paul prays, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." (Ephesians 3:16)

The object of practicing the quiet time is for us to be still and know the Lord is God.  We need to set aside an hour where , in quietness and stillness, we can think about the goodness of God, where in quietness we can open our hearts to God.  Sometimes during the busy hours of the Day our thoughts are so scattered; we hardly have room for for thoughts about God.  If we are not used to giving the first hours of our mornings to God, we might find our day trivial and our evenings unpleasant.  If this is the case let us ask God to direct our meditation upon the love of God.

A good part of the day to have our quiet time is the early morning.  While there is no set rule, the time most convenient for us will do.  The Bible is the tool we use in our meditations as we spend our quiet time.  A good devotional book may be a good supplement.  As much as possible there should be privacy.  It will be easier for us to direct our thoughts to God when we are in private.  Jesus said, "Be though, when though prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hst shut thy door, pray to thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6)

Spending time more with God will change our charcter.

Mental discipline is one of the factors that will contribute to the degree of blessing we can receive in our quiet time.  Sometimes our thoughts are prone to jump form one point to another.  Thus in our quiet time we must realize we are communing with God.  Our minds must be directed to Him.  If we have problems, such as, jobs or business pressures, let us leave them behind while we enjoy our quiet time and devotions.  Remember that for everything there is  a proper time.  If we are willing to commit everything to God, then He shall make everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  The time we spend with God will always be for our own benefit.  We can receive every blessing that God has stored for us.  Let us take Moses as an example.  Forty days and nights he spent with God caused his face to be so brilliant that he had to veil it.  He was so immersed in the divine presence that God's glory was abiding in him.  He was not conscious of that until the Israelites told him they feared to approached him because his face was so brilliant with light.  In the New Testament, Paul compared Moses' experience  in this verse: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord". (II Corinthians 3:18).   Spending time more with God will change our charcter.  In this way we find strength to do our daily tasks and duties.  This inward strength will be a motivating factor for us to work for the Lord.  This will give the Holy Spirit a chance to implant in our hearts convictions that would surely build us into mature Christians.

We cannot minimize the role of quiet time in relation to our spiritual development, if we neglect this spiritual exercise, we will find it difficult to listen to God.  We will not be able to perceive the voice of God wile our mind is occupied with the cares of this life.  When God spoke to Elijah, He spoke in a "still small voice" (II Kings 19:12).  Can we hear this "still small voice" if our minds are occupied with the hub of activities? Of course we can hear God in the busy workplace just as we can hear Him in the loneliness of a desert.  Quietness is a state of heart and mind.  It is even possible for us to go in the quietness of the desert and yet our hearts can be filled with turmoil.  As we set a certain time of the day for our quiet him, we will discover that it is very worth the while.  There we can hear that "still small voice" speaking in the depths of our soul.  As we bow ourselves to God, our hearts will be filled with reverence for Him who has saved us and washed us from our sins.