Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Layman's Reaction to the Paper of Fr. Anscar J. Chupungco, OSB

A simple layman like me dares not to presume to know more.  But reading the paper delivered by Fr. Anscar J. Chupungco entitled "Liturgical Studies and Liturgical Renewal" on the occasion on the launched of the Broken Bay Institute, I was moved to blogged my reaction.  And here it is. Please bear with me.  This are just my honest opinion.

On saying that the twenty years of Vatican II was the springtime of liturgical renewal...

Most of us agree that there is a need for a liturgical renewal.  But my perception is that the liturgical reforms after the Second Vatican Council went far beyond the intentions of the council.  All of a sudden, many tried and tested usages were abolished or neglected.  When we were growing up we were made to think that Latin was obsolete.  And that was the line of thinking I had before I discovered the traditional liturgy.    As I was growing up in the seventies I have observed the following: (1) The disappearance of the ancient hymns and chants and now replaced with contemporary music akin to pop;   (2) The demolition of the high altars and the communion rails. (3) the Disappearance of tried and tested devotions and popular piety, (4) the disappearance of the confessionals, etc... and many other things too painful to recall.   How can the promoters of the novus ordo described the seventies as springtime. Does anyone today speak of springtime after the fruits of the drastic "reform" of the 70s??? or was there really ever a springtime?  Why were the reformers too eager to discard so many things?  Have they not thought of the value of the practices they abolished?  Were the practices associated with the pre-Vatican II deemed abolished?  

I am for the reform of the reformed.  I think we must go back to the real intention of Vatican II.  The speculation of the scholars and the fads of the time have been harmful to the church.  The church should not march with the times.  The Church must influence the times.  The church as a divinely instituted unit is called out from this world.  The eternal kingdom is the vocation of the church.  This world will never love Christ nor his church.  It has persecuted Christ and the Church.  Thus our liturgies must truly express that heavenly vocation.    

“The agenda is, to all appearance, an attempt to put the clock back half a century. It seems to conveniently forget that since Vatican II, the Church has been marching with the times, acknowledging the changes in social and religious culture, and adopting new pastoral strategies.”

I would opine that Fr. Chupungo missed the point of Pope Benedict’s agenda for liturgical reform.  I wish he would have read carefully the letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the world.  The reason for the reform of the reformed is stated very clearly by the Holy Father thus: “Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. (emphasis supplied)  I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion.  And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.” (From the Letter of the Pope accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.)  

The apostles were men who turned the world upside down.  They changed the culture of the Roman Empire. And not vice-versa.  The martyrs of the early church period willingly spilled their blood for Christ as a testimony.  Thus it was said that the blood of the martyrs were the seed of the church.  The theological giants of the medieval ages such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas endeavored to established the church with the sound teachings and combat the heresies of their times.  So today popular culture should not dictate what the church should do but that the church should be faithful in witnessing so that she could be an influence that would change culture to make it conform to the values of the gospel.  But when worldly popular culture influences the liturgical culture then that is something serious to think about.

Thus, the "reform of the reformed" of the ROR as it is called is meant not to turn back the clock but rather it is an attempt to connect the present with the past.  The deposit of faith is characterized by continuity and not rupture.  Because it is impossible to say that the practices of the past which has nourished the church for centuries all of a sudden would be forbidden or stopped.  If that happens there is a rupture.  Like an umbilical cord that connects the infant with the mother, continuity in tradition connects us with the life and spirituality of the church.  If only we read the documents of the Second Vatican Council in the light of tradition that there will be a realization of the good fruits.  We should consider Vatican II as part of the ongoing tradition, one among the many ecumenical councils of the Church and not a supra council that will supplant the other councils.  It is a pastoral council meant to guide the Church and not to teach a new doctrine.

“It is regrettable that today the word “inculturation” is spoken in some Church quarters in whispers and muffled voice.”

This is because inculturation as interpreted by some has led to unwanted creativity that has serious consequences for the dignified celebration of the Eucharist.  For example what about those young people dancing during the offertory and even during the consecration. Are these practices part of the liturgy??? Do they have traditional precedence or are these simple innovations purposely done to effect a feeling of "enculturation"?   For almost 400 hundred years of Christianity in the Philippines I have never heard that dancing was part of the Roman Ritual accepted by the Native Church.  Thus indeed no one will attempt to speak in loud voice about enculturation.  Yes its right, it has to be spoken in whispers and muffled voice because the deformation in the liturgy caused by innovations done in the name of enculturation is an embarrassment.   In the first place why introduced innovations when the Roman Liturgy and ritual has been assimilated and accepted by the native church?  Why would people speak about enculturation in hushed voices?  Perhaps because it has lost its appeal.  Perhaps "enculturation" is just one of the many "theological fads".  Thus we should discern the spirit of the times and not immediately accede to it.  We don't march with the times, we seek to influence the times so that by doing so we fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Christ - to make disciples of all Nations.  Christ did not tell us to dialogue  with the world.  Christ commanded us to preach the Gospel and to make disciples of all nations, and to wait for Him until He comes in glory.

“Will Latinised English make the liturgy more awesome? It will certainly sound mysterious, but will it be more prayerful? Will the silent recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, preferably in Latin, evoke more vividly the Last Supper of Jesus? Is receiving Holy Communion on one’s knees and on the tongue more reverent than receiving it standing and in the hand? Will the priestly role of mediation be reinforced by praying at the altar with the back to the assembly?”

The purpose of direct translation is not to make it awesome.  The purpose is to make the rendering of the original text faithful to the original.  Because interpretative translations can cause problems especially in matters of faith and belief.  Direct translation will safeguard the integrity and meaning.  In the ecclesiastical province where I belong (Archdiocese of Caceres, the Bicol Translation has been revised to conform to the orginal and it is now being use and no ordinary faithful complains.).  Receiving communion on the tongue is the ordinary form or manner of receiving communion.  While receiving in the hand is the indult.  The irony is that the indult has now become the ordinary.  Let’s remember too that gestures can enhance the solemnity and it is our outward expression of faith.  Some faith groups outside of the Catholic Church receive communion in the hand because they do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  But for us who believe in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist must by all means show it by our gestures.  Our gestures are not only personal but it is our public affirmation and declaration of faith.  So when I receive communion in the tongue and kneeling, I adore the True God, like St. Thomas we say “My Lord and My God.”  When the priest turns his back on the assembly, he is leading them towards Christ, the hope of the resurrection.  Hence priest and people are directed to God. 

The Province of Albay and Mayon Volcano: Story and Pictures

In the forty years of my life I have taken for granted the beauty of my home province.  I have flown from Legazpi City to Manila many times on official business and on personal trips, and never taken the time to capture this beauty on camera.  But this time I took the pains to take with me my hand camera and  took these pictures.  I am glad that the Lord has given me this chance to live in one of the most beautiful places in these Philippine Islands and not only in the Philippines but in the whole world.  Aboard Cebu Pacific Air on February 20, 2010 using my Olympus  FE-310 I took these pictures.

The tarmac of Legazpi Domestic Airport.  In the background are the Linon Hill and Mt. Mayon Volcano. (I used my Nokia E61i phone to capture this).

Below is the facade of Legazpi Domestic Airport.

As the plane soared high over Legazpi City, the capital of Albay Province one can see a glimpse of the City.  Legazpi is a small city but it is beautiful.  The people are generally urbanites the city is clean well ordered.  You will see here the Albay gulf.  

Another view of Legazpi City and Albay Gulf.

The buildings with redbrick colored roof is Aquinas University, my alma mater.  I obtained my B.A. in Philosophy from this Catholic University.  I obtained solid Thomistic training in Philosophy from this institution.  The Campus is bounded on the left by the Yawa river, which form time to time suffers from siltation coming from the foot of Mt. Mayon volcano. Two years ago a devastating flood submerge this portion of the city.  But in a few months time the University recovered and now you how beautiful the buildings are.  The symmetry and orderliness is admirable. Oppiste the University campus is the Bicol Regional Government Center.  I am proud of the education I received from this Domincan Institution.  The solid Catholic education I received is something that I will cherish.  'Gratitude in Love" as the university motto says. 

Mt. Mayon the majestic. Look at the valleys.  Mt. Mayon is one of the most active volcano in the Philippines. Its eruption from time to time provides nourishment for the valleys and provides fertility to the land.  But also deadly and devastating.

The Bicol peninsula is a string of volcanoes.  At the background is Mt. Malinao, an extinct volcano.  Home to wild animals and wild orchids.

From the eastern seaboard the plane circled around Mt. Mayon towards the north bound for Manila.  From a distance I could see my little home city of Tabaco.  San Miguel Island is also seen from a distance.  While the Island province of Catanduanes is seen from afar.

The peak of Mt. Malinao.  I wonder what it looks like inside those crater.  Ten years ago I went with some of my students at the foot of this mountain.  We enjoyed our little picnic near a falls. We did some little adventure  by looking for the source of the falls.  Along our way to the top we saw little caves and little streams of water.  Wild orchids and exotic plants.  Although we were careful not to encounter poisonous snakes.

Another view of the crater.

Beyond Mt. Malinao one could see the rice granary of Bicol, the district of Partido.  Wide valleys and rice paddies dot the surrounding valleys and hills.  Beyond is the Caramoan Peninsula, made famous by the TV serious Survivor.  Its enchanting islets and white beaches will enthrall the nature loving tourist.

From the Naia 3 terminal I hit the road for my destination.  From here one can see the Church of a military camp.  

The fastfood sign competes for attention with the Cross of the Church.  Once upon a time crosses dotted the skyline proclaiming the glory of God.  Today the gods of commercialism competes with the proclamation of our faith.  How important it is that in this materialistic age of ours we sand firm for our faith.  In our own little way let us do what God wills.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Lenten Season

The Heart of the merciful Lord is like a door it opens and beckons the sinner to come.

Tomorrow is ash Wednesday and signals the beginning for Lent.  A time to fast and a time to reflect on oneself in relation to God and in relation to our neighbor.  What are we going to do to make this Lenten Season meaningful?  There are several options aside from what is required of us by church law.

  • Visit seven churches
  • Via Crucis
  • Works of Charity
  • Volunteer Work
  • Abstain from Texting
  • Abstain from the Internet
What else?.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

Rosary Basilica, Lourdes, France

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us!

St. Bernadette

St. Bernadette, the Visionary of Lourdes, photo source: Wikipedia

"Bernadette was faithful in her mission, she was humble in glory, she was valiant under trial." (Trochu, p. 379) - Pope Pius XI  (Source: "St. Bernadette and Lourdes by Fr. Ambrose Ryan, OFM) 

St. Bernadette Pray for us!

Pope Benedict on St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony de Padua with the Child Jesus by Antonio de Pereda

"Only a soul that prays can make progress in the spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St. Anthony's preaching. He knows well the defects of human nature, the tendency to fall into sin; that is why he constantly exhorts to combat the inclination to covetousness, to pride, to impurity and to practice the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and purity. At the beginning of the 13th century, in the context of the rebirth of the cities and the flourishing of trade, there was an increased number of people who were insensitive to the poor. Because of this, Anthony many times invites the faithful to think of true wealth, that of the heart, which, making them good and merciful, makes them accumulate treasures for Heaven. "O rich people," he exhorts, "befriend ... the poor, welcome them in your homes: They will then be the ones who receive you in the eternal tabernacles, where the beauty of peace is, the confidence of security, and the opulent quiet of eternal satiety" (Ibid., p. 29)."  - Pope Benedict on St. Anthony given at the Papal Audience on February 10, 2010.  More can be read from Zenit.org.  

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The "Enculturation" Thing

May I share with you the comment I posted in the blog Pray Tell under the post "Truth Telling"

“Enculturation” – I have heard this word spoken so many times since the early 80s. If, as a Filipino I reflect on this and see our history of 300 years of Spanish evangelization, I would say that the Spanish Missionaries have done a great job in spreading Catholicism in this country. For that I am grateful. The Catholic religion has been planted deep in our national collective consciousness in so much so that we are the only country in the world where Catholic principles are expressed in almost every facet of life and even in our constitution, despite of separation of church and state. I am glad that the Spanish missionaries did not have the “enculturation” concepts as espoused by today’s’ gurus of enculturation otherwise they would have ended up “dialoguing” with the Filipino natives rather than converting them to Catholicism. I am tired of this enculturation thing. I have loved my faith not because I think I am a Filipino or some members of other nationalities, I think I am a Christian and a Catholic because I believe in Christ, in his message, and I adhere to the teachings of the Roman Pontiff. I am tired of this enculturation thing. Scholars will enjoy these discourses but we ordinary Catholics are tired of this. It has produced so much artificiality and almost fabricated practices to appear enculturated. Why do we allow ourselves to be the specimens of experimentation of this so called “enculturation”. It has been injurious to our Catholic Identity and has lessened our power to witness to this dying world which Christ died for in order to save.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Illusion of Self-Sufficiency

"Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from "what is mine," to give me gratuitously "what is His." This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the "greatest" justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognises itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected."

- Pope Benedict XVI on His Lenten Message

Gubat Sorsogon, More Pictures for the Nostalgic Gubatnon

I use to go to this far flung municipality every Wednesday to teach at our external Campus.  I have to endure more than 80 kilometers of road travel.  Here as I was walking from the campus I decided to pass by the Church of St. Anthony and took pictures of the back portion of the Church as seen from Campus.  To some of you who grew up in Gubat but now are based abroad...enjoy...and refresh your memories of this quiet but lovely town.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Candelaria [ Candlemass]

Yesterday February 2, I had the opportunity to hear mass at the Cathedral Church of our diocese.  I attended a meeting at the Social Action Center and happened to drop by at the church at noon time for the candlemass.  Today is also the death anniversary of my grandmother Maria Arcos Bufete, who died on Candlemass day.  She was a devotee of the Virgin Mary and God granted her the grace to die in the state of grace.  She died conscious and prior to her death she received consciously the last rites.  The night before she died, and despite of failing memory she struggled to recite the Pater Noster.  To me that was a sign of a happy predestination.  May she rest in peace.  I know that she is there praying for us.  And we too in return, as a family, offer our prayers and spiritual works of mercy for her repose.  I think that the Catholic family should be that way.

The statue of an Angel bearing the container of holy water
 at the entrance of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great

The faithful standing for the blessing of the candles.  Unfortunately I did not bring one with me.  But it was a joy to see the faithful, with devotion and delight held up their ligthed candles for the blessing.

The Cathedral, half full, but in a short while will be filled with the faithful for the noon day Mass.  Despite of their Busy work Filipinos in this cathedral parish celebrates candlemass.  The Cathedral is located in the heart of the Capital of the province of Albay beside the city hall and the provincial capitol.  So most of the faithful attending mass are government employees.  The City government even has a choir that sings in this cathedral every Sunday.