Monday, December 26, 2011

Pope speaks of Mindanao flooding victims once again

Pope Benedict XVI at his Urbi et Orbi address for 2011.
During his Urbi et Orbi address for Christmas Day 2011, the Pope briefly prayed for the victims of recent floods in Southeast Asia, including Mindanao:

May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.

Thank you, Holy Father! Keep us in your prayers!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Maligayang Pasko! Merry Christmas!

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!

The Nativity of Our Lord by Galo Ocampo. Stained glass window in Sto. Domingo Church (the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Naval), Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the custom of fasting and abstaining from meat on December 23

I have published an essay on the official blog of Una Voce Philippines regarding the pre-Vatican II practice of fasting and abstaining from meat on December 23 in preparation for Christmas, and its enduring relevance in our day:

Reminder: the fast of December 23

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's official: Pope Benedict XVI recognizes a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod

From a Catholic News Service article published today:

Pope Benedict also recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of five other people, who now can be declared saints. They are: 
-- Blessed Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest who founded the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men and the Humble Servants of the Lord for women. He died in 1913. 
-- Blessed Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit priest who was martyred in Madagascar in 1896. 
-- Blessed Carmen Salles y Barangueras, the Spanish founder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. She worked with disadvantaged girls and prostitutes and saw that early education was essential for helping young women. She died in 1911. 
-- Blessed Peter Calungsod, a lay Catholic from Cebu, Philippines, who accompanied Jesuit missionaries to Guam as a catechist and was martyred there in 1672 while he was in his late teens. 
-- Blessed Anna Schaffer, a lay German woman who wanted to be a missionary, but couldn't do so after a succession of physical accidents and disease. She accepted her infirmity as a way of sanctification. Her grave has been a pilgrimage site since her death in 1925.
Deo gratias!

The Pope in solidarity with the victims of the floods in Mindanao

From Rome Reports:

Pope prays for typhoon victims in the Philippines

December 19, 2011. ( During the pope's Angelus, he expressed his solidarity for the people of the Philippines after a typhoon devastated the island of Mindanao on December 16.

Flash floods and landslides left more than 800 people missing and 650 dead along with reports of entire houses being swept away into the sea.

Benedict XVI
“I want to assure the populations of the southern Philippines, hit by a violent tropical storm, of my closeness. I pray for the victims, mostly children, the homeless and the many missing.”

The pope also spoke about the annunciation to Mary to mark the fourth Sunday of advent. Speaking from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI noted the importance of her virginity in the story of salvation.

Benedict XVI
“Those who trust deeply in God, welcome Jesus and His divine life within them, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas.”

This was the last Angelus before the coming Christmas activities at the Vatican that includes the unveiling of the Nativity Scene in St. Peter's Square.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas in the Philippines c. 1940

"Parol" by Philippine National Artist Fernando Amorsolo. 
Source: the blog of Dennis Villegas

I found the following description of Filipino Christmas in the SVD archives, specifically in the first page of the December 1941 – January 1942 issue of “The Cenacle Missionary”:

“The rural districts present a more colorful and pompous celebration of Christmas than the urban districts. From the first day of the Novena to its termination, masses are held in every Catholic Church usually varying from 2:00 A.M. to 4:00 A.M. The 16th of December is the first day of the novena… The church patio is usually well-lighted for the occasion by home made lanterns if there is no electric light service in the town…
Christmas season, mission church in Abra, pre-WWII era. Take note of the six-pointed parols and the lanterns of different shapes. From a private collection.

The day preceding Christmas is a busy day, because of the feverish activities in every home; cleaning of yards and houses; preparing of cakes for the next day; decorating of homes; and the making of Christmas trees… The last novena mass which is usually a high mass fills the churches due to the addition of the returning people from their temporary residence. The mass (of Christmas Eve - CAP) begins at 12:00 midnight to coincide with the birth of our Saviour, Christ the King. These novena masses are like any other masses except infinitely more joyous.

There are not only the usual choir voices, there are also castanets, tambourines, etc. This last mass is the most awaited of all. At the stroke of 12, the priest sings “Gloria in excelsis Deo” and the choir voices burst into song. The Christ Child has been born…”

Notable features:

1) In some places, Simbang Gabi Masses began as early as 2:00 A.M. At present, the dawn Masses normally begin at 4:00 or 4:30 A.M.; I've heard of only one church with a Mass starting at 3:00 A.M., and that is an "early" Simbang Gabi before the main Simbang Gabi of 4:00 A.M.

2) Christmas decorations were often prepared and put up on December 24, very different from the contemporary practice of unduly prolonging the Christmas season in the minds of most people by putting up Yuletide lights as early as November.

3) Tambourines and castanets were used at the Mass of Christmas Eve. This corroborates the testimony to me of one of the oldest members of the Van de Steen Choir (made up of members of the former Manila Cathedral Boys’ Choir from the 1950's and 1960's), who told me that he remembers tambourines being used at Christmas Eve Mass when he was still small. I'll add that Gerry de Leon's 1961 film adaptation of Noli Me Tangere features a short sound clip of the Gloria being sung on Christmas Eve, and the sound of tambourines can be clearly heard along with it. 

4) I find the practice of timing the Christmas Eve Mass so that the intonation of “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” falls on the stroke of midnight, to be a fitting announcement that Christmas Day has indeed come.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Installation of Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle: the reading of the papal letter of appointment

From the Youtube channel of Congressman Roilo Golez:

The full text of the papal letter of appointment (the "Papal Mandate") can be found here.

The 32nd Archbishop of Manila

Most Rev. Luis Antonio G. Tagle, D.D.
By the Grace of God 
And Favor of the Apostolic See
Archbishop of Manila
Installed on December 12, 2011


Prayers for the Archbishop:

Heavenly Father,
in these trying times
when the spirit of the age
threatens Christian values,
give our bishop holiness of life
and wisdom to direct and guide our archdiocesan
family so that we may grow in your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Taken from the Roman Missal.

O God, who hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son to be the eternal High Priest for the glory of Thy Majesty and the salvation of mankind; grant that they whom He hath chosen to be His ministers and the stewards of His mysteries, may be found faithful in the fulfillment of the ministry which they have received. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the need for more priests: the situation in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan

It is incredible to note that, to this very day, three metropolitan provinces (Nueva Segovia or Vigan, Lingayen-Dagupan and Tuguegarao) covering 3 archdioceses and 11 dioceses [plus two Apostolic Vicariates directly reporting to the Apostolic Nuncio]  spread out over three entire regions of the Philippines (Region 1 or "Ilocos Region", Region 2 or "Cagayan Valley Region" and the Cordillera Autonomous Region) plus the large province of Nueva Ecija in the central Luzon plain, send most of their theology (that is, post-college) students to just one theological school: the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan (the current see city of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia). To alleviate the situation the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan has initiated fund-raising for a new Theology school to be located in Brgy. Palapad, San Fabian, Pangasinan. 

This comes against the background of the acute priest shortage in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. According to the archdiocesan website:

The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan comprises sixteen municipalities and two cities including the capital town of the Province of Pangasinan. It has a Catholic population of one million two hundred thousand composed of thirty three parishes. There are only fifty nine diocesan priests and twelve religious priests ministering to the huge Catholic population. 
As of the year 2011, there are one hundred three high school seminarians, thirty-two seminarians in philosophy and eighteen seminarians in theology. The nearest theology seminary is three hundred kilometers away from the archdiocese in Vigan City, the Immaculate Conception School of Theology.

The Papal Bull (Apostolic Letter) of Appointment for the Archbishop-elect of Manila


to the Venerable Brother Luis Antonio G. Tagle
until now Bishop of Imus, now transferred to the Archdiocese of Manila,
Greetings and Apostolic Blessing.

We, who have succeeded in the place of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, have desired to provide for the Metropolitan Church of Manila, an old and illustrious See in the beloved country of the Philippines, after it was left vacant due to the retirement of His Eminence, Gaudencio B. Rosales, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, a Bishop of great merit.

Having heard the advice of the Congregation for Bishops, We judged it best to commit its government to you, Venerable Brother, endowed as you are with proven qualities of mind and heart and skilled in pastoral affairs, having until now worked laudably in the Diocese of Imus.

Wherefore by our supreme authority, We free you from the above-mentioned episcopal See and name you Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila with all the rights and obligations.

We order that this Letter be read to your clergy and people, whom We urge to welcome you gladly and remain united to you.

May the Filipino saints be propitious to you, Venerable Brother, so that supported by their patronage and following their examples, you may perform your office as Bishop and Father. By the leadership of your example, may the faithful entrusted to your care heed their Superiors and above all pursue holiness of life to which we are called, according to the exhortation of the Apostle to the Gentiles: "This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3).

May the gifts of the Spirit, the Paraclete, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, sustain, foster, and gladden you together with the Auxiliary Bishops and the ecclesial community of Manila.

Be strong in Christ, all you brothers and sisters that are dearly beloved to this Apostolic See and to Us.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter, on the thirteenth day of the month of October, in the year of the Lord 2011, the seventh year of Our Pontificate.

Benedict PP. XVI

H/T Katolikong Pinoy's Facebook page. The picture of the actual bulla is from the Facebook page of Fr. Carmelo Arada

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Patroness of the Philippines

Among the titles under which Mary is venerated in the Philippines, two are particularly prominent: the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of the Rosary. The invocation of the Immaculate Conception goes back to the year 1578 when Pope Gregory XIII in a Bull issued on February 6 decreed that the Manila Cathedral should be erected under the invocation of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Clement VIII decreed on 13 August 1595 that the Cathedrals of Nueva Segovia and Caceres also be erected under the same title of the Immaculate Conception. Moreover, one of the three ships that reached the Philippines in the first voyage of Magallanes in 1521 was the "Concepcion," named after the Immaculate Conception, together with the ships "Trinidad" and "Victoria." Hence the Islands before being named Filipinas, and even before the name of Christ had begun to be preached, saw on these shores the name of Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.


The Immaculate Conception , whose feast falls on December 8, remains the principal Patroness of the Philippine Islands. After the suppression of several Church holydays in the Catholic Calendar of the Philippines, still her feast stays as one of the three holydays of obligation during the year, the other two being Christmas and January 1, when the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is celebrated.

Mary in Philippine Life Today
A Pastoral Letter on the Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
February 2, 1975

Photo source:  The blog of Marwil N. Llasos OP.  This blog is a rich source of Marian images and apologetics. I also recommend the following article from this blog: The Dominicans in the Philippines and the Immaculate Conception. 

Filipino Monsignori

"Dandom's Blog" has published a list of Filipino priests appointed as monsignori from the 1950's to the present, based upon the relevant entries in the Acta Apostolica Sedis. The list is divided according to the three existing ranks of monsignori and includes those who held equivalent ranks prior to the reform of monsignorial ranks and privileges by Pope Paul VI in 1968.

The list doesn't include Filipino monsignori appointed before the 1950's such as the famed Msgr. Mariano Sevilla (appointed a Domestic Prelate on November 17, 1920) as well as the numerous Filipino priests who have held the courtesy title "Monsignor" for the duration of their terms as Vicars General in their respective dioceses, except those who were also appointed to a monsignorial rank by the Holy Father.

Honorary Prelate (H.P.) – Invested Filipino Monsignori (September 19, 1950 to December 2010)

Papal Chaplain (P.C.) – Invested Filipino Monsignori (April 16, 1953 to May 6, 2010)

(Photo: Msgr. Moises Andrade, Jr., born in 1948, appointed Honorary Prelate on May 11, 1999, died in 2009.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

On the custom of fasting and abstaining from meat on December 7

I have published an essay on the official blog of Una Voce Philippines regarding the pre-Vatican II practice of fasting and abstaining from meat on December 7, the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and its enduring relevance in our day:

A reminder to practice fasting and abstinence on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The "Parol ng Halina", a Filipino twist on the Advent wreath

The "Parol ng Halina" ("Lantern of Invitation") refers to the use of parols (star-shaped lanterns) to mark the progress of Advent from its first to fourth Sundays, with the parols for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Sundays colored purple or violet while the parol for the 3rd Sunday is rose or pink, that Sunday being Gaudete Sunday, when the liturgy of the Church assumes a restrained joy in anticipation of the exalted night of the Nativity. The four parols are hung from the roof of the church, directly above the main aisle, with the newer parols being hung nearer to the altar (or to the place prepared for the creche). These could also be hung from different corners of the church. 

How is the series of parols concluded? In one variation, the fifth and final parol, which is white, is hung on Christmas Eve above the creche. In another variation, the white parol is made to slide from one end to the church, stopping right above the Nativity scene, before or during the Mass of Christmas Eve. 

I don't know when the current five-parol custom started. It is basically a Filipino adaptation of the symbolism of the Advent wreath, and since the latter began to be popular in Catholic churches only in the 1950's and 1960's then the five-lantern combination couldn't be older than that. However, it was already observed in Sta. Teresita Parish (the headquarters of the Capuchin Franciscans in the Philippines) at Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City when I was a parishioner there in the 1990's. Then and now, only a small minority of parishes observe this; the Advent wreath continues to be the dominant way of marking Advent inside Filipino churches.

Furthermore, many if not most Filipino parishes tend to use parols as mere Christmas decorations, without any discernible attempt to relate these to the liturgical cycles of Advent, the Simbang Gabi, and Christmas.

However, already prior to Vatican II, during the Mass of Christmas Eve, many Filipino parishes observed the custom of having a white parol slide from one end of the church down towards the creche, stopping right above it, thus symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magi to the Christ Child. (A related custom observed in some Filipino parishes or communities is that of having an altar server bear a large white or multi-colored parol at the head of the entrance procession for the Mass of Christmas Eve. I have no idea how old this custom is, either; alas, there is so little information on the history behind so many Filipino customs and traditions!)

At the beginning of this month, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan gave a boost to the custom of "Parol ng Halina" by strongly endorsing it as an alternative to the Advent Wreath. His letter on this matter can be found on the website of his Archdiocese (Circular 2011/35: Alternative to the Advent Wreath) and he has provided a ritual for the blessing of the "Parol ng Halina" as well (Order for the Blessing of Parol ng Halina). 

As usual, some Philippine secular media outlets misreported the Archbishop's directive as a denunciation of the Advent Wreath as "Protestant", and as advocating that parish churches hang parols instead. The fact of the matter is that Filipino parishes need no prompting to hang parols, as these are ubiquitous in the Philippines in the days just before and after Christmas, and no parish ever goes without these. Furthermore, the Advent Wreath is truly Protestant in origin (German Lutheran to be exact). German-speaking Catholics began to adopt it only in the years before World War II and it began to spread to Catholics outside of German-speaking communities only in the post-World War II era. The Archbishop merely alluded to this origin, and explicitly stated that he had no intention or desire to ban the Advent Wreath from the parishes within his jurisdiction.

It should be noted, though, that the "Parol ng Halina", while an "alternative" to the Advent Wreath, is basically a variation upon the latter's usual American form (three purple candles and one rose or pink candle forming a circle with a white candle in the middle), and would be unintelligible to most Filipinos without the Advent Wreath as a point of reference. 

(Photo source: link)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Archdioceses of Cebu and Manila: A Comparison

From the latest edition of the column of the renowned Vaticanista, Sandro Magister:

Manila has been a cardinal see since 1960, while the other, Cebu, has been one since 1969. At the present time, however, after the dismemberment of the archdiocese of Manila in 2002, Cebu tops Manila in terms of population (4.1 million versus 3.3), number of Catholics (3.6 million versus 2.9), number of secular clergy (326 versus 299), number of religious (1,244 versus 1,000), and above all in terms of the number of seminarians (234 versus 66) and baptisms last year (126,000 versus 67,000), while the capital retains the primacy in religious clergy (353 versus 278). The data are from the 2011 edition of the Annuario Pontificio.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The older Filipino way of observing "Undas"

An echo of the older practice, happily still followed by many Filipinos, although relatively few keep the original all-night vigil by the side of the graves of their loved ones. Photo source: LINK.

I found the following description of Undas in the SVD archives in the Catholic Trade building along Tayuman, Manila, specifically in the first page of the October – November 1941 issue of “The Cenacle Missionary”:

“An old Christian customs bids us to visit the graves of our dead on All Souls’ Day or even already on the afternoon of All Saints’ Day.

In Manila this day is solemnly celebrated, yes, even very solemnly, with an oriental gaiety and colorful bustle seemingly quite irreverent and improper to occidental minds.

On All Saints Day special traffic regulations have to be put in force on the streets and lanes leading to the cemeteries…

Early in the afternoon the migration to the cemeteries already begins, but the main traffic sets in the evening after sunset, and continues throughout the entire night. The Filipinos are holding their vigil of the dead.

To be sure, they do not pray the ecclesiastical nocturns. They provide themselves with food and drink, with cakes and cookies and ice cream, and thus, by flickering candlelight, they watch the whole night at the graves of their beloved dead.”

The passage is notable because it shows that, prior to World War II, the Filipino custom was to visit and keep vigil at the graves of the dead on the night between November 1 and 2. This is very different from the practice followed by the majority of Filipino cemetery-goers, which is to visit their dead on the DAYTIME of November 1, when the Church is still celebrating one of its happiest feast days, the Feast of All Saints. Apparently our ancestors were more conscious of the difference between the 1st and the 2nd of November. (It should be kept in mind that, prior to 1945, Masses were limited to daytime, and so by noontime of November 1 the liturgical observance of All Saints was already drawing to a close.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Second Filipino saint, coming soon!

I have just received word that the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have voted in the affirmative for the canonization of Pedro Calungsod.

Deo gratias!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Young People: Stand Firm in Christ! - The Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for the CBCP Year of the Youth 2011

This letter was promulgated on August 21, 2011 by Bishop Nereo Odchimar but hasn't been uploaded on any of the CBCP's websites. I am uploading this on my little blog for the record of events.

CBCP Pastoral Letter to Young People

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reminder: Day of Penance in the Archdiocese of Manila, August 26, 2011

This is a reminder that tomorrow, Friday, August 26, 2011 has been proclaimed by the Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, as a Day of Penance in reparation for the scandalous and blasphemous "art work" that was exhibited some weeks ago in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In the Archbishop's words:
We also declare a Day of Penance for the whole Archdiocese of Manila on Friday, August 26, 2011. We suggest that for this day the Mass for the Forgiveness of Sins and purple vestments be used. We also encourage everyone to perform an act of penance or sacrifice on this day, such as fasting or other forms of mortification, as an expression of remorse for the sins committed against God’s majesty.

Truth be told, every Friday is still a day of penance. The only difference for tomorrow is that the Archbishop of Manila has asked his flock to offer the day's penances in reparation for the public blasphemy committed in the CCP.

I posted earlier this year about the laws of penance in force in the Philippines: Fasting and Abstinence in the Philippines and for Filipinos: Part 1. In a nutshell, the following is the law of the Church in the Philippines regarding penance on Fridays outside of the Sacred Triduum:

Fast and abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The general form for abstinence, which is binding on the faithful throughout the year, is abstinence from meat. It has been noted, however, that abstaining from meat cannot be considered a penance for a great part or number of Filipino people who can no longer afford to buy meat… The local norm is that, except on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday, abstinence may be substituted with exercises of piety, such as reading the Bible, going to Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Holy Rosary, or with acts of charity, such as visiting the sick and prisoners, giving alms to the poor, or teaching catechism.

NB: The Archdiocese of Manila consists of the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Pasay, San Juan, and the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace ("EDSA Shrine") in Quezon City. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A million roses for the world: A Filipino campaign of prayer for the whole world

The Family Rosary Crusade - Philippines has launched "A Million Roses for the World", a campaign to get at least one million Filipinos from all over the world to pray one rosary every day for 200 days, from October 10, 2011 to May 30, 2012. A different country will be prayed for each day from Monday to Saturday (starting with Angola on the first day and with the Philippines on the last day) while the rosary for all Sundays will be for the Philippines and the for families of those who are praying. (The order in which the countries of the world will be prayed for can be found here.)

As of August 24, 2011, 134,659 people have pledged to take part in this campaign.

According to Mr. Howard Dee
, Co-Chairman of the campaign, the motive behind the "million roses for the world" campaign "to bring all the people of all the nations of the world to Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit...through Mary our Blessed Mother... to bring His Peace, Love, Joy and tranquility  to every people and every nation, no matter how great or how small, as a gift of love, faith and goodwill from the people of the Philippines".

The campaign has been endorsed by the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippine (CBCP), Msgr. Nereo Odchimar, Bishop of the Diocese of Tandag, in the name of the entire CBCP.

To join the campaign and to send your pledge to Family Rosary Crusade - Philippines, click here.

The sheet music for the campaign's theme song can be found here.

The elaborate meaning of the logo of the campaign is explained here,

The campaign is not only about the daily rosary, though; it also includes a call for repentance and devout living, as the campaign's "Prayer of Commitment" clearly demonstrates:

Prayer of Commitment   
A Million Roses for the World: Filipinos at Prayer, Peace for All Nations 

Almighty God, we adore you and we praise you for blessing Mary among all women and creating her full of grace. 
Through Mary, we received Jesus your Son whose birth had made all things new for us here on earth. 
We seek your blessing through her praying hands, so that peace may reign in the world and harmony may be established among all nations. 
I commit to pray the rosary everyday, as much as possible with my family, for each and every nation on earth so that war may end, famine may cease, terrorism may stop, justice may reign and only your love and mercy may prevail. 
I commit to live in the state of grace, to avoid all occasions of sin and to receive Holy Communion as frequently as my situation may allow so that your name may be glorified and all peoples may kneel down before you God of Peace in worship, adoration and thanksgiving, now and forever. Amen.

In at least one Archdiocese (Lingayen-Dagupan), this prayer will be prayed in all Masses before the Post-Communion prayer. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Diocese of Tagbilaran to come up with its own catechism

An article published on the blog of Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran, Bohol, which I am now reposting on this blog "as it is", without corrections:

Cantoral from Baclayon, Bohol. (Photo source.)
Birthing of a Boholano Catechism Book 
To prepare for the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee of the Diocese of Tagbilaran the priests, the religious, and the lay faithful have decided to publish a catechism that is peculiarly their own. Its purpose is not to deviate from the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church contained in the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, nor, to satisfy that fanciful pride to show off to the world that they have finally reached the age of maturity in faith, capable of producing a catechesis out of their own human resource, effort, and creativity. It is rather to meet the particular needs of our people, the BEC, our clusters, our parishes, our Diocese. The journey in faith together for the past seventy or so years, following faithfully the Sacred Scripture, traditional doctrine of the Church, and the Magisterium has formed within us a spirituality and culture that is uniquely Boholano. Because of its particularity the universal teaching of the Catholic Church cannot fully satisfy their cultural and spiritual needs. It is along this context that the publication of a Boholano Catechism is conceived.

To accomplish this, the writers tasked to draft the project have to contend with questions relevant to the work. What is the level of faith of our people? How profound is their knowledge of God; how deep is their love for Him and how broad and encompassing is their concern for others, the environment, and other God’s creation? Has this faith been translated into human values that guide the day-to-day interrelationships of the community of people, the neighborhood, the family? Has it thoroughly influenced the culture of the Boholanos? Confronted with challenges of modern paradigms of thought , of new ideologies, of the advances of science and technology, of the materialistic way of living, secular thinking, relativistic and cafeteria manner of following the norms of law and dictates of conscience, the post-modern view of human person whose concept of freedom is to be limitless, not to be constrained by external authority and objective laws, how strong is their faith to parry all these? Have they learn good lessons from them, incorporating them in their way of Christian living, instead of being carried away by these dangerous teachings? Are our people mature enough in their faith to be a beacon of light to the world of today, even to the point of questioning many of their assumptions and biases? Is there a new fresh new way of reaching this people, telling them with authority about Jesus and His answers to the deep longing of modern man? What method in catechism should we use today to reach our people sophisticated in the ways of the world, effectively proclaiming to them the Word of God, teaching them the content of the faith, leading them back to genuine Christian living, and, ultimately, bringing them back to God, to the true worship of Him, to prayer? 
It is within this context that the writers came up with a Boholano catechism book – a modest volume, seemingly insignificant to demand a place in any library, or, be displayed in the National Bookstore. But we are sure that in no time it will become a priceless possession of our BECs and clusters, for it contains the content of our faith. However, it is so sequenced in accordance to traditional way of presenting our universal catechism that it may be mistaken as a mere reproduction of the same. But a keener study of the catechism book would yield the existence of an inner yet subtle logic that makes it unique in style and presentation. It starts with the study of the Trinity to show that our life is communitarian in origin and therefore communitarian in its nature, activity, and purpose. It ends with the presentation of the Kingdom of God to inculcate the lesson that we are not headed nowhere. As we come from God as a community so we return to him as the community of the redeemed. The style too is unique. It has adapted the process called ORID – a method that is behavioral and inductive. Its purpose is to engage actively the listener in the presented content of the faith. 
However, the catechism book would remain lifeless when left on the table. It acquires life only when the trained formator-catechists pick it up, go to the BECS of the parishes, present to the faithful the catecheses contained in the book, facilitate the conduct of the seminar, and together with them actively listen and pay attention to the Lord who teaches. Through this the content of the message becomes alive because the catechists and the participants are engaged in a lively dialogue, preparing them to listen together to the God who speaks to them. Here, the people hear the words of the Scripture and catecheses no longer from the formator-catechists alone. They hear the words from each other. And, hopefully through this dynamic process they would finally recognize their true identity; that they realize that they are not just a group of people that is amorphous, individuals of different directions and prejudices, clinging to each other due to some organizational set-up in the parish, but a community chosen by God as uniquely His own, a community bound together by that divine love that calls them together in the act of evangelizing and catechesis.

Only then will this Boholano catechism book serves its purpose and justifies its existence.

UPDATE 8/24/11: Msgr. Medroso has published another essay discussing the Boholano Catechism:

 Katesismo Bol-anon
Katesismo Bol-anon is a catechetical book conceived and given birth primarily for the Bol-anon faithful who desire to deepen their knowledge and love for the God they have been worshipping. Its purpose is not to deviate from the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church contained in the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, nor, to satisfy that vain feeling to show off to the rest of the world that Bol-anons have finally reached the age of maturity in faith, capable of producing a catechesis out of their own human resource, effort, and creativity. It is rather to meet the particular needs of our people, for them to be able to adapt more and more to the ways of God vis-avis the ways of living in a world that has become secular, technological and digital in its orientation. The journey in faith together as a Diocese of Tagbilaran for the past seventy or so years, following faithfully the Sacred Scripture, traditional doctrine of the Church, and the Magisterium has formed within the Bol-anons a spirituality and culture that is uniquely Boholano. Because of its particularity the universal teaching of the Catholic Church can no longer fully address their social, cultural and spiritual needs. It is because of these needs that the Katesismo Bol-anon is born. 
To accomplish this, the writers tasked to draft the project have to contend with questions relevant to the work. What is the level of faith of our people? How profound is their knowledge of God; how deep is their love for Him and how broad and encompassing is their concern for others, the environment, and other God’s creation? Has this faith been translated into human values that guide the day-to-day interrelationships of the community of people, the neighborhood, the family? Has it thoroughly influenced the culture of the Bol-anons? Confronted with challenges of modern paradigms of thought , of new ideologies, of the advances of science and technology, of the materialistic way of living, secular thinking, relativistic and cafeteria manner of following the norms of law and dictates of conscience, the post-modern view of human person whose concept of freedom is to be limitless, not to be constrained by external authority and objective laws, how strong is their faith to parry all these? Have they learn good lessons from them, incorporating them in their way of Christian living, instead of being carried away by these dangerous teachings? Are our people mature enough in their faith to be a beacon of light to the world of today, even to the point of questioning many of their assumptions and biases? Is there a new fresh new way of reaching this people, telling them with authority about Jesus and His answers to the deep longing of modern man? What method in catechism should we use today to reach our people sophisticated in the ways of the world, effectively proclaiming to them the Word of God, teaching them the content of the faith, leading them back to genuine Christian living, and, ultimately, bringing them back to God, to the true worship of Him? 
The Katesismo Bol-anon is born out of this cognitional process, a rigorous and disciplined exercise of the mind and the will that the writers have willingly undergone for a purpose that is noble. In their heart, however, beats that longing and that prayer that the catechism they have helped to see the light of day would indeed be a relevant guide to usher the Bol-anons to the process of assimilation to God. As observed well by the great German author Goethe “eye could never recognize the sun were it not itself sunlike,” so the faithful can only know God if deep within them is sown and nurtured the initial knowledge of Him through catechism. 
Of course, the writers of the Katesismo Bol-anon are fully aware that faith is a gift. But they also know that this donum fidei can only be received and assimilated by the individuals through tedious process of evangelization and long catechesis as well as their willingness to cooperate in listening and accepting the Good News of salvation. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI who described the role of catechesis to the life of the faithful: “Catechesis aims at coming to know Jesus concretely. It is theoretical and practical initiation into the will of God as revealed in Jesus and lived by the community of the Lord’s disciples, the family of God.” (Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism, Ignatius Press, 1997, p. 56). 
After so much straits and travails in giving birth to the Katesismo Bol-anon, however, the writers have that consolation in that they have contributed a little to prepare the faithful to know God, help them to adapt to His ways and, hopefully, to again fall in love with this God.

UPDATED: An important announcement regarding the Manaoag Shrine

Originally posted early in the morning of June 22, 2011. Revised in the early morning of July 26, 2011:

The Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag. Photo source.

This is re-posted from the website of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The emphasis is mine:

June 13, 2011

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua

Circular 2011/20

RE: Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag

My dear people of God:

I am pleased and proud to inform you that the Cardinal Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome has granted to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag a special bond of spiritual affinity through which the pilgrims who visit the said Marian Shrine are assured of the blessings of the Lord as if they actually visited the said major basilica in Rome. The Manaoag pilgrims are assured by the Sacred Penitentiary of a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions of the Church when they visit the Shrine Our Lady of Manaoag.

The papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major was one of the first basilicas built in honor of the Blessed Virgin in order to highlight her being Mother of God as defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.

In order to commemorate this singular honor granted to a sanctuary within the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan, the Eucharist will be celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag on July 22, 2011, Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene, at ten o’clock in the morning during which the appropriate documents from the Holy See will be formally announced to the Catholic faithful. I am cordially inviting you to this solemn Eucharistic celebration.

Let us avail of this grace filled occasion before us to gather in faith and proclaim our love for the Virgin of Manaoag. I am looking forward to your presence. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,


Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

UPDATE (7/26/11): The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan has published more details about the "special bond of spiritual affinity" between the Manaoag Shrine and the Liberian Basilica (St. Mary Major) in Rome. The indulgences newly granted to the Shrine of Manaoag are as follows:

By virtue of the Spiritual Bond of Affinity on 20 April 2011, the Apostolic Penitentiary granted in perpetuity that Plenary Indulgence may be obtained from the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Manaoag, provided that in addition to living a virtuous Christian life, they comply with the conditions required, namely: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intention of the Pope with the rite having been completed by the truly repentant faithful in the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary. 
Those who wish to receive the plenary indulgence must participate in the following: 
1. On the Feast day of the titular Liberian Basilica, namely on 5 August;
2. On the Feast day of the titular church itself, (1st Sunday of October and 3rd Wednesday during Easter Season);
3. On all the Solemnities of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God;
4. In the same year, on the day freely chosen by each of the faithful;
5. As often as a group of pilgrims go there for reason of devotion. 
Indulgences remit temporal punishment due to sin which is already forgiven. An indulgence, according to Can. 992, of the Code of Canon Law, is “the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain and defined conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfactions of the Christ and the saints”. 
Indulgences do not forgive sin, but remit punishment due to already forgiven sin. The indulgences do not eliminate the need for or substitute for Confession, but rather presuppose that one has already received sacramental absolution in Confession (for those who were in a state of moral sin). Hence, one must be in the state of grace to receive indulgences. 
Plenary and Partial Indulgence 
A plenary indulgence is a complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. A partial indulgence frees a person from some of the temporal punishment due to sin. 
Indulgences do not eliminate the requirement of restitution, but should be obtained in addition to making restitution. For example, if someone were to steal an item from another, he should go to Confession ( and receive sacramental absolution), restore the item (or otherwise make full restitution), and obtain indulgences.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tagbilaran ordinations tomorrow

I've just been informed that two deacons of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, Bohol will be ordained to the priesthood tomorrow, while 3 more deacons will be raised to the priesthood come December. Let us keep them in our prayers. Kudos to Bishop (and blogger!) Leonardo Medroso and the clergy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, which is one of the Philippines' leading dioceses in terms of priestly ordinations per number of faithful. 

Is the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod at hand? And will Cebu be the site of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress?

From an article in today's edition of Sun Star Cebu:

Another news, which came from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, is that the canonization process of Visayan martyr Blessed Pedro Calungsod is in its final stages. 
“There is development in the canonization process of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, (the investigation) has passed the level of medical doctors. It has also passed the level of theologians,” the prelate (Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu - CAP) said at a press conference yesterday afternoon in his residence. 
“The next step is the (review at the) level of cardinals. Probably his canonization may be announced late this year,” he added. 
It was Blessed Pope John Paul II who beatified Beato Pedro on March 5, 2000 in Rome. The teenager was martyred in Guam in 1672 with a Spanish Jesuit priest, now Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores. 
Archbishop Palma also said the International Eucharistic Congress might be held in Cebu. 
Palma and Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal had lobbied for the event to be held in Cebu with the International Eucharistic Congress president during an earlier trip to Rome. 
The last time such a gathering was held in the country was in Manila in 1937.

The 50th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Dublin, Ireland next year. At present, IEC's are held every four years (the last IEC was held in Quebec City, Canada in 2008). 

The International Eucharistic Congress held in Manila was the 33rd. 

(Please refer as well to my earlier blog post on Blessed Pedro Calungsod's possible canonization.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ordinations in Cebu

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu ordained 11 new priests on June 21, 2011 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu, continuing the recent trend of the Archdiocese of Cebu ordaining the most number of diocesan priests among the dioceses of the Philippines. (See also this article.) Last year, Cebu had 16 new diocesan priests, 3 of whom belonged to the Society of the Angel of Peace (SAP), a new monastic congregation with its sole monastery in the city of Talisay in the province of Cebu.

Cebu also witnessed the ordination (in May of this year) of five Filipino priests for the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. They were ordained in the FFI-run Church of the Co-Redemptrix (Brgy. San Jose Talamban, Cebu City) by the Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. The ordination rites were celebrated according to the "Ordinary Form" of the Roman Rite, unlike the FFI's sacerdotal and diaconal ordinations (all held in Italy) in 2009 and 2010, which were celebrated according to the liturgical books in force in 1962. 

The Fandango Mass?

The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, which has begun implementing elements of the new translation of the Roman Missal ahead of other Filipino dioceses, is now promoting what I take to be the first Philippine-made musical setting for the new English translation of the Roman Missal (emphasis mine):

I am pleased to share with you this repertoire of Mass Songs entitled “MASS OF SAINT JOHN THE BELOVED” written by Professor Ryan Cayabyab, a native of San Carlos City. The lyrics of the Mass songs use the latest translation of the Roman Missal. With a typically Filipino pandanggo rhythm, the compositions also deliberately avoid repetitious refrains in order to encourage singing them at Mass without unduly prolonging the liturgy.
...This repertoire contains the easy to sing melodies of I Confess, Glory to God, the Creed, Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Our Father and Lamb of God... 
As we make the musical scores and compact disc copies of these songs available to you now, we also hope that by February 2012, when we launch the year long preparations for the 50th year of our archdiocese and the 85th year of the creation of our diocese, all the parish communities and schools would have become familiar with the songs. 
I trust that you will exert every effort to encourage the learning of these songs and their use in our parish liturgies. This repertoire is uniquely ours, composed for us and made by one of us. Let us unite to spread what is beautiful in our Church...

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu receiving the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

60 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration in Manila and Lingayen-Dagupan

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, St. John the Baptist Church, Liliw, Laguna. Photo source.

The Congregation for the Clergy recently published a circular exhorting the faithful to organize 60 hours of Eucharistic adoration in honor of Pope Benedict XVI's 60th sacerdotal anniversary. In response the Archdioceses of Manila and of Lingayen-Dagupan have posted their programmes of Eucharistic adoration on their respective websites:

This presents an inspired occasion for us to present a sincere manifestation of our spiritual union with him. In solidarity with the Universal Church, and as suggested by the Congregation for Clergy, each parish, shrine, chaplaincy, and communities of religious men and women in the Archdiocese of Manila will have a 60-hour Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests starting on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29 (also Pope Benedict XVI’s presbyteral ordination date) and ending on July 1, 2011, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. A prayer booklet on the 60-hour Eucharistic Adoration, prepared by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, will be sent to all parishes and shrines.
The 60-Hours of adoration will be distributed to all the parishes and schools of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Each parish and school will be given a one-hour adoration. The Congregation for the Clergy also proposes that in addition to praying for the Pope’s life, health, happiness and protection from every evil, the faithful are asked to pray for bishops, priests, deacons and all ministers of the Gospel, that they may be faithful to their vocation and their self-giving, and to remember the Church, vocations, the laity and deceased priests.
The rest of the circular from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan contains the schedule of hours of adoration per parish / institution. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

More on the implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal (Ordinary Form) in the Philippines

From a press release on  the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila promoting a new book by Fr. Anscar Chupungco OSB:
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines voted for the adoption of the new English translation of the Roman Missal for the Philippines during its plenary assembly in January 2010. The new English translation will be used starting December 2, 2012. The Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship granted the recognitio requested by the ECL, which will issue a decree in July to announce the implementation of the new English translation. 
The local publication of the new English translation of the Roman Missal will make it available to local parishes at a more economical price. The locally published new English translation will incorporate local celebrations such as the Misa de Aguinaldo or Simbang Gabi, the feast of the Sto. Niño, and the proper of saints. This will be available in June 2012. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(UPDATED) The Benedictine Altar Arrangement Comes to Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City

UPDATE June 22, 2011: In my recent visits to Sto. Domingo I've noticed that this great church has reverted to its previous arrangements for the crucifix and candles (with the processional cross located at the side of the altar and the candles placed upon the steps leading up to the altar). I guess even the "Benedictine altar arrangement" is still too controversial for the Philippines...

Originally posted on April 28, 2011:


Eastertide 2008:


Benedictine altar arrangement introduced on Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011:

Easter 2011:

A Roman-style antependium appears as well! A crucifix is not in the sanctuary area, though, in line with the practice of some Filipino parishes during Eastertide.

The "before" picture comes from a beautiful blog post on this church by my good friend Fr. Abraham Arganiosa CRS, and the "after" pictures come from the Facebook account of "Paulus Maximus". 

I'm back!

I'm sorry for not having maintained this blog for about seven weeks. I had been too preoccupied with my blog on the RH bill and I had too little time to come up with additional posts for this blog. From now on I will try to post here at least twice a week. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Paul II to the Filipino people - Part 2: Filipinos, renew the face of the earth!

Dear People of God in the Philippines, go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth – your own world first, your families, your communities and the nation to which you belong and which you love; and the wider world of Asia, towards which the Church in the Philippines has a special responsibility before the Lord; you Filipino young people have a special responsibility before the Lord for Asia. And all of you, not only the Filipino people (Mabuhay!), have the same responsibility before the Lord and the world beyond, working through faith for the renewal of God’s whole creation. That is your responsibility, your calling, everywhere, in Europe, in Africa, in both Americas, in Australia, everywhere! (Cf. Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, Acts and Decrees, n. 7)

May God who began this work in you – four hundred years ago for others, many centuries ago, some more, some less – bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ! (Cf. Phil. 1: 6) That is my conclusion and my cordial wish for all of you – conclusion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Amen!

John Paul II
January 15, 1995

Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Paul II to the Filipino people - Part 1: The Philippines deserves particular honor

The Philippine nation is deserving of particular honor since, from the beginning of its Christianization, from the moment that Magellan planted the Cross in Cebu four hundred and sixty years ago, on April 15, 1521, all through the centuries, its people have remained true to the Christian faith. In an achievement that remains unparalleled in history, the message of Christ took root in the hearts of the people within a very brief span of time, and the Church was thus strongly implanted in this nation of seven thousand islands and numerous tribal and ethnic communities.

The rich geographical and human diversity, the various cultural traditions, and the people's spirit of joy and sharing, together with the fruits of the missionary efforts, have successfully blended and have shaped, through periods which were sometimes not devoid of shadows and weaknesses, a clear national identity that is unmistakably Filipino and truly Christian. The attachment to the Catholic faith has been tested under succeeding regimes of colonial control and foreign occupation, but fidelity to the faith and to the Church remained unshaken and grew even stronger and more mature.

Due homage must be paid to this achievement of the Filipino people, but what you are also creates an obligation and it confers upon the nation a specific mission. A country that has kept the Catholic faith strong and vibrant through the vicissitudes of its history, the sole nation in Asia that is approximately ninety percent Christian, assumes by this very fact the obligation not only to preserve its Christian heritage but to bear witness to the values of its Christian culture before the whole world.

Although small in size of land and population compared to some of its neighbors, the Philippine nation has undoubtedly a special role in the concert of nations, in order to consolidate peace and international understanding, and more particularly in maintaining stability in South East Asia, where it has a vital task.

The Filipino people will always draw the strength and inspiration that they need to carry out this task from their noble heritage—a heritage not only of Christian faith but also of the rich human and cultural values that are their own. Every man and woman, whatever his or her status or role, must strive in all earnestness to preserve, to deepen and to consolidate these values—these priceless gifts—against the many factors which seriously threaten them today.

An extract from the message of John Paul II:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Archbishop Soc Villegas to Priests on the Celebration of Mass

A Meditation for Priests
Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD
8 April 2011

And the fire on the altar shall always burn, and the priest shall feed it, putting wood on it every day in the morning…This is the perpetual fire which shall never go out on the altar. (Lev 6:12-13)

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him …  They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us …?” (Luke 24, 30-32)

Every now and then, a younger brother priest would come up to me with these words, “How can we keep the fire of our priesthood alive? After only a few months after ordination, I already feel bored. I feel dry. I am not excited anymore. I might not last.” A priest who is not at peace with himself will not be able to inspire peace in another soul. O priests, you bright candles enlightening human souls, let your brightness never be dimmed. (Divine Mercy in my Soul, Diary of St. Faustina, 75).

Lost Fire

Every priest knows that feeling of the well drying up and the fire dying. The ordination honeymoon seems to end so quickly and monotony soon sets in. Burning out, running on empty —the feeling is all too familiar

The onslaught of all these feelings boils down to prayer, or more specifically, the lack or neglect of it. Indeed, pastoral action is attractive and so emotionally rewarding, and priests tend to be consumed by it. But when we sacrifice personal prayer for the sake of pastoral action, burn out, boredom and monotony will set in fast.

Unfortunately, the first victim in this boredom and burn out phenomenon is the Mass. We offer the Mass haphazardly without noticing it because we no longer examine our consciences anymore. We rush the prayers and omit the songs forgetting that the face of God is more important than the face of our wristwatch. We rehash old homilies ad nauseam. We put on the Mass vestments like we put on our ordinary shirts and pants and after we unvest, we just throw them on the table of the sacristy, in a rush to go to another appointment. The source and summit of our Christian life has become just a duty to do and a source of revenue. Sad! Why? How can we reverse the path?

In our desire to invigorate our seemingly humdrum life we begin to indulge in “other pursuits”. We explore hobbies and sports – photography, golf, tennis … We pursue further studies. We join more socials. Buy more gadgets. Take longer and farther vacations.

But the happiness continues to evade us. “In our age, as in every age, people are longing for happiness, not realizing that what they are looking for is holiness”. (Jerry Walls). The fire cannot be ignited again. We become mediocre and lukewarm and get accustomed to bland, tasteless water. We just submit to the reality that the wine of the Lord is no more.

Find Him where You Lost Him
It need not be so. You will find God where you lost Him. You lost Him at Mass? You will find Him again there. “… The whole Church draws life from the Eucharist, all the more then must the life of a priest be “shaped” by the Eucharist. So for us, the words of institution must be more than a formula of consecration: they must be a “formula of life“. (Letter of John Paul II to priests on Holy Thursday 2005, n.1).

Where in the Mass can we recover the Lord? As a brother to a brother, I encourage you to look at the silent prayers at Mass that we tend to gloss over or even totally ignore or forget because of haste or lack of concentration. “Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.”(GIRM, 45)

The priest’s silent prayers in various parts of the Mass are personal prayers that will help us to see ourselves not just as ministers for the validity of the sacraments but as fellow worshipers of the priestly people. The silent prayers prescribed for the priests during the Mass are not for the people but for us. These silent prayers remind us that we are not only there to bless; we also need to be blessed. We are not just at the ambo to teach; we are there to be taught also. We are not just there by the altar to minister; we also need to be ministered to. We are not just functionaries. We are not just tools. The Lord has calls us His friends.

The silent prayers of the priest at Mass, if properly prayed, will open for us that sense of awe and amazement as we perform our holy duty. “This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. But in a special way it should fill the minister of the Eucharist.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 5).