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