Saturday, January 30, 2010

Facing the East in the Eastern Churches

Fr. Finigan's blog (The Hermeneutic of Continuity) has this wonderful document on the east-ward direction of the Eastern liturgies. The document is worth our reading.

The hermeneutic of continuity: Eastern Churches must face East

(Of course, many liturgists will say, "But we do not belong to the eastern rites." However, Pope Benedict has shown in 3 Masses at the Sistine Chapel and once at the Pauline Chapel that Ad orientem worship is a legitimate possibility even in the Missal of Paul VI and in the Missal of John Paul II.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

National Congress of the Clergy

I have been attending the Second National Congress of the Clergy since Monday, 25 January, 2010. It is rather a very impressive assembly of 5, 500 priests from all over the Philippines. Rev. Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, OFM Cap., Preacher to the Papal Household, gave the conferences. The conferences were meditations on the Pentecost event as, according to Fr. Cantalamesa, the first need of the Church is the Holy Spirit, so is He also the first need of the priesthood. "The priesthood needs a perennial Pentecost." The emphasis of the talks was the relationship of the Holy Spirit and the priests. This relationship is important because it was only when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit did they emerge from the cenacle as changed men. The same Holy Spirit is the one who transforms priests and configures them to Christ, the High Priest.
Pray for priests most especially during these days so that the National Congress may truly be a spiritual event, a venue for authentic renewal of the clergy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Priest and the Word of God

On account of the Babylonian invasion, the temple of the Lord lay in ruins and for 14 generations, the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon. Cyrus of Persia, a benevolent king, brought that exile to an end. He ordered the return of the Israelites to their land so that they may rebuild their temple and their lives. As they were rebuilding the temple, the sacred scrolls of the law were found and so, in the 1st reading today, Ezra the priest read the law of the Lord before the assembly of men, women, and children from daybreak until midday. “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.” “All people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” They were weeping because at last, after His long silence during the exile in which Israel had “no prophet, priest, nor leader”, God was once again speaking to His people. They were again hearing the word of the Lord and so they were filled with joy.

Ezra the priest presents to us one of the chief roles of the priest, that is, to read plainly from the book of God’s word and interpret it so that all could understand. In the holy Gospel, St. Luke makes reference to the “ministers of the word” who have handed down to us “the narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us.” The Holy Father, Pope Benedict himself, speaks of the important service which priests must give to the word of God: “This is your mission (as priests): to bring the Gospel to everyone so that everyone may experience the joy of Christ and that there may be joy in every city. What can be more beautiful than this? What can be greater, more exciting, than cooperating in spreading the Word of life in the world, than communicating the living water of the Holy Spirit? To proclaim and witness joy: this is the central core of your mission” (Benedict XVI, Homily at Mass for the ordination of priests, 27 April 2008). Priestly service is service to the word of God: “’To serve the Lord’ – priestly service also means to learn to know the Lord in his Word and to make it known to all those he entrusts to us.” (Homily at Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, 20 March 2008)
The preaching of the word of God is a role that the priest must take up seriously. When he takes the book of God’s word and reads it to the sacred assembly, the priest assumes the identity of Christ who, in today’s gospel, proclaims the word and then says: “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” The priest should take joy in the fact that Christ uses him to speak to his people: “What marvels surround our work (of administering the divine sacraments) in the service of God’s word! We are instruments of the Holy Spirit; God is so humble that he uses us to spread his word. We become his voice, once we have listened carefully to the word coming from his mouth. We place his word on our lips in order to bring it to the world” (Homily at Vespers with clergy and religious in Lourdes, France, 12 September 2008). The priest must always keep in mind that the word he places on his lips is not his own but the Lord’s. His role is to interpret it so that all may understand. People do not listen to the priest because they want to hear the priest speak about himself, his ideas, his opinions. They listen to the priest because they want to know what God has to say to his people. Because of this, the priest must himself listen to God’s word, study it, pray over it. He must prepare his homily well because what he proclaims is not his word but God’s. “Even now the word of God is given to us as the soul of our apostolate, the seed of our priestly life” (Ibid.).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chastity of the Priest

On this feast of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, our thoughts are raised to the virtue of chastity which should be possessed by priests who are charged with the offering of the Holy Sacrifice. In as much as the Liturgy is worship of the true God, the priest must not simply possess rubrical impeccability but also a chaste heart.

"The hand, says St. John Chrysostom, that touches the sacred flesh of Jesus Christ, and the tongue that is purpled with his divine blood, should be purer than the rays of the sun. In another place, he says that a priest ascending the altar should be possessed of purity and sanctity which would merit for him a place in the midst of the angels. How great, then, must be the horror of the angels when they behold a priest, who is the enemy of God, stretching forth his sacrilegious hands to touch and eat the Immaculate Lamb! 'Who,' exclaims St. Augustine, 'shall be so wicked and daring as to touch the most holy Sacrament with polluted hands!' Still more wicked is the priest that celebrates Mass with a soul defiled by mortal sin." (St. Alphonsus, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, 126.)

Admitting our transgressions, we, as priests, should make our own the words of the Psalms : "A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn!"

Liturgical Creativity?

Creativity in liturgy seems to be the rule of the day. We have forgotten that Liturgy is something which the Church received from the Lord. We have lost sight of the humility which is required of all who approach the Sacred Liturgy. To the mind of many ministers, liturgy is simply a vehicle for self-expression. We have forgotten that we are not lords of liturgy but its servants.

"Man cannot simply 'make' worship. If God does not reveal himself, man is clutching empty space. Moses says to Pharoah: '[W]e do not know with what we must serve the Lord' (Ex. 10:26). These words display a fundamental law of all liturgy. When God does not reveal himself, man can, of course, from the sense of God within him, build altars 'to the unknown god' (cf. Acts 17:23). He can reach out toward God in his thinking and try to feel his way toward him. But real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals how we can worship him. In any form, liturgy includes some kind of 'institution'. It cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity - then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self-affirmation. Liturgy implies a real relationship with Another, who reveals himself to us and gives our existence a new direction."

J. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, 21-22.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week of Prayer for the Unity of the Church

Ant. That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.

V./ I say to thee, that thou art Peter,

R./ And upon this rock I will build my Church.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, look not upon my sins, but upon the faith of Thy Church; and vouchsafe unto her that peace and unity which is aggreable to Thy will: Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

Ant. Ut omnes unum sint, sicut Tu, Pater, in me et ego in Te, ut et ipsi in nobis unum sint; ut credat mundus quia Tu me misisti.

V./ Ego dico tibi, quia Tu es Petrus,

R./ Et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.


Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixist Apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis; ne respicias pecatta mea, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris: qui vivis et regnas Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

The octave of prayers for the Unity of the Church is from the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter in Rome (January 18) to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).

from the Raccolta

Prayer for Children

O Jesus, friend of little children, Thou who, from Thy tenderest years, didst manifestly grow in wisdom and grace before God and men; Thou who, at the age of twelve years, sitting in the temple in the midst of the Doctors, didst listen to them with attention, didst ask questions of them in all humility, and didst win their admiration by the prudence and wisdom of Thy words; Thou who didst receive the little children so gladly, blessing them and saying to Thine Apostles: "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven," inspire me, even as Thou didst inspire Saint Peter Canisius, the model and guide of the perfect catechist, with a deep respect and holy affection for little children, sincere zeal and devotion in teaching them the elements of Christian doctrine, and a special aptitude for making them understand its mysteries and love its beauty. I ask it of Thee, my Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen.
from the Racollta

Feast of the Santo Nino

The great earthquake in Haiti last Wednesday is the center of the news all over the world. An intensity 7 quake brought about the loss of many lives and property. It was a real equalizer as even the presidential palace and the archbishop’s office collapsed. Amongst the casualties was the Archbishop himself and a hundred seminarians. It was the strongest earthquake in 200 years and scientists are saying that when tectonic plates have not moved considerably in a long period of time, earthquakes of such magnitudes are most likely to be expected. It happened in Haiti. It can also happen to us because a major fault line runs through our city.

Earthquakes, of course, are explained scientifically as caused by the movements of the tectonic plates of the earth. But the recent catastrophe makes me look at the Santo Nino who holds a ball in his little hand. That ball is not a toy. It is the whole world which the Father placed into the hands of his dearly beloved Son. Of course we take it for granted that the world in the hands of God. But looking at the world in the hands of a little boy makes us think twice. The world is carried not by a responsible adult but by a child! Will you entrust costly jewelry to a little child? Will you let your little child hold one million dollars? None of us will ever think of making a child hold something so costly. Now comes the question: will you let the Sto. Nino hold the world in his little hands?

While we would hesitate to do so, the Father did not. In fact, Jesus himself said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him by his Heavenly Father. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus. When he has come of age, the Holy Spirit descended upon him at the river Jordan and the election of the Father was heard by all: You are my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. It could be easy for us to say that he received all wisdom when he came of age. But the gospel today tells us otherwise for here we do not see a 30 year old Jesus but a 12 year old boy sitting amidst the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions. Origen said: “It is not the nature of men to be full of wisdom before they have reached their 12th year. It is one thing to partake of wisdom, another to be filled with wisdom. We have then no doubt that something divine appeared in the flesh of Jesus: not alone exceeding man, but every other rational creature also… And the grace of God was in Him. Not alone when He came to young manhood, and when he taught openly; but while He was yet a Child the grace of God was in Him: and as in Him all things were wonderful, so also was His Childhood wondrous, because He was full of the wisdom of God. ” (Pg 14, 10 in Luke)

In His Incarnation, the Lord Jesus took upon himself an image of weakness and yet, the image of the Santo Nino tells us that his self-emptying has not diminished in any way the greatness of his Divinity. For even as a Child, His Power is still supreme, His Authority complete, His Wisdom without defect. Even as a Child, Jesus is perfectly God and perfectly King. If through Him everything came to be and nothing existed except through Him, then should it be wrong that He should hold the world in His little hand? If this Child stayed behind in Jerusalem to be about his Father’s business, then should we not keep our confidence in him who would later on say, “As long as I was with them, I guarded them…I kept careful watch, and not one of them was lost…” (John 17:12) Yes, in the hands of the Santo Nino, we can confidently entrust our lives and our selves. He will never lose any of us so long as we never let go of his hand. He is serious in going about doing his Father’s business. “It is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of what he has given me…Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks at the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
Viva Santo Nino!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pray for Haiti


O God, who hast established the earth upon firm foundations, graciously receive the prayers of Thy people: and, having utterly removed the dangers of the shaken earth, turn the terrors of Thy divine wrath into the means of salvation of mankind; that they who are of the earth, and unto earth shall return, may rejoice to find themselves citizens of heaven by means of a holy life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (from the Roman Missal)

Deus, qui fundasti terram super stabilitem suam, suscipe preces populi tui: ac trementis terrae periculis penitus amotis, divinae tuae tracundiae terrores in humanae salutis remedia converte; ut qui de terra sunt, et in terram revertentur, gaudeant se fieri sancta conversatione caelestes. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. (ex Missali Romano)

Raccolta, XLIII

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On the Baptism of the Lord

On the Baptism of the Lord, which is commemorated by the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on January 13, 2010, our thoughts are assisted by Psalm 29:

O give the Lord, you sons of God, give the Lord glory and power; give the Lord the glory of his name. Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord's voice resounding on the waters, the Lord on the immensity of waters; the voice of the Lord, full of power, the voice of the Lord, full of splendor.

The Lord's voice shattering the cedars, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon; he makes Lebanon leap like a calf and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The Lord's voice flashes flames of fire.

The Lord's voice shaking the wilderness, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh; the Lord's voice rending the oak tree and stripping the forest bare.

The God of glory thunders. In his temple they all cry: "Glory!" The Lord sat enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

When I was a student of liturgy in San Beda College, I joined a field trip which brought us to a synagogue in which we attended a Sabbath service. At a certain part of the service, everybody rose as the scrolls of Sacred Scripture were taken out of their revered receptacle to be placed in the lectern. As the scrolls were carried, the assembly began to sing Psalm 29. This ritual left a deep impression on me as I realized how God's voice, God's Word is very powerful.

Obviously, the Psalm speaks of how God's Word hovered the waters of the Red Sea on that night of the Exodus. He manifested His great power as he divided the waters in two so that the People of God may cross as they walked on dry land.

However, at the River Jordan, the Word of God, the Lord Jesus, emerged from the waters. Truly, the Lord's Voice resounded on the waters, the Lord on the immensity of waters; the Voice of the Lord full of power, the Voice of the Lord full of splendor.

Icons of the Baptism of the Lord would show Jesus immersed in water wherein images of sea monsters are shown departing from Him. On the eve of Epiphany, water is solemnly blessed in the Extraordinary form. This solemn blessing, which is influenced by the Eastern rites, includes two solemn prayers of exorcism, the first is a more general one and the second referring to the water being blessed. This exorcism expresses in ritual language what the icons express: Christ, the Holy One, went into the waters not to be purified by it but to purify it! He is the Lord's Voice on the immensity of waters, the Voice of the Lord, full of power, the Voice of the Lord, full of splendor.

Indeed, He comes to renew the face of the earth. He came to shatter the hold of Satan upon the created universe. He sanctifies creation with His presence. He is full of power and full of splendor. We have seen His glory, the glory of an only Son, full of grace and truth!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meditation on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The Christmas Season draws to a close with the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism. Aside from being the start of the Lord’s public life, his Baptism at the Jordan portrays for us the very purpose of the Incarnation of our Lord. John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance in order to prepare a people worthy of the Lord. Although he was without sin, the Lord Jesus subjected himself to John’s baptism at the end of which the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove and the Father’s voice was heard addressing him: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Some questions need to be asked at this point: Did Jesus receive the Holy Spirit only when he was baptized? Did he become God’s Son at the river Jordan? The answer to both questions would be negative. From the very beginning, the person of Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. This is due to the fact that he is God’s only begotten Son and the incarnation took place by the power of the Holy Spirit. From the very beginning, Jesus has always been God’s Son. The angel Gabriel said of him to Mary: “He will be called Son of the most High.” If this were so, then why did the Holy Spirit descend upon him at the River Jordan? Why did God the Father publicly call him His beloved Son?

The Bishop St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches us that in the divine design for restoring human nature to its original condition, the Holy Spirit will be poured into our human nature “for otherwise our nature could not enter once more into the peaceful and secure possession of those gifts.” Christ’s coming into the flesh will be the appointed time for the Holy Spirit to come upon us. When this time came, the Father gave his Spirit once again and “Christ, as the firstfruits of our restored nature, was the first to receive the Spirit”. “Christ received the Spirit in so far as he was man, and in so far as man could receive the Spirit. He did so in such a way that, though he is the Son of God the Father, begotten of his substance, even before the incarnation and before all ages, yet he was not offended at hearing the Father say to him: You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

“The Father says of Christ …that he has been ‘begotten today,’ for the Father is to accept us in Christ as his adopted children. The whole of our nature is present in Christ, in so far as he is man. So the Father can be said to give the Spirit again to the Son, though the Son possesses the Spirit as his own, in order that we may receive the Spirit in Christ. The Son took to himself the seed of Abraham…and became like his brothers in all things.

“The only begotten Son receives the Spirit, but not for his own advantage, for the Spirit is his and is given in him and through him. He receives it to renew our nature in its entirety and to make it whole again, for in becoming man, he took our entire nature to himself. Christ did not receive the Spirit for himself, but rather for us in him; for it is through Christ that all gifts come down to us.” (Thursday after Baptism, Office of Readings) This is the reason why John the Baptist says of Jesus: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. The mystery of the Incarnation leads us to Pentecost. He became man in order to restore to us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by which we are saved: “He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us…” The coming of the Holy Spirit shall mean that “(our) service is at an end; (our) guilt is expiated; (we have) received from the Lord double for all (our) sins.”

Christmas, which shall conclude today, means more than revelry and good cheer. It is the beginning of the renewal of all creation. God is creating the world anew. In Christ, he is sending to us his Spirit to renew the face of the earth. And so, the end of Christmas should find us not just sporting new clothes and appearances. It should not find us drunk with the spirit of worldliness. Rather, the end of Christmas should find us cleansed of sin and renewed in the Holy Spirit. According to St. Paul, this appearance of the grace of God “saves all and trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ…”

Papal Mass Ad Orientem

The Holy Father again celebrated the Mass ad orientem for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This was held in the Sistine Chapel. The fact that he has been doing this for the past three years should prove the point that the Mass in the ordinary form (according to the Missal of Paul VI) may be legitimately celebrated ad orientem. It seems that many bishops and liturgists do not understand this point.
Thanks to New Liturgical Movement for the pictures.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pagan Europe?

I chanced upon this post which is rather alarming. It is sad to know that most of Europe is giving up her Christian heritage.

Being Is Good: Pagan Europe?

End of Christmas

With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Calendar of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we say goodbye to the wonderful Christmas Season.

Here are pictures of the Crib of the Lord for the Christmas season of 2009 in the Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, Philippines.

New Year's Eve Adoration Pictures 2010

Pictures from the New Year's Eve vigil 31 December 2009 to 1 January 2010 at the Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, Philippines

It is wonderful to end the year with Adoration and to begin another with the offering of Holy Mass. Thanks to Dennis Maturan for the pictures

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Nazarene and John the Baptist: a lesson on Ad Orientem worship

"Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned. Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.' John answered and said, 'No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.'"

John 3:22-30

Whenever I ask people, "Who is the patron of Quiapo Church?" the usual answer I get is "The Black Nazarene." That's wrong because the true patron (the titular) of the said church is St. John the Baptist. Not many people know this. In fact, many mistakenly think that January 9 is the Fiesta of Quiapo which is not really true because the fiesta of Quiapo is June 24, which is also known as Manila day. People go to Quiapo Church to visit the Nazareno and not really the Baptist. In a sense, what his disciples said to John at that time can be repeated to him about the pilgrims who go to Quiapo: EVERYONE IS COMING TO HIM!

When these words were first addressed to John by his disciples, it would probably have been in an alarmed tone. The concern was that the Lord Jesus was gaining a reputation at the expense of John. People were abandoning John in order to transfer to Jesus' side.

But John was not alarmed. After all, he knew who he was and where his place should be. John knew his place: "I am not the Christ...I was sent before him." The bride, God's people, was not his to claim. He was just the best man. Jesus is the Bridegroom! The role of the best man is to stand and listen for the Bridegroom. Hearing the Bridegroom's voice, he rejoices greatly because his arrival would mean that the wedding feast has begun. The best man never gets jealous of the attention showered on the Groom. After all, it is the Groom's wedding, not his. The best man does not attract attention to himself. He directs all the attention to the Bridegroom himself: "He must increase; I must decrease!"

The Priest: the Bridegroom's friend

So John the Baptist is the appropriate image of the priest at Mass. In the Holy Sacrifice, the priest is never to keep the attention of the people to himself. Rather, like John the Baptist, the priest's presence should not be an imposing one but rather, it should be a presence that should disappear when the Bridegroom arrives: He must increase; I must increase.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in most liturgies today. The Holy Father, when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, made this valid observation:

"In reality, what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest - the 'presider', as they now prefer to call him - becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing. Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the 'creative' planning of the liturgy to groups of people who like, and are supposed to, 'make their own contribution'. Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a 'pre-determined pattern.' The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself." (J. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, 79-80.)

John the Baptist shows us the pattern that every priest must emulate at the celebration of the Mysteries. The Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Lord's coming. This preparation is by preaching. Thus, he is the voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord! "The Liturgy of the Word is about speaking and responding, and so a face-to-face exchange between proclaimer and hearer does make sense." (Ibid., 81)

However, at the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest, like the Baptist, must disappear through the common turning of the priest and people to the same direction: to the Lord.

"...a common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental but of something essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue but of common worship, of setting toward the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle but the common movement forward, expressed in a common direction of prayer." (Ibid.)

When the priest faces the Lord, he conveniently disappears into the background. Some liturgists mistakenly say that the only advantage in the eastward direction of liturgy is that the celebrant is able to concentrate more and is freed from distractions coming from the assembly. This shallow understanding fails to appreciate the fact that Liturgy is worship and not entertainment! Liturgy is a procession of God's people, led by its priest, towards the Lord. The priest has his back to the people because in worship, he is not talking to the people. He is addressing God. His face should be turned toward the Lord.

"It was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not close themselves into a circle; they did not gaze at one another; but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us." (Ibid., 80)

The liturgical reform which allowed the celebration of Mass versus populum (facing the people) involved more than just a rearrangement of sanctuary furniture. It has, unfortunately, changed the orientation of the liturgy. No matter how much the Congregation for Divine Worship tries to explain that the orientation of the liturgy remains to be "towards the Lord", the liturgy has become, at the very least, a "teaching session" (like a cooking class in which the audience is shown how the dish is made) and at its worse, "entertainment" ( a show that has to keep up with the demands of an MTV generation). The constant pressure for priests is to keep the Mass entertaining. The priest has forgotten that the liturgical act is first of all God's act, not his. He is just the best man who stands and listens for the Bridegroom's coming. He is simply there to pave the way for the encounter of Groom and Bride. The priest should not be an obstruction to this encounter. When the Bridegroom arrives, the best man should conveniently disappear. How is this done? When the priest turns towards the Lord, the people no longer see his face. The priest decreases and Christ increases!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Clergy Conference in Rome: Address of Msgr. Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies

New Liturgical Movement posted a wonderful address given by Msgr. Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, to the Year for Priests Clergy Conference in Rome. The address focuses on the Spirit of the Liturgy:

Clergy Conference in Rome: Address of Msgr. Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First Thursday of January 2010

I adore Thee, O Jesus, true God and true Man, here present in the Holy Eucharist, humbly kneeling before Thee and united in spirit with all the faithful on earth and all the blessed in heaven. In deepest gratitude for so great a blessing, I love Thee, my Jesus, with my whole heart, for Thou art all perfect and all worthy of love.

Give me grace nevermore in any way to offend Thee, and grant that I, being refreshed by Thy Eucharistic presence here on earth, may be found worthy to come to the enjoyment with Mary of Thine eternal and ever blessed presence in heaven.


from the Raccolta

Te, Iesu, verum Deum et Hominem hic in sancta Eucharistia praesentem, in genue humillime provolutus, cum fidelibus terrae et Sanctis caeli mente coniunctus, adoro; ac pro tanto beneficio intime gratus, te, Iesu, infinite perfectum atque infinite amabilem ex toto corde diligo.

da mihi gratiam ne ullo modo te unquam offendam, atque ut, tua hac in terra eucharistica praesentia recreatus, ad tua aeterna ac beata in caelis praesentia una cum Maria perfruendum merear pervenire.


Adore the Blessed Sacrament on the First Thursday of the month. Offer your adoration for the sanctification of priests.


The most famous Christmas décor in the Philippines today would most probably be the parol. This usually star-shaped lantern reminds us of that star in the heavens which led the wise men to the cradle of the newly born Savior. The magi saw this star and understood it to be the sign of the birth of the great King. And so they traveled from afar in search for him and when they saw him, what did they see? They saw that “He was not crowned with a diadem, nor resting on a gilded bed; but scarcely possessed a single tunic, and that served, not for the adorning of His Body, but to clothe his nakedness, and was such as the wife of a poor man, far from her home, could provide.” (St. John Chrysostom, ex Op. Imp.)

And why should he not be ashamed to be found so poorly clad great though he be? It was to reveal to the nations what and who it is that changes the course of the history of the world. “If he had chosen the great city of Rome, men would have said that the transformation of the world had been accomplished by the might of that people. Had he come as the son of the Emperor, they would attribute that gained to military power. But what did He? He chose only what was poor and humble, so that it would be seen that Divinity had changed the world. And so He chose a poor woman as His Mother, a poorer fatherland. He had no money and this crib makes it plain to you.” (Theodoretus, Sermon before the Council of Ephesus)

And true to their reputation of wisdom, the magi recognized what lay hidden beneath such poverty. They were not disheartened by what they saw. After all, they were not seeking for an earthly king. “Because they seek a heavenly king, though they saw in him nothing regal; yet satisfied by the testimony of a single star, their eyes were glad as they looked upon a poor little Child; for the Spirit within them showed that He was a Being of Awe. Hence: falling down they adored Him. They see man, but adore God.” (St. John Chrysostom, ex Op Imp.)

Recognizing the hidden greatness of this little Child, they offer him gifts: gold that symbolizes wisdom (There is desirable treasure in the mouth of the just – Prov. xxi, 20); frankincense which symbolizes the power of prayer (Let my prayer rise as incense in thy sight – Ps. cxl, 2); and myrrh which typifies the mortification of the flesh. These gifts express their homage and we can offer the same gifts as well: To the new born King we offer gold, if in His sight we shine in the light of wisdom; we offer incense when by the fervor of our prayer we offer up that which is agreeable to him; we offer myrrh when by abstinence we mortify the vices of our flesh (Gregory the Great, Homily 10).

When the shepherds saw the infant, they understood how God became so close to them as he shared in their poverty. When the magi saw the infant, they understood how far they have been from the place where God wanted to be found – in a manger. They were so rich but He, so poor. And so they bend low – for this is the only way by which they could recover the poverty that should have been theirs. And they had to recover this poverty if they wanted to be blessed. For Christ would later proclaim, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Acquiring such poverty of spirit, now they can truly kneel before this infant in whom is found the fullness of the Divinity, whose Kingdom will be without end, and in whose stripes, we will be healed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

De Publicatione Festorum Mobilium in Epiphania Domini

Know ye, beloved brethren, that as by God's favor we rejoiced in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so, too, we announce to you the glad tidings on the Resurrection of our Savior.
The Sunday of Septuagesima will fall on the 31st of January.
Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the most holy Lenten fast on the 17th of February.
On the 4th of April you shall celebrate with greatest joy
the holy Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ will occur on the 13th of May.
The Feast of Pentecost on the 23rd of May.
The Feast of Corpus Christi on the 3rd of June.
November 28 will usher in the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to Whom be glory and honor eternally. Amen.

Thoughts on Epiphany

Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, dona propitius intuere: quibus non jam aurum, thus, et myrrha profertur: sed quod eisdem muneribus declaratur, immolatur, et sumitur Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Look graciously, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon the offerings of Thy Church, in which are no longer offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh: but He, Who by these same gifts was signified, is sacrificed and received, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

The Secret for Epiphany ought to remind priests how extremely precious are the offerings placed in their hands. The magi prostrated before the Lord and adored Him. They opened their treasures and offered Him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. However, at the Holy Sacrifice, the priest offers to the Lord a gift greater than what the magi offered in homage. He offers God's only Son upon the altar. He does not offer gold to symbolize the kingship of Christ. Rather, he offers the King of kings, the true Son of David whose reign is without end. He does not offer frankincense to symbolize the divinity of Christ. Rather, he offers the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. He does not offer myrrh to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ. Rather, he offers in sacrifice the Lamb who was slain and who now lives for ever, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

How blessed are you, O priest of God, for unworthy you may be, you have been chosen to offer to God the very gifts He has bestowed upon us: "a pure Victim, a holy Victim, an immaculate Victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation"!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holy Name of Jesus

Hope again, O sinner; hope and despair not. Hope in Him whom you fear; fly to Him from Whom you fled; beseech Him with violence Whom you have offended.

Jesus, for Thy Name's sake, do that for me which Thy Name proclaims. Jesus pardon the pride that offended Thee. Look upon the unhappy one that forsakes Thy sweet Name; Name of delight, Name of blessed hope. For what does Thy Name mean Jesus, but Saviour. Therefore, for Thy Name's sake be for me Jesus, be to me, a Merciful Saviour.

St. Augustine, de contritione Cordis V

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Holy Name of Jesus

"Christians are seen to draw their courage, not from incantations, but from the Name of Jesus, and from the commemoration of what He has done. For by His Name it has often happened that demons are put to flight from man, especially as often as they who invoke it, pronounce it with the right disposition, and with all trust. So great indeed is the power of the Name of Jesus, that sometimes it is efficacious even when spoken by the wicked. The Name of Jesus heals the afflicted in mind, puts to flight the spirits of darkness, and to the sick is an ever present remedy."

Origen, Ex Contra Celsus, Bk. 1

Friday, January 1, 2010

First Friday of the Year 2010

New Year's Day is also the First Friday of the Year.

To you, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, do we consecrate this year!

"O Heart of love, I put all my confidence in you,

for I fear everything

from all my wickedness and frailty,

but I hope for all things

from your goodness and bounty.

Remove from me

all that can displease you or resist your holy will;

let your pure love

imprint your image so deeply upon my heart

that I shall never be able to forget you

or to be separated from you.

May I obtain from your loving kindness

the grace of having my name written in your heart;

for in you I desire to place all my happiness and glory,

living and dying in bondage to you."

(St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)