Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Christ's Fast and our Baptism

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The sins of humankind were the reasons for the flood that devastated the entire earth in the time of Noah: “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Gen. 6:5) The flood was to annihilate evil by destroying all people and the earth with them. And so, rains fell for 40 days and 40 nights killing everyone and everything apart from the creatures which were with Noah’s family in the ark. When the floods receded, everything was supposed to start anew with God’s covenant that never again will he devastate the entire earth with a flood. However, sin was not washed away by the flood. Soon, Ham, one of Noah’s sons, will dishonor his father and his descendants will build the tower of Babel as a monument to their pride.

The flood waters “prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience…” Baptism does what the floods failed to accomplish. The flood waters annihilated evil men but not sin itself. Baptism brings about the forgiveness of sin. How could this be? This is made possible because “Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.” This is the implication of his fasting in the desert: “The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” Ordinarily, we do not challenge enemies in their territory. Just look at that Filipino boxer who won a fight in Argentina. He and his staff were mauled by the displeased local crowd. But Jesus went into the desert which was notorious for being the devil’s abode. The desert was the enemy’s turf. By his incarnation, he entered into this world, into this arid place that repays man’s labor with thorns and thistles. He entered into enemy territory with only one purpose in mind: to wrestle with the devil for the salvation of man. He was among wild beasts yet was kept unharmed because the angels ministered to him. The beasts did not harm him but we crucified him and angels did not prevent us from doing so for in his suffering and death occurred the real combat. On the Cross, Christ conquered sin. Having been put to death, the Righteous One’s side was opened by a soldier’s lance from which gushed forth an abundant fountain of mercy: the Spirit-filled waters of baptism. Thus, the prophecy of John the Baptist was fulfilled: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The Spirit filled baptismal water floods the whole world and washes away the sins of those who would dare plunge themselves into it. Blessed are we who emerged from the waters of baptism for we are now able to appeal to God with a clear conscience.

And we should strive always to maintain a clear conscience by constantly heeding to Christ’s words: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Let us not be like Ham who lent a willing ear to the devil’s temptation. Let us not be puffed up in pride like the builders of the Tower of Babel. Rather, let us keep ourselves humble, always sincerely repenting of our sins, always willing to listen to the Gospel. Let our lives not be caught up by the entertainment and pleasures of the world. Rather, let us lead penitential lives, always vigilant against the devil’s temptation and always vigilant for the Lord’s will.

“We must flee from creatures, withdraw into solitude, and keep a profound silence, and through these things, enter into the dispositions of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not necessary that we should go looking for Him in the deserts of Palestine, where once He withdrew and fasted for 40 days. He is solitary in the desert of the Most Holy Sacrament: there He has taken upon Himself the sins of all men, becoming (for our sakes) the penitent of the Eternal Father.” (Mother Melchtilde de Bar, Benedictine)

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Video of Solemn Mass in the EF at the Holy Family Parish

The Video of the Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Holy Family Parish is now posted at the New Liturgical Movement .

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rend your hearts, not your garments

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Ash Wednesday opens Lent which is a time of spiritual renewal – a time of going with Jesus to the desert in order to fast and to pray. Thus, fasting today is obligatory for all aged 18 to 60. Today’s obligatory fast hopefully will encourage us to engage in various acts of penance and piety throughout this blessed season.

As we enter into Lent, we receive a warning from the Lord against doing acts of piety and charity “in order that people may see them.” In other words, he warns us against engaging in spiritual acts for a show. And so, as we fast, we are not supposed to look gloomy and unkempt so that others may know that we are fasting. And so is it also with prayer and almsgiving. The point is that we should keep in mind that these acts of piety and charity are not a show, not a performance aimed at eliciting admiration from others. We do these not to impress people. Rather, we do these to worship the Lord and to show him how sorry we are for our sins. The only eyes we wish to entertain with our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving would be those of the “Father who sees what is hidden.” We “rend (our) hearts, not (our) garments, and return to the Lord…for gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.”

We rend our hearts, not our garments – the words of the prophet Joel tell us to be concerned about interiority, that is, about “what is hidden.” Fasting is not about keeping a trim figure or a healthy lifestyle. Rather, fasting is about rending our hearts. Its objective is interior conversion. Fasting is not about detoxifying our bodies. It is about detoxifying our souls of any attachment we have to ourselves and to the world. In his Lenten message for this year, the Holy Father invites us “to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for ‘privacy’.” When we fast, we deny ourselves of what we perceive is rightfully ours. This act of self denial breaks our selfishness. It breaks our obsession with “privacy”. It breaks our self possession so that we may open ourselves to the Lord in prayer and to our neighbor in almsgiving. By loving ourselves less, we become available to loving the Lord more and our neighbor for the sake of our Lord. The Holy Father asks, “What hinders (the) humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of ‘showing mercy’ towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor.”

And so, as we quit our bridal chambers, let us go to the altar and say to the Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people.” As we empty our plates, let us put food in the plates of the poor. The money we do not spend for the meals we intend not to take, let us donate them to the hapag-asa foundation so that we may feed hungry and malnourished children. Let this season of Lent be less about ourselves and more about others – let us be more fervent in our prayers and more generous in our charity. “Behold, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What is new?

Praised be Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Seeing the faith of the 4 men who brought him a paralytic through the roof, Jesus said to the paralytic: “Your sins are forgiven.” The scribes, not knowing the divine nature of Jesus, thought that the Lord was blaspheming: “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” And rightly they said so. Thinking that they were criticizing Jesus, the scribes unknowingly gave witness to the Lord’s Divinity. It is true that God alone can forgive sins and so, when Jesus said that “The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth,” he was already revealing to us the Divinity that hides beneath his humanity. Giving the healing of the paralytic as proof to his claim to Divine authority, the Lord has done something new…something that made people around him say: “We have never seen anything like this!” Indeed, what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah has come to pass: “see, I am doing something new!...It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more.”

Why is it that people said, “We have never seen anything like this”? Has God not forgiven offenses in the past? Why did he say, “I am doing something new”? Obviously, even in the past, the Lord has been manifesting His mercy. He revealed himself to Moses as the Godwho is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression;” (Num. 14:18) Again and again, he forgave the infidelity of the people of Israel. The novelty in what Jesus did lies in the fact that the authority to forgive sins on earth is exercised by the Son of Man, that is, by God who has assumed a human nature. By the mystery of the Incarnation, God forgives sins by using the human nature he assumed as his instrument. In and through the sacred humanity of Christ, salvation is accomplished for us. In and through his sacred humanity, our sins are forgiven. In and through his sacred humanity, our wounds are healed.

Thus, in the Incarnation of God’s only begotten Son, God affirms his love for humanity. “The Son of God was not ‘yes’ and ‘no’ but ‘yes’ has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him,” said St. Paul to the Corinthians. There could be no clearer affirmation of Divine Love for us than in the Incarnation of his only begotten Son.

Thus, as Lent approaches, let us not hesitate to seek the forgiveness of God. Let us never doubt, even for a single instant, the Lord’s desire to forgive our sins, no matter how many or how grave they may be. To St. Faustina, the Lord Jesus said: “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the Cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of my mercy. Do not argue with me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace.” (Diary, 1485)

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What to do during Lent

Lent is a time for renewal through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. At present, this season seem to have lost its "teeth". Many Catholics go through Lent without any desire to rekindle the fervor of the spiritual life. Is this the result of the relaxation of the Lenten discipline? Islam has not relaxed its discipline on the Ramadan but the tradition is more fervently observe to this day. In our effort to "adjust" Catholic life to the modern times, much of our Lenten traditions have suffered.

Perhaps it is time to rekindle the fire. Let us once again observe Lent as Lent. An interesting article at the New Liturgical Movement blog is worth considering: Lenten Observances in the Vein of a New Liturgical Movement

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Children as Signs of Contradiction

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“Lord, what good will your gifts be if I keep on being childless?” so Abram asked God who has showered his faithful servant with many good things. Blessed by God with land, livestock, and many other properties, Abram should have been satisfied with what he had. However, his sterility bothered him. All his properties did not compensate for that longing which remained unsatisfied: he longed for a child, an offspring to whom he shall bequeath his properties, an offspring for whom he shall dedicate his efforts. Such is the generous disposition of Abram. He was truly a man of God because he is like God whose desire to give himself is an expression of his love.

So unlike him is the attitude which characterizes the world we live in. So deep are the roots of materialism in us that we no longer ask what Abram asked the Lord: What good will your gifts be if I keep on being childless? In fact, isn’t this what many modern people want to achieve: to remain childless so as to be free of burdens and responsibilities and also to continue enjoying for the self the fruits of one’s own labors? Ah! The joy of having no children! The less mouths I have to feed, the more I have to enjoy for myself!

When the old Prophet Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms, he declared this child to be a sign that will be contradicted. Early in his life, the Cross begins to cast its shadow upon Jesus. He will be a sign that will be contradicted because the world will hate him for what he will say and for who he is. What he will say will directly oppose what the world teaches. Who he is will threaten the dark forces that control the world: “Have you come to destroy us? We know who you are: the Holy One of God!”

However, when we consider the hostility of the world today towards children, the words “sign of contradiction” begin to take on a new light. In becoming a little child, the Lord Jesus stands in solidarity with all children who, unfortunately are also signs that are contradicted. And the opposition to having children is so subtle because it takes the guise of informed choices, reproductive health, and planned parenthood. And the forces behind this opposition are so great if only we consider how much money is poured behind planned parenthood and the RH bill. So great are these forces that clearly we are up against more than just human beings but against principalities and powers in high places.

Against these principalities and powers that have connived against the child, the Christian family has only one weapon: faith in the Cross. “By faith, (Abraham) received the power to regenerate,” so said St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, “…So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” This faith of Abraham is complemented by the willingness of Mary to take up the cross: “you yourself, a sword will pierce.” In order to defend the child from the forces that contradict it, Christian families must be willing to take up the crosses that go with raising children. Nobody said that having children will be easy. In fact it is difficult but even so, it has to be done because it is the will of God. God wanted Abraham to have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” Difficult as this cross may be, Christian families have to carry it with faith – faith in the wisdom and in the providence of God. After all, God does not impose burdens that we cannot bear. His wisdom sees what the world, in its shortsightedness, cannot see. The world cannot see beyond present convenience. The Lord sees the preservation of humankind. The aging European population is proving right the wisdom of God. With an almost zero birth rate, there is no one to replace an aging workforce. There is no one set to sustain the economy. Indeed, what good will the Lord’s gifts to us be if we were to remain childless?

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Solemn High Mass at Holy Family Parish

Last Sunday, February 12, 2012, the High Mass was offered at the Holy Family Church. This is the external Solemnity of the Holy Family. It was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Jean-Marie Moreau of the Institute of Christ the King, with Rev. Fr. Eric Forbes, OFM Cap. serving as Deacon and Rev. Fr. Rodel Lopez, OMI as sub-deacon. It was truly a blessed event - the highlight of our Parish Fiesta.

Thank you Mr. Jay Balza for the pictures and also for bringing Fr. Moreau!

The Common Liturgical Direction (ad orientem)

The elevation of the Body of the Lord

The elevation of the Precious Blood

The second Confiteor

Ite Missa Est.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Consecration to the Blessed Virgin

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of Our Lady is an opportune time for priests and religious to renew their self donation to the Lord through our Lady. In the blog of Fr. Mark Kirby, I found this prayer of St. Ildefonsus of Toledo (+667) which is a beautiful consecration to the most holy Virgin:

Prayer of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo, bishop

The Abundance of the Sweetness of Thy Son

I come to thee, only Virgin Mother of God.
and fall prostrate before thee,
who alone didst cooperate in the Incarnation of God.
I humble myself before thee, who alone wert found to be the handmaid of thy Son:
obtain that my sins be wiped away;
command that I be cleansed of the wickedness of my deeds,
and, that I may love the glory of thy virtue,
reveal to me the abundance of the sweetness of thy Son.

Thou art His Co-worker in my redemption

bestow upon me the gift of proclaiming the true faith of thy Son,
and of defending it.
Grant that I may cleave to God and to thee,
that I may serve thy Son and thee,
that I may be His bondsman and thine;
His, because He is my Creator.
and thine, because thou art the Mother of my Creator;
His, because He is the Lord of the angelic powers,
and thine, because thou art the handmaid of the Lord of all;
His, because He is God,
and thine, because thou art the Mother of God;
His, because He is my Redeemer,
and thine, because thou art His co-worker in my redemption.

The Body by which He healed my wounds

that which He wrought for my redemption,
verily He formed in thine own person.
that He might be my Redeemer,
He became thy Son.
That He might be the price of my ransom,
He became Incarnate of thy flesh.
The Body by which He healed my wounds,
He took from thee so that He, in it, might be wounded.
The mortal Body by which He took away my death,
He took from thy mortality.
The Body b y which He brought my sins to nought,
He received sinless from thee.
This nature of mine that ahead of time, in Himself,
He placed above the angels in the glory of His Father's right hand,
He assumed - humbling Himself - out of thine own true body.

I am thy slave

Therefore, I am thy slave,
because Thy Son is my Master,
Therefore thou art my Lady,
because thou art the handmaid of my Lord.
Therefore, I am the slave of the handmaid of my Lord,
because thou, my Lady, didst become the Mother of my Lord.
Therefore I have become thy slave,
because thou didst become the Mother of my Maker.

By the Holy Spirit

I pray thee, I pray thee, holy Virgin,
may I, by the Spirit through Whom thou didst give birth to Jesus,
have Jesus, and hold Him.
By that Spirit through Whom
thou didst conceive this same Jesus in thy flesh,
may my soul receive Jesus.
Let the Spirit gift me with the knowledge of Jesus,
this Spirit by Whom it was given thee to bear Jesus and to give Him birth.
Let the Spirit in Whom thou didst declare thyself the handmaid of the Lord,
choosing that it should be done unto thee according to the Angel's word,
grant me to proclaim the heights of Jesus with lowliness.

To Love Jesus and fear Him

In the Spirit thou didst adore Jesus as thy Lord
and gaze upon Him as thy Son;
in that same Spirit may I love Him.
And may I fear this same Jesus,
with that reverence by which He, truly being God,
became subject to His parents.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Novena to the Holy Family

Our Parish begins the novena to the Holy Family on February 3, 2012. The Parish Fiesta is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of February every year. I really wonder why this is so. In the old calendar, the Feast of the Holy Family used to be celebrated on the Sunday after Epiphany. Why my new parish and 2 other parishes in the Manila and Quezon City areas celebrate the feast on the 2nd Sunday of February is an interesting subject to research.

Anyway, I found these novena prayers to the Holy Family. Follow this link: Novena to the Holy Family