Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Parish Moves East

At the New Liturgical Movement is a recent post about a parish that has "moved East", that is, has gone "ad orientem" in its celebration of the Ordinary Form...yes, even with the encouragement of the Bishop. How I wish my own bishop were as supportive and open minded to the idea of Ad Orientem worship. (sigh!)

Another Parish Moves East

Sunday, January 20, 2013

His Humility Is His Exaltation

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

When asked by his mother why he caused them to search for him in sorrow, our Lord responded: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Here the Lord Jesus, although a mere boy of 12 years, manifests his clear knowledge of who he really is – he is the Son of his Father. Thus, he must be found in the temple, which is his Father’s house. He must be doing his Father’s business for he was sent by this same Father on a mission here on earth. He knew that he was sent, thus he sets out doing his Father’s business. “Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine Sonship…” (CCC, 534) St. Ambrose wrote: “What was accomplished in a manner above nature, above age, above what was usual, must not be ascribed to his human excellence, but must be referred to the power of his divinity.” (St. Ambrose, On the Gospel; Catena Aurea) Jesus, the Son of God was totally consecrated to the mission given him by the Father. Thus we understand why the Father would later on declare his pleasure in him: “You are my Son, my beloved. In you my favor rests.”

Indeed, the Father ought to be well pleased with Jesus his Son. After all, Jesus was truly obedient to his Father in heaven. In his obedience, he descended from heaven and assumed a human nature. Although his divinity was never diminished by his humanity, nevertheless he submitted himself to the authority of Mary and Joseph. His humble submission to those who in reality were but his creatures is a manifestation of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. St. Ambrose said, “Are we to be astonished that he obeys his Father who was obedient to his mother? A subjection like this, (is) not of dependence, but of filial love.” (Ibid.) The obedience of Jesus is a wondrous obedience. “He was obedient to man. He was obedient to his handmaid…” (Ibid.) St. Bernard asked, “Who was subject to whom? A God to men. God, to whom the angels are subject, whom principalities and powers obey, was subject to Mary…(and also) to Joseph.” (St. Bernard, On the Feast of the Holy Family; Catena Aurea) Such an excellent humility that God should obey a woman! (Ibid.)

In the Santo Niño we behold excellent humility and obedience. He is fully divine and yet he stoops to obey his human mother. Doing so does not diminish his divine dignity but makes it even more astonishing. He himself said that those who humble themselves will be exalted. Indeed, he is the both humble One and the Exalted One. A little Child and yet a mighty King - His humility is his exaltation. And thus he paves for us the path to salvation but setting himself as the example. And so, St. Bernard said: “Learn, O man, to obey. Learn, O earth, to be subject. Learn, O dust, to submit. The evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says: He was subject to Mary and Joseph. Be ashamed, vain ashes that you are. God humbles Himself, and do you exalt yourself? God becomes subject to men, and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker?” (Ibid.) And so the Lord invites us: “Come to me…and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart!”

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Must see video for altar servers

A friend in facebook shared to me this video which to me is a must see for altar servers. It shows Mass in the ordinary form celebrated ad orientem. There is great emphasis on reverence and prayer in the altar servers' ministry. A hopeful sign for the restoration of the sense of the sacred!

follow the link: Altar servers video

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Family in Search for God


After an entire day’s journey on their return home from the pilgrimage to the temple, both Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with them. And so they looked for him among their acquaintances and relatives and not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem. We might easily conclude that the search for Jesus took place simply because as parents, Mary and Joseph felt responsible for him. While this may be true, there is something here deeper into this search for a lost boy. Perhaps the key to this deeper meaning is found in the fact that after 3 days, they found him in the temple.

In the newly published 3rd volume of the book “Jesus of Nazareth”, Pope Benedict points out: “The 3 days may be explained in quite practical terms: Mary and Joseph spent 1 day travelling north, a further day was needed to retrace their steps, and on the 3rd day, they eventually find Jesus. But while the 3 days are thus a perfectly plausible chronological indication, one must nevertheless agree…(that) here (is) a silent reference to the 3 days between Cross and Resurrection. These are days spent suffering the absence of Jesus, days of darkness, whose heaviness can be sensed in his mother’s words: ‘Child, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’ (Lk 2:48)” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, 123.) Mary and Joseph were not anxious simply because they lost a child. Their anxiety was on account of the fact that the disappearance of Jesus was the seeming absence of God (very similar to the sad experience of the disciples at the death of Jesus) They did not simply search for a child…they were looking for God. And true enough, they found him … where else but in the temple! Isn’t God supposed to be found in the temple?

This event speaks much to our families who are now living amidst a very secular setting. The signing of the RH Law should be the occasion for us to engage in some sort of examination of the state of Catholicity of our own families: Are our families still truly Catholic? Does the Lord still enjoy a central place in our family life? Does he still have a place in our families? The indifference with which many families met the signing of the RH law seems to indicate how secular our families have become. That our consciences are not at all bothered by the spread of the culture of death in our society and even in our families is a clear indication (and perhaps a danger sign) of how our families have imbibed a secular culture and have lost their Catholic identity. This is a clear warning sign that we are easing God out of our families. We are literally leading him out of the door. It is funny that we do not question the superstitions of feng sui experts but meet the teachings of Jesus with incredulity. It is disturbing that our hearts are no longer troubled nor anxious over the absence of God in our homes. Have we lost God? Are we looking for God?

It is time to retrace our steps to the Temple. It is time for our families to go back to Church and give time to God. It is time for us to search for him in prayer and in the study of our catechism. As Jesus reminded Mary and Joseph of the importance of being concerned with the “things of the Father”, so also he tells us to set our family standards higher: set your hearts on the things above where Christ is seated in the right hand of God.  Let us set our eyes on things sublime. We should be doing our Father’s business!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Baptism of Christ

He who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, stood unrecognized among the many who went to the Jordan to be baptized. We praise your humility. We praise your meekness. Glory to you, O Lord!

The Sinless among sinners; the Pure One among the defiled. You, the purifying fire which is never quenched. You, the fire that purifies the waters. We praise your power. We praise your purity. Glory to you, O Lord.

Water is defiled when we immerse in it. But it was purified when the Lord Jesus descended into the waters. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Glory to you, O Lord!

He, the meek and humble One, descended into the waters and further descended into the waters of suffering and death. We descend into the waters with him. Like sheep led to the slaughter, we follow the Lamb wherever he goes. Glory to you, O Lord!

Descending into the Waters of Suffering and Death

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power” – so declared St. Peter as he explained the significance of the Baptism of the Lord in the river Jordan. To be anointed means to be endowed with every authority in the heavens and on earth. At his baptism, the Lord Jesus was revealed as the one filled with the Holy Spirit and power, the one who, according to St. John the Baptist, is “mightier than I …He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” And His power and authority comes from the fact that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. The Father himself testified on his account: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am very well pleased!” Here is God’s chosen One with whom He is pleased, upon whom God has placed his Spirit.

However, his power is unlike anything that the world has known. He exercises his authority in a way the world has not seen before. For while the rulers of this world lord it over their subordinates, the power of Christ is gentle and mild: “He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not making his voice heard in the streets” (Mahinahon at banayad kung siya’y magsalita, ni hindi magtataas ang kanyang tinig). In fact, his gentle rule is one that is filled with mercy: “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench…” (Ang marupok na tambo’y hindi babaliin, ilaw na aandap-andap di niya papatayin). On account of his gentleness, he stood unrecognized among those who went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. He stood unrecognized until the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove and the Father in heaven made his solemn declaration. In this way, the Lord Jesus reveals the path he wishes his Church to take: the way of gentleness. “Learn from me for I am meek and gentle of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The path that the Lord reveals to us makes following him in a very secular society much challenging and difficult.  Christ’s gentleness makes it easy for his enemies to malign him, ignore his laws, and persecute his followers. Sometimes, we even complain to the Lord why he made it so difficult for us to struggle for his kingdom on earth. How difficult is it to proclaim the Gospel with a gentle voice (not crying out, not making his voice heard in the streets) to a world that easily drowns this voice with the noises that it makes. How difficult is it to preach of Christ’s authority to a world that scoffs at it and underestimates it.

And yet, it is this path of gentleness that the Church must take if she is to follow him who descended into the waters of the Jordan and further descended into the baptism of suffering and death. We follow the Lamb like sheep led to the slaughter. We who descend into the waters of baptism descend with Christ into his death and burial. Difficult as it may be, we nevertheless descend with him into the waters of suffering and death for he is the One called “for the victory of justice…set (you) as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations…” We follow him through this difficult path for he is Lord of all and there is no other. He, the meek and humble One, invites us to follow him and learn from him. He assures us that this is the right and only path: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Salient Points on the Holy Father's Message for World Day of Peace 2013


The beginning of the civil year is to us the World Day of Peace. For this year, the Holy Father has chosen the theme: Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called children of God. We all know that this theme is one of the Beatitudes of the Lord Jesus.

According to the Holy Father, “The beatitudes are not only moral exhortations whose observance foresees in due time – ordinarily in the next life – a reward or a situation of future happiness. Rather, the blessedness of which the beatitudes speak consists in the fulfillment of a promise made to all those who allow themselves to be guided by the requirements of truth, justice and love. In the eyes of the world, those who trust in God and his promises often appear naïve or far from reality. Yet Jesus tells them that not only in the next life, but already in this life, they will discover that they are children of God, and that God has always been, and ever will be, completely on their side. They will understand that they are not alone, because he is on the side of those committed to truth, justice and love. Jesus, the revelation of the Father’s love, does not hesitate to offer himself in self-sacrifice. Once we accept Jesus Christ, God and man, we have the joyful experience of an immense gift: the sharing of God’s own life, the life of grace, the pledge of a fully blessed existence. Jesus Christ, in particular, grants us true peace, which is born of the trusting encounter of man with God.”

“Jesus’ beatitude tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort. In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence. It is the fruit of the reciprocal gift, of a mutual enrichment, thanks to the gift which has its source in God and enables us to live with others and for others. The ethics of peace is an ethics of fellowship and sharing. It is indispensable, then, that the various cultures in our day overcome forms of anthropology and ethics based on technical and practical suppositions which are merely subjectivistic and pragmatic, in virtue of which relationships of coexistence are inspired by criteria of power or profit, means become ends and vice versa, and culture and education are centered on instruments, technique and efficiency alone. The precondition for peace is the dismantling of the dictatorship of relativism and of the supposition of a completely autonomous morality which precludes acknowledgment of the ineluctable natural moral law inscribed by God upon the conscience of every man and woman. Peace is the building up of coexistence in rational and moral terms, based on a foundation whose measure is not created by man, but rather by God. As Psalm 29 puts it: ‘May the Lord give strength to his people; may the Lord bless his people with peace’ (v. 11).”
“Peace concerns the human person as a whole, and it involves complete commitment. It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation. Above all, (as Blessed John XXIII wrote in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris,) it entails the building up of a coexistence based on truth, freedom, love and justice. The denial of what makes up the true nature of human beings in its essential dimensions, its intrinsic capacity to know the true and the good and, ultimately, to know God himself, jeopardizes peacemaking. Without the truth about man inscribed by the Creator in the human heart, freedom and love become debased, and justice loses the ground of its exercise.

To become authentic peacemakers, it is fundamental to keep in mind our transcendent dimension and to enter into constant dialogue with God, the Father of mercy, whereby we implore the redemption achieved for us by his only-begotten Son. In this way mankind can overcome that progressive dimming and rejection of peace which is sin in all its forms: selfishness and violence, greed and the will to power and dominion, intolerance, hatred and unjust structures.
(“The attainment of peace depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family. This family is structured, as the Encyclical Pacem in Terris taught, by interpersonal relations and institutions supported and animated by a communitarian “we”, which entails an internal and external moral order in which, in accordance with truth and justice, reciprocal rights and mutual duties are sincerely recognized. Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love, in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others and work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values. It is an order achieved in freedom, that is, in a way consistent with the dignity of persons who, by their very nature as rational beings, take responsibility for their own actions.”)

“The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.

Those who insufficiently value human life and, in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion, perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace. The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenceless and innocent being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace. Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the unborn. Every offence against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment. Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life.

There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.

These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.

Consequently, another important way of helping to build peace is for legal systems and the administration of justice to recognize the right to invoke the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity, such as abortion and euthanasia.”

The Holy Father pointed out that true peace is attained when the most basic right to life of everyone, particularly the weakest amongst us, is safeguarded. This is why we should continue to stand up for the cause of life. Let us continue to struggle against all attempts to cheapen life and make it expendable. May Mary, Mother of Life and Queen of peace help us always in our struggle against the culture of death.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

RIP: Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB

The Feast of the Translacion of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno this year was marked by the passing away of Rev. Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB. Known as a very prominent Liturgist, Fr. Anscar has influenced the Church in the Philippines with regards the liturgical reform and inculturation. He served as Rector of the Liturgical Institute of San Anselmo in Rome for many years. He also founded the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in the Philippines and also the Graduate School of Liturgy in San Beda College, Manila. He was part of the ICEL group that made the English Translation of the Roman Missal which is now replaced by a new English Translation. His passing marks the closing of an era for liturgical reform in the Philippines. I hope and pray that his passing will bring about a new era of liturgical reform in the Philippines which is closer to the spirit of the reform envisioned by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

That in all things God may be glorified. Rest in peace, Fr. Anscar.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Late Posting of Christmas Meditation

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The birth of the Son of God made man occurred in the middle of the night and so the darkness seemed to have obscured this great mystery that has come into the world. However, the great multitude of heavenly hosts filled the skies with heavenly light to announce to the world that on this day is born him who is called the Christ and Lord. Christmas day has come upon us and as light fills the morning skies, the mystery is revealed to us: The Word, who in the beginning was with God and is God, is now made flesh and he dwells among us. God the Son comes to give life. He is the Light that shines in the darkness and no matter how thick the darkness was, He was never overcome by it. He who is born today says: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8:12) If we listen to him and follow him, we will never walk in darkness. Why? It is because his light, his glory is filled with grace and truth. He is the Light because he is the Truth. He is the Light because he is the Life. His light is both Truth and Life.

So many people today undermine the Lord who is born for us. Many people pretend to be enlightened as they oppose the teachings of Christ. I remember a senator who told the Church, “Do not pray for our enlightenment because we have already been enlightened…that is why we support the RH Bill.” Last night, the Holy Father spoke of the way we reject Christ who knocks at the door of our intellect:  Does God actually have a place in our thinking? Our process of thinking is structured in such a way that he simply ought not to exist. Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the ‘God hypothesis’ becomes superfluous. There is no room for him.” (Homily on Christmas Night, 2012) St. Augustine wrote: “Although this life is the light of men, yet the foolish of heart cannot comprehend that light, because they have grown blind through sin, so that they cannot perceive it. Lest therefore they should think that there is no light because they do not see it, there follows: and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. For though to a blind man standing in the sun, the sun in indeed present, but he is absent to the sun; so the foolish heart is truly blind to wisdom, although it is beside him. But while thus present to the blinded, it is absent to his eyes; not because it is absent to him, but because he is absent to it.” (Tr. 1, in John; Catena Aurea) “The deceit of worldly hearts cannot perceive the Light of God, shining in their flesh.” (Origen)

“But you were once in darkness,” says St. Paul, “but now you are light in the Lord.” (Eph 5, 8) Because we believe in the Lord and we follow him, we do not walk in darkness. We are not fools who say that there is no God. Faith allows us to recognize in the child of Bethlehem the invisible God. Faith enables us to open the doors of our intellect and hearts to Him who knocks. Faith makes us walk in the light. Origen said, “The light shines in the darkness of believing souls, beginning from faith, and approaching to hope.”  “This light which has become the light of men, shines in the darkness of our souls, and enters in where the ruler of this darkness wars with the human race (Eph 6, 12). The darkness persecutes this light…the darkness contending against the children of light. But since the Father is their defender, the darkness will not prevail.” (Origen) And so, as the darkness of the culture of death spreads throughout the nation, let us keep following Christ who is light. Let us fortify our families in the Catholic faith. Let us continue to uphold life. Let us continue to uphold Truth. Let us not waver in the faith. Yes, the darkness persecutes this light. Yes, the darkness contends against the children of light. But let us stand fast in the faith for the Father is our defender, the darkness will not prevail. The darkness cannot overcome the light!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! 

Religion and Science Move towards Christ

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Amongst the many biblical narratives, the story of the magi from the east has caught the imagination and has stimulated so much research and reflection for many people. In fact, if we make a survey even of contemporary nativity scenes (belen) put up for the holidays, we would notice that second to the holy family, the magi would more likely be seen than the shepherds themselves. Perhaps, the idea of kings visiting the newborn of Mary has given the Christmas story some mythical, fairy tale ambiance that would categorize the birth of the Savior to the genre of the Walt Disney stories of princesses, princes, and unicorns.

But the story of the magi is not some mythical account that entertains, it is, in fact, a wonderful portrayal of a Divine Mystery that reveals itself to the pagan nations. The magi were “members of the Persian priestly caste. In Hellenistic culture, they were regarded as ‘rulers of a distinctive religion,’ but at the same time their religious ideas were thought to be ‘strongly influenced by philosophy’ so that the Greek philosophers have often been portrayed as their pupils…Aristotle himself spoke of the philosophical work of the magi.” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, 92-93.) What we have here are serious searchers, “people of inner unrest, people of hope, people on the lookout for the true star of salvation…(they) were not just astronomers. They were ‘wise’. They represent the inner dynamic of religion toward self transcendence, which involves a search for truth, a search for the true God and hence ‘philosophy’ in the original sense of the word. Wisdom, then, serves to purify the message of ‘science’: the rationality of that message does not remain at the level of intellectual knowledge, but seeks understanding in its fullness, and so raises reason to its loftiest possibilities.” (Ibid., 95) “They represent the religions moving toward Christ, as well as the self-transcendence of science toward him. In a way, they were the successors of Abraham who set off on a journey in response to God’s call. In another way, they are the successors of Socrates and his habit of questioning above and beyond conventional religion toward the higher truth. In this sense, these figures are forerunners, preparers of the way, seekers after truth…” (Ibid.)

The movement of the magi towards Christ ought to teach us of the authentic search for wisdom. Today the pursuit for truth is done apart from Christ. False intellectuals call it intellectual freedom. I call it slavery to lies. For how can truth be pursued apart from Christ? Christ himself is the Truth. He himself is the Light. Apart from him, there is nothing but darkness. Self-seeking intellectualism goes nowhere. It goes round and round because it is a self-enclosed search. Eventually, it falls into superstition. Science must be self-transcendent if it must lead somewhere significant. It must be open to the reality above it. True science, true philosophy leads to Christ. In Christ all search for truth finds fulfillment.

And so, guided by a star, they came to adore the Christ. St. “Gregory Nazianzen says that at the very moment when the Magi adored Jesus, astrology came to an end, as the stars from then on traced the orbit determined by Christ.” (Ibid., 101) Christ has conquered all the powers and forces in the heavens. He reigns over the entire universe. “It is not the star that determines the child’s destiny; it is the child that directs the star.” This dominion of Christ over the entire universe drives us to the point that all searches in the universe will lead to Christ. Science, so long as it is purely intent on searching for the truth, will always lead to Christ. “God’s truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone ‘made heaven and earth,’ can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.” (CCC, 216)

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013