Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Exhibit in San Agustin Church

San Juan

Santa Maria Cleofe

Virgen Dolorosa

Santa Maria Magdalena

Santa Maria Jacobe

Santo Entierro

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On The Transfiguration

The transfiguration of our Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ as the Son of God in whom the Father is well pleased. Our Lord allowed his disciples to see Him in a way they never have seen before. They have been accustomed to see Jesus as a man among men. It was His will that His humanity should act as a veil to hide the splendor of His divinity. But today, in order to prepare his disciples for his coming suffering and death, he showed them a glimpse, a ray of his divinity. His face and his clothing became resplendent in light. Although but a ray, what they saw was enough to ravish his disciples with delight to the point that Peter said to the Lord, “It is good to be here!”

“Whence did this wonderful radiance come from? From Christ’s divinity. It was a flowing forth of the divinity upon the sacred humanity, a radiation of the hearth-fire of Eternal Life that ordinary was hidden in Christ but which at that hour made His sacred body shine with a marvelous splendor. It was not a borrowed light, coming from outside, but truly a reflection of that immeasurable majesty that Christ contained and kept hidden in Himself. For love of us, Jesus during His earthly existence habitually hid His divine life beneath the veil of His mortal flesh. He prevented it from overflowing in a continuous light that would have blinded our weak eyes. But at the Transfiguration, the Word gave leave to the eternal glory to project its splendor upon the humanity which He, the Word, had taken.” (B. Columba Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries, 280.)

Our Lord did not show a glimpse of his glory in order to impress his disciples. Aside from wanting to prepare the faith of his disciples for his coming passion, our Lord shows us the real holiness that he intends to impart to us. Remember how Adam and Eve were so driven by the ambition to become like gods? Their misguided ambition made them assert their own will to the detriment of the life of grace which the Lord imparted to them. They wanted to become god-like on their own. They wanted to reach such an exalted status apart from God. Just as the humanity of Christ received its splendor from the Divinity of Christ, so also, “our holiness is nothing than our resemblance to Christ Jesus: not a holiness of which we ourselves can be the first source, but one that is a flowing of Divine life into us. By the grace of Christ, this holiness has been like a light which has begun to shine within us, from the time of our baptism which inaugurated our transformation into an image of Christ. Here below, indeed, holiness is but an interior transfiguration modeled upon Christ. The Father ‘has destined us to become conformed to the image of His Son.’ (Rom. 8:29.) By our fidelity to the action of the Spirit, this image grows little by little, develops, is perfected, until we attain the Light of eternity.” (Ibid.)

This is the glorious state that awaits us because such is the glorious state of Jesus our head. His grace and glory overflows to us who are the members of His mystical Body. But what are we to do to attain this glory? The Father reveals to us: ‘Listen to him.” The words of the Father contain the whole secret of the Christian life: “Listen to him.” It has so pleased the Father that no one should come to Him except through His only begotten Son. “Ii is Jesus alone that we must listen to and follow. Let us give ourselves up to Him through faith, trust, love, humility, obedience…If our soul is closed to the noises of earth, to the tumults of the passions and of the senses, the Word Incarnate will become the Master of our soul little by little; He will make us understand that the true joys, the deepest joys, are those which are found in serving Him…” (Ibid., 284.) It is true that listening to Him will not always lead us to Tabor where it is good to be. More often, he leads us to Calvary where we would rather not go. “As long as we are here below, it is more often to Calvary that Jesus leads us – that is to say, through what is opposed to our own will, through trials, temptations…Here below, it is not the time for repose, but the time for toil, effort, struggle, patience.” (Ibid.)

“Let us remain faithful to Jesus, despite everything. He is the Son of God, equal to God the Father…His words do not pass: He is the Eternal Word. He affirms that those who ‘follow Him’ will attain to ‘the light of life.’ Happy are the souls who listen to Him, who listen to Him alone and listen to Him always, without doubting His words, without letting themselves be disturbed by the blasphemies of His enemies, without letting themselves be overcome by temptations, without letting themselves be disheartened by trials.. ‘For our present light affliction, which is for the moment, prepares us for an eternal weight of glory which is beyond all measure,’ says St. Paul. We do not know what weight of glory is reserved for us because of the least of our sufferings borne in union with Christ Jesus. (But this much we know: ) ‘God is faithful’; and in all the vicissitudes they pass through, God will infallibly guide those faithful souls to the transformation which makes them resemble His Son.” (Ibid., 285.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

To St. Joseph, Patron of the Dying

Faithful Joseph, with the fulfillment of the Lord's promise, you peacefully leave this world in Jesus and Mary's hands. Your faith transforms death into the sowing of life; thus, God considers you to be a just man. Your heart overflows in the presence of the Lord. With your hands outstreched to God, your night is filled with prayers. Surrounded by the living, you embark upon the great march to the Promised Land.

Open our eyes that we may glimpse the road to Life that lies beyond death. May nothing, not denial, anger, nor depression, separate us from the love of God. Strengthen our faith in God who always finds ways of preserving us in His friendship. Be beside us to hold our hands when we take our first steps toward the Eternal Kingdom.


"Demythologizing" Vatican II

Over at Vultus Christi is an article which I am inclined to agree with. It is not that I do not accept Vatican II. (Believe it or not, I accept it as a legitimate Council.) I simply think that many prelates, by constantly invoking it as if it were the only legitimate ecumenical council, are really overrating it. There was Church life before Vatican II and we should not forget that alongside Vatican II is an abundance of magisterial teachings.

"Emphasis on Vatican II has a number of unfortunate side-effects. It means
that other, worthier, councils are ignored; and, in saying this I am not only
thinking of Trent ... and not even of the Synod of Bethlehem. I wonder if you
remember the striking ... mind-blowing ... assertion of Cardinal Ratzinger that
the West needs to receive the 'fundamental lines of the theology' of the Council
of Moskow in 1551. And I am far from sure that the Latin Church would come to
much harm if it humbly, prayerfully, set itself to assess the teachings of the
'Palamite' councils of the fourteenth century as they bear on the central
Christian mystery of theosis.

"And the fetichising of Vatican II distracts attention from the real and
significant and valuable actions of the Roman Magisterium, which deserve so very
much better than the sneers directed at them by illiterate fools. Humanae vitae
and Ordinatio sacerdotalis, slender volumes, are worth more than all the paper
wasted at Vatican II. Documents of the CDF, keeping up with the errors proposed
in areas of ethics by the World's agenda, represent the locus to which perplexed
modern Catholics should turn for teaching and guidance. "

Follow the link: Brilliant, Father Hunwicke

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On the Struggle against the Devil

Having emerged from Ash Wednesday, the fragility of our mortal nature is still fresh in our minds. “Remember man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – the old formula for the imposition of ashes confronts us with the reality of our mortality. Although mere clay of the earth, man received the breath of life and was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. The dignity which he received from the Lord was more than what he could ever ask for, considering the fact of his humble origins. The devil envied this and so he enticed man to seek what was beyond him: “you will be like gods.” The devil lied his way into man’s heart: he promised to give the divinity which he neither had nor could deliver. Deceived by the wiles of the devil, he lost everything: “Through one man, sin entered the world and through sin, death.” From living in a garden which yielded in abundance, man now tills the soil that yielded nothing but thorns and thistles. It was a great shift from the garden to the desert. How far we have fallen from grace!

God made man and placed him in the garden. God became man and went into the desert. It was in the garden that man lost what he had to the devil. Now, in the desert, Jesus will take back from the devil what he stole from man. The devil dragged us from the garden to the desert. Jesus went to the desert to bring us back to the garden. In the garden, man had so much to eat. In the desert, Jesus chose to fast. In both cases, the devil came. He came to confront the well-fed man. He came to confront the hungry Jesus. The irony is that the spirit slackens when the flesh is satisfied and the spirit is strong when the flesh is weak. The well-fed man turned out frail. The hungry Jesus came out victorious.

The word of God teaches us today that our Christian life is a warfare against an enemy who is real. The devil is not a symbol of collective negativity. The devil is a real person, a fallen angel who desires nothing but the destruction of man who was created in the image and likeness of God. He knows that he cannot destroy God and so he vents his hatred towards man who bears God’s image. He destroys the Divine likeness in man by enticing us to spoil the flesh (You are hungry? Turn stone into bread!). He entices us with vainglory (Jump from the pinnacle of the temple to make a spectacle of yourself.) He entices us with possessions (All these kingdom I will give to you.) In tempting us, he hides under the guise of concern for us. He pretends that he wants us to be gods. But in the end, he shows his true face. He reveals his true intentions – he wants us to bow to him and worship him. He wants to be treated like God.

Knowing that our spiritual enemy is powerful, our Lord Jesus comes to our aid. He goes into the desert and leads us in our combat against the devil. He submits to the devil’s triple temptation and in doing so he arms us with very reliable weapons: fasting and prayer. Fasting empties us of our self-assurance which always proves futile as it is always prone to the manipulations of the devil. Having been emptied of ourselves, we are opened by prayer to the Holy Spirit who helps us struggle and win over the devil. It is when we are weak, it is then that God manifests the strength of his power in us.

In his Lenten message for this year, our Holy Father wrote: “The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus' mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle "against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world" (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

On the weakening of Lent's Influence

The holy season of Lent, the “Great Fast” as it is called in the past, is once again upon us. Today, so many of us flock to Church to receive ashes on the forehead as a sign of penitence. Unfortunately, to many, this would be as far will Lent go. After all, not only has the discipline of Lent been relaxed to the point that it is almost non existent. Holy Week, which should be the height of the Lenten season is now more an opportunity to relax and go to the beach for a week-long vacation. What have we done to Lent? Where has it gone?

Unlike the Muslim Ramadan, Lent is really disappearing because while the Muslims have kept to this day the rigors of the Ramadan fast, we have cut too many corners in our Lenten disciple. So much have we relaxed, so much have we thrown away that Lent has lost its spiritual power and impact in the life of both the society and the individual. Why do we say that the relaxation of the Lenten fast has deprived this holy season of its power? Well, it is because “Lent is a time consecrated to penance, and this penance is practiced by fasting. Fasting is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself, as an expiation for sin…” (P. Gueranger, OP, The Liturgical Year, 3.) Essentially, fasting is abstinence from meat, from wine, and from a portion of our ordinary food, inasmuch as it allows the taking of only one meal in a day. We inherited from the Jews the custom of taking that one meal, which was allowed on days of fasting, only after sun-set. And this is done for 40 successive days (except on Sundays when no fasting was allowed.) Now, I hope that we realize how far have we fallen from the original practice of Lent. We say that the penitential character of Lent was relaxed so that it could be more readily acceptable to modern man. Ramadan is basically the same discipline of the original Lent: neither food nor drink from sunrise till sunset during the entire duration of the festival. The strange thing is that between Lent and Ramadan, modern man reveres Ramadan more than it does to Lent. The ironic thing is that as we have attempted to adjust Lent to the perceived standards of modernity, the more it has lost its relevance to modern society.

In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV warned the Church of the meaning of the relaxation of the Lenten discipline: “The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the prince of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Christian religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted, but that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.” Come to think of it, though these were written by a pope in the 18th century, they present to us a very real and alarming picture of our society which is "no longer driven by the spirit of mortification and is now suffering the effeminacy of character which leads to so much social disorder." We have lost the militancy of the Christian faith for we no longer stand up to the evil principalities and powers of the air and water. We keep on saying that fasting from food and drink is not as important as fasting from sin. But the reality is, now that we no longer exercise abstinence from food and drink, do we really care to abstain from sin? How can you discipline the soul if you could not discipline the body? If you cannot tame your appetite, you cannot conquer the evil one. “This, you can only drive away through prayer and fasting,” our Lord once told his disciples. The word of God is very clear: unless we do penance, we shall perish (Luke 13:3).

In this day and age when we are heaping upon ourselves the wrath of God, in this time when the world around us is beset by civil discord and by the scourges of natural calamities, it is time to return to God by way of fasting: Thus says the Lord, “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing. Offerings and libations for the Lord your God.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On the Lenten Fast

"The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it, we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ. By it, we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it, we gain strength against the prince of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God's glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted, but that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe."

Pope Benedict XIV, Constitution Non Ambigimus (May 30, 1741)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Orientation in Jewish Prayer

An interesting article on the topic of Orientation of Prayer. In one of his talks, a famous Filipino liturgist claimed that the eastward direction of liturgical prayer is of pagan origin. This article says that we inherited from the Jews the custom of having a common liturgical direction. The Jews turned towards Jerusalem. We turn towards the east.

When I studied in the Graduate School of Liturgy in San Beda College, we went to a synagogue in Makati for a Sabbath service. The liturgical direction was so evident. Everybody faced Jerusalem. It was then that I started to question why we gave up the orientation of liturgical prayer. If it is true that we inherited our liturgical practices from the Jews, why do we not pray facing a common liturgical direction today? This is definitely a discontinuity not only from the tradition of the Apostles but also from the Jewish tradition which they keep to this very day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Msgr. Bux on the Reform of the reform

Over at Rorate Caeli is an article about an interview granted by Monsignor Nicolas Bux on the Reform of the reform. I find the article significant:

"... the reform that took place after the Council had to be resumed, and in some ways corrected there where, always using his words, the restoration of the painting had been too much, that is, by trying to clean, it had taken the risk of removing too many layers of color. He started this restoration through his own style. The Pope celebrates the liturgy in a subdued, not loud, way. He also wants the prayers, songs, and anything else not to be in exhibitionist tones. And two special actions in his liturgies that are obvious should be noticed: he places the Cross between himself and the assembly, indicating that the liturgical rite is not addressed to the priestly minister, but to Christ; and kneeling in the reception of Communion, indicating that this is not a supper, in the worldly sense of the word, but a communion with the body of Jesus Christ, that is worshiped first, in the words of St. Augustine, and only then eaten."

He also spoke about reading the signs of the times:

"It is clear that the pastors of the Church, first the bishops and then the parish priests, although often saying that we must be able to grasp the signs of the times, an expression very much in use after Vatican II, often fail to understand that the signs of the times are not defined by them, but they happen and are regulated mainly by young people. I think this is the most interesting symptom, because, if [only] the elderly, the adults, went to the Traditional Mass, one might harbor a suspicion that it is nostalgia. The fact that it is mostly young people who seek and participate in the Latin Mass is completely unexpected and therefore deserves to be read, understood, and particularly accompanied by the bishops. "

I agree with him because those who invoke the necessity of reading the signs of the times are stuck with reading the signs of the times of the 70's. They refuse to recognize the fact that 40 plus years into the liturgical reform, the pendulum is going back to the center. The excesses of the experimentation are at last being rejected in favor of Tradition. Young people are able to recognize what old "reformers" refuse to acknowledge. The Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form in my own parish has a steady increase of young people in attendance. We are not bring time backwards. The reclaiming of Tradition is really going forward. In fact, those who object even to the new English translation of the Roman Missal refuse to feel and move with the entire Church!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New English Edition of Roman Missal by Midwest Theological Forum

The new English Edition of the Roman Missal will be used in the Philippines starting the first Sunday of Advent 2012. It is now made available by the Midwest Theological Forum. The Roman Missal editio typica tertia is also made available by the same publication.

Follow the link: New English Edition of Roman Missal by Midwest Theological Forum

Ad Orientem in the Ordinary Form

The New Liturgical Movement reported on the Mass in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite offered ad orientem at the Pope John XXIII High School in Texas.

Follow the link: Ad Orientem, Ordinary Form, Pope John XXIII High School, Texas