S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Prayer in Honor of Mary, Mother of God

Hail, Mary, Mother of God, venerable treasure of the whole universe, lamp that is never extinguished, crown of virginity, support of the true faith, indestructible temple, dwelling of him whom no place can contain, O Mother and Virgin! Through you all the holy Gospels call blessed the one whom comes in the name of the Lord.

Hail, Mother of God. You enclosed under your heart the infinite God whom no space can contain. Through you the Most Holy Trinity is adored and glorified, the priceless cross is venerated throughout the universe. Through you the heavens rejoice, and the angels and archangels are filled with gladness. Through you the demons are banished, and the tempter fell from heaven. Through you the fallen human race is admitted to heaven.

Hail, Mother of God. Through you kings rule, and the only-begotten Son of God has become a star of light to those who were sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. AMEN.

This prayer is believed to be composed by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Every January 1st, the Roman Catholic Church honors Mary and her Motherhood. We believe that Jesus, both human and divine in nature, was born of the Virgin Mary. Hence, Mary is indeed the Mother of God the Son. May Mary bless and pray for all the mothers in the world, and may she bring us closer to the heart of Jesus the Lord, her Son.

Today the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) celebrate also the titular feast of the Imposition of the Holy Name of Jesus. Let us pray for all the Jesuits in the world and for all the ministries and apostolic works of the Society of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth

The Pope's Prayer for Families

Lord God, from you every family in Heaven and on earth takes its name,
Father, you are love and life,
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman,
And through the Holy Spirit, fountain of Divine Charity,
grant that each family on earth may become for each successive generation, a true shrine of life and love.

Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives
for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.

Grant that the young may find in the family
solid support for their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.

Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.

Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
Grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her world-wide mission in the family and through the family.

Through Christ our Lord, who is The Way, the Truth and the Life for ever and ever.


We celebrate today (December 30) the Universal Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Church invites us to pray for our own family and for all the families in the world. We all know that the family has been under the attack of the evil one. Let us then beseech God's throne of mercy that He, in His goodness and love, protect all families from harm and evil brought about by division, strife, too much materialism, and secularism. May our Lady, the Mother of God, pray for our families, that each and every Catholic family would become God's herald of love and mercy.

May the Holy Family of Nazareth protect and uphold all families and preserve them in love, holiness, and peace.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Simbang Gabi -- A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Faith

Today, the Philippine Church starts its age-old tradition of Simbang Gabi, otherwise known as the Misa de Aguinaldo. This tradition of holding Masses at the early hours of the morning for nine days is distinctly Filipino.

As we celebrate with joyful anticipation Christ's Birth, our Bishops have asked us to offer these Masses as our prayer of Gratitude to God for the great gift of the Faith. The Bishops likewise admonish us, to pray for the preservation of the Faith among our people. Our faith has been harassed and is continued to be harassed by the world's culture of secularism, materialism, and apathy.

Let us therefore suppliantly beg the Lord, in His generosity and mercy, to bless us and our country, most especially in this time of crisis and uncertainty, that we as a people will remain fervent in our faith. May Mary, the Patroness of the Philippine Islands, join us and assist us with her prayers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Family and of the Unborn

A Prayer for Abortion Victims

Prayer for all victims of abortion. May those involved in abortions be reconciled to God and may the innocent dead be saved.

Holy Mother of God and of the Church, our Lady of Guadalupe, you were chosen by the Father for the Son through the Holy Spirit.

You are the Woman clothed with the sun who labors to give birth to Christ while Satan, the Red Dragon, waits to voraciously devour your child.
So too did Herod seek to destroy your Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and massacred many innocent children in the process.

So today does abortion killing many innocent unborn children and exploiting many mothers in its attack upon human life and upon the Church, the Body of Christ.
Mother of the Innocents, we praise God in you for His gifts to you of your Immaculate Conception, your freedom from actual sin; your fullness of grace, your Motherhood of God and the Church, your Perpetual Virginity and your Assumption in body and soul into heaven.

O Help of Christians, we beg you to protect all mothers of the unborn and the children within their wombs. We plead with you for your help to end the holocaust of abortion. Melt hearts so that life may be revered!

Holy Mother, we pray to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart for all mothers and all unborn children that they may have life here on earth and by the most Precious Blood shed by your Son that they may have eternal life with Him in heaven. We also pray to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart for all abortionists and all abortion supporters that they may be converted and accept your Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior. Defend all of your children in the battle against Satan and all of the evil spirits in this present darkness.

We desire that the innocent unborn children who die without Baptism should be baptized and saved. We ask that you obtain this grace for them and repentance, reconciliation and pardon from God for their parents and their killers.

Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite power of merciful love. May it put an end to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. May Christ the King reign over us, our families, cities, states, nations and the whole of humanity.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, hear our pleas and accept this cry from our hearts!

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Protectress of the Unborn and of the Family, Pray for us!

December 12 has been the official day when the Memorial to Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated. Mary as the Lady of Guadalupe has been declared by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cebu (Philippines), His Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, as the Patroness of the Metropolitan See of Cebu and of the Visayas. Our Lady of Guadalupe has also been declared by the Church as the Patroness of the Family and Protectress of the Unborn.
The intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been sought for the preservation of families against all the attacks that the devil hurls against it – divorce, infidelity to marital vows, and quarrels. Her prayers are also implored for the protection of the unborn and the total defeat of the cause of abortion.
As we celebrate Our Lady’s memorial, let us offer our Masses, rosaries, and prayers for the intentions of all families and for the protection of all the unborn. May Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe guide us all and lead us to Jesus, her Son.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Third Sunday of Advent -- Rejoice Sunday

Today, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, with only one more Sunday to go before Christmas Day. Traditionally, the Third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete Sunday" (Rejoice Sunday). If we notice, we will light the third and only pink candle in our advent wreath, and the vestments to be used at Mass is also colored pink. The color pink denotes joy, stresses joyful celebration.

And it is rightfully so. The readings give much importance to the the joy that we must foster during this season. The prophet Isaiah in the First Reading speaks of joy for God's indwelling Spirit that prods to proclaim the year of favor from the Lord. St. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians exhorts his converts to rejoice always and to give thanks for this is God's Holy Will. Added to that, we borrow the words of Our Lady for the psalm, singing "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my Savior." This Sunday, we are reminded, and we are exhorted by the Church to rejoice, to exult, for Christ's coming is at hand, for our salvation has finally come!

Let us pray then, with the Church, that we may celebrate most worthily and with utmost joy Gaudete Sunday, in glad anticipation for the Lord's coming:

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your Church:
the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy
which his presence will bestow,
for he is Lord for ever and ever. AMEN.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Universal Church celebrates on this date (8th December) the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ. In the Philippines, this day is a Holy Day of Obligation. This year, we remember the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, as declared by His Holiness, Pope Pius IX through the bull Ineffabilis Deus. The Dogma clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. In proclaiming the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a dogma of the Church, the pope expressed precisely and clearly that Mary was conceived free from the stain of original sin. This privilege of Mary derives from God's having chosen her as Mother of the Savior; thus she received the benefits of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception. (The picture above shows her mother, Anna, with the infant Mary within her womb.) This great gift to Mary, an ordinary human being just like us, was fitting because she was destined to be Mother of God. The purity and holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a model for all Christians.

As we commemorate this Solemn celebration, may we pray the prayer of the Church:

Father You prepared the Virgin Mary
to be the worthy Mother of Your Son.
You let her share beforehand
in the salvation Christ would bring by His death,
and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.
Help us by her prayers to live in Your presence without sin.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. + AMEN.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Jesuit Jubilee of the First Companions : Saint Ignatius Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier, & Blessed Peter Faber

Prayer for the Jubilee Year

Lord Jesus, we pray to you through the intercession of your Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Faber, whose anniversaries we celebrate this year.

You gifted Ignatius with the spiritual vision to build your kingdom here on earth for greater glory. You inspired Francis to bring his missionary zeal to distant lands so your name would be known throughout the world. You guided Peter in his sharing of the Spiritual Exercises so others could deepen their relationship with you.

In your loving care, inspire us today, as you did the early Jesuit companions, to a life of faithful discipleship so we may become men and women for others.

Help us be mindful of the ways in which your justice and mercy may be brought to this world, especially to those who are poor or sick, marginalized or displaced, or those who suffer from the effects of war and natural and human-made catastrophes.

Help us to seek you in all things and to discover your grace in the ordinariness of our lives.

Grant us the openness and generosity to strengthen your church on earth. May we be your faithful companions and rejoice in your presence among us in this Jubilee year. May Ignatius’ vision, Francis’ mission, and Peter’s prayer renew our hearts and minds and the face of the earth.

We ask this in your name, our Lord and Savior. AMEN.

Jesuits worldwide celebrate the spirit of these founders of the Society of Jesus:
Francisco de Jassu y Javier (Missionary Zeal)
-- born 7 April, 1506 at Javier in Navarre
Pierre Favre (Cura Personalis)
-- born 13, April 1506 in Villaret in Savoie
Ignatius Loyola (Apostolic Vision)
-- died 31 July, 1556 at Rome

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Second Sunday of Advent -- Make Straight the Lord's Path!

Today, the universal Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Advent. As we continue with our “discipline” of hopeful waiting for the Lord’s coming, our holy Mother Church once again reminds us of the need to prepare more worthily the advent of Christ in our daily lives as Christians.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we are presented with John the Baptist’s image of proclaiming in the desert the necessity of preparing the way of the Lord and of making his paths straight! In other words, we are presented with the need to bring low the hills, to turn wastelands into fertile grounds and to erect straight the crooked paths of our lives.

Advent is the best time for us to confront ourselves and to think more seriously about the ideals presented by St. John the Baptist. Perhaps we can ask ourselves the questions: “What are the hills in my heart that I need to level down and flatten?” “What are the wastelands in my soul that I need to transform and convert into fertile soil?” “What are the crooked alleys of my life that I need to straighten up?”

Perhaps, these questions do not just serve as questions but challenges as well for us to grow. Maybe the season of Advent asks of us to bring low and flatten our pride and selfishness. Possibly Advent invites us to change the barrenness of our insensitivity and slef-righteosness to rich fertile soil of authentic concern and care for the others. Lastly, perhaps Advent is calling us to make straight our crooked ways, sinful patterns, and distorted ways of loving, thus making them genuine and pure.

So, as we continue to celebrate with deep joy the season of advent, let us ask the Lord that we may truly be worthy to receive Him in our hearts when He comes back in glory. May we join the universal Church in her prayer:

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us
from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

Feast of St. Francis Xavier, S.J. Patron of the Missions

Prayer of St. Francis Xavier

My God, I love thee; not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet because who love thee not
are lost eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, thou didst me
upon the cross embrace;
for me didst bear the nails and spear,
and manifold disgrace.

And griefs and torments numberless
and sweat of agony;
even death itself -- and all for one
Who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ
should I not love thee well?
not for the hope of winning heaven,
or of escaping hell.
not with the hope of gaining aught,
nor seeking a reward,
but as thyself has lovèd me,
O ever-loving Lord!

Even so I love thee, and will love
and in thy praise will sing,
solely because thou art my God,
and my eternal king. AMEN.

Today, the universal Society of Jesus celebrates the feast of Saint Francis Xavier, S.J. St. Francis Xavier was among the first companions of St. Ignatius Loyola. He professed with St. Ignatius the vows of poverty and zeal for souls in the Holy Land in the chapel of St. Denis at Montmartre on 15 August 1536. And together with St. Ignatius and the other first companions, he was ordained to the priesthood on 24 June 1537 at Venice. Upon the requests of King John III of Portugal, he was sent by St. Ignatius to Goa to evangelize the natives. St. Francis Xavier has great zeal and fervor for missions, the same zeal and passion that led him to Malacca, Japan, and finally to Sancian Island, facing Mainland China. Sick and consumed totally by the demands of missionary work, he died on 3 December 1552. He was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1927 was proclaimed Patron of the missions by Pope Pius XI.