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]

Monday, October 30, 2006

I Believe in the COMMUNION of SAINTS

The Universal Church celebrates this day All Saints Day. In the liturgical life of the Church, All Saints Day is a Solemnity, and a Solemnity is the highest, as it were, in the hierarchy of liturgical celebrations. It is just fitting that we celebrate it as a Solemnity.
Every Sunday when we profess our faith through the Apostles' (or the Nicene) Creed, we say that "We believe... in the Communion of Saints..." The Communion of Saints is such a wonderful Catholic doctrine. It expresses our real nature, as it were, as Christians, as baptized Catholics. In baptism we were immersed into the life of Christ. And as St. Paul puts it in his letter to the Ephesians, "God chose us in Christ before the world began to be holy and blameless in His sight..." (Eph 1: 4). This makes us all Saints then.

Stain Glass depicting the Unity of the Saints

Yes, we are all Saints. And this wonderful Solemnity reminds us that we are connected to this wonderful link or communion of Saints. We were sanctified by the blood of Jesus' cross and we are continuously challenged to live holy lives.
So as we celebrate this Solemn day then, and as we profess our faith in the liturgy, let us be reminded that we all are saints, called to live a life of sanctity. Let us ask the Saints in heaven then, that they may assist us always with their prayers and that like them, we may reach heaven and share in the fullness of God's glory. AMEN.

The Brother's Mite

Today, the Universal Society of Jesus celebrates the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., a lay brother. Alphonsus Rodriguez (Alfonso Rodriguez, 1533-1617) gained enduring fame for the extraordinary holiness that shone out of the very ordinariness of his work as the Jesuit doorkeeper of a school. He was born in Segovia, Spain, the second son of a successful wool and cloth merchant whose comfortable household provided hospitality to Father Peter Faber, one of St. Ignatius' first companions, when that Jesuit came to Segovia to preach. Faber helped the young boy prepare for his first companion, but Rodriguez's path to the Society of Jesus was slow and indirect.
On Jan. 31, 1571, at 37 years of age, Rodriguez entered the Jesuit novitiate but was sent only six months later to the college of Montesión in Palma on the island of Majorca, off the Spanish coast. There the new brother would finish his novitiate and become famous for his humble job of door-keeper and his friendship with another Jesuit saint, Peter Claver, apostle to the slaves recently arrived in Colombia.
The Jesuit doorkeeper was always appreciated for his kindness and holiness but only after his death did his memoirs and spiritual notes reveal the quality and depth of his prayer life. The humble brother had been favored by God with remarkable mystical graces, ecstasies and visions of our Lord, our Lady and the saints.
To celebrate the gift of St. Aphonsus to the Church and to the Society of Jesus, below is a poem in honor of St. Aphonsus by the famous Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.

HONOUR is flashed off exploit, so we say;

And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield

Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,

And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.

On Christ they do and on the martyr may;

But be the war within, the brand we wield

Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,

Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,

Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,

Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)

Could crowd career with conquest while there went

Those years and years by of world without event

That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (1844-1889) spent his brief life teaching classics in Ireland, but he is best known for his intense poetry.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Visita Iglesia II

This would be my last day of Visita Iglesia. I would be leaving for Antipolo, Rizal this morning to help out in the overnight recollection of Ateneo's GABAY students. Well, I have chosen the Benedictine Monastery, the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in San Beda College. The Benedictine Monastery has always been special to our Founder St. Ignatius of Loyola. In fact, during his conversion, he visited the Benedictine Monastery at Montserrat, and there, he spent a night of vigil before the statue of Our lady and believed to have left his dagger (or sword) in that monastery as an act completing his oblation.

The Facade of the Monastery Church

St. Ignatius was believed to have said his general confessions to a Benedictine priest. He even recieved the illumination about the wonderful mystery of the Blessed Trinity, hearing three notes so harmoniously played together, in the Benedictine Monastery Church steps while saying his Office to the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Ignatius has received a lot of graces from the Lord in this hallowed place, made holy by the penance and prayers of countless Benedictine Monks.

The interior of the Monastery Church

St. Ignatius usually would go to these hallowed grounds and join the monks in praying, especially the Lauds and Vespers. That's the very reason why St. Ignatius lauded the participation in the prayers and other forms of devotions, as expressed in the Thinking with The Church section of the Spiritual Exercises.

It is my joy to have come to this holy site. As I have participated in the Lauds with the Monks and have celebrated the Eucharist with them, I have in one way a Link to St. Ignatius, an experience of God's love being part of the Roman Catholic Church. And I believed that ignited his great zeal and love for Christ and for His Church.

+ + + Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam + + +

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Visita Iglesia

Thank God the semester was finally over! The previous semester was tough with all the demands of philosophical studies. So I decided to unwind for sometime and give my self a break. For the past week I visited two Churches which are considered "pillars" of Catholicism in Manila, if you may. The Santa Cruz Church in Sta. Cruz, Manila and the Basilika ng Nazareno in Quiapo, Manila. This was a different kind of relaxation I must admit but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

It is interesting to note that these two old churches were at one point in its history were under the hands of the Jesuits. Sta. Cruz church was established by the Jesuits in the 1600's primarily to cater to the spiritual needs of the Chinese merchants and residents in the area.

The Facade of Sta. Cruz Church

But time came for the Jesuits to say goodbye to this wonderful ministry. Even before the Society of Jesus was officially suppressed as a religious order by Pope Clement XIV in 1773, the Spanish Crown decreed that the Jesuits be expelled from Spain and from all their colonies. Hence, the Jesuit exodus happened between 1767 - 1769. The administration of the Church was then entrusted to the Archbishop of Manila.

The interior of Sta. Cruz Church

It was in the 1950's (I think) that the then Archbishop of Manila, Rufino Cardinal Santos, invited the Congregation of the Blesed Sacrament to administer the Parish. The Sacramentinos came to the Philippines in 1956. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Sacramentino presence in the Philippines. The present Sta. Cruz Church has been proposed to become the National Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar happens the whole day.

The Basilika ng Nazareno or commonly known as the Quiapo Church was established in 1606. The Church now celebrates its 400th year of foundation. There came a point (can't remember if it was in the 1600's or 1700's) that the Governor General entrusted the administration of the Church to the Jesuit Fathers. The Jesuits took care of the church for four years.

The facade of the Basilika ng Nazareno

Quiapo Church has been the center of the devotion to Señor Nazareno or Jesus of Nazareth on His way to Calvary. The Basilica receives millions of devotees and pilgrims each year. In fact, all the Masses at the Basilica on Fridays are jam-packed! A sign of deep Filipino religiousity and devotion. The Basilica is now being administered by the Diocesan Clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila.

Unfortunately, when the Society of Jesus was restored as a religious Order in the Church in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, all our properties were never returned to us. In fact, the condition made by the Queen of Spain to the Jesuits when they came back to the Philippines in the 1800's was for the Society not to claim back their properties and churches. We started from scratch and focused on the missionary works in Mindanao and in the administration of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, now the Ateneo de Manila University. We do not have old churches under our pastoral care.

But it is consoling to note that the Jesuits (the religious Order that I belong to) has a share in the course of history of these two significant Churches. And as a young Jesuit, it is my consolation to visit these churches and participated in the Eucharist celebrated in these churches, my simple link to the richness of the tradition and devotion nurtured and harnessed in these churches. My visit was my simple connection to my brother Jesuits who worked in these churches. My tribute and respect to the countless Jesuit Fathers and Brothers who labored in the administration and care of both the Church and the parishioners.

+ + + Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam + + +

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Marian yet very Christic!

October 7th has been established as the Day of our Lady of the Holy Rosary by Pope St. Pius V in the year 1573. This Marian feast has been instituted to thank God and our Lady for the victory won at the Battle of Lepanto. The victory was attributed to the constant praying of the Holy Rosary by the Catholics.
It is important then to focus on the "gift" of the Rosary. The rosary is a Marian devotion, in fact, it is part of the cult of Mary. Yet, the rosary remains a very Christic prayer. In the words of Pope Pius XII, the rosary is the compendium of the Gospel; the primary focus is on the person of Jesus Christ -- His birth, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection. John Paul II in His apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae states that the rosary, though Marian in character, is at heart, a Christ-centered prayer. We see then that the praying of the holy Rosary is the contemplation on the Life of Christ.
The Battle at Lepanto has been won centuries ago. But we are besieged by a lot of "battles" in our very time, the battles that go against life and the family -- abortion, divorce, common law practices, etc... -- and we need to pray that we ultimately may win these battles. Mary our Mother, after all is with us.
So as we hold our rosaries and recite it devoutly, let us remember the words of Pope Paul VI in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus, that our devotion to the Mother of the Lord is our opportunity for growing in divine grace. Let us pray then that we may grow in God's grace through the prayers of our Lady. Amen.