Monday, May 31, 2010

the golden beads of summer....

Time passes swiftly and before we know it, summer is over for most of us in this part of the world. I'm just counting the days before the halls of the seminary get to be filled up again and my days get even fuller. Watching the days go by is like letting the final golden bead of summer pass through your fingers. You wish you could hold them longer, but you really have to let them pass as they should....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seminarians Today: The Challenges They Face


Over the last couple of years, the number of seminarians throughout the United States has been growing tremendously. Those men who begin the discernment process are entering into a conversation with God that most young men never open themselves up to because they are afraid of going against the grain of society. There is a lot of noise out in the world that tells these young men that they can do whatever they want, whether it pertains to relationships, drugs, alcohol, etc. When the young men enter seminary, this noise does not stop; in fact, the noise seems to get louder.

The biggest challenge seminarians face today is the act of giving their entire self over to the will of God. This is difficult for any Christian to do because it requires us to leave everything we have known in order to follow Christ. However, this does not come without reward. In The Meaning of Vocation, John Paul II writes: “Do not be afraid of the radicalness of his demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give himself to you, as well as asking of you. If he asks much from you, it is because he knows you can give much.”

Being a seminarian (in actuality, even being a Christian) is counter-cultural! Often times people wonder what drives a young man to enter the seminary. The common questions include: “Don’t you want to get married and have children? “Don’t you want to have a successful career and make a lot of money?” All of these questions make the discernment process more real because these are questions the seminarian MUST face. While in the seminary, a seminarian must practice a life of celibacy, prayer, and relative simplicity. In this modern, materialistic world, these are not always easy.

This generation of seminarians are facing problems that previous generations never had to deal with. Television and movie screens depict a life of sexual freedom and pornography has taken over the internet, making it more difficult for young men to live truly chaste, celibate lives. Young men are torn between following their desires and impulses or following the plan God has in store for them. In order to do this, we need to set aside time to develop a deeply personal relationship with God. However, a relationship with God grows in silence. With modern society becoming increasingly “connected” as a result of Blackberry devices, iPhones, iPods, MP3 players, WI-FI connectivity, etc., listening to God in the silence is even more of a challenge.

Every young man who is discerning God’s will for their lives has to deal with each of these challenges. The minute we believe we have conquered our struggles, a disaster strikes and we fall miserably. However, there is hope! We can all take an example from the lives of the saints. Even the saints had difficulties overcoming the challenges that faced their time. When they thought they had persevered in their struggles, they fell back into a life of sin. The only difference is that they knew how to pick themselves up. Through the Sacrament of Penance we can return to a life of following God’s will for us. All we have to do is approach God, continually opening ourselves to his healing love.

“Confidently open your most intimate aspirations to the Love of Christ who waits for you in the Eucharist. You will receive the answer to all your worries and you will see with joy that the consistency of your life which he asks of you is the door to fulfill the noblest dreams of your youth.” — John Paul II, The Meaning of Vocation

No matter what God calls us to do with our lives, he awaits for us to pick up our cross and follow him. “Take heart young people! Christ is calling you and the world awaits you! Remember that the Kingdom of God need your generous and complete dedication…Act like those fisherman who, called by Jesus, immediately left everything behind and became fishers of men.” (JPII–The Meaning of Vocation) whispers of the spirit (

Let's look forward to another fruitful year at the Sacred Heart Seminary!

Pius XII and the Jews

Here's something I fished out of

How a Strategy of "Silence" Saved Thousands of Jews

Documents and Testimonies Point to Pius XII's Efforts

NEW YORK, May 25, 2010 ( The Pave the Way Foundation has initiated a document retrieval project to reveal as much information and as many testimonies as possible regarding the papacy of Pope Pius XII, the World War II Pontiff, in order to break the academic "log jam" caused by the lack of publicly available information.
New findings have revealed documents and testimony, which clearly show that on Oct. 16, 1943, it was the intentional lack of a public denunciation by Pope Pius XII against the arrest of the Roman Jews, which saved their lives and enabled their rescue.
We have a signed 1972 deposition of General Karl Wolff, SS commander for Italy and deputy to Heinrich Himmler, which states that in September 1943 Adolf Hitler ordered him to develop a plan to invade the Vatican, kidnap the Pope, seize the Vatican assets, and kill the Roman Curia. This plan was to be carried out immediately.

General Wolff knew that if this invasion were executed, massive riots throughout Europe would ensue, resulting in a military disaster to the German war effort. General Wolff stated that he was successful in convincing Hitler to delay the invasion. This view of a potential military disaster was shared by the military governor of Rome, Major General Rainer Stahel, and German ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weizsäcker.

Pius XII learned of the invasion plan, and likewise believed that the result would be massive riots potentially killing thousands of innocent people and that the Vatican’s neutrality would be breached, thereby enabling German forces to enter all Vatican properties. Handwritten minutes exist, which state that on Sept. 6, 1943, Pius XII secretly called the cardinals together to tell them the Vatican would be invaded and he would be taken to the north and probably killed. The cardinals were to be prepared to leave for a neutral country immediately, upon the invasion of Vatican territory.

He also signed a letter of resignation, and placed it in his desk. He instructed the cardinals to form a government in exile and to elect a new Pope once they were safe. We have a handwritten letter from the secretary of state ordering the Swiss Guard not to resist invading German forces with firepower, and numerous documents detailing how they were to protect the Vatican Library and museum contents.

Throughout this period, von Weizsäcker sent deceptive positive messages about the Pope to Berlin to calm Hitler, not to justify an order to invade. Some critics of Pius XII have erroneously based their theories of papal complicity and collaboration on these intentionally misleading cables -- what von Weizsäcker’s lieutenant, Albrecht von Kessel, later called "tactical lies."

We have additional testimony from Lieutenant Nikolaus Kunkel, a German officer from the headquarters of the military governor of Rome, which corroborates documented evidence and testimony of exactly how Pius XII directly saved the Roman Jewish community and that they were expecting the invasion order from Berlin any day.

When the early morning arrests began Oct. 16, 1943, Pius XII was alerted to this by Princess Enza Pignatelli Aragona Cortes. He immediately took multiple steps to force the Germans to stop the arrests. He summoned the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Maglione, and instructed him to launch a vehement protest against the arrests. Cardinal Maglione warned von Weizsacker that same morning, that the Pope could not remain silent as they arrested the Jews under his very windows, in his own diocese. Pius XII then sent his nephew, Carlo Pacelli, to meet with a German sympathizer, Bishop Alois Hudal, to instruct him to write a letter to his German contacts to immediately stop the arrests.

This too proved ineffective. Pius XII's last effort, the most successful, was to send his close confidant, Salvatorian Superior General Father Pankratius Pfeiffer, to meet directly with the military governor of Rome, General Stahel. Father Pfeiffer warned Stahel that the Pope was going to launch a loud and public protest against these arrests if they were not stopped. Fear that this public protest would result in Hitler's ordering the invasion of the Vatican prompted Stahel to act.

General Stahel immediately telephoned Heinrich Himmler, and fabricated military grounds to stop the arrests. Trusting Stahel's assessment, Himmler advised Hitler to stop the arrests. The order to stop the arrests was issued at noon on Oct. 16, resulting in its implementation by 2 p.m. on the day they began.

This sequence of events was independently confirmed by General Dietrich Beelitz, the liaison officer with Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s office and Hitler’s command. Beelitz personally heard the Stahel-Himmler conversation. When Stahel’s deception later became known, Himmler punished General Stahel by sending him to the Eastern front.

It was known that the Vatican was infiltrated with spies. The Pope could only send trusted priests and confidants throughout Rome and Italy with verbal and written papal orders to lift cloister, allowing men and women to enter Catholic convents and monasteries, and ordered all ecclesiastical institutions to hide the Jews wherever they could.

According to famed British historian Sir Martin Gilbert, the Vatican hid thousands of Jews in literally one day (See supporting documents here and here). Once hidden, the Vatican continued to feed and support their Jewish “guests” until Rome’s liberation on June 4, 1944.

Documents from Berlin and the Eichmann Trial in Israel also show that the 8,000 Roman Jews that were to be arrested were not supposed to go to Auschwitz, but were to be sent to the work camp at Mauthausen and held as hostages. This order was later countermanded by persons unknown and 1,007 Jews were sent to Auschwitz to their death. Sadly only 17 survived. While there are those who repeatedly criticize Pius XII for not saving the 1,007, they remain completely silent on his direct actions, which saved this 3,000 year old Jewish community of Rome.

It was recently discovered, in the American archives, that the allies had broken the German codes and knew almost a week in advance of the intended arrests of the Roman Jews. The allies decided not to warn the Romans since this might alert the Germans to this intelligence breach. This “military decision” left Pope Pius XII alone, without advance notice, to try to end the arrests.When speaking of Pope Pius XII, the foremost Jewish scholars of the Holocaust in Hungary, Jeno Levai, stated that it was a "particularly regrettable irony that the one person in all of occupied Europe who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Days: before the summer ends....Scattered Photos of May Fiestas et al....

ON my way home after presiding over a fiesta Mass in one barrio in Dagami, I took this snapshot of my white stole (May 24, 2010)
THIS was taken in Barugo, moments before we processed to the altar for the Vesper Mass of the Town Fiesta (May 18-19, 2010). The church has been progressively renovated since I last saw it a year ago. They placed granite tiles already. They left the bell there, I presume, for the lack of a better place to situate it....
THIS is a view of the same parish church of Barugo, one of my favorite churches in the Archdiocese. It has preserved the traditional church-and-convento structure typical of all churches built during the colonial period. This shot was taken from a balcony of the adjoined parish convento which opens into the church nave. Notice the pews occupied to its full capacity. The Vesper Mass is usually attended by people from the barrios of Barugo. The people from the poblacion usually attend the Mass on the feast day itself.
A stolen shot taken after the fiesta mass in Guinarona, in the sacristy.
THE Archbishop, Msgr. Jose S. Palma, giving the final blessing.
THE patron of the parish of Guinarona, St. Paschal Baylon. Many people from thereabouts come to this parish in order to ask for favors. It's a quaint pilgrimage site. Most often women come here asking the saint's intercession in conceiving a child or in looking for a good husband.
ANOTHER view of the shrine of St. Paschal.
THE facade of the parish church of San Pascual Baylon, Guinarona, Dagami.
WAITING for theMass to begin.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Bad Day

You could say that you've had a bad day when:

1. You found at first thing in the morning that one of your car tires is flat
2. You're lacking in tools in order to fix that tire
3. The nearest vulcanizing shop doesn't have those tools
4. The night before a brother priest requests you to perform a baptism at 10 AM in his stead when you have some errands of your own to do (nah, scrap the errand, I'd prefer to do the baptism instead)
5. The same brother priest reminds you of the appointment, only to add that you have to conduct the Pre-Jordan Seminar as well
6. Because of the car tire and the scheduled baptism you miss your breakfast (that piece of toasted slice bread did well).
7. upon arriving at the parish for the scheduled baptism a few minutes before 10, you're told by the secretary that it's scheduled for 10:30
8. It's freaking hot both inside and outside
9. The baptismal party arrives and you observe that they're not too familiar with what you're saying
10. The acolytes haven't prepared the things needed for the baptism...

Kung malasin ka ba naman...

But then you'll discover as things get on that sometimes God orders things that way, and that he usually speaks to us this way as well, and we learn a lot from it... I saw that I had to be patient in dealing with people especially when things don't go too well. Certain things go well after a few seconds, some after an hour, others after some days....I was able to change the tire and drive it to a trusted mechanic shop, and it may be serviceable tomorrow morning...I had a lively chat with the baptismal sponsors, and I felt that they got a lot from my mystagogical explanation of the the significance of the sacrament and its rites...most of all, I realized that we won't always get things to be done in the exact way that we want them to be, and I believe that realizing these things make us more patient and push us a step further on the road to maturity.

So, shall I call it a bad day...nahhh. A day in which some things went in a way I wouldn't want them to go, perhaps, but surely, everything went quite well in the end...

All things work together for the good of those who love God (Rom 8:28)

Or shall I say, Omnia in bonum, It's all for the best!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Pulpits

There was a time when the only place where priests were wont to preach was the pulpit usually situated in the middle of the nave, affixed to the wall and usually way over the heads of the seated congregation. I don't need to state the evident when I say that times have much since then. By the 50's, priests began to conquer the airwaves (the controversial Fr. Coughlin and Msgr. Sheen are prime examples). When society entered the Swingin' Sixties, preachers took to the street corners (this happened for example in Milan during the Great Mission initiated by then Archbishop Montini...well that was included in the 50's also). When television came into vogue, priest were seen as well (again Archbishop Sheen). What's really true is that concerning its means of expression, the Church could never be accused of being outdated with regards to means at hand.

I've been browsing through Pope Benedict's message for today, the 44th World Communications Day, and in it one could see that the Pope is proposing a new paradigm for the priests of the new millennium. Not that it wasn't being done before he ever talked about it, but now that he did, more priests are poised to conquer the Web as well, not merely as preachers ( something which would never be lost on us), but this time as bloggers, most especially. Entitled "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in the Digital World", it sure does widen the possibilities and perspectives in the pastoral ministry which the priest should exercise. Certainly
Il Papa had kept the Year for Priests very much at heart.


I just remembered that by these dates Iwould be celebrating a year since I suffered an accident when I tentatively ventured into skimboarding last summer. Everything was going well when I placed the wrong foot forward and ended up twisting my foot. I had to hobble on crutches two weeks after that, and I had to give up badminton for more than six months. I remember that May being the month of fiestas, I had to brave the concerned inquiries of both priests and lay people alike when I concelebrated in town fiestas on crutches. I've stayed clear away from the board after that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


It's been ages since I held on to the back of a jeepney on my way home. Today is May 13, and I was making my way home after spending some hours at Robinson's. it's situated very near Fatima Church, which is celebrating its fiesta so public transportation is very hard to come by. I wanted to go home badly I had to choice but to go home that way. It brought back many memories of my college days.

A May Offering of the Holy Father To the Virgin at Fatima

Shortly after arriving at Fatima, Pope Benedict offered this prayer in the place where, about ninety-or-so years ago, the Virgin appeared to three simple shepherd children. Here the Holy Father consecrated and dedicated all of the priests of the world to the care of the Immaculate Heart of is the Vatican Radio's translation of the prayer:

Immaculate Mother,
in this place of grace,
called together by the love of your Son Jesus
the Eternal High Priest, we,
sons in the Son and his priests,
consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart,
in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will.

We are mindful that, without Jesus,
we can do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5)
and that only through him, with him and in him,
will we be instruments of salvation
for the world.

Bride of the Holy Spirit,
obtain for us the inestimable gift
of transformation in Christ.
Through the same power of the Spirit that
overshadowed you,
making you the Mother of the Saviour,
help us to bring Christ your Son
to birth in ourselves too.
May the Church
be thus renewed by priests who are holy,
priests transfigured by the grace of him
who makes all things new.

Mother of Mercy,
it was your Son Jesus who called us
to become like him:
light of the world and salt of the earth
(cf. Mt 5:13-14).

Help us,
through your powerful intercession,
never to fall short of this sublime vocation,
nor to give way to our selfishness,
to the allurements of the world
and to the wiles of the Evil One.

Preserve us with your purity,
guard us with your humility
and enfold us with your maternal love
that is reflected in so many souls
consecrated to you,
who have become for us
true spiritual mothers.

Mother of the Church,
we priests want to be pastors
who do not feed themselves
but rather give themselves to God for their brethren,
finding their happiness in this.
Not only with words, but with our lives,
we want to repeat humbly,
day after day,
Our “here I am”.

Guided by you,
we want to be Apostles
of Divine Mercy,
glad to celebrate every day
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar
and to offer to those who request it
the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocate and Mediatrix of grace,
you who are fully immersed
in the one universal mediation of Christ,
invoke upon us, from God,
a heart completely renewed
that loves God with all its strength
and serves mankind as you did.

Repeat to the Lord
your efficacious word:
“They have no wine” (Jn 2:3),
so that the Father and the Son will send upon us
a new outpouring of
the Holy Spirit.
Full of wonder and gratitude
at your continuing presence in our midst,
in the name of all priests
I too want to cry out:
“Why is this granted me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).

Our Mother for all time,
do not tire of “visiting us”,
consoling us, sustaining us.
Come to our aid
and deliver us from every danger
that threatens us.
With this act of entrustment and consecration,
we wish to welcome you
more deeply, more radically,
for ever and totally
into our human and priestly lives.

Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth
in the desert of our loneliness,
let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness,
let it restore calm after the tempest,
so that all mankind shall see the salvation
of the Lord,
who has the name and the face of Jesus,
who is reflected in our hearts,
for ever united to yours!

it's a really beautiful prayer...this moved me to tears....
The recitation of the rosary allows us to fix our gaze and our hearts upon Jesus, just like his Mother, the supreme model of contemplation of the Son. Meditating upon the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries as we pray our Hail Marys, let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus, from the Incarnation, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection; let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. Grace invades our hearts, provoking a wish for an incisive and evangelical change of life so that we can say with Saint Paul: "For me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21) in a communion of life and destiny with Christ. (Pope Benedict XVI, Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sex and the Celibate Priesthood: the other side of the scandal

Here's one article in the opinion section of the paper I saw this morning as I was leafing through the papers halfway through my breakfast. It caught my attention and the title says it all. I couldn't resist the temptation to comment on it here and there. I've been an avid follower of one blog "sired" by an excellent specimen of a priest named Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (more commonly known as Fr. Z). The blog is very good, named What Does The Prayer Really Say (or WDTPRS). Just follow this address to have a good look at it: Anyway, following his methodical style of commentary, let's see what the article says (the words in red and in parentheses are my own reactions and comments)

The Other Church Scandal: Priests Siring Children

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:36:00 05/11/2010

READING THE NEWS REPORTS ABOUT THE sex scandals in the Catholic Church in the United States and Europe, I went through a mix of emotions ranging from anger to shame and disgust(for one part...). As a former priest I personally felt at times very much at a loss( well, one won't be surprised here). I read also about four Filipino priests in the United States who have been accused of pedophilia and other sexual crimes.

So far no sex scandals involving Catholic priests in the Philippines have erupted (thank God). However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines recently came out with a statement admitting that the situation in the Philippines regarding sex abuses in the Church shows the need for formative programs for its clerics specifically on the topic of sexuality (amen). The statement fails to mention the widespread scandal of so many priests who have sired one child or more.

The policy of many bishops here with respect to this scandal has been the same as the policy of the Church in the United States and Europe: cover up in order to protect the sanctity of the priesthood and this at the expense of the victims of these abuses. The abusive priest is allowed to continue performing his functions as a priest, while the mother and the child(ren) are left to their own resources.

I often hear that the woman is to be blamed here; after all, she seduced the priest. That is an unfair accusation (I agree). When two people fail to resist temptation, both have to take the blame; more so the one who is supposed to be spiritually superior—and that is the priest (WELL SAID).

It is high time that the hierarchy of the Church arrested this problem. A priest who has made the mistake of impregnating a woman should face the consequences of that mistake. He must marry that woman and be a real father to the child he has begotten, instead of just being a “spiritual” father ( well, this is just too simplistic. What if the woman doesn't want to get married to the guy? If I were the woman, i wouldn't. I can't imagine the man to be responsible if he hadn't been able to be such in his priestly commitment in the first place. And why these quotation marks about spiritual fatherhood. Is the author implying that it is less of a fatherhood? well I think herein lies part of the problem. I believe that when a priest loses sight of this, his own fatherhood, it begins to fail to fulfill him and thus leads him to look for it elsewhere. Then there you have it.). The child here is the victim. He/she has the right to have a father and a mother. This right of the child is a sacred right, more sacred than the function of a priest (Ja, there's no doubt about those two things being sacred, but you can't compare between two dissimilar things).

What happens here is that the spiritual welfare of the Church’s most vulnerable members—the child and the mother—is sacrificed for the image and power of the institution and its officeholders (So here we go again, the classical appeal to the sentiment. Well, in this case, don't forget that the priest is vulnerable also, and the community as well. Everyone loses here, you know). One solution to this problem is to make celibacy optional and allow married priests in the Church (And so we get to the bottom of the barrel. After all this defense of the victimized woman and the fatherless child, against the powerful institution and those powerful stakeholders called bishops and the gloomy figures of the Vatican, why don't we just do away with celibacy? It seems that this is what it's all about. Let's just pass a law to let philandering husbands take as many wives as they like, that way there will be no more adulteries; laws allowing married men to have and establish more than families, so that there would be no more broken families, only extended and restructured ones...more or less, this is the very same reasoning, only applied to marriage)


Actually, he would've gotten of better if he pursued that very urgent necessity for formative programs for its clerics (and clerics-to-be) specifically on the topic of sexuality and (need I add) a deeper appreciation for the gift of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood of the Latin Rite

Monday, May 10, 2010

this is one cool piece of furniture..

St. Paul is on the left arm

you could see St. Peter on the right

a detail of the chair on the upper right side
the upper center part of the chair, with the figure of Christ holding the Gospels

I saw this chair while attending a conference for seminary formators at the San Carlos Seminary last February. Here actually we're dealing with a cathedra, a bishop's chair (or throne). It is the symbol of the bishop's teaching authority in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Church. One usually sees it in the premier church of every diocese (hence, the name "cathedral church"). If I'm not mistaken, it was used by no less than Pope John Paul II during his last visit to Manila in 1995. I'm not sure about that however. When I first saw it, it was at the basement of the Lorenzo Mission Institute within the seminary complex. No, don't ask me what it was doing there. It's a pity they left it lying around there. Anyway the thing captured my interest I couldn't resist taking some photos.

The Most Beautiful Flower of May

She is, in fact, the most beautiful flower to blossom in creation, the "rose" that appeared in the fullness of time, when God, sending his Son, gave the world a new spring. And she is at the same time humble and discreet protagonist of the first steps of the Christian community: Mary is its spiritual heart, because her very presence in the midst of the disciples is a living memory of the Lord Jesus and pledge of the gift of his Spirit.(Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 9, 2010)