Saturday, June 17, 2017

psalm 103: benedicamus domino - 10th week saturday

In our psalm today, psalm 103, David talks to himself and tells his soul to do two things.  First he tells his soul to praise the Lord – bless the Lord, O my soul.  To bless the Lord means to praise in thankfulness.  To bless the Lord means that I recognize that God is the giver of blessings.  To bless the Lord is to joyfully announce all good things come from God.  This is what benedicamus Domino means – let us bless the Lord, praise him, thank him for all the good he has bestowed on you.  In the seminary the first invitation of the day as you wake up is to bless the Lord – the day is new, life has been given anew, God has sustained you, God loves you, God calls you, thus the first words that comes from our lips in the morning is Deo gratias – thanks be to God.  BE thankful.

worship at the cathedral 14: corpus christi procession, a manifestation of faith in the real presence

Last June 13 we again brought in procession the image of Our Lady of Fatima around the cathedral grounds and prayed together the rosary immediately after the 5:30 afternoon mass.  June 13 is the 100th year anniversary of her second apparition to the children of Fatima.  There was a good enough crowd who joined the procession despite the fact that the invitation was only announced last Sunday in some of the masses.  So I am inviting our parishioners to gather once more on July 13, a Thursday, for the 5:30 pm mass and the for the rosary and procession immediately after.  Our Lady's message is so relevant especially at a time when parts of Mindanao are again becoming restive and terror attacks and threats are increasing by the day all over the world.  We turn once more to Our Blessed Mother who urged us to pray for peace and conversion, to pray especially the rosary.  We may find ourselves helpless in the face of these threats but we have a powerful weapon within our reach – the rosary.  And so, together let us bombard heaven with our prayers, let us pray together everyday and most especially at the anniversaries of her apparition until the month of October this year.

psalm 85: justice and peace shall kiss - 24th sacerdotal anniversary 10th week thursday

Psalm 85 is one of the most beautiful psalms.  It is in this psalm that we hear that beautiful passage which says Mercy and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.  We often hear this, we often say this, but do we the seeming contradiction?  Do we see the impossibility of the encounter and embrace between mercy and truth, of justice and peace?  And yet this psalm says they will, one day they will meet like two long lost friends, one day they will kiss like long lost lovers.

psalm 99: to be holy - 10th week wednesday

Psalm 99 praise God because God is holy.  What is qadosh, the Hebrew word for holy?  Holy means set apart, separated, different, lain sia sang sa iban.  God is called holy because God different from anything that exist in this world, God is different from anything that we could imagine.  God is the totally other.
This is also our call to be holy – to be holy means to be totally other, to separate oneself from the mob, to be different, not in the sense of becoming an elitist or to feel superior to the rest but to walk the less travelled path, to seek a different direction, to choose a different value, to love what the world despises, to run after what the world loathes.
To be holy means to be different, to be separate like God. 

psalm 119: difficulties attract; hardship challenges men - 10th week tuesday

Today we reflect on psalm 119.  As I have already noted in the past this is the longest psalm, a psalm of 176 verses, and this longest psalm is a psalm in praise of God words, his precepts, his commands, his laws, his decrees.  In the psalm one is thankful for God's words and commands comparing these to a lamp to one's feet, a light for one's path, it is wisdom, it gives understanding, it enlightens the heart and the mind.

psalm 119: to be loved is not equivalent to being made to feel comfortable - 10th week tuesday

Today we reflect on psalm 119.  As I have already noted in the past this is the longest psalm, a psalm of 176 verses, and this longest psalm is a psalm in praise of God words, his precepts, his commands, his laws, his decrees.  In the psalm one is thankful for God's words and commands comparing these to a lamp to one's feet, a light for one's path, it is wisdom, it gives understanding, it enlightens the heart and the mind.

worship at the cathedral 13: commitment

So far, only a few have signed up for the Lord, "one hour once a week".  Except for the 5:00 AM and 7:00AM slots all the hours are filled on Sundays.  But on Mondays, of the 19 slots available, only 6 were filled up.  On Tuesdays, only 5 slots were filled u; on Wednesdays, only 6; on Thursdays, only 6; On Fridays, 2; and on Saturdays, 10.  Well, I know many of you are probably one of the many who visit our Lord even more than "one hour, once a week."   Some, I know, come daily.  Or you are one of those who prefer to be anonymous, not wanting to have your name published, not wanting to be recognized for a good deed.  But we are doing this campaign not just to have people "keep watch with the Lord".  We are doing this for two things. 

psalm 47: the lord mounts his throne - ascension

I would like to continue my reflection on the responsorial psalm of the mass and today we reflect on Psalm 47.  Psalm 47 is an appropriate psalm for the feast which we celebrate today, the solemnity of the Ascension when Christ our Lord after completing his mission here on earth went up to heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father. Psalm 47 however situated in the context of the Ascension is not just your ordinary description of going up.   In so many words the psalm wants us to visualize the majesty, the splendor of the King's ascending which only the likes of Franco Zifferelli can produce on stage and Cecil DeMille on film.  There is grandeur in the description, there is an emphasis on the splendor of the ascension – "the Lord God mounts his throne and he mounts it amidst trumpet blasts, and as he ascends his throne all people clap their hands, there are shouts of joy, there are cries of gladness, for the Lord is the most high, he is the great king, reigning over the nations, sitting upon his holy throne."   This is not just moving up, it is moving to the highest up.  The king is not just on high but he is the most high, God is not just superior, or greater or grander, no, God is supreme, God is the greatest, God is the grandest - God outstrips all rulers, kings and princes, for God is above everything and everyone.

worship at the cathedral 12: his presence is the gift

When we were seminarians we were encouraged to visit the Blessed Sacrament several times a day and it has become a habit for many of us to pass by the chapel every time we leave our dorms for the classrooms, and also every time we leave the classrooms for the dorms.  We pass by, make the sign of the cross, genuflect, say hi or just make eye contact with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, make the sign of the cross again, and leave.  For many of us this simple act of "visiting the Lord" has become a habit.  It is an important first act whenever we come to the parish – greeting the Lord first in the church before even greeting the parish priest.  Not much fuss or rituals, but just a simple acknowledgement that He is there, that somebody important is there.

worship at the cathedral 11: sign-up for the Lord

We have opened our newly renovated adoration chapel.  We are passing around a paper asking for commitments from individuals or groups to take turns in adoring our Lord in the adoration chapel for an hour – just one hour once a week.  You can come individually or as a group – a group among the many religious organizations or ministries; you can come as barkadas, or as families, or a couples, etc., etc.  You can choose a one hour slot from 5:00 in the morning till 11:00 in the evening. We're leaving the sign-up sheet with the guard. 

psalm 145: DOM 5th week easter tuesday

You all have probably encountered the acronym DOM.  DO you know what it means?  Well some people take it to mean Domdoma Otong Mo.  Others take it to mean with something I cannot mention in the pulpit.  But the real meaning is Domino Optimo Maximo – it is a dedication with means "To the Best and Greatest Lord." It is a dedication we find most often in a lapida.  And so it can mean that this lapida with its epitaph is dedicated to the person buried, referred to as lord in small letter D, or this person buried is dedicated to the best and greatest Lord referring of course to God.  But what makes the Lord our God the best and the greatest? 

fatima: 100th anniversary of the apparitions - looking at francisco

For the past three days, in our triduum, to prepare ourselves for this feast, this centenary of the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother in Fatima, we have reflected on the 3 messages of Our Lady – Prayer, especially the holy rosary and going to mass on First Saturdays; reparation for our sins and the sins of the world; and thirdly, we talked about consecration, to heed the Blessed Mother's request that we consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart.  I feel I have said too much already about Fatima, I have nothing more to say on her feast.  And so instead of looking at the apparitions of Fatima as one big picture allow me to look into the effects of the apparitions on the life of Francisco. How did the miracle of Fatima transform Francisco?  I have already cited one such incident when we meditated on reparation two days ago, his preoccupation to make God happy, to console God.  Today I will cite another two.

fatima triduum: 3rd day: consecrate

On this third day of our meditation on the messages of Our Blessed Mother in Fatima let us turn our attention to the word consecration.  Mary asks us to consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart.  What does this mean?  What does consecration mean?  What shall we do to make this consecration?
Many times we only think of consecration as a prayer – a prayer of consecration. So we just kneel and pray the prescribed prayer and then bingo we are now consecrated.  But a prayer of consecration is like a prayer before meals.  A prayer before meals is not yet the meal.  You still have to eat.  So also with the prayer of consecration.  A prayer of consecration does not consecrate us.  It does not work like magic.  So how do we consecrate ourselves then to the immaculate heart?

fatima triduum 2nd day: reparation

Today we consider the second message which is reparation. 
When the angel appeared to the 3 children of Fatima he asked them to offer their sufferings as an act of reparation to God.  Then our Blessed Mother herself asked the 3 children to make reparation for the sins against God and against her Immaculate Heart.
What is reparation and how could we practice it?  Reparation means making up for the offenses against God.  Making up.  When I forgot an appointment I had with a seminarian he was so disappointed because he was looking forward for a week for that meeting and so I have to make up with him, meaning I have to repair something that was broken, I have to restore something that was cut.  This is reparation.

worship at the cathedral 10: chapel of light and the adoration chapel

By the time you read this issue the Chapel of Lights would have been blessed after more than 4 months since the parish started building it, and the Adoration Chapel would have been reopened after two weeks of renovation.  Allow me to explain some new things in these structures. 
First, in the Chapel of Lights.  This time we have a chapel dedicated solely for the lighting of candles.  If you notice the ceiling of the narthex at the entrance of the cathedral is already blackened by soot coming from the candles we light, and for several times already we need to put out fires coming from the votive candle stands in that area due to unattended candles and melted waxes.  The situation is so hazardous we kept a bucket of sand in the vicinity just in case.  I think one can still see traces of a recent fire just beneath the crucifix.

fatima triduum, 1st day: pray!

Today we start our triduum in preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on Saturday as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of her apparition to the three children.  Our Blessed Mother has basically 3 messages in Fatima – the first is prayer especially the rosary and the first Saturday Devotion.  Second is to make acts of reparation for our sins and the sins of the whole world.  And lastly, the third message is to make an act of consecration to her immaculate heart.
On the first day of our triduum let us reflect on the first message – to pray, to pray especially the rosary and to celebrate mass on First Saturdays.

psalm 87: mt. zion and the divine initiative - 4th week easter tuesday 1

Mt. Zion, the hill on which Jerusalem, the holy city, now stands, is praised by our responsorial psalm today, Psalm 87:  "His foundation upon the holy mountains the LORD loves: The gates of Zion, more than any dwelling of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God!"
So why does God love Mt. Zion, why are glorious things said of this city of God, why Zion, why is Jerusalem important, why is it a city like no other?  There are so many cities in the world more important, stronger, powerful, more beautiful than Zion – what makes it so important compared to these other cities, what makes it different from these other cities?  Because God chose to love Zion.  Zion did not choose God.  Instead God chose Zion.  It is the divine initiative at work.

psalm 42: no permanent house just mobile tents - 4th week easter monday

Today we meditate on our responsorial psalm, psalm 42.  Our psalm uses the image of a thirsty deer as the symbol of a person in constant search of God, a praying person seeking, longing for God.  Body and soul is drawn, aching as it were for something distant, something seemingly unreachable, and yet something very much needed, something which my whole being is longing to behold. 
As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God.  Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.  When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Psalm 42 reminds us that our search for God is a never-ending quest, a never-ending search.  One cannot say – I have already found God and so I will no longer struggle, I am already fully satisfied with myself.  One cannot say that.  I cannot say I don't need to seek him.  I have already found him.  I am already full.

worship at the cathedral 9: color coding our prayers

"And just when did God start color coding our prayers to him?" This was my shocked and irritated reaction when somebody told me that there are different colors of candles corresponding to different prayers and needs – a red candle for love problems, a green candle for money problems, etc. 
One day while observing people lighting candles, I saw one young woman holding in one hand 5 candles in 5 different colors!  Lord, have pity on her –5 different problems at the same time?!  (Life can be cruel, indeed!)  For those of you who are bored with life, I suggest, that you stand one afternoon on the place where people light their candles in the cathedral and observe the different colors of candles they light.  Or if from time to time you feel oppressed by difficulties like I do, spend your time there and you will realize how blessed you are compared to the many who come there with candles of different colors on hand.
So, going back to the question, "just when did God start color coding our prayers?"

worship at the cathedral 8: un-good friday practices

Have you ever heard of a brandea?  Brandea are objects which is believed to become holy by coming into contact with holy people or things.  These could be handkerchiefs or clothing used by the saints, or a chair once sat upon by the holy person, or even a chunk of stone from the tomb of the saint.  Well that should have been the end of it.  But things became a bit complicated.  Why?  Because one can practically make a brandea.  Get a piece of cloth and rub it against a relic or a tomb of a saint (of course with faith and reverence unlike magic).  This practice comes from the belief that supernatural powers residing on a relic or a holy person are passed to anything that touches it. 
Filipinos, however, would take this belief a little bit further (very far in fact). 
First, we begun by applying it not just to relics but to images of our Lord and the saints. And so for a Filipino a brandea is an object nga ginpahid kag gintandog on a sacred image.