Archive for the ‘Catholic’ Category

Holy Week Recollection

April 11, 2009

Easter Light
by The Rev. Dr. Paul S. Nancarrow

Out of the darkness, light shines.

Out of the chaos waste and void,
when storm raged over the yet uncreated earth,
and the darkness lay on the face of the deep—
God acted,
and the light of creation burst forth,
and the world began to be.

Out of the dark night at the shores of the Red Sea,
as the children of Israel fled from the armies of Pharaoh,
as they saw the joy of their liberation from bondage and slavery
turn into terror at the approaching revenge of a bitter tyrant,
as they cried out to Moses to save them from the enemy—
God acted,
and the light kindled into a pillar of fire
which stood before the Israelites to protect them,
and a strong east wind blew back the waters of the sea,
so that God’s people could cross on dry land,
and there they were saved.

Out of the dark of the garden tomb,
the new tomb were no one had yet been laid,
where Joseph of Arimathea
and Nicodemus the Pharisee
had put Jesus’ body
when Pilate gave them permission to have it taken down from the cross,

Out of the darkness sealed in stone and heavy with the nothingness of death—
God acted,
and light flared forth in an unimaginable glory,
and the tomb was empty,
empty,
the graveclothes folded where the body had been laid
and was laid no longer;
the stone rolled back and open to the gentle dawn air,
letting in the first light of the sunrise
of the day when the whole Creation
was made new.

Out of the dark of a shadowed church,
where the faithful are gathered to remember God’s mighty acts,
where the long fast of Lent is coming to its end,
where the story of God’s love is being rehearsed
and remembered
and reconnected to people’s lives
in their here
and in their now—
God acts,
and a new fire is kindled,
and the Paschal Candle is lighted,
and the people chant
“The Light of Christ! Thanks be to God!”
and Easter has begun.

Out of the darkness of sin and grief,

out of the shadows of pain
and suffering
and ill will
that so often shroud our human lives—
God acts,
and the light of Christ comes to us,
blazing forth in new glory
that is redemption
and re-creation
and resurrection
and eternal life.
This is Easter,
this our Feast of Feasts.

Out of the darkness, light shines.

(Photo Credit: Dr. Ashra Fekry)

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Bizarre Holy Week Tradition: Crucifixion in Pampan

April 8, 2009

About 2,000 years have passed since the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and crucifixion is still being practiced in Pampanga. Supervised by the government, the villages of San Pedro Cutud, Sta. Lucia, and San Juan observe the Lenten tradition with ceremonial flagellations and the nailing of the cross watched by crowds of curious spectators. The reenactment of Jesus’ suffering is preceded by a “pabasa” and way of the cross recalling the Christ’s passion.

The practice of crucifixion might have originated in 1962 when Artemio Anoza, a faith-healer who agreed to be nailed on the cross. From then on, a growing crowd of penitents, about 500-600 “repentant” human beings parade the street, whipping themselves in atonement for their sins.

As a culmination of a Calvary-like imitation of Jesus, the people get to see about 10 to 15 people undergo nailing in Cutud. In addition Sta Lucia, and San Juan have 9 and 5 people respectively are put on the stake to be crucified. More than 70,000 to 80,000 spectators troop to these rituals.

“A man who paints houses and makes streamers for a living, Enaje will be nailed to the cross for the 23rd year. He took to the cross as a thanksgiving after he survived a fall from a three-story building in 1986.”—-Inquirer (04/07/09, Oreias, T)

Village leaders say the crucifixions are acts of repentance and expressions of thanks. For a special favor penitents fulfull their promises of being nailed on the tree on their own volition. Contrary to the allegations of others, people say the flagellants (Mandarame) don’t get crucified for a fee.

The crucifixion isn’t part of the Catholic religious observance that dates back in pagan times. The primitive practice is discouraged by the modern Catholic Church. Yet in Pampanga, it has been a compelling tradition.

A macabre source of tourist curiosity, this bloody observance of Jesus Christ’s death has drawn criticisms from various segments of society. The public complains this Lenten observance is primitively gruesome. Diluting the significance of the Holy Week, the crucifixion has lost it’s solemnity with the crowds. It has become commercialized.

To keep peace and order, about 200 police officers will be deployed on Good Friday. Local government officials regard the crucifixion as a tourist attraction from which part its income comes from. (Photo Credits: Caroline Butler; LA Times/ Mark Boster; Michel Detay x 2; Caroline Butler) =0=

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Bishop Rojas named as head of new diocese in Camarines Sur

March 28, 2009

The prelature of Libmanan, Camarines Sur which was canonically created by the late Pope John Paul II in March 19, 1990 had been designated a new diocese by Pope Benedict XVI and appointed Jose Rojas, Jr. as its bishop. This was announced by the pontiff’s envoy to the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams. —CBCP News (03/25/09, Lagarde, R)

Together with 51 priests, Bishop Rojas, 52, who is from Naga City serves the new diocese with about 500,000 Catholics in 27 parishes.

For this significant milestone, UP Ibalon Bicol and its members joyously congratulate Bishop Rojas and the entire Libmanan Diocese. (Photo Credit: Libmanantowards20decade)=0=

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OLPDA holds Lenten Recollection

March 12, 2009

The Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Associaton (OLPDA) of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut invites Ina’s devotees to a day of prayer at the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Jersey City, NJ on Saturday, March 21, 2009.

Boy Cabaero, chairman of the association extends the free invitation to all and requests those attending to call him at 201-566-8424 or Genevieve del Rosario at 201-424-4435 on or before Wednesday, March 18, 2009. The whole-day religious event has the following schedule: (Photo Credits: Groenling x 2) =0=

PROGRAM

I. HOLY MASS – 10:00 – 11:00 A.M.

II. STATIONS OF THE CROSS – 11:00 – 11:45 A.M.

III. LUNCH – 12:00 – 12:45 P.M.

IV. FIRST TALK – 12:50 – 1:20 P.M.

V. BREAK – 1:20 – 1:30 P.M.

VI. SECOND TALK – 1:30 – 2:00 P.M.

VII. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS – 2:00 – 2:30 P. M.

VIII. CONFESSIONS – 2:30 – 3:00 P.M.

Presider, Homilist, and Speaker: Rev. Joe Saltarin, Pastor, St. Anne’s Church, New Jersey

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Survey says a rising number of Americans have “no religion”

March 11, 2009

The poll made by Program of Public Virtues of Trinity College in Hartford, CT between February and November last year reported that only 76.7% of Americans identified themselves as Christians, a 9.5% decline from the 86.2% in the 1990’s. Most of the attrition comes from non-Catholic denominations. The percentage of Catholics has significantly increased in the Southwest, greater than in the Northeast, shifting attention to the needs of Hispanics in the Roman Catholic Church.

Additional findings of the American Religious Identification Survey include:
1. Americans claiming “no religion” is up from 8.8% in 1990 to 14.2% in 2001 and 15% in 2008
2. Between 2001 and 2008, 4.7 million Americans claimed to have “no religion”
3. Northern New England is ahead of the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34% with “no religion” leading all other states by 9 points.
4. 90% of the decline among Christians comes from the non-Catholic segment of the Christian population, mostly from mainline denominations, including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and the United Church of Christ. Source: http://usnews.com/ (03/09/0, Gilgoff. D)

This may represent a changing culture—- the rising secularization of United States where having “no religion” has turned to be more socially acceptable than a decade ago. The demographic shift among believers and non-believers may affect the way Americans think, vote, and live on issues like abortion, stem cell research, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and education among others as liberals, leftists, and secular progressives veer away from the Judeo-Christian tradition which is the cornerstone of the moral and cultural values of America since it was established. (Photo Credit emardaalvinbabista) =0=

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Recalling Fr. Damien of Molokai, Hawaii

February 25, 2009

Vatican announced that Fr. Damien de Veuster (1840-1889), the late 19th century Belgian priest who selflessly ministered to leprosy-stricken people in a settlement in Kalaupapa, Hawaii will be declared saint on October 11, 2009. Considered a “martyr of charity,” Fr. Damien served the quarantined patients in Molokai, Hawaii where he contracted Hansen’s disease (leprosy) until he died at the age of 49.

“Damien’s life was suffused with horror, yet he refused to be broken by it and refused to permit his little flock to be swept into despair. He ran foot races for the sports-loving lepers, even though some of them had no feet. He formed a band, even though some had few fingers to play the instruments. One witness reported two organists who played at the same time, managing ten fingers between them.”—Damien, the leper (www.ewtn.com/library/)

A protector of those shunned by society because of disease affliction, the Roman Catholic priest and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious group, was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 4, 1995. He had been identified as a champion of the outcasts—those with HIV-AIDS, leprosy, and other contagious diseases.

The remembrance of Fr. Damien is timely as the Catholic Church observes Ash Wednesday on February 25, 2009, the onset of lent, the days of fasting, penance, and reconciliation. (Photo Credit: Hawaii State Archives x 2 PD) =0=

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Wowowee, Penafrancia fiesta, & the 229 people injured in the Black Nazarene procession of Quiapo

January 9, 2009

The 13-hour religious parade snaked its way in the city drawing thousands of religious believers to walk in supplication until the revered black icon of Jesus was returned in the Quiapo Church on Friday, January 9, 2009 in Manila. I read there were 229 people who were injured during the procession. I couldn’t help recall the days when such spoiler incidents almost never happened.

As a kid who grew up in Naga City, the Traslacion, a similar feast honoring the Virgin of Penafrancia, was memorably peaceful. Lately however, like the Quiapo spectacle, the traslacion and fluvial procession in Bicol had been getting flak. People had not been as reverential and behaved as before. In September 2008, a rumble, a stone-throwing incident, and hostage-taking emergency in a bus dampened the fiesta in Naga.

Rarely were there scuffles and tramplings that put our limbs at risk in the crowd. That was in the past. Had a melee occured, our parents would have disallowed us into coming close to religious gatherings. We would have stayed at home to pay our private homage to God, in lieu of taking part in a dangerous holiday celebration.

But times have changed. The annual feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo has grown so big—almost unmanageable. The faith-based observance have lost part of its sanctity as people of plural intentions join. In spite of the Catholic clergy’s attempt to make the plebeian celebration a simple pious expression of faith, unintended incidents do happen. The open folk tradition of worship and contrition which borders to idolatry (as critics warned) has been marred by melee in a huge crowd with poor control.

People suffering from hypertensive spells and fainting due to excessive heat are getting more common. Difficulty of breathing from asthma has been reported in a number of weary processionistas. Contusions and abrasions caused by pushing and bare-foot walking have brought people rushing to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) reports of at least 23 people suspected to have suffered a heart attack. Surely, these are distractions which can be avoided. We need to act smart to prevent a full-blown mayhem.

Before the next Black Nazarene procession turns into a wholesale failure of crowd control— as hideous as the Wowowee stampede in February 2006, those who organize these events must devise a better plan. The Catholic clergy needs to modify the observance of the tradition. Nearly a thousand police officers and 300 PNRC volunteers are not enough to cope with the needs of the tight crowd.

In Wowowee, at least 74 innocent lives were lost in a recklessly planned TV extravaganza, most of them, trampled, brushed aside, and forgotten without the benefit of justice. (Photo Credits: Nesty Ocampo; Bobmani34; Nesty Ocampo) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Wowowee & the Temple Stampede in Northern India” Posted by mesiamd at 8/04/2008

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Cory’s EDSA II apology opens controversies & distrust among Filipinos

December 24, 2008


Calling the EDSA II revolution a mistake, Corazon (Cory) Aquino, one of the leaders of the movement which ousted former Pres. Joseph (Erap) Estrada from power has brought the nation into new controversies. The sudden confession of the ailing former president opened wounds— sowing confusion among doubting Filipinos who bewailed the endemic poor leadership in the national government.

Rather than bridging the often-repeated “reconciliation” among warring political parties, the demure housewife and former chief executive unwittingly exposed the short-sightedness and immaturity of leaders who stood as huge obstacles to the progress of the country. There were those who surmised if cancer and treatment had put her on tremendous strain; her ability to think sanely as before might have taken a beating.

As a devout practitioner of Catholicism, the former president who’s trying to define her legacy as an infuential public servant may have scored high on matters of faith, but she has placed the people in a void of uncertainty whose damage is too early to quantify. The effects are likely to cause lasting shockwaves on how politics will be played in government affairs like the next presidential election. They will cut across the way people will view what is morally right and wrong as they rule over the scandals that see no end.

By seeking Estrada’s forgiveness, Cory repudiated the collective action of her party and those who pushed for an end of blatant thievery, corruption and ineptness during and after Estrada’s administration. The damning evidence of incompetence and plunder laid bare during the 6 years of trial reduced the public to docility and silent acquiescence—- a treacherous problem of Filipinos no wanted to touch.

Like a modern-day soap opera, Estrada’s dizzying legal battle and his privileged imprisonment shown in TVs, radios, and newspapers ended in a conviction hailed by the people. But it was quickly reversed by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA)— herself, a sore symbol of almost all things that had gone wrong with the country. Many believed GMA, the current prexy with an outrageously low approval rating of negative (-30) cleverly pardoned Estrada for political convenience. It was unclear though whether Cory’s apology to Estrada was linked to her frustraion over GMA’s mishandling the government. Cory called on her to resign amidst uncurbed corruption as the wagons of Estrada’s political come-back had rolled in from the first station.

Because of Cory’s change of heart, there are deepening doubts on whether Filipino leaders are up for the job of steering the country to better times. In spite of the early justifications and defense for the widow of Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, her position strengthens the chance of the come-back of the Estrada and his “weather-weather” gang. The Filipinos are left in an impasse: Wala na ba talagang ibang mga magagaling at matitino?

The demoralizing effect of Cory’s declaration puts the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) leadership, a staunch supporter of EDSA II on the defensive. It revives anew the questions on church-state separation and the constitutionality of the power take-overs which left a serious lingering leadership vacuum in all political fronts.

Most of all, it irreparably damaged the Cory brand of uprightness and wisdom she shared with her martyred husband Ninoy Aquino, leaving Filipinos one less of a person to trust and emulate. (Photo Credits: Joe Galvez; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21; gmaresign; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21)=0=

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Simbang Gabi Sa Nueva York

December 19, 2008

Halina, Jesus, Halina!
Sa simula’y sinaloob mo
O Diyos, kaligtasan ng tao
Sa takdang panahon ay tinatawag mo
Isang bayang lingkod sa iyo.

On a frigid early evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008, Filipinos of New York came in droves to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined the celebration of Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, a traditional mass in celebration of the Christmas holiday. In the packed gothic church along Fifth Avenue, prayerful songs distinctly from the country filled air.

In spite of the chill, there was the warm glow of kababayans wishing each other the peace and love of the season. Among the merry attendees were some members of the Ateneo de Naga Northeast Alumni and Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA.) The holy celebration was led by the Simbang Gabi Sa Katedral, Inc. under the guidance of Rev. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD. =0=

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Simbang Gabi Sa Nueva York

December 19, 2008

Halina, Jesus, Halina!
Sa simula’y sinaloob mo
O Diyos, kaligtasan ng tao
Sa takdang panahon ay tinatawag mo
Isang bayang lingkod sa iyo.

On a frigid early evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008, Filipinos of New York came in droves to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined the celebration of Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, a traditional mass in celebration of the Christmas holiday. In the packed gothic church along Fifth Avenue, prayerful songs distinctly from the country filled air.

In spite of the chill, there was the warm glow of kababayans wishing each other the peace and love of the season. Among the merry attendees were some members of the Ateneo de Naga Northeast Alumni and Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA.) The holy celebration was led by the Simbang Gabi Sa Katedral, Inc. under the guidance of Rev. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD. =0=

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