Monday, August 30, 2010



121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila



The hostage taking incident that occurred on August 23, 2010 that left 9 dead has deeply wounded our psyche and soul for its inexplicable violence and senseless brutality. That this tragic scenario played out under the glaring, and oftentimes, irresponsible coverage of the media has magnified the hurt and pain of the family, friends, countrymen of those who perished, and also of all peace-loving citizens of our nation.

In this period of mourning and self-examination we turn to our loving God, the source of all consolation, wisdom and peace. While many already have prayed and are praying for those who suffered in this unfortunate incident, we propose that we lead the congregation in a communal prayer through our prayers of the faithful. We present here two prayers to be inserted in the Prayers of the Faithful for all masses on August 29 and September 5, 2010.

May our prayers reach up to heaven to God our Father, and through His Son Jesus give us peace and through the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts.

Inserts to the Prayers of the Faithful: August 29 to September 5, 2010

1. For all who have died, especially those who lost their lives in the hostage-taking tragedy on August 23, that in death they may pass on to complete freedom, to the land where there is neither tear nor sorrow, nor anger and pain, let us pray to the Lord.

2. For our brothers and sisters who are grieving and in pain at the tragic death of loved ones, countrymen, and fellowmen, at the August 23 hostage crisis, for all of us all who witnessed this violent and senseless taking of innocent lives, that we may not allow the power of hatred to blind us but that we may discover the creative power of forgiveness and understanding to stop the cycle of violence and hatred, let us pray to the Lord.


Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission

In Memory of Fr. Albert Meersschaert, CICM

In loving memory of Fr. Albert Meersschaert, CICM: seasoned liturgist, wise confessor, holy priest of God who dies on August 12, 2010 at the blessed age of 95.


Homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan during the Funeral Mass for Father Albert Meersschaert, CICM, priest, held last August 16, 2010 at the San Carlos Seminary Chapel at 9:00 am.

Father Albert, how can we ever thank you? You were our teacher. Your booming voice, that filled not only the classrooms but the corridors as well, was nothing compared to the ringing voice of your witnessing to priestly fidelity, simplicity and discipline. You were our gentle confessor and spiritual guide. Our sins as seminarians and priests were repetitious and so were your advice and questions in the confessional. And yet even if we knew that the confessor’s advice and poking questions would be the same, we still went to you with trust and confidence because we were so sure we would meet God each time we met you. You were our faithful cheerleader in our little priestly triumphs. You attended our ordinations and kept track of our changes in assignments. You were our conscience. You were our walking liturgical rubrics. You were our idol. You taught us how to pray. You taught us how to sing the Mass. You taught us how to swing the censer. You taught us to genuflect and kneel and stand and bow and prostrate. You taught us how to hold the chalice and host. You were all these and more. And now, you have returned to the house of the Father. Now that you cannot be any of these anymore, Father Albert, you are now our Karlista patron saint in heaven.

Father Albert, how can we ever thank you? You loved San Carlos Seminary with so much passion, with so much vigor, with so much heart. I don’t think anyone has ever loved San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe more than you. No other priest has stayed on at San Carlos Seminary as rector and professor and formator and confessor more than you. No other priest formator has given the Church such number of alumni archbishops, bishops and a Cardinal more than you. No other professor of San Carlos Seminary Guadalupe has lived to reach ninety five years old and seventy one years as a priest more than you. No other professor has prayed and sacrificed so much for the Karlista priests more than you. In your retirement at the CICM House, every visit to you meant reminiscing the old days of San Carlos Seminary. How you offered the loneliness of your retirement and the discomfort of your sickness and old age for the sanctification of your priest sons! Father Albert, you are our champion. You are our record breaker. You are the pride and honor of San Carlos Seminary!

Father Albert, how can we ever thank you? You taught us how to treasure good liturgy. You taught us that good liturgy can make us holy. You taught us that good liturgy must be well prepared. You taught us that good liturgy must be clean and orderly. You were the altar server of Popes and Cardinals. You were the altar server of archbishops and bishops. You allowed yourself to become the altar server of your former students. Your humility is awesome. Your humility is the mirror of the humilitas that dear San Carlos Borromeo followed as his life motto. But underneath that finesse for liturgy, there was the Father Albert whose heart was always ready for the call of the Lord. In the twilight years of your life, you taught us that good liturgy does not begin and end at the altar. The favorite altar of God is the human soul and the highest act of liturgy is the self sacrifice of a loving and pure heart. And you are that Father Albert—you were our liturgist at the altar and you made your heart that altar. In your final years with us, you made your frail and sickly body the altar of the sacrifice of Jesus. You allowed your voice to be His voice. In your body, you continued the self oblation of Jesus for the salvation of the world. Thank you, Father Albert, for teaching us how to make our liturgy truly pleasing to the Lord!

But I know Father Albert that if I would ask you “How can I ever thank you?” you would brush me aside with your hand, move your face close to my face until I could smell the odor of cigar and coffee and everything else that you have drank and eaten, and say to me “Oremus pro invicem” with a smile of a pious wise man.

Father Albert: Oremus pro invicem. We will pray for you. We will beg God to look kindly on you, give you His peace and include you among the saints in heaven. Does not the Liturgy of the Hours say: “Those who are learned will be as radiant as the sky in all its beauty; those who instruct the people in goodness will shine like the stars for all eternity”. In the eternal liturgy of heaven that you now enjoy, may those words be said of you and may the God of Wisdom welcome you to paradise. At ninety five, it must have been hard to see confreres leave for heaven and leave you on earth. It must have caused you secret tears to attend the funerals of your own students, priests much younger than you. Now, you will not see any more deaths and funerals. The victory is won! Father Albert, oremus pro invicem. We will thank you endlessly by praying for you ceaselessly.

Father Albert, pray for us. We need your prayers even more now. You know our struggles and temptations. You know the trials we are subjected to. You know us well enough. Pray for us as you have prayed for us through your seven decades as a faithful priest of God. We saw your secret hurt when you heard your students falling out of the path and treading a different route. Pray for us that we may be faithful like you; faithful to the Father like Jesus. Pray for us to be humble and pure like you. Pray for us to be obedient and loyal like you. Oremus pro invicem Father Albert.

Father Albert, we promise you: We whose lives you have touched, we whose vocation you have nurtured, we who want to follow the Lord—we will help one another by praying for one another. We will stop gossiping about one another. We will believe again in the power and beauty of priestly brotherly prayers. And we promise that when we say Oremus pro invicem, we will really pray for one another. In your life, we have seen that prayer indeed works. We will continue the chain of intercessions among us. We promise you Father Albert!

In heaven I know you will be reunited with dear Father Leo and my beloved Cardinal Sin. Please bring them our love. Please bring them our loving request—oremus pro invicem. Pray for San Carlos Seminary. Pray for us.

Father Albert: Tibi gratias, oremus pro invicem! Requiescat in pace. Amen. Alleluia!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maria Bukang LIwayway

Maria Bukang Liwayway

From the album: Himig Heswita
Words and Music by: Fr. Eddie Hontiveros, SJ
Music Video by: Leo-Martin Angelo R. Ocampo

SemNet Prayer (1st Fridays before the Mass in SemNet seminaries)


Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest and Chief Shepherd of the flock, send us, according to your promise, pastors after your own heart. You formed your apostles by calling them to your side and inviting them to share in your life. In your company at prayer and at the banquet of the Eucharist, mould us, your seminarians into your likeness, that we may grow daily in holiness, virtue and fidelity for we can only become apostles if we have first been disciples learning at the foot of the Master.

Ever increase in us a sincere and ardent desire to serve you and your people. Give us generosity and perseverance in our studies so we may gain wisdom and competence in guiding souls and building communities. Assist us in our struggles so we may learn to bear our Cross with patience and develop strength of character. Animate our passion in the apostolate so that in this school of service and love, we may imbibe a genuine solidarity and concern for the needy and learn to imitate your simplicity of life and humble service. Ever deepen our love for you as we grow in our concern for our Church and our country.

Make our seminaries true cradles of virtue and learning, where the seeds of priestly vocation can grow and blossom. Bless our formators, teachers, seminary workers, benefactors, families and friends, and all who collaborate in this most important task of forming future shepherds. May your Holy Spirit, the best formator, always inspire and direct our efforts for your greater glory. Amen.

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ignatius and the Senses

According to legend, the Saint told his tormentors that they would find the name of Christ written on his heart. After his death two curious Christians supposedly attempted to find out if this was true and miraculously discovered golden letters on his heart. We find this depicted in the sixth predella of Boticelli's famous "Saint Barnaba Altarpiece".

In this article, we aspire to dig yet again into the heart of this great bishop-martyr to find treasures anew.

Ignatius and the Senses

Leo R. Ocampo

At first glance, the Letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch seem to betray a man with an absolute contempt of “the world”. Indeed, with his urgent and intense desire for martyrdom, one may acquire the impression that he was someone who completely despised the material and saw goodness only in the spiritual, in the fashion of the dualist worldview of Gnosticism that was becoming increasingly popular during his time. A truly keen reader, however, would not fail to notice his abundant use of concrete sense-perceptions to apprehend and demonstrate abstract spiritual realities—revealing his implicit yet profound appreciation of the goodness of all matter, especially as an instrument for spiritual comprehension. In these letters, Ignatius of Antioch generously proposes spiritual insight to his readers derived from and delivered through the senses. As a matter of fact, Ignatius’ use of sensory perceptions does not only address the faculty of sight, most commonly appealed to by authors, but all of the senses, as we shall see in the following samples.

He heard his chains as a song in praise of the Churches (Magnesians 1: 2) and the unity of the local Church as a harmonic chorus of love (Romans 2: 4) produced by the faithful together with their clergy whose communion with the bishop he likened to the harmony of strings properly linked to the lyre (Ephesians 4: 2). He smelled the sweet fragrance of Christ, the “odor of incorruptibility” which he breathes into the Church, contrasting it sharply with the “bad odor of the doctrine of the prince of this world” with which, he strongly forbids, we must never be anointed (Ephesians 17: 1-2). As a true and seasoned connoisseur of spiritual delicacies, he advises us against tasting the deceptive “deadly drug in sweet wine(Trallians 6: 2) of the heretics and veers us away from the “bad leaven, which is old and stale” of the Jews in order to direct us instead toward Christ, the “new leaven” by whom we need to “be salted, lest we lose savor(Magnesians 10: 3-4). One marvels at this man’s exceptionally incisive and intuitive sense-perception.

Indeed, the sense-perception of Ignatius was so powerful that even before having actually endured torment and suffering, one already finds him, spiritually undergoing martyrdom, as it were, feeling it in graphic detail while writing on the way to Rome as in this emphatic passage: “Fire and cross and battling with wild beasts, the breaking of bones and mangling of members, the grinding of my whole body, the wicked torments of the devil—let them all assail me so long as I get to Jesus Christ.(Romans 5: 8 also more famously found in Romans 4) This autobiographical account then, regardless of whether he actually suffered it in the flesh and whether in this exact manner or not, truly stands out as a uniquely personal and authentic witness for future generations of a martyr’s courage and love for Jesus Christ, thanks to his detailed and heartfelt narration of what was happening to him interiorly while already in the process of martyrdom.

One also discovers that the Letters of Ignatius contain some of the most vivid, memorable and original illustrations ever to be born of the Christian imagination. In just a single paragraph of his Letter to the Ephesians, he draws in quick succession three highly evocative images of the Christian community as seedbed, temple edifice and procession (Ephesians 9). While the first two images, namely that of seedbed and temple edifice, which we also find in the Gospel and in Saint Paul, and which are fairly sacred or at least neutral, may not seem so remarkable, the last image is certainly novel and audacious in that he sees and points out to us in a parade of idol-bearing pagans, a figure of the Church in pilgrimage, bearing Christ and the symbols of his Lordship in the sight of the world.

Truly, we find in these Letters a man able to see his chains as “spiritual pearls(Ephesians 11: 4) and even find “joy in the wild beasts(Romans 5: 1-2). He was a true visionary who had eyes that were not only perceptive but also open to notice truth and goodness even in the most unlikely of places. Indeed, Ignatius’ sense-perception was true spiritual contemplation, so deep and piercing, that he invites us to listen with him even to the “silence” of Jesus (Ephesians 15: 2) showing his evident mastery not only of the physical but even of the spiritual senses.

Truly these letters, as Quasten described, “give us a glimpse into the very heart of the great bishop-martyr and breathe forth a profound religious enthusiasm that catches us up and fires us.(p. 64) Before the other Ignatius, who will only come much later after him, would invite his exercitant to the “application of the senses,” our Ignatius of antiquity would already “find God in all things,” leaving us with a precious and copiously illuminated manuscript that is as engaging as it is inspiring. †