Ven. Alfredo Mª. Obviar y Aranda

Obviar 6
D. Alfredo Mª. Obviar y Aranda

Two days ago, on 7 November 2018, the Holy Father received Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in audience, during which the Pope authorised the Congregation to promulgate the Decree, inter plurima alia, recognising the heroic virtues of the Servant of God D. Alfredo Mª. Obviar y Aranda, first bishop of Lucena, and founder of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Thérèse of the Infant Jesus, otherwise known as MCST.

D. Alfredo was born on 29 August 1889 in Lipa, Batangas, and was ordained priest on 15 March 1919. Appointed auxiliary bishop of Lipa on 11 Mar 1944, his title being that of Linoë, he was consecrated on 29 June that same year. After the War, he was appointed administrator of Lucena on 4 November 1950, becoming its first bishop on 21 June 1969. While still administrator of Lucena, he attended the First Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1953, and was Council Father at the first session of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. He retired his see on 25 September 1976, and died on 1 October 1978.

During the second solemn session of the First Plenary Council of the Philippines, D. Alfredo delivered the discourse to the clergy and the people, hinging his sermon on Mt. 18, 16, which he used to describe the heroic accomplishments of the Church throughout history, her struggles against foes from without and within, all the time threading the thought emphasising the significance of the Plenary Council for the Universal Church and for the Filipino nation. Below is the full address pronounced by D. Alfredo in Spanish, with our translation into English:

Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.

Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.

(Matth. XVIII, 16)

Most Eminent Sir:

The Plenary Council of the Catholic Episcopate, first in the Philippines, has happily come to its conclusion. The Most Eminent Cardinal, Legate a latere of the August Pontiff reigning, is arrayed once again with pontifical vestments to offer unto God thrice-Holy the unbloody Sacrifice as testimony to the acknowledgment of the blessings authorised to this Council, in which it is not known which should be admired most: whether its very solemnity dignified by the members of the Hierarchy; or the gravity of the Sacred Liturgy, which ordained its process; or the authority of the Representative of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, who, with his prudence, goodness and dignity, presided it.

Be what it be, the vow of the Episcopate of the Philippines to celebrate this plenary council is now fulfilled; it is fulfilled with the consent of His Holiness Pius XII, who, in his mission to guide the destinies of the Universal Church, hopes of this authorised Council to gain greater force and energy for the moral and religious life of his children in these far-flung Isles..

But what does this Council mean in the history of the Catholic Church? It is one of the manifestations of Her vitality on earth, whose enriching virtue originates from those sovereign words of Her Divine Founder: “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.”

Life is essential for all living organism. Jesus Christ, in establishing His Church to perpetuate His redemptive mission until the consummation of the ages, had to ensure Her existence so that She would not be made vassal to the powers of hell. And, thus, She, faithful to the instruction of Her Founder to go out and teach all peoples His Gospel, began to sow it everywhere, and shall continue doing so until the consummation of the ages.

Thus the Church accomplishes the divine message. It is true that She, in spreading throughout the world to bring the light of the Faith to those who are seated in the shadow of death, had along her steps encountered relentless enemies, who swore Her extermination. There the same in Judea, in Rome, in Asia, in Greece, in Macedonia, as in other parts even unto our present times, Her enemies spare no means to sate their vengeance. There the persecutions are which the Roman emperors promoted against Her. But the Church obtained greater beauty and worth when she bathed in Her own blood.

For Her, the imprisonments, the flagellations, the white-hot sheets, the fire, the cold water, the sword, the racks, the iron hooks, the wheels studded with steel spikes, the teeth and the jaws of the wild beasts, which the hatred of man did know to invent in its mad frenzy, served only, as did other new incentives, to rouse in Her the most intense desire to die for the Faith and for Christ.

She knows how to witness with equanimity and serenity in Her visage the slaughter of Her martyrs, who marched unto the arena of the circus to fight against their executioners and against other wild beasts. By the steadfastness of Her children in the Faith, beneath the sickle of persecution, children, adults, the rich and the poor, men and women, popes and bishops, priests and deacons have fallen, with a smile upon their lips, praising Christ and forgiving their executioners.

This was how the Church fought; this is how She is fighting today; and this is how She will fight until the consummation of the ages: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.” But if She faced and continues to face Her enemies from without with serenity upon the brow and with valour in the heart, let nobody be astonished when She embraces with a firm hand the shield of fortitude and puts on the helmet of faith to battle those no less terrible adversaries who rose from Her bosom. I am speaking about heresies.

The Gnostics, the Manichaeans, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Antitrinitarians discovered in Her other faithful sons, who were the Justins, the Clements of Alexandria, the Tertullians, the Origens, the Irenaeuses, the Arnobiuses, the Lactantiuses and the Cyprians, who confronted the adversarial boldness. When Arius, Nestorius and Eutyches stood up to vomit their errors, the Church called upon Her sons Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Chrysostom, Hilary, and other soldier-defenders of Catholic Truth.

Open the history of the Church and You all Will see Her always victorious and unscathed in all Her fights. Her victories and triumph extravagantly proclaim the accomplishment of the promise of Her Divine Founder: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.”

A society of fishermen that becomes formidable and opens path to all battlegrounds, all equally fierce, challenges the entire world to which may be earmarked the support of human understanding, the protection of the powerful of the earth, the power of gold, etc. in its victories. A society that launches itself unto faraway countries to dispel the darkness of paganism and make shine the redeeming banner of Jesus Christ, with no gear other than the breviary in the hand, the crucifix on the chest, and the rosary in the pocket, has always been and always will be the astonishment of its enemies.

Even more so: a society that preaches the abandonment of the earthly, and combats the vices of the powerful; a society that preaches chastity to all without distinction, and humility to the proud, must not be a society flattered by the princes of the earth, but rather a society that solely depends upon the aid of Her Founder Who repeats: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.”

Never has it been recorded in the annals of human history a fact similar to that of the Church, Who, through the vexation by different and many enemies who orchestrated Her destruction, continues in the advance of Her conquest, leaving them behind Her wake in their own ruin. The great Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea, of Constantinople, of Ephesus, of Chalcedon, of the Lateran, of Lyon, of Vienne, of Constance, of Trent and of the Vatican are irrefutable witnesses to the fight waged by the Church against heresies, as are other eloquent testimonies of Her fecundity in the world.

To study, therefore, the worth and grandeur of all the institutions of the world, be they empires, realms, be they nations and populaces, it is quite necessary to consult the records committed in annals and in histories. But amongst these, there is one admirable history that the dust of untoward events has never quite managed to bury. It is the history of the Catholic Church, because it is the true history of humanity. She shows Herself ever gallant and brave whenever Her enemies insult her with the rag of their weaknesses and infirmities, as She presents Herself graceful whenever the same enemies pretend to delustre the beauty and grandeur of her triumphs. Jesus Christ ever fulfills His promise: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her.”

Before ending, I cast once again my attention to the First Plenary Council of the Philippines. What is this Council with respect to you, O beloved Fatherland? It is the efflorescence of your Catholicism, with which and through which you have always deserved the glorious coronet of being the Catholic nation in the Far East; this coronet has increased in pearls in the present time with the elevation of many of your sons to the supreme apex of the Episcopate.

With them, you will emulate Catholic nations of both worlds; with them, you make your adversaries admire you; with them, your culture and civilisation reach greater height; with them, your faith is appraised and consolidated. Therefore, beloved Philippines, keep the gold of your faith, which is worth more than the wealth of your mountains and the lush of your fields. Therefore, nobility and gratitude require of you greater loyalty to the Roman Pontiff, greater obedience and submission to His voice and to the voice of your Shepherds; and if this submission and obedience should require you to dye your faith with the scarlet of your blood, spill it forth in order to beautify it, and for the love of Christ. So be it.

Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.

Tú eres Pedro, y sobre esta piedra edificaré mi Iglesia, y las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella.

(Matth. XVIII, 16)

Emmo. Señor:

El Concilio Plenario del Episcopado católico, primero en Filipinas, ha llegado felizmente a su término. El Emmo. Purpurado, Legado a látere del Augusto Pontífice reinante, se ha revestido de nuevo de los ornamentos pontificales para ofrecer al Dios tres veces Santo el incruento sacrificio en testimonio de reconocimiento de las bendiciones otorgadas a esta Asamblea, en la cual no se sabe qué admirar más, si su misma solemnidad dignificada con los miembros de la Jerarquía, o la seriedad de la sagrada liturgia, que ordenaba su programa, o la autoridad del Representante del Vicario de Jesucristo, que con su prudencia, bondad y dignidad la presidía.

Sea lo que fuese, el voto del Episcopado de Filipinas de celebrar esta reunión plenaria se ha cumplido; se ha cumplido con el beneplácito de su Santidad Pío XII, quien, en su misión de dirigir los destinos de la Iglesia Universal, espera de esta autorizada Asamblea recoger más fuerza y energía para la vida moral y religiosa de sus hijos en estas dilatadas Islas.

Pero ¿qué significa este Concilio en la historia de la Iglesia Católica? Es una de las manifestaciones de su vitalidad en la tierra, cuya virtud fecundante arranca de aquellas palabras soberanas de su divino Fundador: « Tú eres Pedro, y sobre esta piedra edificaré mi Iglesia, y las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella. »

La vida es esencial a todo organismo viviente. Jesucristo, al establecer su Iglesia para perpetuar su misión redentora hasta la consumación de los siglos, ha debido asegurar su existencia a fin de que no fuese avasallada por las potestades del infierno. Y así ella, fiel a la consigna de su Fundador de recorrer y enseñar a todas las gentes su Evangelio, comenzó a sembrarlo por doquier, y continuará haciéndolo hasta la consumación de los siglos.

Así cumple la Iglesia el mensaje divino. Es verdad que ella, al extenderse por todo el orbe para llevar la luz de la fe a los que estaban sentados en la sombra de la muerte, había encontrado a su paso enemigos implacables, que juraron su exterminio. Allí mismo en Judea, en Roma, en Asia, en Grecia, en Macedonia, como en otras partes hasta en los actuales tiempos, sus enemigos no perdonaros medios para saciar su venganza. Allí están las persecuciones que los emperadores romanos promovieron contra ella. Sin embargo, la Iglesia cobraba más hermosura y valor cuando se bañaba en su misma sangre.

Para ella, las prisiones, la flagelación, las láminas candentes, el fuego, el agua helada, la espada, los potros, las uñas de hierro, las ruedas erizadas de aceradas púas, los dientes y las garras de las bestias feroces, que el odio humano supo inventar en su loco frenesí, sirvieron únicamente como otros nuevos incentivos para despertar en ella el más vivo deseo de morir por la fe y por Cristo.

Ella sabe presenciar con ecuanimidad y serenidad en el semblante la hecatombe de sus mártires, que marchaban a la arena del circo para lidiar contra sus verdugos o contra las fieras. Por la firmeza de sus hijos en la fe, cayeron bajo la hoz de la persecución niños, adultos, ricos y pobres, hombres y mujeres, papas y obispos, sacerdotes y diáconos, con la sonrisa en los labios, alabando a Cristo y perdonando a sus verdugos.

Así luchaba la Iglesia; así lucha hoy; y así luchará hasta la consumación de los siglos: « Las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella. » Pero si ella afrontaba y afronta a sus enemigos exteriores con la serenidad en la frente y con la valentía del corazón, nadie se extrañe cuando con mano firme embraza el escudo de la fortaleza y cala el yelmo de la fe para debelar a los no menos terribles adversarios que se levantaban en su mismo seno. Hablo de las herejías.

Los gnósticos, los maniqueos, los montanistas, los novacianos, los antitrinitarios hallaron en ella otros hijos fieles, que fueron los Justinos, los Clementes de Alejandría, los Tertulianos, los Orígenes, los Ireneos, los Arnobios, los Lactancios y los Ciprianos, que hicieron frente a la audacia enemiga. Cuando Arrio, Nestorio y Eutiques se levantaron para vomitar sus errores, la Iglesia llamó a sus hijos, Atanasio, Agustín, Basilio, Crisóstomo, Hilario y otros soldados defensores de la verdad católica.

Abrid la historia de la Iglesia y la veréis siempre vencedora y lozana en todas sus luchas. Sus victorias y triunfos por todo lo alto proclaman el cumplimiento de la promesa de su divino Fundador: « Las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella. »

Una sociedad de pescadores que se hace temible y abre paso en todos los campos de batalla, a cual más encarnizada, reta a todo el mundo a que señale el apoyo de la ciencia humana, el amparo de los poderosos de la tierra, la fuerza del oro, etc. en sus victorias. Una sociedad que se lanza a los remotos países para disipar las tinieblas del paganismo y hacer brillar el lábaro redentor de Jesucristo, sin más bagaje que el breviario en la mano, el crucifijo en el pecho y el rosario en el bolso, ha sido siempre y será el asombro de sus enemigos.

Más aún: una sociedad que predica el desprendimiento de lo terreno y combate los vicios de los poderosos; una sociedad que predica la castidad a todos sin distinción, y la humildad a los soberbios, no debe ser una sociedad halagada por los príncipes de la tierra, sino debe ser una sociedad que sólo cuenta con el auxilio de su Fundador que le repite: « Las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella. »

Nunca en los fastos de la historia humana se ha registrado un hecho semejante al de la Iglesia, que a través de las vejaciones de los diferentes y múltiples enemigos que maquinaron su destrucción, sigue en su avance de conquista dejándolos en pos de sí en sus mismas ruinas. Los grandes Concilios ecuménicos de Nicea, de Constantinopla, de Éfeso, de Calcedonia, de Letrán, de Lyon, de Viena, de Constanza, de Trento y del Vaticano son testigos fehacientes de la lucha sostenida por la Iglesia contra las herejías, como también son otros testimonios elocuentes de su fecundidad en el mundo.

Para estudiar pues el valor y la grandeza de todas las instituciones en el mundo, ya sean imperios, reinos, ya sean naciones y pueblos, hácese preciso consultar los hechos consignados en los anales y en las historias. Mas entre éstos hay una historia admirable que el polvo de los acontecimientos adversos jamás ha podido sepultar. Es la historia de la Iglesia Católica, porque es la verdadera historia de la humanidad. Ella se muestra siempre gallarda y valiente, cuando sus enemigos le insultan con el trapo de sus debilidades y flaquezas, como también se ostenta airosa, cuando los mismos enemigos pretenden deslustrar la hermosura y grandeza de sus triunfos. Siempre cumple Jesucristo su promesa: « Las puertas del infierno no prevalecerán contra ella ».

Antes de terminar, vuelvo de nuevo mi atención al primer Concilio Plenario de Filipinas. ¿Qué es esto concilio con respecto a ti, amada Patria? Es la eflorescencia de tu catolicismo, con el cual y por el cual has merecido siempre el timbre glorioso de ser la nación católica en este extremo Oriente; este timbre ha subido de punto en los actuales tiempos con la elevación de muchos de tus hijos al rango supremo del Episcopado.

Con ellos vas emulando las naciones católicas de ambos mundos; con ellos te haces admirar de tus adversarios; con ellos tu cultura y civilización suben a mayor altura; con ellos tu fe se avalora y se consolida. Por eso, amada Filipinas, conserva el oro de tu fe, que vale más que las riquezas de tus montañas y la feracidad de tus campos. Por eso, nobleza y gratitud exigen de ti más lealtad al Romano Pontífice, más obediencia y sumisión a su voz y a la de tus pastores; y si esta sumisión y obediencia requieren de ti que tiñas tu fe con la grana de tu sangre, derrámala para más embellecerla y por amor a Cristo. Así sea.

The latter part of this address contains many beautiful allusions. The penultimate paragraph speaks of the timbre and the punto, which in Spanish heraldry refer respectively to the crown or coronet set atop an escutcheon, and the number of rays or pearls on that coronet. Here, D. Alfredo likens the increase in the number of Filipino bishops to the number of rays on the crown of the Philippines. The last paragraph, on the other hand, catholicises the third stanza of Rizal’s Mi último adiós. Where Rizal calls on the Filipino patriot to colour the dawn red with his blood as he dies, D. Alfredo calls on the Filipino Catholic to dye his faith red to render greater beauty to it for the love of Christ. And in doing so, those who recognise the connection will understand from this the affirmation that the only incorruptible crown we need to seek after and strive to gain is the crown of heaven.

 Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.


Celebrating Mass on the tomb of a deceased person

It is with deepest sadness that we report another travesty perpetrated against the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass. On 2 November 2018, Mass was celebrated on top of a tomb in a cemetery. This is canonically forbidden.


The prohibition entered our canonical books after the First Provincial Council of Milan, convoked by Saint Charles Borromeo, archbishop of the see, in 1565, during the reign of Pope Pius IV.

The opening of these tombs that are afterwards to be built ought to stand at least three cubits away from the wooden stalls or the predella of the altar, but these tombs ought not touch the wooden stall. Wherefore, nobody is to be buried near altars or beneath the predellas, and if thither be found tombs that have been constructed, the altars are interdicted, until, having removed the bones of those buried thither, the tombs have been filled with soil, and barricaded with a wall.

Sepulchrorum ipsorum inposterum ædificandorum ostium longe ab altaris scabellis ligneis vel prædella cubitis ad minus tribus, sepulchra vero ipsa ad scabellum ligneum non pertingant. Hinc nemo sepeliendus est prope altaria seu sub prædellis et si quæ inibi reperiantur constructæ sepulturæ, interdicuntur altaria, donec amotis ossibus ibi sepultorum sepulturæ terra repleantur et muro obstruantur.

Thirty years later, on 10 November 1599, the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars issued a decree voicing the same prohibition.

Altars, beneath whose predellas were entombed cadavers, even though they may not lose their consecration for this reason, must nevertheless be interdicted until the cadavers have been transferred to another place.

Altaria, sub quorum prædellis cadavera sunt sepulta, licet propterea consecrationem non amittant, debent tamen interdici donec cadavera in alium deferentur locum.

One notices above that the prohibitions apply when the corpses are buried near the altar, not under the altar itself. If this is the case, how much more when the cadaver is beneath the altar itself? After the above decrees, clarifications and prohibitions came out one after another from the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Let us look first at the rescript issued to the Archdiocese of Sassari in Sardinia, issued on 11 June 1629.

The Bishop of Sassari petitioned: whether the Liturgy can be celebrated in an altar under which have been entombed the cadavers of the departed?

And the Sacred Congregation of Rites responded: “It cannot be celebrated.”

Episcopus Turritanus petiit : an possit celebrari in Altare, sub quo sint sepulta cadavera defunctorum ?

Et S. R. C. respondit : « Non posse ».

Next, we have the rescript to the Diocese of Tropea (now merged as one with the Dioceses of Melito and Nicotera) on 9 June 1657.

Antonio de Alulys of Tropea persisted to be enjoined by the Capitular Vicar that he remove the suspension from the celebration of the Liturgy imposed by the deceased Bishop on the altar of the chapel under his patronage, due to the reason that the cadavers of the deceased have been buried under the predella of that altar.

And the Sacred Congregation of Rites responded: “No suspension is removed.”

Antonius de Alulys Tropien. institit, iniungi Vicario Capitulari, ut amoveat suspensionem a celebratione in Altari Cappellæ eius patronatus positam a defuncto Episcopo, ex quo sub suppedaneo Altaris condita sint defunctorum cadavera.

Et S. R. C. respondit : « Nihil ».

Finally, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued a general decree, clarifying certain points from the Missal, on 13 February 1666.

In an altar, under which or under whose predella the bodies of the deceased are inhumed, Mass must not be celebrated, until the bodies are transferred elsewhere.

In eo Altari, sub quo vel sub cuius prædella humata sunt corpora defunctorum, non debet celebrari Missa, donec alio transferantur.

And, on 7 July 1766, we read a specific rescript issued to Venice, concerning Masses said for the souls of the noble patrician family Renier.

Concerning the continuation of the celebration of Masses in the altar of the noble family of Renier in the Church known as Santa Maria dell’Orto, under which are found entombed the cadavers of its forefathers, etc.: “The Most Holy Father, in confirming by the Decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, concerning the prohibition of the celebration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in an altar under which are entombed the cadavers of the deceased, commanded that Masses are not to be celebrated in said altar, for which reasons, during prayers, while there be cadavers under it and its predella, which should be exhumed according to the mind of the Decree, which the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XIV elsewhere granted to similar petitions: these having been explained orally by the Reverend Father Lord Secretary of the same Congregation, [the Most Holy Father] granted that, in the meantime, if Masses should be celebrated in it due to some obligation, it ought to be celebrated in another altar.”

Quoad continuationem celebrationis Missarum in Altari nobilis Familiæ Renier in Ecclesia S. Mariæ de Horto nuncupatæ, sub quo humata reperiuntur cadavera suorum maiorum, etc. « Ssmus, confirmando Decreto Congregationis Sacrorum Rituum de non celebrando Sacrosancto Missæ Sacrificio in Altari sub quo sepulta exsistunt cadavera defunctorum, mandavit Missas non esse celebrandas in Altari, de quo in precibus, donec sint sub eo eiusque prædella cadavera, quæ exhumari debebunt iuxta mentem Decreti, quod alias ad similes preces edidit Pontifex Benedictus XIV : his oretenus explicatis R. P. D. Secretario eiusdem Congregationis, concessit ut interim, si Missæ ex aliqua obligatione in eodem celebrari deberent, celebrentur in alio Altari ».

Holy Mother Church tolerates altars made of inferior materials, on top of war tanks, on planks and driftwood propped and balanced upon barrels and kegs, as long as gravis necessitas id urgeat. This is merely a question of ritual and ceremonial decorum. Paucitas is never a hindrance to nobilitas. But when one throws in a cadaver in the mixture, in whatever state of decomposition or preservation it may be, whether it be morally visible or perceptible, permanently entombed under and within the material of such makeshift altars, then the question escalates to the realm of the canonical. Such prohibition do not excuse materials and contraptions that were never meant to be an altar, such as a tomb. The moment one places an altar stone on that tomb for the celebration of the Mass, that tomb becomes an ad hoc altar, contrary to the laws and canons of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo.

Rosary for the Dead

One of the many pious customs which we still keep is the recitation of the Decenary of the Passion (decenario de la pasión in Spanish), otherwise known as the Rosary for the Dead (rosario del difunto in Spanish). In some places, this rosary was sung publicly, as evidenced by Marcelo Adonay’s setting of the prayer said at the Pater bead, Lubháng maaawaíng Jesús ko, for three voices accompanied by strings and winds (listen to the first one minute or so of the piece here). The original Spanish has been translated into the various languages of the archipelago, and now forms part of the customary novenas recited for the deceased.

Premier Deuil
Premier deuil | William Adolphe Bouguereau | 1888

The rosary is said this way: Kneeling before a Crucifix, make the sign of the Cross, and then say the Act of Contrition. Afterwards, say the opening prayer, followed by the oblation. At the Pater bead, a prayer is said in the place of the mystery, followed by ten invocations to the Lord, to which Have mercy on the soul of N. is responded. Click the subheading below to open the document.

Bouguereau - A soul brought to heaven (1878)
A soul brought to heaven | William Adolphe Bouguereau | 1878

in honour of the Blessed Passion of the Lord

Opening Prayer

Open, O Lord, our lips to bless Thine Holy Name: cleanse our hearts from all vain, perverse and alien thoughts; shine upon our understanding, inflame our affection, that worthily, attentively and devoutly we may recite this Rosary of Thy most sacred Passion, with the most bitter sorrows of Thy Most Holy Mother, and we may merit to be graciously heard before the face of Thy Divine Majesty: Who livest and reignest through the ages of the ages. Amen


O my sweetmost Jesus, Who to redeem the World, didst deign to be nailed to the Cross, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by Thine most sacred Passion, deliver the soul of N. from the torments of hell, and bring him (or her) to rest in Thy most hallowed glory. Amen.

At the Pater bead:

O my most merciful Jesus, look with benignant eyes upon the souls of the faithful departed for whom Thou didst die and receive the torment of the cross. Amen.

At the Ave bead:

O my Jesus, for that copious sweat of Blood which Thou didst shed in the Garden, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for that slap which Thy venerable countenance did receive, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for those cruel scourges which Thou didst suffer, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for that crown of sharp thorns which pierced Thy most holy head, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for those steps which, carrying the cross, Thou didst make in that Way of Bitterness, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for Thine most holy face awash with Blood, which Thou didst leave imprinted upon the veil of Veronica, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for that bloodstained garment which the executioners did tear away violently from Thee, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for Thine most holy Body nailed to the cross, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for Thine most holy feet and hands transfixed with sharp nails, have mercy on the soul of N.

O my Jesus, for Thine side opened by the blade of a lance, whence did flow Blood and water, have mercy on the soul of N.

After the rosary, the Litany of Loreto is said. Instead of saying Pray for us, we say Pray for the soul of N. This change—us to for the soul of N.—is observed in the rest of the responses. The rosary ends at this point. The practice, however, is to recite the novena in honour of the Holy Souls in Purgatory afterwards.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Vespers of All Hallows

The world has gone a long way in its parallel history for Christian celebrations. The Evil One has succeeded in producing thought-provoking “evidences” that make alternative histories delectable enough to send proponents of a Church-less faith-less religion-less society into an ideological orgasm. We then understand how appropriate it is for the Devil to appoint a secular feast for him and his minions. Schedule it on the day before the feast of the Church Triumphant no less! On Halloween! But Halloween is Catholic. It was, it is, and always will be. A refresher on its history, as well as its outstanding observances, is in order. Below, moreover, is the etymology.

CGSCOX - Halloween

The origin of the term is rather straightforward. Break down Halloween into hallow and e’en. Hallow descended from the Middle English halwe (saint), itself descended from the Old English hālga (saint). A related word in German is Heilige (saint). E’en, on the other hand, a contraction of even, descended from the Middle English even (evening), itself descended from the Old English ǣfen (evening). Its related word in German is Abend. It is evening and saints, evening and saints. No sprightly tricksters whatsoever.

And for us who serve in the choral office, it is even more compelling, for in Old English, ǣfen is linked not only to evening, but to the canonical hour of vespers. How is it that the Eve of All Hallows is observed on 31 October, not on 1 November itself? After all, 1 November still has an evening, right? Well, it is because feasts in Christendom always began with first vespers (ǣfen ǣrest in Old English). It was not until the Johannine reforms that the ancient reckoning of feasts beginning with first vespers was confined only to great and solemn feasts, and the vesperal celebration of lesser feasts shifted emphasis to the day itself.

Before we end, here are some more on vespers connection in Old English: the hour of vespers is ǣfentīd (vespertina hora in Latin); the time of vespers is ǣfentīma (vespertinum tempus in Latin); the office of vespers is ǣfengebēd or ǣfenþeо̄wdо̄m (both vespertinum officium in Latin); and the chant at vespers is ǣfendreām or ǣfenleо̄þ or ǣfensang (all vespertinus cantus in Latin). Though this will never catch on, calling Halloween the Vespers of All Hallows would be one way of asserting the Catholicity of a Catholic observance.

Ut omnibus, cunctis sanctis Dei intercedentibus pro nobis, laudetur Dominus.

Litany for the Clergy

In the wake of the grave scandal that finally erupted in the past weeks, Catholics throughout the world called for devout acts and exercises to repair for the outrage. Around two months ago, we published an act of reparation we composed for private recitation. We now share a Latin translation set to chant of the Litany for the Clergy first published in Vultus Christi.

La misa de pontifical
La misa de pontifical | Marceliano Santa María Sedaño | 1890

We have modified the structure of the Litany (click on the subheading below to open the booklet) to facilitate chanting: first, the Precious Blood is invoked thrice after every set of petitions, instead of after every petition; second, the triple Agnus is preserved with its traditional responses, with the proper responses reassigned to the triple invocation of the Precious Blood.

(pro privato usu)

Kýrie, eléison. Kýrie, eléison.
Christe, eléison.
Christe, eléison.
Kýrie, eléison.
Kýrie, eléison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exáudi nos.
Christe, exáudi nos.

Pater, ex quo omnis patérnitas in cœlis et in terra nominátur, Deus,
          miserére nobis.
Fili, Ætérne Póntifex, Summe Rex, Deus,
miserere nobis.
Spíritus Sancte, sanctitátis Fons, pastórum Rector, Deus,
miserére nobis.
Sancta Trínitas, unus Deus,
miserére nobis.
Continue reading “Litany for the Clergy”


Someone came up with a snarky take on the history of pews amongst Christians. Pews came very late in the Philippines. As late as 1925, the church of Guimba in Iloilo, for instance, still had no pews. And participants of the First National Eucharistic Congress gathered inside the Cathedral of Manila relieved their knees and backs by sitting on wicker chairs, the ubiquitous sillas de anea of old. The Cathedral of Jaro in 1929, likewise, still had no pews, possessing instead rows of wicker chairs. And, lest we forget, until recently, Saint Peter’s basilica herself still had no pews, while up to this point, other basilicas in Rome only have chairs.

Pews were fixtures necessitated by heresy. To subvert and demonise the True Faith, preachers had to indoctrinate the faithful constantly and frequently. Emphasis on these sermons, the engine of heretical indoctrination, gave rise to long and organised benches that we now call pews. Catholics adopted the pew quite late, so late no dedicated Latin word exists for it until now! (Well, Spaniards sometimes use escaño, so we probably can back-translate to scamnum.) Adopting it seems to never cross the Orthodox mind. If the thought crosses, it is immediately perished. These differing attitudes have inspired witty creatures to assign these three largest Christian confessions to a posture that is dominant in their respective liturgies, something which engenders a classification parallel to the three realms of the Church. So now the Orthodox form the Ecclesia adstans, the Church standing; Catholics, the Ecclesia flectens, the Church kneeling; Protestants, the Ecclesia sedens, the Church sitting.

We live in an era when liturgical postures are purposely and deliberately linked to ideologies that do not necessarily respect the organic development of these postures. Our Catholic experience allows us to conclude that the prevailing attitude tends towards the gradual eradication of kneeling. To us Catholics, the most important part of the pew is neither the seat nor the back support. It is the kneeler. This is because we had to subject furniture that we adopt from others to the sensus fidelium. And our sensus fidelium is neither to lounge or slouch inside the consecrated edifice. Once people realised that we have developed dependence on pews for kneeling, discouraging this posture became easier. Remove the kneelers from the pews, and people will be weaned from kneeling.

The absence of pews in the early Church has been cited time and again by those in favour of standing as an incontrovertible evidence that kneeling was not an ancient posture. No pews mean no kneelers. No kneelers mean no kneeling. This is an old canard that has been debunked elsewhere. That people should banish kneeling with this logic, but leave sitting untouched, is always a funny factoid. Let us always remember that throughout the course of the liturgical year, there are only two postural imperatives that the congregation hears from the altar. In certain times, such as during the Easter Vigil, we hear the deacon chant Flectamus genua, which translates to Let us bend our knees. Afterwards, we hear the deacon bid the people Levate, which translates to Rise. There is no historical liturgical command that we know of enjoining anyone to sit for prayer. Thus, while pews have entered currency, while some of us somehow harbour the faint hope of returning to pewless churches, let us stand, sit, and kneel as our ancestors have done throughout the ages, not as how professional and wannabe worship pundits would like us to believe. Custom (not a newfangled practice desperately clawing its way to becoming a custom) is the best interpreter of the law.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Mother and modesty

In today’s fourth lesson at Matins, we read from Saint Leo the Great that the Deipara was chosen a Virgin from the royal house of David, and “lest, unaware of heavenly counsel, she should be scared of these unwonted events, the future Mother of God learned from an angelic announcement what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and did not suffer loss of modesty”. It is amazing how great a value is placed on modesty in this text, and how trivial we treat it nowadays.

Bouguereau - Chant des anges
Chant des anges (fragment) | William-Adolphe Bouguereau | 1881

While we understand that modesty, first and foremost, is an interior disposition, a spiritual intention, we also acknowledge that the most visible indicator of modesty is clothing. Satan acknowledges this as well, and so has set his efforts at perverting the use of clothing, first by elevating it above its intrinsic usefulness and setting it upon the throne of luxury, creating modern-day idols called fashion and couture. Then followed the painful whittling down of clothes. Quite literally! As the years shouldered on, hunkered on the back of ever-developing tastes, clothes covered a smaller and smaller surface area of the average human skin. The operative principle is quantum exiguius, quantum tenuius, tantum melius. The skimpier, the flimsier, the better.

Just when we thought clerical vesture is immune from this depravity, often disguised as art to soften the impact, mollify the scandalised, and desensitise the indifferent, a high-profile event earlier this year just successfully staged one such vestural sacrilege, abetted by certain church dignities. Wannabes then took the cue, and parroted the perversion, this time, upping the ante, by debasing Catholic Christological iconography. (We refuse to link to these crazy antics, so they receive no satisfaction from our grievance.)

Puccinelli - La moda
La moda | Antonio Puccinelli | 1870

Let us remember these sacrileges on this feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and prepare ourselves to renew, together with Catholic womankind, our promise every 8 December, when we consecrate once again ourselves and the entire Philippine Islands to the Immaculate Mother of God, “to remove far from the defiling hand of materialism, which hath degraded the use of clothing into an incentive of sin”.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Praying the Rosary in October

On the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, Pope Francis, through a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office, invited all Catholics to pray the Rosary daily throughout the month of October, as well as the earliest antiphon of the Blessed Virgin, Sub tuum præsidium, and the prayer to Saint Michael, Sancte Michaël Archangele.


Praying the Rosary daily throughout the month of October is a traditional devotion certainly not foreign to the lives of Catholics. In the Philippines, in fact, old ordines direct the faithful to recite the Rosary from 1 October until 2 November, inclusive, not only in private, but most especially in common. This said, we would like to add that the prayer to Saint Joseph, Ad te, beate Ioseph, is likewise to be added, according to the Leonine encyclical Quamquam pluries issued on 15 August 1889.

As is the custom in many places, the Litany of Loreto is added at the end of the Rosary. In the Philippines, and in many Hispanophone places, after the invocation Mater intemerata, the invocation Mater immaculata is added—notwithstanding the latter invocation Regina sine labe originali concepta—by virtue of the Clementine brief Eximia pietas issued on 14 March 1767, a tradition which the First Plenary Council of the Philippine upheld.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Chants for Michaelmas

San Miguel Arcángel
San Miguel Arcángel | Juan de Valdés Leal | hacia 1656

Today is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel. What we actually celebrate is the dedication of his church on Monte Gargano. Closely related to this feast is the Apparition of Saint Michael, which also happened on Monte Gargano, formerly celebrated on 8 May (prior to the removal of duplicate feasts in the General Roman Calendar), the prelude to the dedication of the church which we celebrate today.

We associate Saint Michael, whose name means Who is like God? (מי כאל), with the defeat of the Devil. This is invoked in the prayer which we usually pray at the end of every Low Mass, after the Salve, Regina and the versicles. Lately, in parts of the Philippines, this prayer experienced a renaissance, and is now said after each Mass. Even in Sung Masses, this prayer is now recited immediately after the recessional hymn.

Mikael i Monte Gargano
 S. Michaël in Monte Gargano apparet | Cesare Nebbia | fine del XVI sec.

Sancte Michael Archangele IVThat said, here is a 20th-century plainchant setting of the prayer from Cantus varii. It is in fourth mode, the Church’s quintessential bittersweet mode (click the thumbnail on the right to open the file).

Sancte Michael Archangele I

Here is also a later plainchant setting of the same prayer from Heiligenkreuz, cheekily touted as coming from a 21st-century manuscript thither. This one is in the first mode (click the thumbnail on the left to go directly to the file in Scribd), and is intended to be chanted as part of the Leonine prayers at Low Mass. Here is a recording.

Sancte Michaël Archangele, defende nos in prœlio !