Sacraments

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The Philippines, having been a Spanish colony for three centuries, preserves some of the unique ceremonies inherited by the Spanish Church from the Mozarabic Rite used in Muslim-ruled Iberia, which in turn descended from the Old Hispanic Rite used in Visigothic Iberia. These ceremonies were either integrated into the ritual books of Spain, practically a copy of their Roman counterparts, or printed separately as manuals. Thus was born what is now called the Manuale Toletanum, and from it descended a long line of manualia adapted for use in each particular ecclesiastic circumscription in the Spanish colonies.

Encuentro en Pandacan 1927
Encuentro in Pandacan in the morning of Easter Sunday, 17 April 1927.

In these blessed archipelago, the Manual de Manila, what we like to call the Manuale Philippinense, became the de-facto ritual book, whose history of usage since it was finally first compiled in 1849 by the then ceremoneer of Manila, Don Esteban Miranda, at the behest of the lord archbishop, Fray José Seguí, O. E. S. A., had imbued it with such time-honoured venerability and impressed itself in the collective consciousness of the Filipino people that the First Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1953 dared not displace its Mozarabic elements in favour of the Roman ones, crystallising instead by decree that these elements should be upheld and their usage be continued in the Isles.

Of the seven Sacraments, three preserve the ceremonies unique to Catholic Spain: Baptism, Communion, and Matrimony. Their uniqueness comes in varying degrees, and inspires appreciation in the special prayers and gestures that have become part of their respective rites. Of these three, Matrimony is the most unique, owing almost 90% of its ceremonies to the Mozarabic Rite. It probably only has the blessing prayers over husband and wife in common with the Roman Rite, but then again for this part the couple are veiled and yoked, which never happens in the Roman Rite. As for Communion, here it refers to the administration of the Holy Viaticum to the sick. The Roman books are straightforward; whereas, the Toletan books and its descendants retain the scrutinies of the infirm (probably an erstwhile Catholic safeguard against admitting Arians to Holy Communion) and the post-Communion admonitions. As for the last, Baptism preserves the prayer of the priest before the ceremony and the admonitions given to the godparents before and after it. The priest, likewise, is instructed to wear the cope even when baptising an infant, something which is only allowed for adult baptisms in the Roman books.

The Manuale Philippinense underwent six editions in its entire lifespan, from 1849 to 1960, before the sweeping changes following the Second Vatican Council pushed it towards near oblivion. Through these six incarnations—the first four of which were ordered by the archbishops of Manila, Seguí, Aranguren, Payo, and Harty; the penultimate, necessitated by the promulgation of the Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law; and the last, encouraged by the First Plenary Council of the Philippines—the ceremonies, where demanded by their rubrics, were rendered in the various native tongues of the archipelago.

Of these three, we have been fortunate to witness again the celebration of Matrimony and Baptism, some fifty years after they were probably last celebrated in the archipelago. It is known to us now that the ceremonies celebrated in the intervening years, especially those pertaining to Matrimony, have been unfortunately hybridised from the Roman Rite with copious insertions from the Toletan books. The discovery of the authentic rites enshrined for public use in the last—that is, preconciliar—edition of the Manuale Philippinense is reason enough for us to rejoice, and to enjoin everyone to partake of our joy. It is with supreme excitement that we invite all who harbour a special place in their hearts for the Traditional Latin Mass and who desire to be bound in wedlock themselves, or see their children baptised in the usus antiquior to please do so in the rites commanded for our use. This let us do in the spirit of humility and obedience.

The matrimonies we have witnessed are already reported elsewhere. Please allow us as well to give this caveat concerning certain practices for which the Philippine use offers no place.

Here as well are the solemn baptisms that were administered according to the Philippine use.

Of the Holy Viaticum, we have yet to witness it. To wish someone would find himself in a situation of grave and mortal indisposition is obscene for a Christian, so we leave this to the will of the Lord.

Should you wish to know more about these rites, or plan to have them celebrated, and sincerely believe we can be of any help, please send us an email through our Contact page. We shall be very pleased to respond!