Sunday, June 29, 2014

Solemn High Mass: Saints Peter and Paul A.D. 2014

Our Solemn High Mass on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Holy Family Parish, Roxas District, Quezon City, Philippines: Dei praesidio fultus: Saints Peter and Paul A.D. 2014

At the Asperges
Gloria in excelsis

Consecration of the Body of the Lord

Consecration of the Blood of the Lord

The True Religion


Caesarea Philippi was a forested area where pagan worship of the spirits abound. Numerous shrines were built to honor the false gods. It was there where Jesus posted the question to the disciples: Who do people say that I am? The many answers given were all wrong. And so, Jesus asked them: Who do you say that I am? Simon Peter, having received the revelation from the Father who alone knows the Son, responded: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. This declaration of faith was made amidst the idols that were worshipped in that forest. Simon Peter gave witness to the one true God and by doing so, he declared all the others as false. There is only One and that is you, O Jesus the Christ. All the rest are false gods that have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear, have nostrils that have no life in them.

Because Peter glorified Jesus by declaring the truth of his divinity, the Lord in return declared the new identity of Simon: He is Peter upon which Christ builds his Church. The Lord once said that the wise man build his house upon solid rock so that even if the winds blew and torrents fall, the house would stand for ever. More than a wise man, Jesus is himself the Wisdom of God. So he established his house upon solid rock and that rock is Peter. His Church will withstand not only wind and hale. The Gate of hell will not prevail against it!

At Caesarea Philippi, Peter singles out Jesus as the true God from amongst the false gods. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus singles out the true religion from amongst the others. He clearly said that he was establishing only one religion…only one Church: On this Rock, I will build my Church. Notice that he said Church, not churches. The Only Begotten Son of God established only one Church. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, he and no other. He established only One Church, that and no other. But as we see, there are many who make claims that they are the one. But if there can only be one Church that he founded, it would mean that the rest are false. Because there is only one God, the rest are false deities. In like manner, if there is only one Church established by the only Begotten of the Father, then the rest are false churches, false religions. Now, which one of them would be the true Church established by Jesus? Jesus said to Simon: You are Peter (Rock) and upon this Rock I will build my Church. The one true Church, the one true religion was established by Jesus upon St. Peter. Therefore, which Church can present evidence of an unbreakable chain of leaders from St. Peter to the present Pope? It has to be the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church! Which Church could present the bones of St. Peter? Still, it would be the Holy Catholic Church. The bones of St. Peter rest underneath the Papal altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Rome, where the seat of the true Church is, is home to the bones of both Peter and Paul. Some “churches” take pride in their centennial anniversary. However, the true Church will be 2,000 years old on the year 2033 AD. The Catholic Church in the Philippines is even older than the Iglesia because while they celebrate their 100 years of existence this year, we in the Philippines are on our way to our 500th year in 2021.

Many people dismiss the need for religion: We do not need religion so long as we have a relationship with some gods. Well, we cannot call simply on any god and hope to be saved because if we call on a false god, that is, a god that does not exist, we cannot expect to be helped by someone who does not exist. Our relationship with a deity is called “religion”. Therefore, if the god we relate to does not exist, how can a so-called relationship with someone who does not exist prosper? We cannot say that all religions are the same because the true religion is not the same as the false religions. Even in human courts of law, the truth and only the truth is worth considering and lies cannot be evaluated as equal to the truth. How you be saved by something that is not true? Because we need to be saved, we need to call on God. But we cannot call on just any god…only the true and living God can deliver his promised salvation: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. It cannot be just any religion, it had to be the True Religion: You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Drawn to the Most Blessed Trinity

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

During the joyful celebration of Easter, we saw how God worked out our salvation: the Father sent his only begotten Son to save the world through the sending of the Holy Spirit. Today’s gospel reading is a fitting description of the entire Paschal Mystery: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. When we look back at the wondrous things God has done for us through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, we ask: Why did God do all these for us? And the only answer is: It is because he loved us.

He loves us because that is who he is – “God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (CCC, 257) The 3 divine Persons, each of them is God whole and entire, are distinct from one another on account of the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons, the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both.” (CCC, 255) Their relationship with each other is marked by communion in love: The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit is that love they have for each other. “Because of that unity, the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.” (CCC, 255)

Because he is love, “God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the ‘plan of his loving kindness,’ conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: ‘He destined us in love to be his sons’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son,’ through ‘the spirit of sonship.’ This plan is a ‘grace (which) was given to us in Christ Jesus before all the ages began,’ stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.” (CCC, 257)

In communicating to us the glory of his blessed life, the Blessed Trinity draws us towards himself. He wants us to have access to his Divine Life. “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: ‘If a man loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home in him.’(Jn 14:23)” (CCC, 260) What a loving God we have! He comes to us and makes his home in us because he loves us. Patiently, he leads us to himself so that we might find our home in him. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” Indeed, he is the Lord, “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” He does not desire our condemnation but our salvation. Truly God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen. 

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! 

Entering into the Trinitarian Communion

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

In last week’s meditation on the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, we saw that God wills that all his creatures enter into the communion of his Trinitarian life: “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity.” (CCC, 260) He wishes us to have access into his Divine Life which is a Communion of life and love. We may ask: How? How are we to participate into the communal life of the Blessed Trinity. The Lord Jesus answers this in today’s reading: “Just as the living Father sent me, and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Yes, you heard it right: he wants us to feed on him…to eat his flesh and drink his blood. It might sound odd to you, but do not worry, it also sounded the same way to the Jews who heard him. In fact they quarreled among themselves: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They thought they heard him say that Jesus wanted them to eat his flesh. They just wanted to be sure that they heard him right. And so Jesus confirmed what they heard: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have life in you.” As if it were not enough, he continued: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day.” Just in case you did not understand him, Jesus reiterated: “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” And so that there would be no further misunderstanding, he repeats: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

The words of Jesus undeniably speak of the mystery of his Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. In the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Let there be no mistake about this. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Presence of Christ. But let it not be forgotten that the purpose of his Presence is to be offered as Sacrifice. At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and said: “This is my Body which will be given up for you.” Likewise, he took the chalice of wine and said: “This is the Chalice of my Blood which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  His Body is given up…offered up. His blood is shed…poured out as a libation, a drink offering. And this is why he wishes us to eat and drink his flesh and blood: partaking of sacrificial food brings about the communion of the recipient with the God to whom the sacrifice is being offered. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles forbade the gentile converts from eating meat offered to idols. This is because eating the meat offered to idols would bring about communion between the eater and the false gods to whom the meat was offered. In like manner, eating the flesh of Jesus in Holy Communion brings about our communion with the Blessed Trinity to whom the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered: “Just as …I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Understand that when we approach the Altar for Holy Communion, we are not receiving ordinary food. We will be eating the Body and Blood of Jesus himself. This is the reason why we kneel for communion. This is why we receive communion with great reverence and devotion. We are approaching Jesus himself truly present in the Holy Sacrament of the altar. And in doing so, we enter into communion with the Most Holy Trinity. Thus St. Pope John Paul said: the Eucharist “is at one and the same time a sacrifice-sacrament, a communion-sacrament, and a presence-sacrament.” (Redemptor Hominis, 20.) In the Holy Eucharist, we have the abiding presence of the Lord Jesus whose body and blood is offered and poured out for our salvation and in doing so, he brings us, the Church, into communion with the Blessed Trinity. “The Eucharist is the sacrament of sacrifice and communion. All of us who participate in it as sacrifice receive it in communion. At the same time, we receive God’s gift of himself in the Holy Spirit, whom Christ merited for us through his passion.” (John Paul II, Homily of Mass for the Sick, June 14, 1987.) 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Unseen and yet ever present!

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

This coming Thursday will be the 40th day of Easter and the bible tells us that Christ our Lord ascended into heaven on that day. Oftentimes, people think of the Ascension as the farewell of the Lord to his disciples. The Lord says goodbye because he is leaving them. He is going home to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. However, the gospel today says otherwise.

The Lord is not leaving his disciples. Rather, he is simply disappearing from the sight of the world. But this does not mean that he is abandoning his disciples. Remember the story of the disciples at Emmaus: they recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread and then, he vanished from their sight. “He disappeared but he did not abandon them,” Blessed John Paul would say. The Lord Jesus said in today’s gospel reading: “In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.” The Lord himself assures us that even though the world does not see him, we will continue to see him living among us. He will continue to be with us and we will continue to recognize his presence in our midst. And the one who will help us recognize the Lord Jesus in our midst will be the Holy Spirit: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

The Lord will not leave us orphans. He will come to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gathers us and brings about the presence of Jesus who said: “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” The Holy Spirit transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us the baptized gives us the interior witness to Christ. He is the Spirit of Truth. He teaches us what is true. He teaches us that Jesus is alive and is among us. The Holy Spirit brings about our communion with the Blessed Trinity: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” Although he sits at the right hand of the Father, Jesus continues to remain in us and we continue to remain in him. And the sign that we remain in Jesus is our obedience to his commandments: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me, and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” We obey his commandments not out of fear but out of love. We love the Lord whom we encounter everyday through the Church and through the Sacraments. The more we love him, the more we keep his commandments. And the more we keep his commandments, the more he reveals himself to us. And as he reveals himself to us, our love for him increases. Thus, we become caught up into the “vicious” cycle of love. We are caught up into the communion of life and love with the Blessed Trinity.

Therefore, let us strive to remain in the Lord who promises to remain with us always. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” said St. Peter in the 2nd reading. Let us continue to give blameless witness to the Lord by keeping his commandments. Let us keep our consciences clear. Let us remain in his love.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!


Friend, come up higher!


The ascension of the Lord Jesus is his exaltation and enthronement as Lord and King. On this day, Jesus returned to heaven from where he came: “No one ascends into heaven except the one who descended from heaven: the Son of Man who is in heaven.” His return to heaven happened in a manner that was seen by those who were present: “as they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight.” He was lifted up. Who of us would forget that the Lord himself referred to himself being lifted up like that bronze serpent which Moses lifted up in the desert to save those who were bitten by the snakes: As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so will the Son of Man be lifted up. By this, the Lord referred to his death on the Cross. Ironically, the Cross was devised by the Romans as an instrument of both death and shame. However, to Jesus, the Cross became the instrument of his exaltation. Today, the one who descended into the depths of humiliation is now exalted before his disciples. Did not our Lord referred to this when he spoke of the etiquette which his disciples must observe when invited to a banquet: When invited to a banquet, seek the lowest place so that the host may approach you and say, “Friend, come up higher.” And thus shall you be exalted in the sight of the others in the banquet. The Lord Jesus who emptied himself of his glory, took the form of a human slave. He humiliated himself even further by obediently accepting death on the Cross. And because of this God exalted him and gave him a Name which is above all other names. He who emptied himself is now clothed with power: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He who descended from heaven is now seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. He who washed his disciples’ feet is now crowned as King of kings and Lord of lords. He who sought the lowest place was exalted in the sight of his friends.

And this is the Gospel that we were sent to proclaim. We are tasked to make disciples of all nations because all nations belong to him. All authority in heaven and on earth was given to him. To make disciples of all nations simply is to restore to the Lord Jesus what truly belongs to him. To teach all nations to observe all that he has commanded us is simply to give to the Lord the obedience that is due to him as King and Lord. The Lord reigns in the Church. The Lord reigns through the Church. The Church is the beginning of the Kingdom of Jesus on earth. The Church is the instrument for the spread of Christ’s Kingship on earth. Saint Paul said: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. 

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

At the end of the Easter Season, the Church brings us back to the upper room where Christ first appeared to his disciples on the evening of Easter Sunday. Recalling the events on that evening helps us see Pentecost in the perspective of the Paschal Mystery. Before our Lord passed over from the world to his Father, he told his disciples that it would be better for him to leave for if he did not do so, the Paraclete would never come. But if he leaves them, he will send the Holy Spirit from his throne at the right hand of the Father. By his passion and death, the Lord Jesus entered into his glory. Thus, as he rose from death, he gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples when he appeared to them. He breathed into them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven.

By dying on the Cross, the Lord Jesus reconciled us with his Father. His death atoned for our sins. This forgiveness of our sins is brought about by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit and his dwelling in our souls is the sure sign that all is forgiven and we have been reconciled to God. Adam and Eve enjoyed the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When God created Adam, he breathed into this creature and so Adam became a living being. This Divine Breath that animated Adam was the Holy Spirit. However, both our first parents lost this indwelling of the Holy Spirit when they sinned. Thus, although they were physically alive, they were spiritually dead. Thus, St. Paul says: Through the disobedience of one man, sin entered the world and together with sin entered death. Without the Holy Spirit, man would be spiritually dead. And this spiritual death is the inheritance which our first parents gave all humanity. This is called Original sin. Every human being is born deprived of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the soul. Thus, St. Paul says: all men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. The glory of God did not dwell in the human soul as the consequence of the sin of our first parents.

Thus, when Jesus died and rose from the dead, he restored to us what sin has taken away. He restored to us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit returns to his temple which is the soul of the baptized. By baptism, we received the Holy Spirit. We are no longer deprived of the glory of God because God the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Original sin, which is the deprivation of the soul of the glory of God, is taken away by Baptism because the Holy Spirit returns to the soul and dwells in us as in a temple. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us brings to us the forgiveness of our sins. He sanctifies us and makes us participate in the communion of the Holy. The Holy Spirit in us gives us a foretaste of the future resurrection. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us allows us to enter into the dwelling of the Blessed Trinity: My Father will love him and we shall come to him and dwell in him. The Holy Spirit seals us and marks us for redemption.

Through the waters of Baptism the Holy Spirit brought about our rebirth. We were reborn as Children of God. We were reborn into the Church, the community of the redeemed. Let us rejoice today for the Holy Spirit has created us anew. We are a new creation. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!