Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Choosing a Patron Saint (with Ecclesiastical Approval)


How to choose a patron saint?
1. Have a book of saints, read and reflect on each lives and works of a saint. Find out whose saint you can relate with that has similarities in your experiences in life, encounters with God and with your neighbor, how they struggle with their weaknesses, your birthday, etc.
2. When you chose one or more, preferably one, discover more about the life of your chosen saint and start praying to him/her and ask his/her help in your daily life and talk to him as a friend.
3. If you already decided to choose that particular saint, look for an image or picture and put it anywhere you want, where you can pray to him/her anytime, like in your room, office table, wallet, etc.
4. Know his/her feast day and attend a Mass to honor and thank God for the gift of a patron saint. Celebrate it!
5. Do not look at patron saints as if they are far and impossible to imitate. Remember, your patron saint is with you and is united with you always especially in prayer. Your patron saint is a human person like you. He/she was weak yet able to strive to follow Jesus through different ways like: love for the Eucharist, frequent confession, devotion to our Lady and to other Saints, doing works of charity. Imitate his/her life at the very best way you can.
6. He/she is your new friend that you can always count-on, a shoulder to lean-on, and a peer to talk with and always ready to help you.


O Saint/Blessed N., after knowing your life and works, I thank God for giving you to the world and for inspiring me to be a saint. Please allow me to be your spiritual child and to call you as my patron saint. I come before you and invoke your name to help me strive to be holy as what you did and to love God and the Church in the status of life where I am now. Saint/Blessed N., pray for me and for my love ones and be my spiritual partner as I continue my journey here on earth and when time comes, I will be with you and all the saints praising God, the source of all holiness, forever and ever. Amen.

Saint/Blessed N., pray for me!

Nihil Obstat:
Rev. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa, SLL
Censor and 
Commissioner, Commission on Liturgy

+ Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales
Archbishop of Manila

March 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayers to the Saints (with Ecclesiastical Approval)


O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of all Saints, you who were the first disciple of God’s will that all men be holy as he is holy through your outstanding obedience. Loving Mother, I come before you with love and trust to help me be holy and to lead me to a life of charity, purity, and humility. Holy men and women of sacred history called upon you and you never abandoned nor forsaken them. I trust in you, O Mother, and lead me to Jesus, your Son, the reward of all saints in heaven and on earth.

O Mary, Mother and Queen of all Saints, pray for us who have recourse to you. Amen.


O blessed souls, chosen ones, faithful children of God most holy, I praise the Lord for the great work he has done for the world, especially in giving you honor and reward to be with him in his kingdom and to serve as our model of true Christian life. I pray to please help me follow God’s will, to serve him and the Church, to extend my time, talents, and treasures to those in need, and to be faithful to my baptismal promises. May I always be reminded of my true vocation to be a saint, whatever status of life I have at present, so that when the time for me comes, I will be with you in God’s kingdom with Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, and all the angels praising God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.


O dear saints of God, I humbly ask you to help me at this time of (mention your need like sickness, problems, etc.). Pray for me that I may succeed not with my own strength but because of God’s kindness and love for me and your prayers and merits. With this present experience, may I, who suffer, cling always to the hands of God, strengthen my faith and confidence to him, to feel that he is present always in my heart and really loves me in the midst of my human weaknesses. Amen.


Protect, O Lord, Holy Father, your holy servants from those who will desecrate their name and remains. Guard the sanctity of their earthly remains for it is holy. Banish the evil intentions of those who desire to have them in possession. May the prayers of the Saints in glory whom we venerate, propagate, and safeguard, with all the angels in heaven, help those who serve the Church in their cause.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Nihil Obstat:
Rev. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa, SLL
Censor and 
Commissioner, Commission on Liturgy

+ Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales
Archbishop of Manila

March 27, 2011

Monday, October 29, 2012

50 Years of Vatican II Council

From a Latin Mass towards the Lord (ad orientem) to a Vernacular Mass toward the People (versus populum), the Body of Christ, where he is always present; from the pulpit of the Church to the challenging preaching of the Word of God in open places; from Popes who stayed inside the walls of the Eternal City to travelling Popes who wish to show that Christ is in the midst of all: Vatican II Council is a council that changed the secured Church to a renewed Church of God’s People and for the People. Truly, the Second Vatican Council is a council that answered the call for the renewal of the Catholic Church in modern times.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening Vatican II, summoned by Pope Blessed John XXIII, we remember that joyful day: a day filled with curiosity for its outcome, questions on its validity, and a day when the Holy Spirit came down upon the successors of the apostles to renew the face of the earth. It took a brave Pope to call for such a council; it was not easy for him, especially at his age and health condition, to face Council Fathers who had different insights about the agenda. But God worked in him and allowed the Church to see her mission since her foundation- since the first centuries of Christianity, a moment to prepare and plan on how will the Church serve her children in the up-coming new millennium. With great faith and trust in the Lord, Pope John XXIII and the Council Fathers took the greatest challenge: to open the door and windows for fresh air of the Roman Church to know the needs of the faithful, which Christ entrusted to them, and to enrich the faith, morals and worship that will make every Christian’s life more meaningful and fruitful.

Vatican II is a council that underwent negative and positive criticisms and outcomes both from the Church’s pastors and faithful. Some doubted the validity and sanctity of the Council, others went beyond their understandings, while others kept fidelity by thoughts, words and deeds. In the end, Vatican II turned out to be a council inspired by the Holy Spirit and favored by God through the Vicar of Christ and the successors of apostles, the bishops. The Fathers of the Council became faithful to Christ, who is the Good Shepherd who leads his flock in green pastures (cf. Ps 23) in the midst of wolves and dangers, and they are always ready to offer their lives for Christ’s flock. Through the concilliar documents they laid down, which we now study and have the access of grasping it, our pastors fed and tended us with sound doctrine – faithful to the Word of God and Traditions.

On this 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, God gave us a great gift of harvesting the seeds which our Council Fathers had sown. Now, as we celebrate the Year of Faith, declared by Pope Benedict XVI, it is time to cultivate the land that the teachings may be more fruitful. We need to nourish the Council’s teachings so that the young people and those who do not know or who stopped believing in Christ may appreciate the works of this Council and be evangelized with the Truth, which is Christ himself, through the Church.

Vatican II Council is already 50 years old – is antique. Being antique is old but within it is the beauty and value that need to be treasured. The teachings of Vatican II, like antique items and furniture, are valuable, priceless and in need great care. As faithful who grew up with or after the Council, let us do our part by serving as its caretakers through studying, learning, believing and sharing this priceless gift of God to the Church - to us, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Catholic traditionalism and Vatican II

Those faithful who are inclined with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, also known as Tridentine Rite, are few of the members of the Roman Church that our Holy Mother, the Mystical Body of Christ, embraces. However not all of them respect and obey the Holy Father.

It is widely rampant that some of these faithful, especially those who are active, secretly deny the validity and sanctity of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). I heard, and I was well informed by those who knew them, that they still go against the teachings of the Sacred Council and calls the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite invalid. Who are they to call the Mass invalid? It is very clear that the Holy Father, in his motu propio “Summorum Pontificum,” highlighted that the two forms of the Eucharistic Celebration are valid and are equal of dignity – that these two forms of the Roman Rite are rooted in the Tradition (with a capital letter “T”) of the Church. We have only one rite in two forms, and I myself highly appreciate the richness of both forms of one Roman Rite.

The Pope, on the accompanying letter for the said motu propio, already clarified the confusions made by so-called traditionalists (with small letter “t”) that Vatican II never abrogated the Extraordinary Form (notice that I use the official term given by the Holy Father).

Efforts to reconcile the Society of Saint Pius X are being made. As a vibrant sign of their desire to unite with the Holy See, they recently expelled Bishop Richard Williamson from the fraternity because of his disobedience and disrespect toward his superiors. Some breakaway groups from the said society are building means to unite themselves to Rome and, as like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son, they are received with love and affection, with respect and care. We need to pray more for reconciliation within the Roman Catholic Church.

For those who call themselves ‘traditionalist’ Catholics, when will they reconcile their thoughts, words, actions and feelings to the Roman Church? How come they go against the Church’s teachings and the Holy Father’s move towards unity and reconciliation? We are celebrating the Year of Faith to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. Yet they disregard to grab the blessed moment to open their hearts and minds to know the teachings – the REAL TEACHINGS - and to enrich their faith. Isn’t it that by doing such acts and holding on to such biased principles, in a sense, being ‘Protestant’ or “Schismatic” - denying the Pope and the Church teachings?

I wish to re-echo the words of Pope Benedict XVI, which he sent to bishops about the motu propio, which I now address to the ‘traditionalist’ Catholics:

“It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these.” (Emphasis added)

Dear friends, “traditionalism” is not measured on how you worship and what you personally believe. Rather, true traditionalism is measured on how you show fidelity and love to God, through Christ in His Church through His Vicar here on earth, and with your unity in faith with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Proper Liturgical Vestment for Altar Servers

In this article, I will be dealing with one of the most controversial and confusing issues with regard to altar servers: their proper liturgical vestment.

When I was still a young altar server back in one of the parishes in Cubao, Quezon City, I started serving wearing a white collared shirt, for weekdays, or a white-long sleeve, sometimes with black necktie, and black slacks. After some years our new parish priest changed it to camisa-de-chino in Barong Tagalog-style, the common garment for Filipino men. Then came another new parish priest and changed it to alb with hood. When I started studying liturgy, and learned the proper vestment for lay liturgical ministers, I designed for our parish a hooded-alb, especially designed so that when there are solemn liturgies a surplice may be worn and came out to be a white habit or cassock. Evolution from secular garb to liturgical vestment was the drama of altar servers of our parish. It may cost them so much but in the end, when the right vestment was designed and worn, liturgical norms won the battle.

I remember when I was appointed as interim coordinator for altar servers for the Ecclesiastical District of Quezon City-South (Archdiocese of Manila). When Quezon City-South was elevated to become the Diocese of Cubao in 2003, I was then made diocesan coordinator for that same ministry. As I held this responsibility, I saw various forms and designs of altar servers’ vestment. Some wear barong tagalog, others use the choir-dress with black or white and, even, red cassock beneath the surplice! Because of abuses and confusion, the Archdiocese of Manila decided that all male liturgical ministers must wear a barong tagalog, to prevent clericalism and promote liturgical inculturation, by virtue of liturgical norms. Some suffragan dioceses applied the same vestment for the altar servers while others remain intact with their principles of making these young men “little clerics” to promote vocation.

Why do servers wear black or white or red cassock?

Black is the official color of cassock for clerics (seminarians in thelogy and ordained ministers), while for tropical countries white cassock may be substituted, and was officially approved by the Holy See. Wearing of red cassock, and even other colors, for servers depends on the approved liturgical customs of the local Church (diocese). When we say approved liturgical customs, it must be practiced for 50 years, without intervals.

I remember the time when the Archdiocese of Manila, Fr. Genaro Diwa, S.L.L., and Fr. Jason Laguerta, who was our director for the ministry, gave a conference for altar servers where they announced: after the promulgation of the new GIRM 2002, all parishes, who wish to change the vestments of altar servers, must comply to the norm:
“Acolytes, altar servers, lectors, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.” (GIRM, 339)
In the Archdiocese of Manila and other suffragans, almost all altar servers wear barong-tagalog. In the Diocese of Cubao some wear alb while others wear barong-tagalog. Other parishes, well, even in schools and religious communities, they don’t care, which is very dangerous for the liturgical life of the faithful.

Why not black or white cassock? Well, because a cassock is worn by clerics. Altar servers are not clerics, not even a candidate. Not all altar servers are called to be priests. But, in some countries and by virtue of approved customs, altar servers are allowed to wear black cassock without the rabbat (clerical collar).

Why not red cassock? The history of wearing a red cassock for servers started in Europe when they developed a devotion to Saint Tarcisius or probably to Saint Lawrence the deacon. Red symbolizes their patron’s color, because they are both martyrs. But officially, the patron of altar servers is Saint John Berchman, a non-martyr Jesuit and a young Saint.

Reading all the liturgical books, documents and laws, the color of the cassock is very important because they signify rank of priests (sacerdos): clerics and priests (presbyters) wear black, bishops wear black with amaranth purple buttons and piping, cardinals wear black with red buttons and piping, and the pope wears white. In the Ceremonial of Bishops, only Cardinals, the princes of the Roman Church, are allowed to wear red cassocks, in choir dress, as a symbol of their readiness to offer their lives for the love of Christ and for the Church. Altar servers are not cardinals. Therefore, do not instill in their minds that they are “little cardinals.”

Another issue is this: what must be worn above the cassock? The Surplice. Yes. But not all priests and altar servers’ coordinators know the difference between a surplice and a rochet.

I wish to recognize “The Pinoy Catholic” (Pedro Lorenzo Ruiz) for giving a wonderful pop-up quiz in his Facebook asking his patrons to differentiate a Surplice with a Rochet. As a Canon Regular, I know very well what a rochet is:
A rochet, normally, has narrower sleeves and covers the sleeves of the cassock. The length is measured until below the knee. It is used for choir dress of canons, bishops, cardinals and the Pope. Surplice is used for liturgical services and has different styles. Both can be made laced or made of simple white linen. But a rochet or surplice is not worn above the alb because it will be duplication.

Guess who are wearing a Rochet... Unliturgical!

Mons. Georg wearing a Rochet.

Canons wearing a Rochet.

For altar servers wearing cassock, they must wear a surplice, not a rochet. They are liturgical ministers not canons or bishops. Noble simplicity must be expressed on the design of the surplice. It must not, in anyway, usurp the beauty of the priestly vestments which have a great symbolism of Christ, the Eternal High Priest present in the person of the ordained minister and the dignity of Holy Orders he has received.

To make the long story short, liturgical vestments for altar servers must serve two purposes:
First, it must express the ministry given by the Church through privilege to those who are baptized and directs all the faithful to the beauty of the ministerial priesthood, where Christ is truly present in the person of priests.

Second, the vestments must also be catechetical in such a way that we present to these servers that their ministry is rooted and based in the Sacrament of Baptism, where they became sharers of the priestly office of Christ.

Altar Servers wear barong since the establishment of  EDSA Shrine.

Since 2003 the Diocesan Altar Servers of Cubao wear Camisa-de-Chino,
the approved inculturated liturgical vestment for the diocese.

Thus, the proper vestment for altar servers is an alb. Why an alb? Because the alb is the baptismal garb given to those who received baptism. Why barong? In the Philippines, seldom we see parishes giving alb to a baby boy. Parents brought their baby to Church for baptism wearing white barong, which is an ‘inculturated’ form of the alb.

Very good! Alb with cincture... The best!

The new alb of the Altar Servers of
the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao.

Lastly, for priests and altar servers’ coordinators or formators, by planning and deciding to change the “unliturgical” vestments of your altar servers to the official and liturgical vestments approved by the Church, you will contribute a more meaningful and fruitful experience of faith and worship to these young men who desire to serve Our Lord in the liturgy. Moreover, by presenting an approved liturgical vestment proper to the ministry, you will enrich the worship experience of your faithful allowing them to see boys who respond to their baptismal call to holiness and service, leading our worship pleasing to the sight of Our God.

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Pictures of Liturgical and Unliturgical Vestments for Altar Servers

Altar Servers of Good Shepherd Cathedral-Shrine of Novaliches...

Altar Servers of Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish, Cubao...

I want to commend these servers but girls in clerical garb???

Surplice donations anyone?

Altar Servers are not Canons!

Kudos to Diocese of Antipolo!

Kudos to Immaculate Conception Parish, Project 8!

White mozetta? What for?

It may be approved by the Archdiocese but multi-colored ties?

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For the Diocese of Malolos (the whole province of Bulacan), the approved vesture for altar severs, by the bishop, is white cassock and surplice. Only Pontifical Servers are allowed to wear black cassock, with surplice, while Diocesan MC are given the indult to wear purple cassock, with surplice.

Mr. Luis Francis Tan
MC for the Bishop of Malolos and
Member, Diocesan Liturgical Commission