Friday, November 30, 2012

Catechesis on the Rite of Creating new Cardinals and Symbols of the Cardinalate

It brought us great joy that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI made another extraordinary move for calling a second consistory, last 24 November 2012, for the creation of six new Cardinals this year, which includes our very own Filipino primate: His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila. Many rejoice and thank God for a wonderful gift to Catholics in the Philippines, and all around the world where their Archbishops were chosen. However, few people know about the roles of a Cardinal, how someone is made a Cardinal, and what the symbols of a Cardinal are.

The roles of a Cardinal are stated in Code of Canon Law nos. 349-359, which is demonstrable.  Yet I wish to emphasize the Holy Father’s homily during the consistory for the creation of new cardinals that recapitulates their roles:

They are the representation of the universal Church within the Church of Rome. Meaning, they highlight the universality of the Catholic Church – a Church of all peoples – who continuously do the apostolic mission handed down by their successors in their respective local Churches to build up the Body of Christ and to unite them in the Universal Shepherd, to Peter – in the person of the Pope – to whom Christ made known his desire for salvation.

The Cardinals, as they renew their fidelity as bishops, will serve as Pastors of the whole flock of Christ and prime guarantors of its doctrine, discipline and morals. Their work, in union with the Vicar of Christ, is to preserve the faith and continuously deepen this gift from God by their good Christian living and witnessing until death. Thus, the red clerical vestments of the Cardinals symbolize their readiness for martyrdom for the sake Our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy Church, which Christ entrusted to them.

To enhance the dignity of their new mission in the Church as her princes, the Rite for the creation of the new Cardinals, though simple yet noble, is celebrated as an act of thanksgiving to God, a celebration of faith, and to impose a new mission to these chosen men that will accompany Peter in casting the nets into the sea and gather all people the Kingdom of God and his love. The simplified rite, which was also used on February 18, 2012, is in the structure of the Liturgy of the Word. The Gospel is read and a homily follows. After the homily, the creation of the new cardinals is begun.

The Holy Father addresses the candidates and reminds them of their role as bishops and reiterates to them their task “to be fearless witnesses to Christ and his Gospel in the City of Rome and in faraway regions.” Through this, the candidates make the Profession of Faith (Apostle’s Creed) and swore an oath to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel; to be obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church, to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff; to become members of the Roman clergy and cooperate more directly with the Pope and his canonically elected successors; always to remain in communion with the Catholic Church in words and actions, not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to them in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to Holy Church; and to carry out diligently and faithfully the duties to which they are called in service to the Church, according to the norms laid down by law.

The Cardinal's Ring

After the Profession of Faith and Oath of Cardinals, each candidate goes to the Holy Father to receive their insignias: the red biretta, the Cardinal’s ring, and the assignment of a titular church.

The Red Biretta is a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying their readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of their blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of Holy Catholic Church.

The Cardinal’s ring, which they receive from the hands of Peter, is a sign of love for the Church and their unity and love to the Prince of the Apostles, the Pope, to whom Christ entrusted his Church.

The assignment given by the Pope, either a deaconry (Cardinal-Deacon, which we see in solemn Papal liturgies dressed in dalmatics) or titular-Church (Cardinal-Priest, a title as such of a “parish priest/pastor”) is a very rich representation that these Cardinals, already incardinated in the Diocese of Rome, are near in the presence of the Pope, united in him in feeding and tending the sheep of Christ, and a strong manifestation of the Universality of the Church within the City of Rome. Some will not receive a titular Church, especially those who are from the Eastern Rite because they already represent a particular Church.

As the new Cardinals completed their insignias, the Holy Father now gives the Kiss of Peace, and is given by the whole College of Cardinals present as sign of welcome and fraternal communion and affection.

The next day, a Eucharistic Celebration, presided by the Pope with the new Cardinals, is celebrated as a solemn act of thanksgiving for God’s new gift for the Church.

Concerning about the title “Prince of the Roman Church,” this title derives from Psalm 44: 17-18: “You will make them princes over all the earth. May this song make your name for ever remembered.” The title “Prince” is not a royal function but a ministerial title that roots them from Christ our King, who serves and is ready to offer his life for all. They are ‘Prince’ because they are servants of the people, they are ready to defend and protect the people entrusted to them by The King. This title is so rich that bestowing it to a Cardinal entails a great responsibility. That is why we need to pray for them and to help them with our love and obedience.

Let us pray that our new Cardinals that, in spite of their human weakness, they may constantly build up Christ’s Church, and may they shine forth with integrity of faith and purity of mind so that they may help our Holy Father carry out wisely the office entrusted to him by Our Lord. In the end, let us pray that the Lord, whom they love and follow, may welcome them in his kingdom and may hear from his very own mouth: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Mt. 25:21)

Monday, November 26, 2012

What's in a name?

Knights of the Altar, Tarcisian Adorers, Knights of the Blessed Sacrament, Knights of Saint Lawrence, Knights of Christ, Acolytes of N. Parish/Shrine, Calungsod Youth Servers, Lorenzo Society, etc. These are some unofficial names that parishes use to describe the group of young boys who serve at the liturgy, especially the Most Holy Eucharist. What, then, is the official name for them?

First, they are not acolytes. According to GIRM, 98:
Acolythus instituitur ad servitium altaris et in adiutorium sacerdotis et diaconi. Ipsius praecipue est altare atque vasa sacra parare et, si necesse est, Eucharistiam, cuius est minister extraordinarius, fidelibus distribuere.

Institution to the Acolytate are given to lay men who are in study and formation to the priesthood. The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (C.B.C.P.) already made a clear distinction between non-clerical and clerical ministry in the liturgy.

The official term used by the Church for non-instituted young men who are tasked to serve in the liturgy, at the absence of instituted acolytes, is “lay.” GIRM, 100, editio typica, only mentioned “lay”:
“Deficiente acolytho instituto, ad servitium altaris et in adiutorium sacerdotis et diaconi destinari possunt ministri laici qui crucem, cereos, thuribulum, panem, vinum, aquam, deferent” (emphasis added).
(In the absence of an instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be deputed to serve at the altar and assist the priest and the deacon; they may carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water.)

Who gave the name “altar servers” and made it official? Well, it was the Pope who addressed you, young men serving at the altar, as altar servers!

Pope Benedict XVI, during an audience last August 2, 2006, gave a message to young people who serve at the liturgy and addressed them “altar servers.”

Pope Bl. John Paul II welcomed young people who serve at the liturgy during an audience in August 1, 2001, and called them “altar servers.”

Why altar servers? Like other lay liturgical ministries, the name “altar servers” describes the function of the ministry to the liturgy. It gives more emphasis on what you do and who you are: you are a server of the altar! The altar is none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Moreover, you are not a sacristan. A sacristan is another lay liturgical ministry who takes care of sacred vessels and objects that are kept in the sacristy and prepares the things needed in every liturgical celebrations.

The logo of the Knights of the Altar
The name traces itself back to an organization founded by St. John Bosco

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Clarifications on the article regarding vestments for altar servers (Statement posted in Campo Acolytos Pilipinas)

Today, I received a forwarded message from a concerned member of the clergy regarding the comment/statement of “Campo Acolytos Pilipinas” on my article regarding the vestments for altar servers.

“I want to express my apology to those who were hurt by the comments and Criticisms of Alyas (alias) Pedro Lorenzo Ruiz (of Pinoy Catholic Blogspot) and Dave Dela Cruz (of Amare, Docere, Orare).

Pakiramdam ng ating mga kapatid na nasayangan sila ng kanilang moments kung hind inirespeto ng iba ang kanilang photos. Marami tuloy ang nasiraan ng araw dahil dito.... At ito'y hindi ko po sadya.

Pasensiya na sa kanilang ginawa. Ang atin lang ditto sa Campo Acolytos Pilipinas ay yung mag-exhibit tayo ng ating mga pictures na nagpapakitang may fruits of brotherhood and spirituality tayo sa ministry. Hindi po mahalaga rito ang ating panlabas na anyo para ito'y batikusin kundi ang kagandahan ng ating programma para ito'y tularan... Sila po ay nakialam lamang ditto sa account at wala po akong koneksiyon sa kanila.

Salamat po sa inyong pang-unawa, mga kapatid.”

First of all, the article on the vestment for altar servers serves as an “eye opener” to the heads of altar servers and pastors of parishes on the proper implementation of the liturgical norms concerning the vestments for lay liturgical ministers, more particularly for altar servers.

Second, the comment expresses that the administrator of such group has no great consideration towards Our Holy Mother Church, who, through her teachings, already cleared the issue. Thus, I invite the ‘admin’ of Campos Acolytos Pilipinas to read the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which is available online and is printed in the Philippine Edition of the Roman Missal.

Third, I wish to comment on his statement: “Ang atin lang dito sa Campo Acolytos Pilipinas ay yung mag-exhibit tayo ng ating mga pictures na nagpapakitang may fruits of brotherhood and spirituality tayo sa ministry. Hindi pomahalaga rito ang ating panlabas na anyo para ito'y batikusin kundi ang kagandahan ng ating programa para ito'y tularan.” I wish to commend the ‘admin’ of the group on his desire to unify altar servers in the Philippines, even without ecclesiastical recognition. But the moment you intend to build brotherhood and enrich spirituality needs a proper guidance of learned and competent people that will lead all altar servers into right knowledge and understanding of their ministry and spirituality. Isn’t that this is the desire of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: conscious participation? (SC14). Pope Bl. John Paul II, in his message to altar servers, said: “You must endeavor to understand the liturgy, even more, you must bear witness to Christ and the Church in many ways. To do this and to learn this is the educational task of your groups, in which you dedicate yourselves to pray and to the apostolate.”

One of the problems that the Philippine Church encounters is the lack of proper education and formation of active laity in parishes, which leads to misperception of the liturgical law and norms.  Yes, the vestments or the external manifestations of your role in the liturgy is secondary, because the primary importance is your faith and how you understand and live it through your fidelity to the Church and your aspiration to live a good Christian life. Nevertheless, the external symbols, such as your vestments, help to cultivate what you receive in Christian and Liturgical education and formation, and the ministry that the Church has entrusted annually to you through commissioning. As a formator, professional teacher, liturgist (by education), and a catechist (with Missio Canonica), a good and effective program for altar servers is a program that offers an orthodox presentation of the Catholic Church’s doctrine, morals, and worship, with a great pastoral understanding and application.

My apologies if the pictures that were sent to me were made as examples. I believe it serves its purpose: to show us the truth of what is happening with our altar servers and, hopefully, to lead us to the truth, who is Jesus Christ and is now deposited and taught by our Holy Mother Church.

To the ‘admin’ of Campo Acolytos Pilipinas, thank you for your comment and your statement in your group. How I wish I could be included in your group so that I may, in the humblest way I can, help you, the ‘admin,’ who needs to identify yourself with your real name and account,  and your members to the right path. I remember one very orthodox and holy Catholic priest told me: “a true defender of the Faith shows his face and his name to all!” As what our Lord said in the Gospel, “Sanctifica eos in veritate; sermo tuus veritas est,” for “veritas liberabit vos.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5: Feast of the Holy Relics

In the calendar of the Extraordinary Form and in Tradition of the Holy Roman Church the 5th day of November is a feast not of a person or people but of their remains, the feast of the Holy Relics. Let us not be confused because other dioceses or religious communities celebrate it in other days. But usually, it is celebrated within the Octave of the Solemnity of All Saints.

Theological Foundation
In the liturgical calendar the Church commemorates the events and titles of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the life and holiness of the Angels, Apostles, Martyrs, Pastors, Doctors of the Church, Virgins, Holy Men and Women. Likewise, the Church celebrates the dignity of dedicated houses of worship. But why have a celebration for holy relics?

The cult of the saints which started in the early times of the Church is a way for those who are living to remember the heroic act of a martyr, until the Church accepted non-martyrs for veneration. The honor (dulia) due to the Saints is celebrated on the day of their Dies Natalis (birth in heaven). Early Christians celebrate these by celebrating the Eucharist and visiting their tombs.

Sacred Scriptures remind us that our body is created by God, sanctified with the breath of life, and nourished by his words. Our body, because it is the reflection of God’s goodness – made in his image and likeness - and temple of the Holy Spirit- is sacred (Cf. Gen. 1:26; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Furthermore, our baptism sanctifies the body and soul, freeing us from original sin and opens it to sanctifying graces. Amidst of sin and weaknesses of our body, the sacrament of reconciliation rejuvenates our body and soul and is strengthened by the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Death is the consequence of sin (Cf. Rom. 6:23). But because of Christ death on the cross, his rising restored our life and death became a reward for Christians. As what Saint Teresa of Avila said: “To see God we must die,” and her spiritual daughter, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, enriched the beauty of death as entry “to eternal life.” The Christian is rewarded by seeing and being with God and to be in company with Christ forever. The soul, in God’s mercy we trust, is at peace. The body is given honor with Christian burial: the body, even without life, is owned by God and is still sacred. This is why we give wakes, Funeral Masses, blessings, and celebrating the death anniversary at the tomb. The body, decomposed or incorrupt, is still God’s creation, and will always remind us of the person who was made one with Christ on earth.

Theology of the Body
The Gospel narrates to us that after the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of the Lord to be laid in peace in a tomb. Romans and Jews are people who have a deep respect for the dead. Joseph, moved with faith and trust in the resurrection, gave a worthy burial for the dead body of the Lord on the cross and, with others around, gave what is due: pure linen, perfume, etc. Christians, both during the time of the apostles and the early Church, did the same giving respect for the body as what they did with Stephen the first martyr, the apostles, and early martyrs.

One wonderful account during the early Church was on the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp wherein Christians gathered his remains, which is the translation of relics, “And so we afterwards took up his bones which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place.” The said account was a proof on how we must respect our body, living and dead. Respect for the remains is a Christian act because it is a way of respecting and treasuring God’s gift, the gift of the body.

At the start of this paper, I mentioned, and will always remind the readers, that our body is sacred because it is God’s gift and creation, and is sanctified by the Sacraments. These are also the reasons why we place the mortal remains of our departed ones inside beautiful and dignified coffins, letting him/her wear the best clothes, and putting flowers and candles around. The same with the relics of the saints, we place them in an adorned theca (the round metal container) and in a reliquary, placing them in a dignified place for veneration. Bones, ashes, and even personal objects owned by the person whom we loved are taken care well to show our respect and love for our beloved. Much more, we care of these because God works in the person and the material objects became instruments to help him/her be holy. This is the reason why we venerate the relics of the saints: to render the Saints what is due to them and, through this practice, to render more praise and adoration to their creator God.

A Feast for Holy Men and Women
“The Saints have been traditionally honored in the Church,” (SC11) almost every day: from optional and obligatory memorials to feasts and the solemnities, especially on November 1.

Before the Second Vatican Council, in the Calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and in the Missale Romanum of 1962, there was a feast dedicated for the Relics of the Saints namely: “Sacrarum Reliquiarum quæ in ecclesiis diœcesis asservantur.”It was placed on November 5, within the octave of All Saints’ Day, and is attributed to Saint Pope Pius X, because before there were other dates, depending on the local Church to celebrate this wonderful feast but he united these observances into one day. 

Due to the renewal of liturgy both in texts and rites, most especially on the liturgical calendar, the feast of Holy Relics was set aside but never abrogated. Some dioceses, especially in Europe, and monasteries and canonries still celebrate the Feast of Holy Relics. Saint Norbert once said: “You must have a great veneration for the relics of the Saints, for they are more precious than all the treasures of the world.  Should you possess any in your house, consider them as the guardians of your home and your heart.” 

We could consider the Saints’ presence in our community as intercessors, friends, and also guardians. The Church is the home of the Family of God, and when a Church possesses relics of Saints, it is a visible sign of the unity of the Church: Triumphant, Militant, and Suffering. Furthermore, as we honor the relics of the Saints, we are reminded of God as our creator, that the human body is sacred, and we are called to be saints.

Pastoral Suggestion
“The Saints have been traditionally honored in the Church, and their authentic relics and images held in veneration,” (SC11) it is nice to ask pastors of souls to continue the tradition of the Church by celebrating the Feast of Holy Relics - usus antiquior.

In Rome, especially in the Saint Peter’s Basilica, and in other Churches they place the relics in a reliquary near or within the sanctuary (for Ordinary Form)[1]. It is not a veneration of the dead for no one dies in Christian faith: all of us are living because God is our life. We venerate the saints who live 

For us here in the orient, it will be a pastoral and spiritually enriching moment for our faithful to let them be aware with the treasures of our Church – the relics of the saints – and to help them see our future glory: sainthood. A catechesim on the cult and the relics of the saints is to be given as a preparation for this wonderful feastday.

In the Ordinary Form, because there’s no proper for the feast Sacrarum Reliquiarum, we could use the votive Mass for All Saints, following the readings on November 1. And for the Extraordinary Form, the proper is used.

Auge in nobis, Dómine, resurrectiónis fidem,
qui in Sanctórum tuórum relíquiis mirabília operáris:
et fac nos immortális glóriæ partícipes,
cujus in eórum cinéribus pígnora venerámur.
Per Dóminum.
(Missale Romanum, 1962)

Lord, increase our faith in the resurrection;
who in the relics of your saints work wonders:
make us partakers of your eternal glory,
the reward of the ashes which we venerate.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Personal Translation)

Venerating the relics of the saints is not a cult of the dead but of the living. There is resurrection, and we believe in it. The resurrection of the body is a truth of our faith which we need to believe everyday so that we may be inspired to avoid sin and do holy works.

Holiness is attained in two ways: care for the body so that the soul may be secured, and nourishment of the soul in order that the body may be strengthened. We need to be inspired. We need holy men and women to inspire us to holiness.

Caring for the relics is a way of strengthening the dignity and sanctity of the body that God has given us. Desecration of the relics is a sacrilege not only towards the saints, but also to the Body of Christ – where we are all part.

Let us rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place. May their prayers bring us God’s forgiveness and love, and help us to be worthy to enter eternal glory (Preface for All Saints), the reward of the holy people. Amen.

1.      Catechism of the Catholic Church
2.      Compendium on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
3.      Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Vatican II
4.      1962 Missale Romanum
5.      Roman Martyrology

[1] A reliquary must not be placed upon the altar or set into the table of the altar; it must be placed beneath the table of the altar, as the design of the altar permits (Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar, 5).