Chrism Mass of Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales at the Manila Cathedral
April 11, 2009 3 Comments
Last Thursday, my sister, Sr. Josephine Sugon, H.G.S of the La Salle Sisters of Guadalupe told me that she wants to go to a Chrism mass at the Manila Cathedral. She told me that every Thursday, she always pray for priests. She has many priest friends in Bacolod City and in Naples, Italy. She told me that the Chrism mass is sad and joyful day: many priests will renew their vows to the priesthood; some won’t. She must pray.
I haven’t attended a Chrism mass in my whole life. I rarely visit the St. Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City. This would be the second time for me to visit the Manila Cathedral. (The first time was last year when I was walking around Intramuros looking for a quick and cheap lunch.) I agreed to go.
When we arrived at the EDSA-Taft, there were no trains. So we took a taxi via Roxas Boulevard. Across the huge limestone walls of Intramuros loomed the Manila Cathedral with its gray walls and blue roof. Unmistakable. We entered the walled city and paid our P90 fare. It’s 8:00 a.m.
The crowds were overflowing outside the cathedral. We entered the main door. It’s a standing room only. All the pews were filled. We tried to squeeze in to the left aisle. It is also filled. We stood at the foot of one of the giant Greek columns of the Romanesque church. We can barely see the Cardinal in his golden chasuble, against the background of six lighted candle sticks arrayed on an altar fixed to the wall, which long ago must have been used in the Traditional Latin Masses. There is a new free standing altar beneath the canopy of the sanctuary. I’m glad that the canopy wasn’t destroyed; in San Sebastian Cathedral in my home province in Bacolod City, the canopy there was removed years ago. Maybe they placed it back again (see beautiful pictures from Ivy Eclairs blog).
Cardinal Rosales was at the middle of his homily. I did not bring my notebook, since I do not like to take notes during mass. I remembered only three points. First, the Cardinal said that when Jesus made his apostles priests, he did not anymore called them his friends but brothers. Second, this coming June, a hundred years after the death of St. Jean Vianney, the Cure of Ars, the Cardinal said that Pope Benedict XVI will declare St. Vianney to be the patron not only of parish priests, not only of religious priests, but of all priests. All. And third, the Cardinal informed the congregation that there are four priests will renew their silver anniversary and another four (two?) their golden anniversary.
In the blessing of oils, the oils were carried by sacristans in large golden basins. I wonder if the ingredients for the oils were the same as those used by high priests in the Old Testament. But there are three types of oils blessed, as I understood from the accompanying song: (1) for anointing of the sick, (2) baptism, (3) and consecration of priests.
Two songs I clearly remembered played: “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach and “O Redemptor!” by Fr. Carlo Magno Marcelo. Maybe it was Fr. Marcelo himself who conducted or played the organ–those huge silvery pipes at the lofty choir loft above the cathedral’s entrance. I only heard about Fr. Marcelo from my sister-in-law who studied a few feeks several summers ago on liturgical music.
At the end of the mass, my sister and I stayed for a while. There was a picture taking for the relatives and friends of the jubilarian priests. We dd not join them. We just sat at a bench and watched the religious priests and nuns passing by. I saw the Missionaries of Charity with their white sari with blue outline. I can’t figure out the other sisters. My sister told me that group was St. Paul’s; that was Franciscans, etc. It is difficult to keep track. But as long as the nuns wear their habits, that is enough for me to know.
My sister, a La Salle Sister of Guadalupe (Hermanas Guadalupanas de la Salle), wears a cream habit and white veil. In formal occasions, she and her sisters wear black. In the Philippines, they are never seen outside their convents out of habit. They have formation houses in Bacolod City and Lipa City.