Sta. Maria de la Strada Parish Church in Katipunan, Quezon City: the Hidden Tabernacle

My friend and I usually visit the Sta. Maria de la Strada Parish Church along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. It is only a 5 minute tricycle ride from Ateneo de Manila University. We usually go to de la Strada if we can’t make it to mass at the college chapel, especially if there are solemnities and feasts. We went to mass there once and we witnessed a solemn Benediction during a First Friday before the Feast of Corpus Christi.

The Parish Church is designed like a giant nipa hut, supported by strong corner columns. Instead of walls are grills, allowing a good view of the greenery outside, while letting the fresh air to rush in and rise upwards to the four large exhaust fans at the pinnacle. The wooden panels are of dark wood, except those of the sacristy which are light cream, in order to emphasize the stylized Crucified Christ on center wall. Beneath the crucifix is the altar supported supported by columns sculpted like sheaves of wheat. In front of the altar are the chairs for the priests–a rare arrangement which puzzles my mind.

But there is something missing: the tabernacle. When we first went inside the church, I cannot see the tabernacle. This can be awkward when you try to dip your hands on the holy water and kneel in the direction of the tabernacle that you cannot see. The words of Pius XII came to my mind:

A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “Where have they taken him? (thanks to Athanasius Contra Mundum for the quote)

After the mass, I asked one of the ladies in blue–probably a member of the Catholic Women’s League–where the tabernacle is. And she pointed us to the back of the church. We went there and found the most amazing sight: a small adoration chapel that feels like we are in the Spanish era, with the large chandeliers and antique-like wooden benches. The tabernacle is there, plain as a tombstone, but of gold, with a white circle painted outside to denote the host. A lamp is burning. At the side of the chapel is a life-size statue of Mary carrying the Christ Child. This is heaven on earth. The words of Jacob in Bethel came to my mind:

How awesome is this shrine! This is nothing else but an abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven! (Gen 28:17)

We knelt down and prayed.