Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Secularization of Ateneo de Manila University

Last week, I was able to attend a novena mass for the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Church of the Gesu at Ateneo de Manila University. The priest celebrating the mass is Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. He is an old priest and a confessor to the late Pres. Corazon Aquino. A friend told me that when Cory died, Fr. Arevalo’s homilies for several days was about Cory Aquino.

Fr. Arevalo is a familiar face to me. He was also the one who celebrated a novena mass last year for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think this devotion is very dear to him and I think he will spend the last of his days propagating this devotion.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is distinctively Jesuit devotion, because the confessor of the St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) is the Fr. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., who made a consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and directed her to write an account of the apparition of our Lord to her. On May 15, 2006, also Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Haurietis Aquas, about the Sacred Heart, by Pope Pius XII. In his letter to Father Kolvenbach, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Wikipedia).  And the pope blessed the Jesuits:

“As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion.”

In his homily, Fr. Arevalo spoke some length about this letter by the Holy Father to the Jesuit Superior General.  Then Fr. Arevalo mentioned that there are some teachers in Ateneo de Manila University who taught that the Vatican II already removed these devotions.  This is not true, Fr. Arevalo said.  Vatican II only wishes to extend the work of salvation to the social order, but this does not mean we abolish the individual devotions.

Fr. Arevalo planned to lead the consecration to the Sacred Heart in the middle of the mass.  But when he found that the pamphlets were not given out, he decided to make the consecration at the end of the mass.  And Fr. Arevalo spoke against the growing secularization of the Ateneo de Manila University, which he said cannot anymore efficiently organize a novena to the Sacred Heart.

I think there were about thirty people who attended the 6 p.m. novena mass that day.  I was not able to attend the novena mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart because our departmental meeting stretched from 4:30-7:00 p.m.  Fr. Arevalo should have been the presiding priest that day.

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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