A visit to the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola at the Loyola House of Studies

Main entrance of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Main entrance of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola at the Loyola House of Studies

I went to the Loyola House of Studies this afternoon to meet with Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, SJ. It was difficult to catch him. I went to LHS a few days ago and the porter told me that Fr. Joe will be back this Friday. So I prepared my letter of request and decided to meet him at about 5 pm. I waited at the lobby and sat on one of the sofas.

The porter called. He is not around in his office.

“Paging Fr. Quilongquilong.”

After a while Fr. Quilongquilong came. Fr. Quilongquilong is the Rector of the Loyola House of Studies. He was ordained priest in 1993 and finished his Doctorate in Spirituality in the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He worked as regional secretary for Asia-Pacific at the Jesuit General Curia. For his dissertation, he wrote about the grace of vocation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola with Fr. Anton Witwer, S.J. as mentor. (Loyola School of Theology)

“Father, Dr. Sugon of the Latin Mass Society would like to meet you. Oh, there he is.”

So I stood up and went forward.

“Father, I am Dr. Quirino Sugon of the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.”

Fr. Quilongquilong signed me to sit down.

“Our priest is Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ.” I continued. “We would like to request the use of the Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola for a Traditional Latin Mass.”

“When would that be?” Fr. Quilongquilong asked.

“November 24, 6:30-8:00 p.m.”

“Do you have a letter?”

“Yes,” I said and I handed him my letter.

“Would you like to visit the oratory?” he asked.

“That would be great, Father.”

“How many are you in the mass?”

“About 20 to 30, Father.”

“The oratory is too big for you.”

“I think we can double the attendees.”

On the far end of the lobby is a spiral staircase. Beneath it is a white statue of our Lady. Behind the staircase is a glass wall with a view of a green field of grass with a statue of St. Ignatius looking at an empty pond. A corridor to the right leads to the Cardinal Sin Center where the LHS Theological Hour is usually held. In normal days the center functions as a cafeteria.

We went up the staircase. On the second floor is the Oratory. We genuflected upon passing by the altar.

Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola (North side) at the Loyola House of Studies

Oratory of St. Ignatius of Loyola (North side) at the Loyola House of Studies

It is an empty church, but unrivaled in architectural design. It is the most fitting for the Traditional Latin Mass. I think it can fit about 200 to 300 persons. There are still enough space at the overhanging second level. On the far side near the entrance is the choir loft–truly aloft. I can’t still make out of the Altar. It is dark. The sun is setting and light streamed through the stained glass windows. Then I recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers — here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne — have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

(New York Times)

We went farther to the main entrance. It’s the crossroads.

“That’s the refectory,” Fr. Quilongquilong said as he pointed towards the West. “People would be coming from there (the North wing) and pass by this corridor. I don’t want a religious activity going on while the community is having supper from 7:00-8:00 p.m.”

“Ok, Father. I understand.”

“I shall first check with the community.”

“Thank you, Father.” And I raised his fingers to my forehead for blessing. Then we parted.

When I arrived at my office at Manila Observatory, I received a text from Fr. Quilongquilong. He confirmed that there is no scheduled activity at the Oratory on the 24th of November. But he suggested that we move the time to 5:30-7:00 pm.

“If Latin Mass is earlier then I would like our Jesuit scholastics to attend it,” he said.

I replied that the schedule is ok with me, but I shall first confer with Fr. Tim and my group in ALMS.

God works in wondrous ways.

Please pray for the Philippine Jesuits and the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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