Tridentine Mass with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches

Last Sunday, my friend and her family were invited to a mass with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches, Quezon City.  She asked me to come along.  She told me that the mass is Tridentine, but the rite is Asperges–something new to the sisters themselves.  The priest who will celebrate is a young priest learning his ropes.  So I should not expect that everything will go smoothly.

The gate was opened by the sisters in gray habit and sky blue veils.   A gray cord is on their waste and sandals is on their feet.  There were also brothers wearing similar clothing, but instead of veils, they have hoods.  These are real monks in habits.  When they saw that we are bringing a car, a sister and a brother took the driver’s wheels and moved back their cars farther to the side of the church.  We went inside.  The gate closed.

We were seated at the back pews.  Her parents, her brother, and her sister were on the left side.  She and I were on the right side together with two sisters.  I counted about twenty-one sisters and three aspirants or novices–those with white habits.  There were two statues on the the altar: I think they were those of Mary and St. Francis (or St. Joseph)–I can’t be sure.  But I am sure that on the left side of the church is that of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

I was having difficulty following the mass.  A sister is helping my friend what chant page they are singing.  And she in turn showed it to me.  The chants are all in Latin in Gregorian chant notation, where the notes are drawn as little black squares instead of modern flagged circles.  I have a some background in chant reading.  I know that the C symbol locates the Do. I know that these notes are higher pitch, these are lower, these are prolonged.  I am not a singer, but I can play these notes in my guitar.  I chanted softly by listening to how the sisters chant.  After each chant, I had to look at another pamphlet for the missal. I am familiar with the Order of the Mass, so I try to guess what is happening on the altar. It was confusing. It is difficult to concentrate both on the mass and the chants.  Lots of things to learn.  I feel like a Kindergarten trying to solve algebra.  This is my first try, and its a difficult one.  I asked for a Tridentine Mass for Lent.  I got more than I asked for.

During communion, a kneeler was placed before the stairs of the altar.  The sisters lined up and they knelt one by one, as they received the Blessed Host.  My friend and I followed.

After the mass, my friend introduced me to the vocation directress.  She’s a woman in her early forties.  She told me that if I want to meet the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, they are coming on Thursday and Saturday.  She said that if I want to be a priest, the cut-off age is 33.  If my age is beyond that, I can only be a brother.  But these are in case-to-case basis.  I nodded.

The noon sun was shining through the trees.   It’s time for lunch.  We said goodbye.

19th Century Apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes

Bro. Francis Mary Kalvelage F. F. I., ed., You Will Make This Known to All My People: 19th Century Apparitions in France–Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes (Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Our Lady’s Chapel, New Bedford, MA USA, 1998), 182 pages.  Imprimatur by Most Rev. Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., Bishop of Fall River, Mass., USA, 8 Dec 1998, Feast of Immaculate Conception.  Preface by Fr. John Hardon S.J.

[Note: There is a new edition by Ignatius Press with an additional shrine of Pontmain (Our Lady of Hope).  The new edition is entitled, Marian Shrines of France.  This is available in the F.F.I. Immaculate Mediatrix Online bookstore. Price: $12.50.  (PROD ID: SMS-MSF007, 198 pp, perfect bound, illustrated.)]

This book is a a collection of essays on the three 19th century apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Sallete, Lourdes.  But why France?

In modern times, it seems, France has been more a prodigal daughter of the Church than her “Eldest Daughter.”  The history of Catholicism in France has been a glorious and turbulent one: at times France has been a great defender of the Church and at other times, her greatest adversary.

Christianity arrived there in the middle of the Second Century in the area around what is now the city of Lyons, at that time a part of the Roman province of Gaul.  Its first bishop, Hilary, was martyred but by the middle of the Third Century, there were over 30 bishoprics.  Much of this expansion was due no doubt to the first Saint to be canonized other than a martyr, namely the popular St. Martin of Tours.  When the Vandals and Franks overran the country, the brought with them the Arian heresy, which caused much confusion and falling away from the Faith.  Following the conversion and baptism of King Clovis in 496, the Franks were converted.  But it wasn’t until two centuries later that the Christianization of France was completed.  From that time on virtually every development and important event revolved around the Catholic Church–through the periods of the Carolingians, feudalism, the Middle Ages and monarchies right up to the Eighteenth Century and the French revolution.

It was that revolution and the bloody persecution of the Church that caused a devastating break between church and state and the introduction of the strictly secular state.  This break with the past Christian roots of France was symbolized and made visible in her national flag.  For centuries the French flag had the fleurs-de-lis on a blue field.  They every symbolized the Christian virtue of purity and the Immaculate Virgin in particular, thus uniting Mary and the Church with French patriotism.  The present tricolor was introduced at the time of the French revolution when religion was being exiled from public life.  But love and loyalty to the Church could never by taken away from the hearts of Frenchmen.  Our Lady saw to that.  (pp. 1-2 by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate)

The book does not only tell the story of the apparitions, but also provides character sketches of seers, the meaning of the message, the subsequent developments, and the testimonials on the miracles.  Like a diamond cut in a multitude of facets, this book is a gem.


by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Saints and Marian Shrines are gaining in popularity.  Thus, the series of Marian Saints and Shrines, of which this book is the third, is well-timed.  The present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has been criticized for the numerous men and women, clerical and lay, whom he has beatified and canonized in the last two decades, much more than any previous pontiff.  Recently, he announced that there will be many more beatifications and canonizations in celebrating the second millennium of Christianity.  All of this points to the fact that we are living in extraordinary times.  As the saying goes “where evil abounds, good abounds that much more.”  St. Louis de Montfort predicted in his great spiritual classic, True Devotion to Mary, “God will raise up great saints towards the end of time,” and these saints will be noted for their true devotion (total consecration) to the Blessed Mother.

In recent decades there has been a diminution of the cult of the saints.  One has to but look at the number of lives of the saints, books that have been written in the last thirty years, compared to the previous thirty years.  But one can say today that the trend is gradually changing.  The series of books on Marian Saints and Shrines published by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, is one indication to that fact.  Ignatius Press, possibly the largest Catholic book distributor in the country, has carried in their catalogues the first two books in this series.  The Guadalupe Handbook and St. Therese, Doctor of the Church.  They have found that there is a growing market for books of this type.

. . .

Thus again, the vital importance of showing Mary’s presence in our times, in particular through her apparitions and her admonitions at Lourdes, La Salette and other Church-approved apparitions.  It is a well-known fact, besides the physical cures at these shrines, there are countless spiritual lepers, or sinners, who have been cleansed and reconciled to God.  So I welcome this latest and third in the series of Marian Saints and Shrines.  May it increase the number of those who are sincerely striving to become Saints.  As Mother Theresa used to say to priests, even at this time of shortage of vocations, “We do not need more priests but holy priests.”  That can apply to all of us.  For the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ is built up by “little people,” the saints, and will triumph ultimately united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


Part I.  From a Historical Perspective

  1. The Eldest Daughter of the Church is Marian
  2. Mary, Mother of the Church
  3. The Ballad and the Message

Part II.  Rue du Bac, Paris 1830–Mary’s First Message to the Modern World

  1. Revelation of the Medal called Miraculous
  2. The Triple Mission
  3. Rich Symbolism of the Miraculous
  4. The Conquest of a Rabid Anti-Catholic
  5. The “Bullets” Hit the Mark
  6. The Saint of Silence

Part III.  La Sallete, 1846, The Madonna in Tears Appears as the Reconciler of Sinners

  1. A Mother Weeps for Her Children
  2. How She Touched the Most Hardened Sinners
  3. He Skied Into Mary’s Arms
  4. “. . . The Seventh I Kept for Myself”
  5. A Cautious “Mother” Investigates
  6. Why Believe in Private Revelations
  7. Faithful to Their Mission
  8. What about the Secret?
  9. The Lady Gives a Lesson in Theology
  10. The Ars Incident

Part IV.   Lourdes, 1858, The Immaculate Virgin of the Grotto and Her Sainted Seer

  1. The Lady of the Grotto
  2. The Brave Little Heroine
  3. Lady Poverty Finds a Home
  4. School of Evangelical Penance
  5. The Penetrating Sweetness of that Smile
  6. Pope Pius XII Remembers Lourdes
  7. A Most Astounding Miracle
  8. “I Met a Miracle”
  9. Where the Miraculous Confronts the Science-Skeptics
  10. Interview of Doctor from the International Medical Committee
  11. Human Interest Side of Medical Bureau
  12. Two Novelists Went to Lourdes
  13. The Real Bernadette
  14. He Wrote About Lourdes and the Immaculate Conception
  15. The Two Things Go Together
  16. Guardian and Teacher of the Faith
  17. She Pushed Back the Germans
  18. Bernadette Speaks from the Heart

Ordering Information:

The following information is from the book’s last page (This was still in 1998; the website address is still valid):

Special bulk rates are available with 10% to 60% discount depending on the number of books, plus postage.  For ordering books and further information:

Academy of the Immaculate, POB 667, Valatie NY 12184, phone/FAX (518) 758-1584.  E-mail

Quotations on bulk rates shipped directly by the box from the printery, contact:

Friars of the Immaculate, P.O. Box 3003, New Bedford, MA 02740, (508) 984-1856, FAX (508) 996-8296, E-mail,

The FFI website is Immaculate Mediatrix Online (same address as above).  The book may be purchased in their bookstore here.

Here is a tabular list of bookstores for the book “Marian Shrines of France”:

Company Price Type In Stock Delivery
Immaculate Mediatrix Online
$12.50 softcover Yes
The Catholic Company $12.50 softcover Yes 1-2 business days
Family Publications
£ 9.95 (UK) paperback Yes
All Catholic Books
$12.50($9.70) softcover(paperback) Yes
EWTN Religious Catalogue
$13.00 softcover Yes
Freedom Publishing
AUD 25.95 paperback Yes 1-2 business days
£ 24.23 to £ 86.20 Used and new books Yes
Leaflet Missal
$13.95 Softcover Yes
The Abbey Shop
£ 9.95 paperback Yes

Updated: 10 Feb 2009

Samurai X: Shogo Amakusa the Anti-Christ

In 1542, the first Christian missionaries arrived from Portugal in Japan.  The only religious orders that were allowed were the Jesuits, primarily because of the esteem by the Japanese barons (daimyos)  for St. Francis Xavier, who reached Japan in 1549.  When the Franciscans came, 26 of them were executed in 1597 (Japan Guide).  From 1603 to 1867, the Edo Era under the Tokugawa dynasty, the Christians were persecuted.  One of these is our first Filipino saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who died in 1637 by hanging in the pit (after his water-filled belly was rolled by a barrel and his fingernails were replaced with needles).  His last words were: “Even if I have a thousand lives, I will give them all to God.”  Because of failing economy due to protectionism, the Edo Era ended.  In the succeeding Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), a constitutional government was made with the emperor as the head.  One of the reforms in this restoration is the freedom of religion.  At last, Christianity can once again be practiced without fear of persecution.

The Samurai X anime series is situated at the end of the Tokugawa Era and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.  Kenshin Himura, the Battousai or the Slasher, was once an assassin for hire.  He mastered the sword style called Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu (Flying Heaven Honorable Sword Style) taught by his teacher,  Seijuro.  This technique is only handed down from one teacher to one student only, and the final test is for the student to defeat the master using the technique called Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki.  One student who failed in this test is Hyoue.   He nearly died.  But he lived and taught it to a child prodigy named Shogo Amakusa.

Shogo is a Christian and he saw how his parents died in Shimabara during the Tokugawa persecution.  And as he sailed away to escape, looking at the rows of crucified men along the cliff, he vowed to return and defend Christianity.  On his return to Shimabara at the age of 24, he styled  himself as the “Son of God”, and coincided his coming with the eclipse of the sun.  As his boat passed through the waters to Shimabara, the waters burst into flames, forming not the sign of the cross † but the sign of a C and its reflection connected by a horizontal bar: ⊃-⊂.

Shogo and his followers have ceased to be Christians, but their practices have vestiges of Christianity.  In the cave they prayed something similar to the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who love God; He will lead them to God’s country.”  This is similar to “Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth.”  They have a Mary figure, Shogo’s sister, the Lady Magdalia, the ever-virgin.  They also have a church—probably underground—with a single circular stained glass window.  The altar is attached to the wall with six candlesticks burning—perfect setting for the traditional latin mass.  But they have no priests.  This is the law of entropy and devolution: “Leave a village without a priest for fifty years and the people shall worship rocks and trees” (said by the Cure d’Ars, if I am not mistaken).  This is what happenned to the Israelites when Moses went to Mt. Sinai to get the Ten Commandments: they made a golden calf and worshiped it as their god and savior.  And this is what happened to villagers of Shimabara:  they worshiped Shogo as god.  (See the trailer here.  Note the Christian elements.)

Shogo is an Anti-Christ.  Shogo aims to establish a kingdom on earth; Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom does not belong in this world.  Shogo blinds a man using his Rai-Ryu Sen;  Jesus cures a man born blind.  Shogo displays his divinity by his unbelievable swordsmanship; Jesus told Peter to put his sword back.  And as a twist of fate, it was the Pagan Kenshin Himura who acted more Christ-like: he read Shogo’s heart and he refused to use his ultimate sword technique of Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki to defend himself against Shogo, in order that by this deed Shogo will realize that “a sword is not for killing but for protecting people”—Kenshin’s motto (c.f. “to protect what is valuable” as Yeon Soha said in the Shadowless Sword).  In his dismay and anger, Shogo punished Kenshin with “a punishment much worse than death: eternal darkness!”  And the blinded Kenshin fell from the cliff into the sea.  (See the battle between Kenshin and Shogo in here.)

Fr. Horacio de la Costa, S.J.: The Priests Who Brought Christianity to the Philippines Belonged to the Church of the Counter-Reformation

The lowland peoples of the Philippines were converted to Roman Catholic Christianity by priests and brothers of the missionary religious orders which had establishments in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  They were, in the order of their first arrival in the islands, the Augustinians (1565), the Franciscans (1578), the Jesuits (1581), the Dominicans (1587), and the Augustinian Recollects (1606).

Very few secular priests came to the Philippines during the period of Spanish rule.  Those that did serve mostly as cathedral clergy in Manila and Cebu.

In the beginning, the Philippine missonaries were almost all Spaniards born in Spain itself (peninsulares).  In the course o the Seventeenth Century they were joined by Spaniard[s] born in the colonies (criollos), andlater still by other Europeans, mostly from the Hapsburg dominions.  However, penisular Spaniards constituted the preponderant majority of the Philippine clergy until the very end of Spanish rule.

Thus, the priest who brought Christianity to the Philippines were men who belonged, spiritually, to the church of the Counter-Reformation, intellectually, to the Age of the Baroque.

They were men of the Counter-Reformation Church, the Church that was closing ranks against the novatores, the innovating Protestants of the northern European countries who were challenging the traditional beliefs of Catholics.  They were deeply concerned about preserving the ”purity of faith,” by which they meant scripture and tradition as interpreted by medieval scholastics, of whom Saint Thomas Aquinas was prince; the faith as most recently defined by the Council of Trent, and as authoritatively regulated and enforced by the Holy See and the Spanish Inquisition. This was the faith that they meant to preserve intact, and to transmit to those who did not yet have it.

This faith was not only the truth, but the whole truth regarding man’s condition and his ordination to God his Creator.  All men are to be persuaded to accept this truth in its totality.  If they cannot be persuaded, they they must be compelled—the ”compelle intrare” of the gospel—for otherwise they cannot be saved.  Extra ecclesiam nulla salus—there is no salvation outside the church.

This may serve to explain the extreme caution—one might almost say the intransigence—with which the Spanish missionaries who founded our Philippine Christinaity regarded any departure from the religous practices they were used to.  Nil innoventur nisi quod traditum est—let there be no innovations, except those handed down by tradition.  We may consider this an impracticable, even an inconsisten principle.  We must nevertheless try to understand, and to symphatize with it as a principle sincerely held.

The adaptation of Christianity to anon-European culture was not antecedently and entirely excluded.  But it was a very limited form of adaptation, whose object seemed to be simply to make Christian belief and practice more palatable to the people being evangelized.  There was no real attempt to learn from the alien culture; to seek elements in it which might possibly enrich Christian belief or make Christian worship more meaningful.  This was not possible to men of the Counter-Reformation.  How could it be?  Their reaction to the Protestant revolt was to defend the Roman Catholic tradition in its entirety; to preserve it intact and to transmit it intact, because it was the whole truth about man and God.  Any departure from it by a Christian was simply heresy, and whatever pagans believed in was simply error, the vain imaginings of people who ”sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”


Horacio de la Costa, “The priest in the Philippine life and society: an historical view,” in Church and Sacraments, ed. by Ma. Victoria B. Parco, (Department of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University), pp.  192-200.  The posted excerpt is pp. 192-193.  The original article is from Loyola Papers no. 12 (Manila: Ateneo, CBI, 1980), pp. 4-15.

About the Author:

Reverend Father Horacio de la Costa, S.J. (1916-1970) was the first Filipino Provincial General of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines, and a recognized authority in Philippine and Asian culture and history. (Wikipedia)

The Ateneo de Manila Website has his picture, early writings, and biography).

Book Review: Handbook on Guadalupe

I. My New Age Background
II. My Encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Somewhere I have never travelled” by e. e. cummings.

I read the Handbook on Guadalupe.

I learned that the picture of Our Lady is actually a message in the form of picture-writing, an Aztec hieroglyphics.  And the message says that Our Lady is not god but a human being for she looks down and not straight towards us.  Yet she is greater than the sun god for she blots him out; the moon goddess, for she stands over her.  She is an empress because she wears a Turquoise (blue green) mantle.  She promises paradise for her mantle is adorned with flowers and song.    She is pregnant because her sash is tied high above her waist.  The God she serves is marked by the sign of the cross on her brooch.  Her messenger is at her feet, the Eagle Who Speaks, Juan Diego’s Aztec name.  And she is kissing him for she touches him with the edge.

The stars on Our Lady’s mantle form the constellations present in Mexico City just before sunrise on 12 December 1531, but the constellations are seen from the outside of the dome of the heavens (God’s point of view).  The missing stars can then be deduced: the Corona on her forehead, the Virgo on her heart, the Leo on her belly.  This answers the riddle of the sphinx: the lion with a woman’s head.  Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son” (Mt 1:23).  And the child’s name is  Jesus, of the House of David, of the tribe of Judah (c.f. Lk 1:31-33):

Judah, like a lion’s whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts—who would dare rouse him? The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage. (Gen 49:9-10)

How the picture of Our Lady was imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma (a standard Aztec clothing consisting of a long rectangular cloth with a slit in the middle for the head) was recounted in Nican Mopohua.  To Juan Diego, she spoke the following words:

Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you. Do not let your uncle’s illness worry you, because he will not die now. You may be certain that he is already well.

How can anyone not be moved?

IV. Biblical Iconography of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith

My Encounter With Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Somewhere I have never travelled” by e. e. cummings

Previous: I.  My New Age Background

But I saw no book by Lobsang Rampa, Sitchin, Licauco, or Casteneda.  I saw something else: a picture of a lovely lady on a book’s front cover.  I did not hear angels telling me, “Tolle lege,” or “Take and read,” as what happened to St. Augustine; but I took the book anyway.  The book is entitled, “A Handbook on Guadalupe” by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (1997).

At first glance, I instinctively know that the picture of the Lady could not be a painting.  I am a pastel painter but not a professional.  I do not use brush.  I use crayon pastels like crayons, but I mix them using baby oil and cotton.  I see blue shadows cast by the yellow sun.  I see green and yellow in the human skin.  I intersect parallel lines at vanishing points.  I scale pictures using boxes and triangles.  I sense symmetry.  I see beauty.  Yet a true artist I am not, for  I do not know human anatomy.  I do not know the names of the muscles and how they are attached to the bones.  I do not know the golden ratios that describe the human form.  I am only a copyist and in this I am content.  But if I see a masterpiece, I know it truly is.

The picture is not a painting.  How can anyone draw such loveliness that even the words of e. e. cummings fail:

    somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near
    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose
    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;
    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing
    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens; only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Call it love at first sight.  I bought the book.

III. Book Review: Handbook on Guadalupe
IV. Biblical Iconography of Our Lady of Guadalupe
V. Rediscovery of My Catholic Faith