Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ recounts his experiences on the Traditional Latin Mass

This afternoon I visited Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ at the Jesuit Infirmary in Ateneo de Manila University. It has been more than a month or two since I visited him. I usually give him updates about the Manila Observatory. At 86, he cannot anymore walk. He needs a nurse to drive his wheelchair.

“Hi, Father.” I said as I entered his room.

“Hi, Pope,” he said as he signaled to the nurse to bring me a chair. “I learned about your Latin Mass Society.”

“Yes, Father.” I said. “Fr. Tim Ofrasio is our priest. He is a professor of Liturgy so he knows the old and new rites well.”

“Where do you get your vestments?” asked Fr. Badillo.

“Our sacristan trainor is Bro. Dave of the Liturgical Commission of Cubao. He is still designing our vestments.”

“So do you know the Confiteor, the prayers at the foot of the altar?”

“A little bit, Father. I still have to memorize it.”

And he prayed the Confiteor and I followed him. I know this prayer because I always use my Baronius 1962 missal even when I attend Novus Ordo masses.

“Do you know how to sing?” he asked. And he began to intone the Kyrie, the Sanctus, the Gloria, and the Pater Noster. I joined him in the singing. He is singing the songs in Missa de Angelis which we always use in our Latin masses. I joined the choir before when they practiced these songs. We bought our chant book from Our Lady of Victories, an SSPX church in Cubao, which has excellent resources on the Traditional Latin Mass. (May they be finally reconciled with the Catholic Church soon.)

“When I was young, I was also a sacristan,” said Fr. Badillo. “Whenever there are masses outside the school, we Ateneans always volunteer to serve in the masses, because there are very few who knows how to serve. We have this group called “Sanctuario”. We take turns in serving masses for a priest. We woke up at 4 am, because the priest says mass during that time.”

“Four o’clock in the morning?” I asked.

“Yes, 4 o’clock,” said Fr. Badillo. “Before we were that hard when it comes to serving masses. Now people are becoming soft, lax.”

“In the seminary, we learned about the mass. We were trained in Latin. But when we graduated, we were ordained in Vatican II.”

“So your training was to no avail, Father?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said.

And our conversation drifted to other things: about the ionosphere and magnetosphere project, about NASA and Dr. Lagrosas trip to Palawan, about our friend Genie Lorenzo who is back from a vacation in US, about Dr. Kendra Gotangco Castillo–our Valedictorian and Summa cum Laude–who is back from Purdue University and who now heads Klima Climate Change Center, and about the International Space Weather Conference in Nigeria which I am attending this October.

“Many things are now happening in Manila Observatory, Father.”

“It started when you came,” Fr. Badillo said.

And we both laughed. The first time I went to the Manila Observatory was in 2008. Fr. Daniel McNamara, SJ asked me to stay in the Ionosphere Building, the building of Fr. Badillo, to write my dissertation. I lived a monastic life. But Fr. Badillo was not there when I came: he suffered several surgeries years before. The building was still dark and dusty then. Now, it is fully renovated and repainted. But I am still using his desk and his swivel chair.

Before I left, I took his hand to my forehead.

“Father, your skin is now soft unlike before.”

“Soft as woman’s skin.”

And we laughed again.

“How did that happen, Father?”

“Healthy diet. Just health diet.”

Finally, I said goodbye to Fr. Badillo. And he gave me his blessing.

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