Conversations with Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J.: Traditional Latin Mass, Religious Life, and Sodality of Our Lady

I.  Traditional Latin Mass

Yesterday, we had a supper with Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J. ; he left for Davao City today.  With me are Genie and Dr. Celine Vicente from the Observatory.  There are three others more from the Companions on a Journey, a group who organizes retreats at the Ateneo.  Beside me is Fr. Dan.

“Father”, I said.  “Fr. Tim Ofrasio is having a check up this week for his allergies.  He asked me to contact him again next week, so that we can schedule a general assembly for the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.  We already have 24 members.”

“There are also other Jesuits getting sick.”  He mentioned two names.  They are not familiar to me.

“A general assembly?” Gwen asked.  “Why don’t you meet as a core group first?”

“A general assembly,” I said and nodded my head.  Many already sent me their schedules; I just need to find a common time when I get Fr. Tim’s schedule.

“You may find it hard to find a chapel that is suited for the Latin Mass,” Fr. Dan said.

I told him that MO chapel is fine, because the altar is movable to the wall.  There is an large old altar at the back of the chapel.  We can use that.

He agreed.

II.  Religious Life

Fr. Dan and Anna’s order came.  Fr. Dan has his favorite plate-size pancake and green mango shake.  They started to eat.

“So how is your friend in Cebu,” Fr. Dan asked me.

“Her mom texted me that she was able to call her at the convent.  She said Roxanne was happy and well there.”

“I am surprised he mom was permitted to call.”  Fr. Dan said.  “Normally they don’t allow communications for two years.”

“I am also more surprised that her mom sounds supportive of her.  Her mom was not really happy even the night before Roxanne entered.”

“That is really what mothers do when they see that their children are firm in their decision to enter.”

Our orders arrived.  Mine is pork tocino, rice, and egg fried sunny-side up.  I sliced the liquid yolk and mixed it with my rice.  This is the only thing I ordered whenever we come to this same restaurant for dinner with Fr. Dan.

“The Jesuits will now change the vocation promotions directors in schools  from Jesuit brothers to priests,”  Fr. Dan said.  “It is realized that a priest is a better judge of vocations.  He can also hear students’ confessions, which a Jesuit brother cannot do.”

“We also need priests in organizations, Father,” Gwen said.  “The ACIL (Ateneo Catechetical Instruction League) is still looking for a Jesuit priest moderator.  They were given a Korean and an Indian.  But they have language difficulties.”

III.  Sodality of Our Lady

Ma’m Celine’s and Gwen’s orders arrived.  I already finished my food.  And so is Fr. Dan and Anna.  Geniee is still eating her pancakes poured with honey.

Raqs arrived.  She is a member of the Companions.

Genie (or was it Gwen still) said: “The students in Ateneo do not anymore join the socially oriented orgs.  (Religious orgs are classified as socially oriented orgs in Ateneo).  They prefer to go to parties.  That is why many go to business and management orgs.”

I turned to Fr. Dan.  “Father,” I said.  “Maybe it is time to revive the Sodality of Our Lady.”

I saw a quizzical look on their faces.  So I said to them: “The Sodality used to be the largest organization in Ateneo.  You can never be a President of the Student Council if you are not a member of the Sodality of Our Lady.”

“That’s the Christian Life Community,” Raqs said.

But I told her that the Sodality and the CLC have different spiritualities: the CLC is more socially oriented; the Sodality has a stronger Marian character.

“Yes, that’s true,” Fr. Dan said.

Raqs said that she joined the CLC.  She is now an observer.  There are three levels: observer, then two more.  She was glad that I mentioned the Sodality.  She will ask about it.

When I finally get the Ateneo Latin Mass Society going smoothly, I shall work for the revival of the Sodality of Our Lady in Ateneo de Manila University.  As Fr. Z always say: “Brick by brick.”

Letter to the Ateneo Latin Mass Society (ALMS): We have a stable group

29 December 2009
Feast of St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Ateneo Latin Mass Society Members,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Lord is gracious. We now have a stable group for the Traditional Latin Mass in Ateneo de Manila University.

In this letter, I would like to share with you two things: (1) a short history of our group and (2) what lies ahead for us at the start of year 2010.


17 Dec 2008. Mr. Rene Raneses Jr. of the Political Science Department launched the Ateneo Latin Mass Society (ALMS) blog, . He made two posts. The first is a call to join the ALMS. The second is a series of statements under the following headings: Who we are, why do we exist, what is the basis of our existence, what are our goals, does one need to learn Latin in order to assist in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass? There was not much response.

27 Jul 2009. My friend and I went to a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at the Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy (PLDM) in Sikatuna, Quezon City. The presiding priest is Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo. In his homily, he announced that on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, 31 July 2009, Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J. shall celebrate a TLM at PLDM at 8:30 a.m.

31 Jul 2009. The Feast of St. Ignatius. After the mass, I was able to meet Fr. Tim Ofrasio, S.J. I e-mailed him after and asked for a copy of his homily.

3 Aug 2009. Fr. Tim sent me his homily and I published it in my Monk’s Hobbit blog,

28 Aug 2009. The Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo. In my blog I made a call to form the TLM stable group in Ateneo de Manila University. There was still not much response.

4 Nov 2009. The Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. I was asked by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate to ask Fr. Tim if he wants to say a TLM in their convent in Novaliches. During our conversation in Loyola House of Studies lobby, Fr. Tim asked me if I have formed the stable group for the TLM. I told him I have about seven (7) who are interested to hear the Latin mass. I asked him if I can use his name in the Blueboard invitation for the TLM. He gave me his permission. But there was a problem with my Ateneo e-mail account. I was not able to make the announcement.

19 Nov 2009. I submitted a design proposal for the short-term renovation of the Manila Observatory Chapel to Mrs. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, the Director of the Manila Observatory. She asked me to lead the renovation committee a few months before. This chapel is 9.3 m x 4.8 m, which can accommodate only about 30-35 people. The design simply transfers the Tabernacle at the center on top of a platform where candlesticks may also be placed on the sides. The altar is movable so that it can be free standing for the New Mass or pushed to the wall for the TLM. The committee’s problem is to determine the costs—labor, varnish, pews, etc. Mrs. Loyzaga would still look for the money for the renovation. But she already gave me her permission to use the chapel for TLM.

23 Nov 2009. The Ateneo Latin Mass Society Yahoo group was launched: . There were seven members in the group, mostly Ateneo students who are recruits of Enrico Villacorta (IV BS Physics). The group was not able to meet.

15 Dec 2009. My Ateneo e-mail account was finally fixed. I sent an invitation to form the TLM stable group in the Ateneo Blueboard.

29 Dec 2009. The Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury. Our Yahoo group now has 19 members, with about 13 from the Ateneo. Four (4) members of the choir of the Parish of Our Lord of Divine Mercy (PLDM) are with us and they are students from UST and UP. Some of our members may not be able to join our meetings or our masses, yet they support us in many ways. So even if we come from different schools, even if we come from different countries, we all share one thing in common: we want to restore the Traditional Latin Mass in Ateneo de Manila University.

There are others who are not officially members of our group, but are interested to join us during a TLM at the Ateneo. I think we can reach 30 for each mass, or even more. Let us spread the word.


A. Long-Term Goals

We need to organize ourselves and create an institution that shall outlive us. We need to create a Constitution that shall define our Mission and Vision, our Organizational Structure, and our Laws and Regulations. We need to make a clear and transparent accounting system, because we will soon be handling money from mass collections and donations. We need to provide a continuous training program for the choir and altar servers who shall set the standard for solemn pontifical masses in the Philippines. We need to have a Center for Latin Language Studies. We need to have a stable group of Jesuit priests who can celebrate solemn pontifical masses. We need to increase the number of our members from our tiny group of nineteen (19) to the whole population of the Ateneo de Manila University.

We need to extend our vision farther. We need to establish ALMS chapters in all Ateneo schools in the country and help other schools establish their own Latin Mass Societies. The more universal is our mission, the more we give greater glory to God.

B. Short-Term Goals

We need to meet as a group and divide ourselves into committees: choir, altar servers, publications, and finance. Please email me your free times for the second week of classes (11-16 January 2010); the deadline for submission is 6 January 2010. In this way, I would have sufficient time to reserve a venue for us at the Ateneo de Manila University. Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J. will be back at the Loyola House of Studies on 3 January 2009. I shall also ask his free time, so that I can formally present you to him as the Ateneo Latin Mass Society.

Agenda for the Meeting:

1.Introduction of Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J.
2.Introduction of each member of the Ateneo Latin Mass Society
3.Target date for the first TLM in Ateneo de Manila University
4.Break-up into committees

These are the tasks of the committees:

1. Determine the capabilities of each member
2. Choose a music director, vice- music director, and secretary
3. Decide on the Gregorian chant pieces for the mass
4. Decide on the days and times of practice
5. Determine the availability of an organ for the practice and for the mass

Altar Servers

1. Determine the capabilities of each member
2. Choose a head sacristan, vice- head sacristan, and secretary
3. Choose a manual for altar servers and determine its purchase or reproduction cost
4. Decide on the days and times of practice
5. Determine the complete set of vestments for each sacristan and the cost to purchase each set.


1. Determine the capabilities of each member
2. Choose a head writer, assistant. head writer, and secretary
3. Choose a photographer and blog manager
4. Decide if Mr. Rene Raneses Jr.’s blog,, will remain as his personal blog or will be adopted as the ALMS official blog/website.
5. Decide on a blog/website layout.
6. Determine the purchase/reproduction cost of 50 missalettes that contain the unchanging parts of the mass.


1. Determine the capabilities of each member
2. Choose a treasurer, accountant/bookkeeper, and secretary
3. Decide on a bank where the Ateneo Latin Mass Society can open its bank account
4. Determine the signatories required for withdrawing money from the bank account
5. Describe protocols for counting the mass collections and depositing them in the bank account.
6. Describe protocols for fund or refund requests from choir, altar servers, and publications committees
7. Determine how the Acknowledgment Receipt (for mass collections and donations) and Payment Receipt (for priests) will be made with Ateneo Latin Mass Society’s name.

Please choose a committee that you want to be part of and prepare for the meeting. Our meetings would accomplish much in a short time if we have our notes and materials on hand. I would like also to ask the committee secretaries to send me the minutes of their meetings within a week after our general assembly, so that I can write a summary of our proceedings.


May the holy Lord, almighty Father, and eternal God vouchsafe to send His holy Angel from heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit, and defend the Ateneo Latin Mass Society. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Mary for you! For your white and blue!
We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, constantly true!
We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, faithful to you!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

St. Thomas a Becket, pray for us.

In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Dr. Quirino M. Sugon Jr.
Ateneo Latin Mass Society

Blueboard: Traditional Latin Mass at the Ateneo: an Invitation to Form a Stable Group

Dominus Vobiscum!

If you say “Et cum spiritu tuo,” then you know the Traditional Latin Mass.

The Traditional Latin Mass was codified during the Council of Trent  (1545-1563) and became the mass of the Latin Rite Catholics all over  the world for five centuries. Even the Church Fathers during the  Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) celebrated the Traditional Latin  Mass.  In 1969 Pope Paul VI replaced the Traditional Latin Mass with  the New Mass, which is the same mass that we know today at the Ateneo  de Manila University.  But because of the continued request of many  bishops, priests, and faithful around the world, Pope Benedict XVI, through his encyclical Summorum Pontificum of 2007,  liberalized the  use of the Traditional Latin Mass.  He calls it the extraordinary form  of the Roman Rite and Pope Paul VI’s New Mass as the ordinary form.   Pope Benedict XVI decreed that a Traditional Latin Mass may be celebrated in any parish if there is a stable group of faithful who  requests it and if there is a priest who is willing to say it.

In Ateneo de Manila University, there is one priest who knows how to  celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.  His name is Fr. Timoteo  Ofrasio, S.J., a professor of Liturgy at the Loyola House of Studies.   In his private chapel he celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass  everyday.  He is willing to celebrate it regularly in public if there  is a stable group who requests it.  If you wish to be part of this  stable group, please email Dr. Quirino M. Sugon Jr. at or  In your email please  state if you know how to serve at mass or sing in Gregorian chant.

As Ateneo de Manila University celebrates its 150th founding  anniversary, it is worthwhile to look back and recover Ateneo’s lost  Latin heritage.  Let us restore the ancient mass that molded many  generations of Ateneans from Jose Rizal to Ninoy Aquino, the ancient  mass that strengthened many Jesuit missionaries in the Philippines and  other countries, the ancient mass that St. Ignatius himself lived.   Let us restore the Traditional Latin Mass.

Deo gratias.

Monk’s Hobbit Notes: I sent this email to the Ateneo de Manila University’s Blueboard last Tuesday afternoon, 15 December 2009.  The Blueboard is the mailing list for Ateneo’s administrators, faculty, and staff.  So far seven (8) has shown interest.  I invited them to the Ateneo Latin Mass Society Yahoo group:  I shall post their email responses in the comment section.  I shall remove their surnames but retain their affiliations.  Since there are five original (5) students in the group, then the stable group is now 14 (including me).

Update 12/18/2009: The invitation to the TLM at the Ateneo was featured in the Ateneo de Manila website: Traditional Latin Mass still celebrated at Ateneo.

Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J. to celebrate a Traditional Latin Mass at the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches

(Update 06 Nov 2009: This mass was postponed because Fr. Tim is sick.)


This afternoon I went to the Loyola House of Studies to visit Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J.  It is a few minutes walk from the Manila Observatory.  You know it is the Loyola House of Studies when you see a dead end. I climbed a few steps and went to the porter.

“Is Fr. Tim Ofrasio around?” I asked.

“Do you have an appointment?”  asked the porter.

“No,” said I.  “But Fr. Tim told me that I can visit him any day 3 p.m. down.”

“What is your name?”

“Quirino Sugon”

She called Fr. Tim and she asked me to sit down.  I sat on one of the lounge sofas.  The lobby is spacious.  In the wall facing me is a large bronze plaque with names of Loyola House of Studies donors.  On my left is an underground corridor and a little pool with a statue of St. Ignatius in his pilgrim clothes and staff.  Maybe he is looking for fishes, but like Peter he found none.  On my right is the porter and outside near the entrance is the store of the Jesuit Music Ministry.  The store sells cds, books, and music sheets.


I was still scribbling on the points I would like to say when I saw Fr. Tim walking towards me.  He wore a brown barong.  I stood to meet him.  We shook hands.

“The (Franciscan) sisters asked me to say a mass in their convent this First Friday?” he said.  “They will fetch me.”

“Do you know what kind of vestment they use?  Is it curve-shaped like mine or straight?” he asked.

“I think it is straight, Father.” I replied.  “They make their own vestments.”

I saw a golden chasuble in the convent last October when Sr. Magdalene toured me around.  Exquisite needlework.  Sr. Magdalene said that a set of vestments must be ordered together with other altar cloths.  And there are different vestment colors for each season.  I think she told me its about PhP 5,000 per set, but I may be mistaken.

“Do you know if the gospel is sung or not?” he asked.  “In Missa Cantata, it is the deacon who sings the gospel.”

“I think that the Gospel is in English, Father.”  I am not anymore sure about this.  I was busy looking at the missal and the chants the whole time that I hardly see the altar anymore.

“That is well.  I do not anymore have to practice how to sing the Gospel in Latin.”

“The sisters will fetch me at about 5:30 p.m.  Can you come?” he asked.

“If it is okay with you, Father.”  I replied.

“You may call the sisters.  But they may ask you to accompany me instead to Novaliches.”

This is what was originally planned last week.

“I also do not have a car, Father.” I said.  “We shall commute in that case.”

“It is better that they come here,” he said.  “I still have to bring my own liturgical vestments.”


“Have you formed a group for the Latin mass?” he asked.

“So far, I have seven.” I said.  “Can I use your name for announcement in Blue Board and in Campus Ministry, Father?”

“What is Blue Board?”

“Blue Board is the email subscription of the faculty and staff of Ateneo de Manila University.”

“Okay, you may use my name.”

“Do you know the email address of Fr. Jojo Zerrudo?  Some people are asking me.”

“No, Father.  But Fr. Jojo has a facebook account.”  Fr. Jojo has added me as one of his friends in Facebook.  I think I can find his email address there.


“How is the Manila Observatory’s chapel?” he asked.

I showed to him a little sketch.  The Tabernacle I  moved from the side to the center.  There are three long candles on each side.

“You have candelabras there?”

“No, Father.  We still have to buy.  The altar is movable.”

“Well, the chapel should not be for exclusive TLM use.  The design is okay.  Just stick to the basics.  When you are done with the final design, show it to me.”

“Okay, Father.”

And we parted.

Interested in attending a regular Traditional Latin Mass at the Ateneo de Manila University with Fr. Timoteo “Tim” Ofrasio, S.J.? Sign-up here

Fr. Timoteo “Tim” Ofrasio, S.J. is a professor of Liturgy at the Loyola House of Studies in Ateneo de Manila University.  He celebrates both the Ordinary and Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The ordinary form or the Novus Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI is what we normally see in the college chapel: the mass is in vernacular, the priest faces the congregation, and there are four options for the Eucharistic prayer.

On the other hand, the extraordinary form or the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) is something new to us who were not yet born in the 1970’s.  This form of the mass uses the 1962 missal of Pope John XXIII, the Pope who convened Vatican II.  This mass, which was codified in the 16th century by Pope Pius V in the Coucil of Trent, is in Latin and all actions and words of the priests are explicitly specified: how many times he makes the sign of the cross, what special times he faces the congregation (i.e. he turns his back most of the time), and even what fingers of his are used to turn the pages.  If you have attended a military silent drill and admired its coordination and precision, this mass is something like it.  This is the mass that the great Ateneans heard, from Jose Rizal to Ninoy Aquino.  This is the mass of our fathers.  This is the mass of the saints.  This is mass celebrated by St. Ignatius himself.

(If you want to know more about the TLM, check out the brochure of Baguio City Cathedral here.)

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, S.J. celebrates the TLM privately everyday in the Jesuit Residence.  Last 31 July 2009, on the Feast of St. Ignatius, he said a TLM at the Divine Mercy Church in Sikatuna, Quezon City, upon the invitation of Fr. Jojo Zerrudo.  After the mass, I asked for a copy of his homily and he e-mailed it to me.  He told me that he is willing to celebrate a regular TLM in public if there is a stable group of faithful who will hear the mass.

So if you are a student, teacher, staff, or alumni of the Ateneo de Manila University and you would like to be part of this stable group, please sign up here by using the comment form of this blog post.  Please write the following:

  1. Name
  2. Course/Batch
  3. Department or Office
  4. Preferred day (weekday or Sunday)

(Your e-mails are visible to me.) Once we form the stable group, we can then institute training for the acolytes (their job is to respond to the priest and their actions are also prescribed by rubrics) and choir (they sing only in Gregorian chant and only the organ may accompany them).

The high mass in TLM is similar to a Greek Tragedy, as noted by Oscar Wilde, an Anglican homosexual writer who converted to the Catholic Church on his deathbed (he also unsuccessfully tried to ask the Jesuits to give him a retreat before):

When one contemplates all of this from the point of view of art alone, one cannot but be grateful that the supreme office of the church should be the playing of the tragedy without the shedding of the blood: the mystical presentation by means of dialogue and custom and gesture even, of the Passion of her Lord; and it is always a source of pleasure and awe to me to remember that the ultimate survival of the Greek Chorus, lost elsewhere to art, is to be found in the servitor answering the priest at mass. (De Profundis, pp. 69-70)

Here is Fr. Tim Ofrasio’s address:

Fr. Timoteo JM. Ofrasio, S.J.

Email Address:

Professor of Liturgy and Sacraments at Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Pre-Renovation Survey of the Manila Observatory Chapel and Sacristy

A Survey of the Chapel

At the third floor of the Manila Observatory is a chapel, located near the stairs.  From the outside, all you see is a series of vertical planks designed in such a way that you won’t see what is inside directly.  The air flows past these the spaces between the planks and the screen wall near the ceiling.

There are two doors, left and right.  If you open one of the doors, the first thing that you will see is a series of tall windows allowing a good view of the Observatory’s green fields, which stretches out to the Ionosphere building towards the East, the Solar Building on the South West, and the Grade school building beyond it.  And then you see the heavens.  “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

But the chapel is empty.  There are no pews.  But this is where we hold our First Friday masses.  Instead of pews we use chairs, ideal for office use, but not for a chapel.  We sit, we stand, but we never kneel, even during consecration.  Sitting masses is becoming very common here at the Ateneo de Manila University. I’ve attended one in the Jesuit Infirmary. And I saw another one in the Theology Department, even though it is not a chapel.  As long as there is a table to serve as the altar and people have chairs to sit down, we can have a mass.

I sat on one of the three white monoblock chairs.  My friend brought it there, because she loves to stay there to read her Liturgy of the Hours.  Actually, I bought the book for myself a year ago to teach myself how to pray like medieval monks, but after reading for a week, I get lost.  When she saw my book, she asked if she can have it; so I gave it to her.

I gazed at the altar wall.  On the left side is the Tabernacle.  The front face is plated with gold (probably brass).  The other faces are painted gray-green.  A red lamp is burning beside it, which means that Jesus is there.  Mrs.  Tony Gonzaga, the Director of the Manila Observatory, told me that the Father Provincial, Fr. Jose Cecilio “Jojo” Magadia, S.J., was surprised that we keep consecrated hosts there.

Above the tabernacle is  a white bas relief of Mary carrying the Infant Jesus, probably made of resin.  The bas relief of St. Joseph the Worker is on the right corner.

At the center of the altar wall is a crucifix.  I am glad that it was a traditional sculpture and not that of the mummified Christ I saw at the Church of Our Lady of Pentecost along Katipunan Avenue.  Jesus Christ hangs on the cross, eyes downcast. I like this better than the highly stylized, clean-shaven Christ at the altar of the Church of the Gesu.

The altar is simply a four-legged table with mantle.  I don’t think there is a relic embedded on the table.  Relics of saints are usually placed in little boxes and embedded on church altars.  The priest kisses this relic before saying the Holy Mass.  In the olden days, when a church is about to be destroyed, one of the first things the priest will get is the relic on the altar (and the blessed hosts, of course, lest they be trampled underfoot by the enemies of the church).

Mrs. Loyzaga gave me a task.  She wants have the chapel renovated to make it as a permanent chapel of the Manila Observatory.  My job is to make suggestions on what needs to be done.

I measured the chapel area: it is 15.5 ft x 27 ft.  The raised altar area is 8 ft x 7 ft.  Thus the space for the pews is only about 15.5 ft x 20 ft, which is 310 sq. ft.  If the aisle is about 5 ft x 20 ft or 80 sq. ft, then the remaining floor area for benches is 230 sq. ft.  If each person requires a 1.5 ft x 3 ft space or 4.5 sq. ft, then the number of persons that can fit in a 230 sq. ft area is about 50.

A Survey of the Sacristy

On the right side of the altar wall is a door.  I opened it.  There are two cabinets attached to the right wall.  The first cabinet contains sacred vessels, linens, and albs–many of them are starched, though spotted with little yellow marks.  I guess it has been a long time since these were used.  Maybe decades ago.  I saw about twenty Mompo wine bottles.  They have to be thrown away.

The second cabinet contains chasubles.  They are new and well kept.  It is common for priests to just wear the chasuble on top of their ordinary clothes, then don the stole.  I know Fr. Tim Ofrasio, S.J. will not be content at this.  Fr. Tim is a professor in liturgy at the Loyola House of Studies.  He was invited to say mass there several times, but he refused: he will only agree provided he is completely vested.  I saw him took off his priestly clothes weeks ago when he said a Traditional Latin Mass in Sikatuna in the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola: he was wrapped in layers of sheets and tied with cords before he donned his chasuble.  Fr. Ofrasio, S.J. celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass everyday in his private chapel in LHS.  Fr. Tim asked me to form a stable group for TLM so that he can celebrate it publicly in Ateneo.  So far, I have only blogged about it.  But I shall form this group soon.

There are three little rooms on the right side, each of them a third of the size of the chapel.  These are probably dressing area for priests.  I think a a priest can say his mass private mass there, in the days when the priest faces the altar.  If I am not mistaken, all priests are required to say mass everyday.  A recent option is to concelebrate.  In large masses at the Church of the Gesu, it is common to see ten priest concelebrants.

There is another little room straight ahead.  To my dismay, all the kneelers are stacked there.  Each kneeler, which can accomodate only one person, is attached to a stand where a priest can put his breviary or rest his elbows as he prays in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  I once saw Pope John Paul II praying in a similar kneeler.  I wiped the dust from one of the kneelers with my bare palm.  It turned black.

I looked around and saw a Saint Andrew Bible missal.  which was published in 1962.  So this must still be the missal of Pope John XXIII, the one used in the present Traditional Latin masses.  I did not take it at first, because it looked all English to me.  But my friend took it later and showed to me the Order of the Mass in Latin.  And I said, “Ah” and “Oh”.  She had bought her Baronius missal last week in Our Lady of Victories Church.  That was P 2,000.  Since I do not have money, I shall content myself with St. Andrew’s.  I don’t think anybody else in the Observatory will use it.  The Manila Observatory once gave away lots of its books to have more room for research.  So I shall consider this missal as part of this give away.  I shall bring this missal every mass, even in the present Novus Ordo Masses (Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite).  The text of the 1962 Roman Rite (extraordinary form) is very conducive to full and active participation in the mass, by helping me meditate on the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In this rite, the priest becomes filled with holy fear in approaching the altar to offer the Most Holy Trinity the most perfect Sacrifice of Christ in Calvary.  Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J. may describe this as Mysterium Tremendum and Mysterium Fascinosum.  Unbelievable.  It is only now I truly learnt what the mass is.

Homily of Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J. for the Traditional Latin Mass at Sikatuna, Quezon City on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola


by Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J.

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, 2009
Divine Mercy Church, Sikatuna, Quezon City

Íñigo López de Loyola was born in the municipality of Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in today’s Basque Country of Gipuzcoa, Spain. He was named after St. Enecus (Innicus), Abbot of Oña. The youngest of 13 children, Íñigo was only seven years old when his mother died. In 1506, he adopted the last name “de Loyola” in reference to the city where he was born. He later became a page in the service of a relative, Don Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Castile.

In 1509, Íñigo took up arms for Don Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre. His diplomacy and leadership qualities made him a gentilhombre very useful to the Duke. Under the Duke’s leadership, he participated in many battles without injury to himself. But when the French army, supporting the Navarrese monarchy expelled in 1512, stormed Pamplona’s fortress on May 20, 1521, a cannonball wounded one of his legs and broke the other. Heavily injured, Íñigo was returned to the castle. He was very concerned about the injuries on his leg and had several surgical operations, which were very painful in the days before anaesthetics. Being a man of the royal court, he was also a man of the world, quite vain about his looks and was driven by ambition.

During his period of recovery, he would have preferred to read books on chivalry and romantic exploits common in his time, but there were no such reading materials in the Loyola castle. Instead, he had to content himself with the available literature, namely, De Vita Christi, by Ludolph of Saxony, which eventually influenced his whole life, and the lives of saints. Reading these books, he became fired with an ambition to lead a life of self-denying labor and emulate the heroic deeds of Francis of Assisi and other great monastic leaders. He spent many days reflecting on the questions: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ? The conversion of a vain and worldly man had begun; Iñigo, the courtly gentilhombre was slowly turning into Ignacio, the hermit and pilgrim seeking to know in what manner he could serve the Most High. Upon recovery, as part of his quest, he visited the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat on March 25, 1522. He made an all-night vigil before the image of the famous “Morenita,” the Black Madonna of Montserrat, before whom he divested himself of his military sword, and gave up his rich vestments in exchange for a lowly pilgrim’s garb and staff. He then went and spent several months in prayer in a cave near the town of Manresa in Catalonia where he practiced the most rigorous asceticism. The result of this profound spiritual experience was the Spiritual Exercises, the most obvious fruits of which were his methods for the discernment of spirits, and contemplation.

As part of his quest, and seeking to be completely familiar with Our Lord, Ignatius embarked on a pilgrimage from Barcelona to Rome, enroute to the Holy Land. He would have wanted to remain there, but he understood that the will of God for him was not to remain in Jerusalem. However, his thought kept recurring to the question of what he ought to do. Finally, he decided that in order to help others spiritually, he had to undergo formal studies. And so, at age 33, he started to study Latin in Barcelona with students much younger than he was, and later moved on to philosophy and the humanities. He continued his studies in Alcalá de Henares and Salamanca , and eventually, higher studies in Paris at the Collège de Montaigu of the University of Paris. There he remained over seven years. In later life, he was often called “Master Ignatius”. This title was due to his taking a master’s degree from the university at the age of 43.

By 1534 he had six key companions, all of whom he met as students at the University— Francisco Xavier, Alfonso Salmerón, Diego Laínez, and Nicolás Bobadilla, all Spanish; Pierre Favre, a Frenchman; and Simão Rodrigues, a Portuguese. “On the morning of the 15th of August, 1534, in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady of the Martyrs, at Montmartre, Ignatius of Loyola and his six companions, of whom only one was a priest, met and took upon themselves the solemn vows of their lifelong work.”

The group of Ignatius eventually became the Company of Jesus, known today as Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, whose members vow special obedience to the Pope as missionaries. Ignatius of Loyola is known as a talented spiritual director. He was very vigorous in opposing the Protestant Reformation and promoting the following Counter-Reformation. He died in Rome as first Superior-General of the Compañia de Jesús on July 31, 1556. He was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609, canonized by Pope Gregory XV together with his friend and close companion, St. Francis Xavier on March 12, 1622.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1540, which created a monarchical organization and stressed absolute self-abnegation and obedience to Pope and superiors (perinde ac cadaver, “well-disciplined like a corpse” as Ignatius put it). His main principle became the Jesuit motto: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (“for the greater glory of God”). The Jesuits were a major factor in the Counter-Reformation.

Today Jesuits are known all over the world for their schools, but we need to understand that the sons of Ignatius also pioneered daring missionary work in the New World and in the Asian and African continents, producing quite a number of martyrs for the faith. Even now, there are Jesuits who quietly labor in dangerous mission territories far away from the glare of publicity.

What, to me, is the challenge for Jesuits today—and which we can share with the faithful we serve— is to live and teach fidelity to the Church. In his rules for thinking with the Church, which is expressed in and by the Jesuit vow of obedience, Ignatius exhorts us, above all, to “ever be ready and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, our holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.” Fidelity and obedience to the Church, in the person of the Pope and the local bishop, is the mark of a true Roman Catholic Christian, even when sometimes—or many times–we do not understand certain decisions or actions that cause us much hurt and confusion. We may question certainly; we may represent; we may disagree, even dissent probably—but in the end, when we have exhausted all means to make our voices heard, we humbly bow and accept the inevitable because as Ignatius teaches us, God’s will is manifested in our all-too-human superiors and Church leaders. This is a hard saying for many, I know, and maybe even my fellow Jesuits will dispute this, but there is no other way we can preserve the unity of the Church which we all love, if we do not live and practice obedience to her. Unfortunately, this Mother Church is not a democracy, and this is probably one of the reasons why “the gates of hell has not prevailed against it” for 2000-plus years. Only time will tell if our voices were disinterested and prophetic, or were they voices of vested interests under the guise of “for the common good.”

In today’s postmodern and globalized world, so radically different from Ignatius’ time, we are bombarded from all sides with various so-called “creeds” that all have the glorification of man as their agenda. St. Ignatius teaches us in the Spiritual Exercises that “man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul,” and that “the other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.” Let us therefore ask this great saint, to help us discern the good spirit that leads us to think, say, and do everything for the greater glory of God.

NOTE: Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, S.J. is willing to celebrate a regular Traditional Latin Mass in public at the Ateneo de Manila University if we can form a stable group.

So if you are a student, teacher, alumni, professional, or staff at Ateneo de Manila University who wishes to be part of this stable group, please email Dr. Quirino M. Sugon Jr. at You may also use the comment form below.