On the miraculous survival of Virgin Mary’s picture amidst the destruction of Bohol’s churches: A reply to Filipino Freethinkers

Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the destruction of a Bohol Church (photo from Megan Young's Facebook page, dated Oct. 15, 2013)

Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the destruction of a Bohol Church (photo from Megan Young’s Facebook page, dated Oct. 15, 2013)

The Filipino Freethinkers made a video questioning the sudden focus on the miraculous survival of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake the destroyed Bohol’s ancient churches.  Because I am afraid of misquoting them, I tried my best to transcribe (though not perfectly) their thoughts based on their video entitled, “FF Podcast 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake“….(transcript)… I shall only focus on their five main comments…

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: On the miraculous survival of Virgin Mary’s picture amidst the destruction of Bohol’s churches: A reply to Filipino Freethinkers

Letter to the ALMS: Traditional Latin Mass at the Church of the Gesu


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Nearly a year ago, the ALMS was founded to have the Traditional Latin Mass said in Ateneo de Manila University. So far, we have not succeeded. Our main problem is we cannot find a suitable chapel. I think the Church of the Gesu is good enough for TLM. The problem may be the cost: it is about P 3500 per mass.  If this cost is the only thing that keeps us from having a TLM in Ateneo, then I propose the following solution:

I shall pay the P 3500.

We can have one Sunday mass per month. The mass collections can go to the presiding priest. Fifty (50) persons giving P 20 each is already P 1000. If we can have an attendance of 300 persons, the mass collection would be enough to pay for both the priest and the rental of the Church of the Gesu.

I can only give financial support, but this is not enough:

  1. We need somebody who can be the overall coordinator of ALMS, preferably a student, because we wish the ALMS to be an Ateneo student organization recognized by Ateneo de Manila University. I already have my hands full as undergraduate committee head of the Physics Department and SERC Subcenter coordinator of the Manila Observatory.
  2. We need volunteers for the choir. Mr. Nikko Vitug, faculty of the English Department, is already offering his services as choir master. Mr. Vitug has a syllabus ready for the Gregorian chant training.
  3. We need volunteers for the sacristan. Dennis Maturan, Founding Chairman of Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph (EDSSJ), is already offering the services of his group for sacristan training. We only need but ask them. EDSSJ is based in Parish of Our Lord of Divine Mercy in Sikatuna, Quezon City. I could not be around during Saturdays because I have a offshore class in Angeles University, Pampanga for our M.S. Physics Program. We need a sacristan coordinator for Ateneo.
  4. We need volunteers who will make sure that the altar vessels and linens are available, and that the sacristans and priests have their vestments. Frank Chow’s TLM community in Canada can help us procure the vestments and linens which we can buy from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches.
  5. We need volunteers for the promotions. Fr. Lester Maramara, SJ, the Director of the Ateneo College Campus Ministry Office, has given us permission to post TLM announcements in Bulletin Board of the College Chapel.
  6. We need to find a priest who can say TLM for us. Fr. Tim Ofrasio SJ is now assigned in a parish in Novaliches.
  7. We need to schedule our first general assembly, preferably mid January. We need to have our first TLM at the Church of the Gesu by February. We need to recruit more students and faculty to join the yahoo group.

I would appreciate your thoughts on these matters. I hope and pray that we can now finally move forward.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr.

Ateneo Latin Mass Society

Sancta Missa: Online Tutorial on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Missale Romanum 1962)

I was looking for online resources on how to be an altar server for the Traditional Latin Mass.  And I stumbled on this site: Sancta Missa (http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/).  It has all the resources that I need, not only for would-be altar servers like me, but also for priests as well.  Here is a list of resources:

  1. Online Tutorial for Priests
  2. Rubrics of the Missal Romanum 1962
  3. Learning to Serve at the Altar
  4. Spirituality of the Tridentine Mass
  5. Liturgical Books and Resources
  6. Sacred Music of the Liturgy
  7. From Sacristy to Altar
  8. The Liturgical Year

There are also two videos:

  1. VIDEO of Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Joseph N. Perry at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama is available for viewing with the accompanying latin text. This Mass was televised on EWTN on July 1st, 2009.
  2. Online Liber Usualis – PDFTHE book of chant for the Extraordinary Form! Sancta Missa features a downloadable Liber Usualis. This contains all the Gregorian Chant notation for the entire year for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

The website is maintained by the Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius:

In a broader sense, the mission of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius is to help Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies, devotions, sacred art and sacred music, as well as instruction in Church heritage, catechesis and Catholic culture in the context of parish ministry. Because the Eucharistic Sacrifice “is the summit and the source of all Christian worship and life,” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 897) members of the Canons Regular order their own lives, as well as their pastoral work, above all to the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours and the sacraments—the primary sources of life and grace within the Church. The sacrament of Penance plays an especially prominent role in the pastoral ministry of the Canons as a rich source of grace, particularly for those approaching the Eucharist (from the Constitutions of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius).

From Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J.’s Treasure Chest: Songs of St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Improperia” of Giuseppe Caruana, and “Notes on the Singing at High Mass”

I was in the Ionosphere Building of the Manila Observatory yesterday, segregating the books and documents in Fr. Badillo’s treasure chest–a large carton box–and took out all the books and manuals that I need.  Many of them are about the ionosphere which I can never find the Ateneo de Manila library.  Others are manuals on computers and machines.  Some are on theology.  When I reached the bottom of the box, I saw two yellowed documents bound by staple wires.  The first is Holy Week IMPROPERIA Popule Meus for two equal voices by Giuseppe Caruana (Woodstock College Press, Woodstock, Maryland, U.S.A).  The other is the typewritten “Notes on the Singing at High Mass.”  And that is not all.  Inserted on the Notes are two pages of a book, “The Liguorian.”  These are songsheets in modern music notation (which I can read faster with my guitar or flute) of two songs:

  1. “O Ruler of the Heavens” (Tu Scendi dalle Stelle), Italian words and music by St. Alphonsus Liguori, English translation by D. H. Schmidt, arrangement by F. A. Brunner, C.SS.R. (complete)
  2. “Be Silent, Ye Heavens”  (Fermarono i Cieli), Italian words and music by St. Alphonsus Liguori, English translation by D. F. Miller, C.SS.R., Arrangement by F. A. Brunner, C.SS.R. (Incomplete)

Notes on the Singing at High Mass

A.  The Asperges (p. 11)

  1. The Vidi Aquam (p. 11)
  2. Oration at Asperges and Vidi Aquam (p. 3)

B.  The Orations (All Masses Except Requiems, Ferials, Simples) (p. 1)

  1. Orations at Requiems, Ferials, Simples (p. 2)
  2. Oration at Benediction (and Asperges) (p. 3)
  3. Manner of Singing Orations (p. 3)

C.  The Gloria (p. 12)

D.  The Epistle and Gospel (p. 8)

E.  The Credo (p. 12)

F.  The Preface and Pater Noster (pp. 4-7)

G.  The Ite Missa Est and Benedicamus Domino (p. 12)

H.  Benediction Oration (p. 5)

I.  On Reading the Musical Notation in the Missal (p. 4)


  1. Chant at the Altar, Rev. Jon C. Selnar, S.S., 1933
  2. The Priest’s Chants and Recitatives at the Altar, Rev. Carlo Rossini (J. Fisher & Bro., N. Y., 1942)
  3. Handbook of Ceremonies, Mueller-Ellis, 1940.  c.f. Musical Supplement, where other versions of the Epistle and Gospel, etc. are given, together with the more ordinary versions given in these notes.

Tantum Ergo in an elevator: a Filipino meets an Indonesian

Yesterday I was in Singapore for a conference on earthquake prediction using electromagnetic waves, one of the workshops of the Science Council of Asia.  (I was only asked by my boss to go in his stead, because he is busy at enrollment at Ateneo de Davao University.)  I left my room at the 11th floor of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, while softly chanting Tantum Ergo; there are no churches nearby, so I tried to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart in my own little way.  When I reached the elevator, a dark man with tuxedo and tie heard me and also hummed.  I smiled.

“Are you Catholic?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

“What country are you from? I asked.

“Indonesia,” he answered.

“So there are Catholics in Indonesia?  I thought Indonesia is a
Muslim country?” I asked.

“Not many Catholics,” he said.  “But there are.”

The elevator opened.  We both entered.  After a few seconds, we reached the ground floor and said goodbye.

Fjordman’s Comparison of Christian and Islamic Science: Gregorian Chant and Muslim music

As for music, Greek theory on the subject evolved from Pythagoras before 500 BC. The Church was the dominant institution in post-Roman Europe and drew on Greek philosophy and musical theory. Some elements of Christian observances may derive from Jewish tradition, too, chiefly the chanting of Scripture and the signing of psalms, poems of praise from the Book of Psalms. Christians integrated music into their liturgy. In the Western Church, Gregorian chant and the development of polyphonic music was valued as decoration, a concept central to medieval art and architecture. According to A History of Western Music, Seventh Edition, by Donald J. Grout, Peter J. Burkholder and Claude V. Palisca, “Polyphonic performance heightened the grandeur of chant and thus of the liturgy itself.” This gave rise to a musical tradition which led to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Nothing similar happened in the Islamic world, despite the fact that Muslims initially had access to much of the same material. I have described this in my essay Why Muslims Like Hitler, but Not Mozart.

Historian Bernard Lewis writes in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years:

“Since Muslim worship, with the limited exception of some dervish orders, makes no use of music, musicians in the Islamic lands lacked the immense advantage enjoyed by Christian musicians through the patronage of the Church and of its high dignitaries. The patronage of the court and of the great houses, though no doubt useful, was intermittent and episodic, and dangerously subject to the whims of the mighty. Muslim musicians devised no standard system of notation, and their compositions are therefore known only by the fallible and variable medium of memory. There is no preserved corpus of classical Islamic music comparable with that of the European musical tradition. All that remains is a quite extensive theoretical literature on music, some descriptions and portrayals of musicians and musical occasions by writers and artists, a number of old instruments in various stages of preservation, and of course the living memory of long-past performances.”

There are those who are critical of Mr. Lewis as a scholar and consequently believe that he shouldn’t be quoted as an authority. You should always maintain a healthy criticism of any writer, but I know from other sources that the above mentioned quotes are largely correct.

Many forms of music are banned in Islam. The Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib and Noah Ha Mim Keller has been formally approved by al-Azhar in Egypt, the highest institution of religious learning among Sunni Muslims. It quotes a number of ahadith, authoritative sayings of Muhammad and his companions which form the core Islamic texts next to the Koran, among them one which says that “There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful …” Another quote says that: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” The scholarly conclusion is that “All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful.” Another legal ruling says that “It is unlawful to use musical instruments – such as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals, and flute – or to listen to them. It is permissible to play the tambourine at weddings, circumcisions, and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is unlawful.”

Source: “Fjordman: To President Obama: Regarding Islam and Science” in Jihad Watch. (The full essay is a very good read, especially for those interested in astronomy, linguistics, and optics.)

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.