Battering Rams: Estimating the energy of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed Bohol’s churches

“Little Boy” atomic bomb

According to Philippine Star, Dr. Renato Solidum of Phivolcs reported that “a magnitude 7 earthquake has an energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs”.   I verified his estimate in Earthquake Energy Calculator and constructed the following table:

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: Battering Rams: Estimating the energy of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that destroyed Bohol’s churches

How Philippine media distorts Pope Francis’s words on contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage

How Media distorts Pope Francis's words

How Media distorts Pope Francis’s words

Philippine Star and Rappler publishes an article by Agence France-Presse entitled (with slight variations), “Philippine Church ‘right’ despite Pope Francis’ comments”.  This technique used by Agence France-Presse (AFP) is called reframing–putting a different background to a quote to make it appear opposite to its original meaning. In this way, AFP makes it appear that the bishops, because of their opposition to contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage, are not in line with the Pope Francis’s thoughts.

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: How Philippine media distorts Pope Francis’s words on contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage

The Blessed Virgin Mary and Elbereth Gilthoniel in Lord of the Rings

Blessed Virgin Mary with St. Joachim and St. Anne

Blessed Virgin Mary with St. Joachim and St. Anne

Today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And today I shall talk about a female figure in the Lord of the Rings that reminds us of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Elbereth Gilthoniel.

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit.

Can we study astronomy, charms, dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions, and transfiguration?

This class is boring. This class is boring. Can we study astronomy, charms, dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions, and transfiguration?

This class is boring. Can we study astronomy, charms, dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions, and transfiguration?

Questions from a Harry Potter Fan (Harry Potter flows in my blood–Facebook page)

This class is boring. Can we learn about astronomy, charms, dark arts, defense against the dark arts, flying, herbology, history of magic, potions and transfiguration?

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit

Monk’s Hobbit is moving from WordPress to Blogger

Blogging in WordPress has been fun for nearly the past five years.  But I think it is time for Monk’s Hobbit to move to Blogger: www.monkshobbit.blogspot.com.  I have several reasons for doing this:

  • I wish greater control on the look of Monk’s Hobbit, which I can easily change later in Blogger by changing the HTML templates (though I am not yet attempting it).
  • I like Blogger’s direct link to G+ which shall be my repository for pictures.  For this, I made a new profile for Monk’s Hobbit in G+.
  • I  like Blogger’s ability to handle scripts, such as Mathjax for writing equations.
  • I like Blogger’s direct link to Adsense.  If this blogging apostolate would be sustainable, an extra income through ads to support the peripherals–camera, computers, and lots of books–would be needed.
  • I wish to overhaul the document design of the Monk’s Hobbit site.  In the new website, I made the labels the top tab headers:  News, History, Literature, Science, Liturgy, Business, Music.  This allows me to gather all my Catholic views on many things and at the same time discipline myself on limiting my labels on posts.
  • I wish to showcase some longer white papers or articles that I wrote; I’ll put these in the pages section in the sidebar.  Some of these white papers would summarize several blog posts in the WordPress blog.  My aim is really to write books by collecting blog posts and stitching them with care–not in the Frankenstein way, but in something smoother like the invisible weave patch technique in the Shroud of Turin.
  • I won’t be putting links to other blogs though (my apologies), because I wish the site to look more formal and professional.
  • Don’t worry.  This WordPress blog will remain.  I will still moderate comments, but I won’t write new articles here.

I hope you’ll like the design of the new Monk’s Hobbit website.  I’ll study some Javascript to put something fancy there later.  For now, there is nothing much in the new website, except the blog’s mission and vision: To strengthen the Catholic Faith of Filipinos worldwide.   But I’ll be posting regularly there, about once every two to three days.  Full length articles of more than 1,500 words needs about 2 to 3 hours to write.  Short blurbs of 500 words just takes about an hour, so these blurbs would be more frequent, though I am not fond of writing short blurbs.  As a rule, I write in three paragraphs.

I like writing.  I wish to emulate Tolkien’s literary style in the Lord of the Rings.  But I think it is not really possible, because I have my own personality and my mind is shaped by many books and articles that I have read.  I read two new books a month, usually books on business, management, and branding.  I write the way I speak.  If you like my writing, please follow me in my new website in Blogger: the Monk’s Hobbit.  There I’ll talk about many things under the sun–News, Business, Liturgy, Music, Literature, etc.–but always with Catholic view on the subjects.   See you there!

Anti RH Law rally before the Supreme Court organized by Filipinos for Life: Chronology of Events

Anna Cosio and Mike Mapa of Filipinos for Life

Anna Cosio and Mike Mapa of Filipinos for Life led the recitation of the rosary during the Anti RH Law rally with the theme “RH Supilin, Buhay Mahalin” last July 9, 2013, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Last July 9, 2013, 9:00-11:00 a.m., the Filipinos for Life organized an Anti RH Law rally before the gates of the Supreme Court.  As a member of the Filipinos for Life, I was given the task of a marshal.  So I took lots of pictures.  The participants, mostly young students of nearby Catholic schools, lined up along Padre Faura stretching up to the road before the Robinson’s Place Manila.  Anthony Perez, President of Filipinos for Life estimated the crowd to be about 800-1,000.  Meanwhile on the other part of Padre Faura also before the gates of Supreme Court are about 30 pro RH Law advocates in the same purple shirts, same purple umbrellas, and even same purple poster designs.  Someone even posed himself as a cartoon bishop in white and gold.  The sameness of their gears shows that someone bought in bulk and distributed it to the participants.  In contrast, the Anti RH Law crowd came from different groups with different uniforms and different posters–mostly handmade, and practically no umbrellas.  The morning crowd did not get much of the news.  What you see in TV are the Anti RH crowd in Green and the pro RH crowd in purple with roughly the same crowd size.  They are the afternoon crowd; the morning crowd was not covered by mainstream media.  But here are the  links to the pictures in the RH Supilin, Buhay Mahalin (Stop RH, Love Life) albums and see for yourself what you don’t see in the TV and newspaper news reports: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4).

I took some notes of the proceedings of the Anti RH Law rally using my phone, typing as fast as my two thumbs can press the letters while I listen to the talks.  Here’s the chronology of the events:

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up before going to the Supreme Court

Lining up for going to the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up before going to the Supreme Court

Lining up in front of Robinsons Place Manila before going to the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up at Robinson’s Place Manila

Walking towards the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists  of St. Paul University-Manila walking towards the Supreme Court

Students carrying Anti RH Law posters

Students carrying hand-drawn Anti RH Law posters

For comparison: the pro-RH Law rallyists with their purple umbrellas.  Double the size of this crowd and you get the total pro-RH La crowd in Padre Faura.

For comparison: the pro-RH Law rallyists with their purple umbrellas. Double the size of this crowd and you get the total pro-RH Law crowd in Padre Faura.

9:12 a.m.

St. Paul students occupy the pedestrian walk opposite the Supreme Court facade, extending up to the road before Robinson’s Place Manila.

9:18 a.m.

The crowd is now from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court.  The Pro-Life Philippines Foundation displayed its green banner.  On the desk hangs the flag of the Filipinos for Life, a shield of blue and white.

9:26 a.m.

I see students from San Sebastian and St. Paul’s.  There is also one representative from the Rosary for Life holding a large flag containing the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  There are also Don Bosco students with their gray uniforms.  I met Rolly de los Reyes of Courage Philippines.

9:32 a.m.

Mike Mapa and Anna Cosio of Filipinos for Life led the praying of the rosary.

9:41 a.m.

Ang Kapatiran senatorial candidate Lito David arrived all in white.

9:49 a.m.  

The crowd began praying the the Joyful Mysteries.

10:00 a.m.

Now the Glorious Mysteries.

10:13 a.m.

Finished the rosary.  Anna and Mike began to lead the crowd in shouting: “Buhay Mahalin, RH Supilin!”  They named the groups who came: St. Paul University-Manila.  Most of the crowd are students from this University.  Don Bosco Mandaluyong.  University of Sto. Tomas. Soldiers of Christ. Rosaries for Life. CBCP FL. Daughters of St. Paul. DMI Circle from Paranaque. San Sebastian Recoletos. CMT is still in the church for the mass.

10:17 a.m.

Mike speaks: “We must celebrate life. In the family we learn values.  I am thankful to be alive.  My happiest moment was when I became a father.  And then I understood many things God has done.”

10:18 a.m.

Mike and Anna enumerated the other participating groups: Holy Family parish from Parang, Marikina.  Sienna College. Citizens Initiative for Alternative Medicine.  Ang Kapatiran Party.  Augustinian Seminary.  Mike continued: “Sometimes we feel in the media that we are alone. No, we are not alone.  This is the happiest day of my life: to find a cause worth dying for.  It is a reason to live, an advocacy.  My happiest moment was when I became a father.   I would like to thank my lovely wife, Cecil.  There are so many attacks against the family. ”

Praying before the Supreme Court

Praying before the Supreme Court

San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite

San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite

10:22 a.m.

Lisa Poblete, a dentist, spoke in Tagalog.  Here’s my translation: “I know Pedro Gil. I lived in Padre Faura.  In the Filipino language, when a person is pregnant, she is ‘nagdadalang-tao’ or ‘bearing a man’. The human being is the beginning.  All of us have navels.  If we have navels, then we came from our mother’s wombs.  Conception starts at fertilization. We have to give all Filipinos in the womb a chance to live.

Mike speaks: “The only persons without navels are Adam and Eve.  I am a Filipinos for Life member.  We would like to welcome the Rogationst seminarians of the Diocese of Paranaque.  Very Pro-Life.  Our next speaker is from Courage Philippines.  This is an organization who helps people with same-sex attraction and live life to the fullest.  Let us welcome Mr. Rolly de los Reyes.”

Rolly de los Reyes speaks: “I am a Bosconian.  Don Bosco through Mary.  In the feast day of Mary we offer flowers.  All of us.  Pregnancy or pagdadalang-tao is not sickness but a gift.  We must thank God for the gift that is our mothers.  There are mothers who died in pregnancy.  But this does not mean that pregnancy is a disease.  Mothers offered their lives for us.  Let us give them a round of applause. Let us also thank our Mother, Mary.  We must fight against pornography, such as FMH.  What we need is not a sex education but a chastity education.  We must teach society about the beauty of virginity.  True love waits. ”

10:31 a.m.

The next speaker is Lito David, senatorial candidate of Ang Kapatiran Party.

Lito David speaks in Filipino.  Here’s my translation of what I can catch:  “Praise the Lord!  Why are we here?  Because of our faith in God who loves life.  Let us pray that Supreme Court will not be bought.  We could have won in Congress. There were 116 who are Anti RH.  Afterwards, there were only 69?  They sold their stand?  For 70 million pesos?  Because of the pressure of PNoy?  Let us pray that the Supreme Court will not be bought.”

10:39 a.m.

Anna speaks: “In the Flames of Love, there is an actress together with Dina Bonevie.  She is already a grand mom.  She is known for giving chastity talks in public schools.  Please welcome, Ms. Rica Dayrit.”

Rica Dayrit speaks in Filipino.  Here is my translation: “The youth are here.  Anna said that I am beautiful, a pro-life mother. Why are we beautiful?  What is the will of God?  The priest said that you can be a good Christian if you get married.  We have children entrusted to us to be born.  What is the beauty of being a pro-life mother?  I go to checkups.  I fall in line.  Then I hear the doctor say to other women ahead of me.  ‘Are you taking pills? I see many diseases in your ovary.’  We must take care of life.  In this way there will be many beautiful Filipinos in our country.”

10:43 a.m.

Anna speaks: “Let us welcome the Claretian missionaries.   We would like to welcome the Filipinos for Life and their president, Mr. Anthony  Perez.”

Anthony speaks in Filipino and English: “Let us give each other a round of applause.  What time did you wake up?  The Soldiers for Christ have not yet slept.  But they are here.  We stand to celebrate life.  And we have visitors here.  What is your name?”

Anthony Perez, president of Filipinos for Life

Anthony Perez, president of Filipinos for Life

Angel Liwanag, young poet

Angel Liwanag, young poet

Little Boy: “Angel Liwanag. 5 years old . from Bonifacio.”

Anthony: “Let us give a round of applause to Angel!  Where is your daddy?  I am the speaker.  Story?”

Little Boy: “No.”

Anthony: “There is Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians.  Are you going to become a priest?”

Little Boy: “Yes.”

Anthony: “Are you sure?  Daddy’s message says that you are going to give a poem.  These is the  list of poems.  To my fellow youth.  Heart of Stone. You are my Boss.”

10:48 a.m.

Little Boy reciting in Filipino:  “You are my boss.  That is the word that I spoke.  No counterflow. To help in the cross.  You are my boss. … aspirations.  Face my parents regarding their legacy of democracy.  We can say that we have reached far, the way of the future generations.  Thank you very much.”

10:50 a.m.

Anthony: “These are speeches that were made into poems.”

Meanwhile I walked around to the pro-RH side and checked their props, posters, and crowd size.  There are only a few of them.  Their many umbrellas and large streamers hide their small number.  Their posters say that “I am a Catholic from a family of 8 or 9.”  Then there is that guy posing as Bishop of Cartoon Diocese.  They focus their attacks on the Catholic Church, creating a parody church in the process.  Indeed, they lack imagination.  They cannot truly create but only mock.  As Frodo said of Orcs:

No, they eat and drink, Sam.  The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.  I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.  Foul waters and foul meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison.” (The Tower of Cirith Ungol, The Lord of the Rings)

Interesting.  When I walked to the other side,  I can’t hear what we in the Anti-RH side are saying.  And vice-versa.  I think this is what the current state of our dialogue on the RH Law right now.

10:54 a.m.

Anthony: “Sienna college is here.  Let us fight for life.  Our youth have talents; they just need the right guidance.  Let us celebrate life.  Thanks to all who came.  We can stay longer if we wish.  I know that many of you have classes.  Thank you very much for making a stand.  Let us think of our loved ones in our lives.  Let us think what if they were not born?  It is happier for men to love before they separate from each other.  So let us join hands and pray the “Our Father””

The crowd sang the Our Father.

Anthony: “Let us sing Happy Birthday To You!”

The crowd sang the song twice.

11:00 a.m.

The rally officially ended.  The Soldiers of Christ took over.  And they sang and prayed I think until 12:00 noon, which is the end of the rally permit.

Life is priceless

Life is priceless

Daughters of St. Paul and students

Daughters of St. Paul and students

Pro-Life Philippines Foundation

Pro-Life Philippines Foundation

God is Pro-Life

God is Pro-Life

Is Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo exhibit art? Thoughts on polytheism, iconography, and Lord of the Rings

Here is a description of the Poleteismo exhibit:

When they find it in one of the alcoves of the Main Gallery, they will see multicolored plastic piggy banks stuffed inside a case usually reserved for religious statues; and Christ the King with a bright red clown nose, his right hand replaced by a Mickey Mouse glove, and his head crowned with Mickey Mouse ears made from a Coke can.

Hanging behind a divider is a cross with a bright red penis thrusting out from the vertical bar. And on the walls, a multimedia collage composed of a confusion of images and objects: there are ads, political paraphernalia from Fernando Poe Junior, Gilbert Teodoro, and Barack Obama; there are religious posters of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and the Holy Family; there are handouts, pamphlets, and stickers; there are rosaries, penis ashtrays, crucifixes, condoms, and Christmas lights; there’s a lot of stuff.

Polytheism is the worship of many gods.  Even though there are many gods, ancient men has portrayed them always as separate entities.  The depictions of the God’s of Egypt are many, using different man-animal combinations, but you know who is who.   Egyptian art is governed by rules. Ra is depicted with head of falcon and sun disk. Sekhmet is a woman with a lion’s head.  So if you depict Ra with a lion’s head, the rule is broken and it ceases to be art according to Egyptian hieroglyphic rules.

Christian iconography, though not the same as Egyptian art, is also based on rules.  Most of these rules are given based on the Bible.  For the case of the icon of the Sacred Heart, the image is based on the Last Judgment and the promise of Angel Gabriel to Mary:

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32o He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Lk 1:31-33)

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. (Mt 25:31-32)

This is why you see Christ depicted with a crown and sceptre, because they stand for kingship.  The beating heart aflame and pierced is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible:

“Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? (Road to Emmaus, Lk 24:32)

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34*s but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out (Jn 19:33-34)

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. 9I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not a man,g the Holy One present among you; I will not come in wrath. (Hos 11:8-9)

Now, is Poleteismo exhibit of Mideo Cruz based on rules?  Like many modern art, Poleteismo is not based on rules.    Modern poems have freed themselves from the strictures of rhyming and meter resulting to free verses.  Modern paintings in the tradition of Picasso are also not based on rules but on an endless search for the Platonic form stripped of the accidentals–the rules of perspective and the physics of light.  Like a disembodied spirit, you see nothing in modern art but a mirage, an illusion formed in your mind of what could have been–full of potential but achieving nothing.

Classical art, in contrast, do not begin with the Platonic form but with reality, and uses the limitations of reality to convey the Platonic form.  Anguish is an abstraction, but you know it when you see the face of Christ in pain.  Sacrifice is an abstraction, but you know it when you see Christ crucified on the cross.  Modern art fails because it falsely assumes that man is not an embodied spirit whose knowledge of reality is conveyed by the senses.

This leads us to the question: is modern art true art?  As long as it has precise rules for interpreting, then it is art; if not, it is just a plain drawing.  With this definition, I would call Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese characters, and Aztec picture writing as true abstract arts.  But modern art of Picasso and Mideo Cruz I shall not call true abstract art.

But there is something else in Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo: mockery of what is.  In Lord of the Rings, this is a mark of the things bred by evil, for Evil cannot create but can only mock.  As Frodo said to Sam concerning Orcs:

No, they eat and drink, Sam.  The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.  I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.  Foul waters and foul meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison.   (Return of the King p. 201)

The orcs were made in the mockery of elves and men.

So when Mideo Cruz mock not men but the image of Christ, the Son of God, by giving Christ Mickey mouse ears and nose, there is something evil afoot.  Black Masses in Satan worship turn the crucifix upside down, turning salvation inside out, making man as gods, and glorifying all the sins against the Ten Commandments.  The first three commandments has been easily disposed.  The fourth is by rebellion to figures of authority, not only parents, but also the government, the church, and rules of good art.   The fifth is by killing the reputation of a good man–the Man-God Christ–and all those who followed Christianity for more than 2000 years.  The sixth and the ninth are by the promotion of the reproductive health bill and its ills–fornication and adultery–by sticking out the condom in the cross.  The eighth is by using freedom of speech to speak falsehood.  And the seventh and 10th by coveting and forcibly taking the authority of the Catholic Church to declare what is morally good and evil.

Mockery of God is a devilish craft, and Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo has the mark of the devil’s claw.

Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J.: There is a waterfall near the Jesuit San Jose Seminary

I

Last Thursday, I talked with Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J. in his room at the Jesuit residence infirmary.  I always visit him once or twice a week for a 15 minute chat.  He is 79 years old.  His scientific mind is still sharp, though his body has been weakened by several surgeries.  He asked me to buy him a flash disk to transfer his files in his computer at the Ionosphere building to his computer in his room.  He asked about the recent floods.  I told him that Katipunan Avenue was flooded weeks ago during Typhoon Ondoy.  A hapless car was sucked into a building construction pit and drowned.  Terrible.

“Have you seen the the creek near the Ionosphere Building?  What happened to it?” he asked.

“I don’t know, Father.  Is there a creek there?” I asked.

“The creek is between the Ionosphere building and the San Jose Seminary.  The creek leads to a pond, then to a waterfalls.”   His eyes twinkled.

“Is there a waterfalls there, Father?”  I asked.

“You should go to see it.  Go to San Jose Seminary.  Tell the porter that you want to see the waterfalls.  Tell them I sent you,”  he said.

I bade him goodbye and left.

II

I passed by the Church of Gesu to my left, then the college to my right.  I walked some more until I reached a forked road in front of the Observatory.  Straight ahead is a road towards the Blue Eagle Gym where the UAAP games are held.  To my left is the road to the Loyola House of Studies.  I turned left.

The road curves to the left.  To my left are the College Covered Courts and the Arrupe International Residence of the Jesuit seminarians and priests.  To my right are the forests that separate the road from the Manila Observatory.  I found the little creek.  The waters snaked its way among the dead leaves and old trees.  The falls should not be far, I thought.

I walked some more and took the right road to the the San Jose Seminary.  The seminary  is a white rectangular building.  Its windows are framed with a series of narrow arches.  At the entrance porch is a statue of St. Joseph the Worker against the background of the Marikina valley.  There is a narrow road to the left that leads to Marian grotto, with Mary in white and the grotto in blue.  My friend and I were here before.  Yes, we were here before.

I entered.  To my left is the seminary’s chapel.  It is a beautiful church.  Traditional. I went straight to the porter.

“I am Quirino Sugon from the Manila Observatory.  Fr. Badillo sent me here to check the creek and the waterfalls.  He wants to know what happened to it when flood came.”

The porter looked at me.  Then he called out to an old man with a student.

“Fr. Vic.  Somebody here from the Manila Observatory wants to look at the creek to assess the flood.”

“You want to see the Marikina river?  You can see it from the fifth floor.  I’ll accompany you in a moment.”  His name is Fr. Victor C. de Jesus, S.J., the rector of the seminary.  Many homes near the Marikina river were submerged in the flood.  Some homes were even swept away. The flood left thick layers of mud.

I explained to the porter that I do not wish to see the Marikina river.  I only wish to see the waterfalls near the pond.

“Fr. Vic,” he called out.  “He only wants to visit the pond and the waterfalls.  Can he go there?”

“Oh, I thought you wish to see the extent of the flood,” Fr. Vic spoke to me.  Then he turned to the porter.  “Just send a person to accompany him.”

III

The person who accompanied me was Jodie.  He and his friend were drinking coffee.  He offered me some.  “No, thank you,” I said.  It is customary for Filipinos to invite other people to join them for a meal or drink.  You are not obliged to accept.  A second offer means that the man is serious in inviting you.

“Are you a seminarian or a priest?” he asked.

“No,” I said.  “I only work at the Manila Observatory.  Fr. Badillo sent me to look at the creek and the waterfalls.”

“The creek should be just over there,” he said.

We walked through a narrow and winding trail.  It is easy to get lost there.  Forest, forest everywhere.  I felt like I was in the Fangorn Forest surrounded giant trees, talking and whispering to each other, wondering what strange new creature this hobbit is.

“These are made of adobe,” he said and pointed to the trail.  “A Jesuit priest wanted to make this a place for prayer and  retreat.  So he made that pond and made a trail of rough-hewn adobe around and leading to it.”

“This place has to be well-kept, lest it becomes overgrown with weeds and becomes a home of snakes.  Years ago, a large snake entered the rooms of the seminarians.  It was ten feet long.  Its body was as big as my two fists.  The snake was turned over to the Environmental Science Department, I think.”

I nodded.

“There is the waterfalls.” he said and pointed it with his finger.   I could not see it.  So we walked around the pond, and went closer.

Out from the pond is a small waterfalls, like a bucket of water continously poured.  There is a creek about ten feet below.  Wading through the creek is a little white heron.  It flapped its wings and left.  Marvelous.  It was my first time to see a real heron.

“That’s the “tagak,” he said.  “These birds can still be seen here.  The forest facing the Marikina valley is still untouched.”

I tried to see if there is a cave beneath the falls, but I can’t.  I remembered Ithilien, the Garden of Gondor.  Behind the falls is a cave of Faramir and his men.  And these lines of Faramir is what Monk’s Hobbit modified for its epigraph:

We look westward to Numenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. (Two Towers, p. 320)

We look westward to the West that was.  We look eastward to the Catholic Church that is.  We look downward in sadness.  We look upward in hope. (Monk’s Hobbit)

Jodie and I went back.  And I looked back.  And I remembered a poem I read in a student literary journal, the Heights magazine, when I was still in college at the Ateneo:

I may never see this sight again
And forget the caress of its waters.
But like a pebble fleeting over its surface
You’ve rippled it, found its mark and lain
And changed the river’s course forever.

Enbrethiliel of Sancta Sanctis blog: the art of Catholic prose

Sancta Sanctis blog is a written by a professional freelance writer and traditionally-minded Catholic.  The blog’s author is Enbrethiliel and her icon is a young lady playing a classical guitar.   I do not know Enbrethiliel personally, but I read a few of her posts, and from them I learned who she is.

Enbrethiliel

The name Enbrethiliel is probably a shortened form of Elbereth Gilthoniel in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  Elbereth is one of Middle Earth’s “gods” who sang the world to existence, based on their knowledge of the Music in the Mind of Illuvatar  (Almighty God).  She is named in Silmarrillion as Varda, the Lady of the Stars, who sits at the right hand of  Manwe–a sitting position similar to that of Christ the King and Mary the Queen in the Union of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary:

When Manwe there ascends his throne and looks forth, if Varda is beside him, he sees further than all other eyes, through mist, and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea.  And if Manwe is with her, Varda hears more clearly than all other ears the sound of voices that cry from east to west, from the hills and the valleys, and from the dark places that Melkor has made upon Earth.  Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love.  Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars.

So what does the name Enbrethiliel tell us about the lady behind the blog?  She is a literature major and a Tolkien fan.  Her posts are replete with references to Greek tragedies and English epics.  She says she also loves the prose of Chesterton–those long sentences built from words upon words, phrases upon phrases, and clauses upon clauses, until you reach the end of the paradox, and see truth expressed in a single line, in a single DOGMA OF FAITH.  Tolkien does this too at times when he wants to slowly narrate the coming of the dawn on the fields of Rohan or the sudden fall of Baradur, the fortress of Sauron.

Enbrethiliel’s prose has the hallmarks of the writers she admires, but she is her own style–humorous, briliant, frank, sincere.  I love to read her posts, not only to know more about our Catholic Faith in the Philippines, but also to study her prose as a specimen of good blogging.  If she she writes well enough for 30-minute posts, how much more wondrous must it have been to read her more finely crafted pieces, not necessarily those she was paid to write, but those she herself admires and enjoys reading again and again.

Enbrethiliel has a devotion to Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Indeed, one of her posts is about the Lady of the Philippines; the others are on St. Faustina and the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Just as the blogger loves music, she also loves the harmony of the truths of the Catholic Faith.  When she hears a discordant note, as when the Archbishop of Manila recommends the communion by the hand and not on the tongue, she cries out loud.

Sancta Sanctis

I do not know how to translate Sancta Sanctis.  My Latin is still poor.  But Sancta is probably the root of Santa or Saint and Sanctis is the root of sanctity.  So the probable translation is “from holiness to holiness,” a growth in holiness.

What does the name Sancta Sanctis say about the author?  The author loves Latin.  She says she always have the Latin Grammar book at her side.  So probably she speaks and writes well in Latin, which is handy for a literature major who would never be satisfied until she reads the original, untranslated texts: Dante’s Purgatorio in Italian and San Juan de la Cruz’s poems in Spanish.

I haven’t read her post about the traditional mass, though, since she appears  to go only to a Novus Ordo mass; for otherwise, the communion by the hand would not be an issue for her.  But I am sure, she would love to be in a Latin mass if it is in her parish.

Holiness to holiness.  Enbrethieliel wants to grow in holiness.  Many of her posts are about saints, our models for holiness.  Her favorite saint is St. Therese of Liseux.  She also once posted about her devotion to St. Thomas More: she asked him to treat her like one of his daughters, and help her become a literature major.  Her prayer was granted, but she admitted that her fervor has waned.  She wants to bring it back.

I enjoyed reading Enbrethiliel’s Sancta Sanctis blog.  I am still reading her older posts: they never grow stale, for they are not news to be read today and forgotten tomorrow; her posts are ever new.  Like Wordsworth watching daffodils, I read and read but little thought, what wealth this blog to me had brought.