On the problem of crowd estimation for the Aug. 4, 2012 EDSA prayer rally: an interview for CBCP News

Crowd size estimate during the Aug. 4, 2012 EDSA Prayer Rally

Crowd size estimate during the Aug. 4, 2012 EDSA Prayer Rally

My estimate of the crowd size during the Aug. 4 EDSA Prayer Rally was featured in CBCP News.  I was then asked by CBCP News to answer a few follow-up questions.  But since I tend to answer in paragraphs and not in sentences, I think my response would not fit into a regular news column.  So I’ll post my responses here and CBCP News can simply copy parts of it or repost the whole thing:

1.) Why did you feel you needed to come out with this crowd estimate, considering that other groups had come out with their figures?

After coming from the Aug. 4 EDSA rally, I read in Facebook about the estimates published in newspapers which give figures of 7,000 and 10,000 persons for the rally. My hunch is that newspaper writers have a deadline for sending their articles before 3 pm, so that it can be part of tomorrow’s headlines. Thus, the crowd present during the 5 p.m. mass was not counted. So I made my own estimates and came up with 45,000 to 60,000 persons

2) What is your field of expertise and how long have you been with the Manila Observatory?

My expertise is in theoretical physics, particularly in the use of Clifford (geometric) algebra in many branches of physics: mechanics, optics, and electromagnetics. I am an Assistant Professor of Physics at Ateneo de Manila University. I do my research on ionosphere and magnetosphere at Manila Observatory’s Ionosphere Research Building, now known as ICSWSE (International Center for Space Weather Science and Education) Subcenter. I was with MO since 2008 when I was still writing my Ph.D. dissertation. But I do not speak in behalf of the Ateneo Physics Department or of Manila Observatory. I speak only on my own as a theoretical physicist.

3) Are there other methods of crowd estimation? What limitation could these methods have?

Ideally, there should be a camera at the top of Robinson’s Galleria or aboard a plane or a satellite, so that we can get pictures at different times and determine the exact extent of the crowd in time.  Here is a good example of how crowd estimation is done from wired.com:

At President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony, the high-resolution, Earth-orbiting GeoEye-1 satellite took pictures from 423 miles away, and another camera was hanging from a balloon 700 feet off the ground. After examining pictures from both of these sources, researchers put crowd estimates at anywhere from 1 to 2 million.

In the manual method of crowd estimation, you can mark out the areas with similar crowd densities by encircling the areas with a colored pen or by subdividing the areas into a regular grid of square boxes. Areas with similar crowd densities we can refer to as clusters. You can then zoom in to one part of the cluster, count the number of persons per square meter, and multiply this by the area of the cluster. The result is the number of persons per cluster. Then you add all the number of persons in each cluster to get the size of the crowd. The only difficulty is to determine which group of people belongs to in a particular cluster. The more cluster types you use, the more precise your estimate becomes, but it also makes distinguishing one cluster from another more difficult. The fewer clusters you use, the easier it is to distinguish each cluster, but the margin of errors in crowd size estimates would be bigger.

In the computer method of crowd estimation, one way is to get the total area of the black parts and divide it by the average area of each black head in the image. The principle is straightforward and there are computer programs that can do this, depending on the threshold level for the gray scale. But what makes this method difficult is the possibility of counting black shadows and black shirts, too, which would increase the crowd estimate. Furthermore, umbrellas and blondes would make the method useless.  There is also the problem image distortion due to perspective (areas closer to the camera appear larger) and camera lens imaging (straight lines becomes curved due to pincushion and barrel distortion).  And as your camera goes higher and higher to see the whole crowd, image resolution deteriorates, making it difficult for the computer and even for human crowd estimators to distinguish one person in the crowd from another.  To write a computer algorithm for crowd estimation that can handle all these problems is a very difficult challenge.

I am using the manual method. Since I don’t have a picture of an aerial view of the whole crowd, I have to make estimates on the extent of the crowd based on the pictures available, and assume there is only one cluster for the whole crowd for simplicity–an assumption which I think is a valid if you look at the pictures by Anna Cosio in Carlos Palad’s blog, Catholic Position vs the RH Bill. I computed the total estimated area covered by the crowd by dividing the area into strips with the same 17 m width, and added the area of each strip.  The I used some rules of thumb in wired.com. I verified these rules by drawing on the floor a square with one meter on each side. I stood inside the square and found that 4 people can fit there with enough elbow room as I saw in the pictures. So I used 4 persons/sq.m. and came up with 60,000 persons. Even if I assume only 3 persons/sq.m., that is still 45,000 persons. I doubt that the crowd density is only 2 persons/sq.m., but even that gives 30,000 persons, which is still three times the estimate of 10,000 in newspapers.

4. Does the Manila Observatory do crowd estimation regularly? When?

No, Manila Observatory as an institution does not do crowd estimation, because its focus is primarily on geophysics and disaster science–earthquakes, typhoons, pollution, and space weather–and how these disasters can be quantified, predicted, mitigated, and avoided to save more lives. Some of my colleagues at the observatory–three of them also my fellow physics faculty in Ateneo–are working on satellite and ground data to map out climate change, rainfall patterns, and land use. But the techniques in satellite and ground data processing can easily be applied to crowd estimation, provided sufficient data such as aerial and street level photos are available. In Ateneo de Manila University, there are undergraduate students who are writing software for monitoring pedestrians and for counting fish fingerlings. There are also researchers working with cameras on toy planes to map out flooded areas. Many of these researchers are members of the Ateneo Innovation Center under Dr. Greg Tangonan, who is also the Director for the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). In short, there is expertise in Manila Observatory and Ateneo de Manila University to do crowd estimation. It is only a question whether they are interested to do it for street rallies and whether they have the manpower to do the research.  The harvest is great but the laborers are few.

As a theoretical physicist, I only do crowd estimation using pen and paper, and the Aug. 4 EDSA Prayer Rally was my first work. I am willing to do crowd estimation regularly as a service for the Church, provided I am given sufficient data consisting of time-stamped pictures in aerial and street level views. The results of the analysis can be published in the web, i.e. in my blog. Other researchers can then challenge the methodology and assumptions, and come up with their estimates using the same or more comprehensive data set. If there are more researchers working on this problem, we can create a Philippine Journal on Crowd Estimation. The results can be applied to any type of crowd–armies of ants, schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of cattle–even if they would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens or as the sands in the sea.  For this is how science is done: a continuous dialogue in search for truth.

View of the EDSA Shrine during the Aug. 4., 2012 Prayer Rally

View of the crowd at EDSA Shrine during the Aug. 4., 2012 Prayer Rally (picture by Quirino Sugon Jr.)

5) Do you think your personal convictions affected your scientific work on this particular crowd estimation? Why or why not?

I am a Catholic who loves the Church in the same way as Faramir loves Gondor: “And I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise” (Two Towers, p. 314-315). I read the Bible, the Catechism, the lives and writings of saints, and the history of the Church. I organize Latin masses and promote the rosary. In the case of the RH Bill, and of all other issues such as women ordination, same-sex marriage, and human evolution, I only follow what St. Ignatius of Loyola laid down in his Spiritual Exercises–The Rules for Thinking, Judging, and Feeling with the Church:

Rule 1: With all judgment of our own put aside, we ought to keep our
minds disposed and ready to be obedient in everything to the true
Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical

Rule 13: To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast
to this principle: What I see as white, I will believe to be black if
the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that
between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Spouse,
there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the
salvation of our souls. For it is by the same Spirit and Lord of ours
who gave the ten commandments that our holy Mother Church is guided
and governed.

But I am also a physicist with a passion for precision as the data allows. My model for a scientist is St. Ignatius who counts the number of times he fell into a particular fault per day by writing dots in a paper and observing how the number of dots decrease as the days go by. St. Ignatius is one great observer of the motions of his soul that the Society of Jesus he founded became one great network of observatories for observing the motions of the world–the oceans and winds, the moon and stars. The Jesuits are the pioneers in many branches of physics because their mission is to go to the frontiers of knowledge and the crossroads of cultures in order to convert the world for Christ. Seismology was dominated Jesuits during its early development and Padre Faura of Manila Observatory made the first prediction of typhoon tracks in the country. As a tribute to their scientific work, 35 lunar craters are named after Jesuits, with one of the largest named after Fr. Christopher Clavius, SJ, the architect of the Gregorian calendar we now use and a scientist who was treated with great respect by Galileo.

As a Jesuit-trained lay physicist, I am married to my profession, so to speak, and I am faithful to my craft. What I write as a physicist, the others can verify even if they are not Catholics. What I compute is to the best of my knowledge using the available data and the time constraint–I have to publish my estimate the next day.  More precise estimates require days or weeks of work. I hope somebody can correct me and present a more precise estimate of crowd size during the Aug. Anti-RH Bill rally using more accurate data and better methodology.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as Catholic missionaries

Export Quality Christians

by Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ

San Pedro Bautista, OFM, in taking care of Japanese exiles living in Dilao, Paco, Manila was inspired to set up a center for training missionaries for Japan. Then he himself went to Japan and was martyred. San Ezechiel Montero. OAR, labored in Mindoro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, and Las Pinas. He may have baptized Gen. Miguel Malvar, the last Filipino general to surrender to the Americans Before he died in Spain, he received the professions of several missionaries to the Philippines who later were martyred in the Spanish civil war and were beatified by Pope John Paul II.
One of them, Fr. Leon Ynchausti OAR was the ancestor of Jesuit Manny Perez.

Blessed Diego de Sanvitores S.J., on his way to Philippines, passed by Guam where he saw the rich harvest in Guam. He labored in Mindoro, Marikina Valley and Manila. After several refusals, he was finally missioned to Guam. There he was martyred with Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a layman. When news of their deaths reached the Philippines, there were joyous public celebrations. Later Manila again publicly rejoiced when Fr. Francisco Esquera, S.J. was martyred in Guam. The added reason was that he was from Manila.

San Lorenzo Ruiz, a layman, was martyred in Japan in the company of Dominican martyrs. Jesuits too received the crown of martyrdom in Japan during the same persecutions.

The Philippine Hierarchy established a missionary congregation, the Philippine Mission Society, which recruits and trains diocesan vocations for foreign missions.

Right after ordination an SVD ordinatus is assigned a foreign mission. RVM sisters, Daughters of the Divine Zeal, MSSCs, FMMs and Missionary Sisters of St. Columban, to name a few, can be found in many countries. This is evidence that the Philippine church is coming of age, has become a missioning church. Jesuit scholastics too have been sent to foreign missions. The first was Rodolfo Fernandez who was assigned to Japan. Now they can be found in East Timor, Cambodia, Myanmar, and other places. Notable is scholastic Richard Fernando who gave his life for
disabled Cambodians.

Now too, laymen are foreign missionaries but they have not been missioned. These are the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), thousands of them. They fill empty churches, fill the air with joyous Hontiveros songs, praising God. They are the answer to the prayer of parish priests who have only a few old people left in the parish. They are active in the parish. Many a fallen-away Catholic returns to the faith of their fathers led by a child catechized by a yaya. A Filipina, taking care of children left alone by parents keeping up with the Joneses, shares the essentials of the Faith. The OFWs, who stayed away from churches at home, become fervent Catholics and even become apostles. In christianizing others, they christianize themselves. Ang bagong bayani ng bayan are also bagong bayani ng simbahan.

Their efforts are efficacious, even without training in catechetics. God more than makes up for their shortcoming. God cannot be kept from being with those he loves. He will always find or make the way. The hand of God is not shortened. *

Maids, or domestic helpers in Beirut, Lebanon, walking the dogs of their masters discovered a shrine of our Lady of Lourdes. They made it a frequent place to visit. Not only do they fill empty cold churches, they also people forgotten neglected shrines. Cardinal Sin was able to send many priests to Rome for their annual retreat without spending, since money came from one who had returned to the church because of their children were
practicing the faith. These had been catechized by a maid.

In Philadelphia the OFWs set up novenas on Wednesday. Not to Our Lady of Perpetual Help but to some other Saint. This shows that they were able to adapt. They carried their practices in the same way that the early Jesuits brought to South America through the Atlantic Ocean, and the dangers from Huegenots, their image of the House of Nazareth. In the diocese of Sacramento, California, they got the Bishop to allow the simbang gabi novena. In the grip of wintry cold before dawn, the Bishop celebrated the mass and socialized with the folks as they partook of warm salabat (ginger
tea) and bibingka (rice cakes). At peril of losing their lives, men and women in Muslim countries gathered for the celebration of mass and in sharing communion with those unable to go to the improvised chapels.

Without an missioning ceremonies, the OFWs are Christianizing a dechristianized Europe and Muslim countries. Just as the early church was spread not only by missionaries but by slaves, the same task is being achieved by lowly domestics.

“Send, O Lord of the harvest, more apostles into your church.”

blog: pedrocalungsod.blogspot.com
God bless you and all your efforts. Victor Badillo SJ

Fr. Francisco O. Montecastro, SJ (1933-2012): Shepherding even while bedridden

Shepherding Even While Bedridden
by Florge Sy, S.J.*

Fr. Francisco Montecastro, SJ

Fr. Francisco Montecastro, SJ

Fr. Monte was born on May 5, 1933.  He died about a week before his 79th birthday. At the age of 21, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1954), was ordained when he was 35 years old in 1968, and took his final vows in 1977.

Looking at the curriculum vitae of Fr. Monte, we can say that he lived a very active life before he joined our community in the infirmary. He had been to various apostolates and ministries in the provinces.

He was in Davao for 11 years as assistant director of the Mindanao Development Center.  He was in Cagayan de Oro for 6 years and served as a parish priest in Lumbia and director of regents and pastoral activities in St. John Maria Vianney Seminary.

He spent 9 years of ministry in Zamboanga del Sur, where he was a pastor in the parishes of Kabasalan, Margosatubig, Naga, Bayog, and Buug.

He then spent a year as a parish priest in Kalilangan, Bukidnon, another year in Sacred Heart Parish-Cebu, and another year in the Philippine General Hospital as acting chaplain.

Those were active years indeed, but then he was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer and was brought to the infirmary in 2001.  His stay in the infirmary was one of the longest periods of his Jesuit life in the same community.  He was in the Lucas infirmary for 11 years.

In order to give us a glimpse of how Fr. Ben was during his stay in the infirmary, I have asked some of the present and former members of the infirmary staff about what they remember about Fr. Monte.  Here are some of their recollections…

A former member of the infirmary staff has this to say:

“Sometime in February 2003, on my first day of duty, I asked Fr. Montecastro’s permission if I could call him Tito Ben.  The other members of the staff asked me why.  I said he reminded me of an uncle.  Fr. Montecastro has been my Tito Ben since then.  A caregiver’s life isn’t easy.  But Tito Ben’s smile after every task made it a lot less difficult.  Even during bad times, there would always be a trace, a hint of a smile.  That
is what I would miss most about Tito Ben.”

Another one who is still with the infirmary recalls:

“Maybe two or three months ago, as I accompanied Dr. de la Vega in her rounds, she said, “How strong he is!”  I replied, “Maybe even in his condition, he still has a mission.”  She agreed, “But what is his mission?”

I answered her, “Training ground for our caregivers and nurses.  They learn patience while taking care of him, while feeding him through his PEG, while cleaning his tracheal tube, and in being careful in turning him when he had bedsores.”  It was quite an achievement for our staff when we saw Fr. Monte’s  bedsores healing.  Thanks to him we were able to train and
produce good and dedicated caregivers and nurses.”

A head-nurse in the infirmary also shared his recollection:

“Fr. Montecastro was already bedridden when I came. The earlier staff  remember when he could still speak and could be transferred to the  wheelchair.   He was bedridden for a long time but the caretakers did not cease taking care of him.  They gave him a bed bath twice a day, fed him using the PEG, kept monitoring him in case he needed to be have the phlegm  suctioned so that
he could not have difficulty breathing and kept turning him so bedsores would not develop.”

“When I had finished my other duties,  I would go to his room to read to him a book on reflections for every day, and on Sundays we turned on the radio or TV so he could hear the mass.  I am so grateful I took care of him for I learned how to be patient, how to value life and strengthen my faith.”

And a more recent caregiver has this to share:

“Above all, , Advanced Happy Birthday, Tatay Ben.  My sadness is mixed with joy for you.  I knew you when you were very sickly and I know you hear what I am saying.  You hear when we call you Baby Ben for that is what you are to us.  – a baby who needs constant  care.. Thanks, Tatay Ben for being a listener when I needed to talk. Though you did not answer, I know that you are praying for me.  Thanks for giving me the experience that I may be skilled in my profession.   Tatay Ben, thanks for showing me that I can carry on in spite of the problems that may come.  Like you, however many the problems, there will be no giving up.”

On a personal note, it amazes me how someone who was bound to his bed, who could no longer walk and talk, and who was seemingly unaware of his surroundings could still continue to be an inspiration for people around him.  Perhaps, what we are, our being, is still much more important than our “doing” or what we can do.

Last Monday, at Mass in the infirmary, in the middle of Fr. Balchand’s homily on our Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd who knows his flock, who calls his flock, who leads his flock, and who lays down his life for his flock, someone whispered to me to immediately go to the room of Fr. Monte.  Sensing that something was not right, I left the chapel and proceeded to the room of Fr. Monte without delay.

I was too late.  I was no longer able to catch his last breath. It was 6:20 in the evening when he joined the Lord.

I have very little idea about how Fr. Monte was as a shepherd before he joined us in the infirmary.  But these accounts from the caregivers and nurses who had the opportunity to be of service to him tell me he must have been a great shepherd when he was still on his feet.  He was a good shepherd to them, you see, even when he was totally limited to his bed.

I do not totally understand the why of the long years of waiting, of being in bed for 11 years, before Fr. Monte finally heard the voice of the Good Shepherd calling him to join him in heaven.  But there is one thing I am sure about:  The Good Shepherd of us all, who also refers to himself in the Gospel as the Light of the world so that everyone who believes in him might not remain in darkness, is now leading Fr. Monte to the kingdom of his Father.

While I was writing this homily, I was reminded of a song based on Psalm

Shepherd me O God,
Beyond my wants beyond fears from death unto life.
God is my shepherd so nothing shall I want,
I rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love,
I walk by the quiet waters of peace.
Gently you raise and heal my weary soul,
You lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth,
My spirit shall sing the music of your name.
Though I should wander the valley of death,
I fear no evil, for you are at my side,
Your rod and your staff, my comfort and my hope.
You have set me a banquet of love in the face of hatred,
Crowning me with love beyond my power to hold.
Surely your kindness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forevermore.

Thank you, Fr. Ben.  May you enjoy the bounty of eternal life in heaven
where the Good Shepherd is leading you.

Loyola School of Theology: Theological Hour on Blessed Pedro Calungsod by Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, SJ

Loyola School of Theology

presents a Theological Hour on

Blessed Pedro Calungsod

Lay Missionary Catechist

Prospective Filipino Saint

In anticipation of the canonization of Bl Pedro Calungsod

with Fr Jose VC Quilongquilong, SJ, STD

Assistant Professor of Spirituality, LST

Rector, Loyola House of Studies

Chairman, Commission on National Pilgrims for the Canonization of Bl Pedro Calungsod

22 February  2012, Wednesday


Cardinal Sin Center, Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University

Admission is free.

Ateneo Latin Mass Society has a new WordPress blog

I made a new blog for the Ateneo Latin Mass Society in WordPress: ateneolatinmass.wordpress.com.  I shall post there all the activities of the Ateneo Latin Mass Society and other notes and announcements on the liturgy.  Since I do not wish to duplicate content (because Google does not love duplicates), the Monk’s Hobbit blog will be solely focused on Philippine Catholic culture and Catholic apologetics, with some tidbits about Philippine Jesuits and Ateneo de Manila University.

Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) at the Oratory of St. Ignatius in Loyola House of Studies on 26 Jan 2012

Latin Mass at Oratory of St. Ignatius in Loyola House of Studies on Jan 26, 2012

Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ: The New English Translation of the Roman Missal and Liturgical Renewal

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ gives a talk at the Theological Hour of the Loyola School of Theology

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ gives a talk at the Theological Hour of the Loyola School of Theology

by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ

(This talk was given this January 11, 2012, 10:30-12:00 at the Cardinal Sin Center, Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila)


Forty-seven years after Vatican II and 43 years after publication of the Roman Missal of Paul VI, a new English translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal is now in use in the English speaking world.  The role of the Roman Missal is vital in the ongoing liturgical renewal desired by Vatican II.  PCP II twenty years ago also listed ‘liturgical renewal’ as one of the tasks of the Church in the Philippines in its goal of renewed integral evangelization. It lists the Eucharist, particularly the Sunday celebration, as among the more vital areas of renewal.[1]

As early as 2009 when the new translation of the Ordinary of the Mass was made available on the web by the USCCB, voices of alarm were raised from all quarters.  Rumours of a reform of the reform had been circulating since Pope Benedict became pope in 2005 and the new English translation was seen as part of that alleged reform.  The issuance of the Instruction Summorum Pontificum issued motu propio in 2007 which allowed the more liberal use of the pre-VAtican II Tridentine Latin Mass further buttressed the belief in a perceived papal policing of the Roman liturgy.  There were fears of a return to the pre-Vatican II liturgy, and that the new English translation would revert the Church back to the old Latin Liturgy.  The truth of the matter, if we care to look back, is that Liturgicam Authenticam is a product of Pope John Paul II’s document Vigesimus quintus annus, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which called for an opportune stock-taking, not least in the area of faithfulness in translation.  The editio typica of the Missale Romanum on which the new English translation is based, was published by the Holy See in 2002, when Blessed John Paul II was still gloriously reigning, and Liturgicam authenticam on which the new English translation was based, was published by the Holy See in 2001, again during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II.  If anything, the present pope, Benedict XVI, is only implementing, and continuing, the changes set in motion by his predecessor.

On the other hand, the English translation of the editio typica of the Missale Romanum of 1969 and the editio typica altera of 1975 was based on the translation principle of dynamic or functional equivalence as elucidated in the document Comme le prevoit— On the Translation of Liturgical Texts for Clebrations with a Congregation issued by the Consilium for Implementing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on January 25, 1969.  Dynamic equivalence attempts to convey the thought expressed in a source text (if necessary, at the expense of literalness, orginal word order, the source text’s grammatical voice, etc.)

The new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal of 2002, is based on the principle of formal equivalence as explained in the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 28 March 2001 requiring that in translations of the liturgical texts from the official Latin originals, “the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses.  Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.”

The two approaches represent emphasis, respectively, on readability and on literal fidelity  to the source text.  There is no sharp boundary between dynamic and formal equivalence.  All the polemics and reactions for and against the new English translation are based on these two principles of translation.

Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds in England, and Chairman of ICEL, notes that objections to ICEL’s translation work are really objections to Liturgiam authenticam.  Stipulations of this instruction differ markedly from those of the earlier document, Comme le prevoit.  These two documents do not have the same status: the earlier document was issued by the Consilium, the latter by the Congregation.  At the heart of Comme le prevoit was the idea of “dynamic equivalence”, as achieved when a translator detaches the “content” of an utterance from the “form” in which it is expressed.

Bishop Roche cites, for example, the Third Eucharistic Prayer when we say ‘so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made,’ to translate the Latin ‘ut a solis ortu usque ad ocasum oblatio munda offeratur.’  The poponents of dynamic equivalence say that ‘from east to west’ conveys the same information as ‘from the rising of the sun to its setting’, which is how the new translation renders it.  But the meaning of this phrase is richer: it is an expression found in Malachi 1:11:

See from the rising of the sun to its settinbg all the nations revere my Name and everywhere incense is offered to my Name as well as a pure offering.

The expression is likewise found in the Psalms.  It has been said by those who did not understand the context of the expression that to complete it, it should be rendered as ‘from north to south, and from east to west…’ whcih is not exactly the point of the expression; certainly the original Latin text does not have that sense in the expression.

Another example cited by Bishop Roche is found in the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer in the phrase, ‘ex genimine vitis repletum’ rendered in the new translation as ‘the fruit of the vine’ in the Institution Narrative.  The present translation says, ‘He took the cup filled with wine.’ Some argue that ‘the fruit of the vine’ means the same as the single word ‘wine,’ and that the simpler expression should be preferred.  But the words ‘the fruit of the vine’ are said by the Lord Himself in all three synoptic Gospels–this phrase has a powerful salvific resonance because of the symbolic value accorded to the vine and the vineyard in Scripture, as recalled by  Jesus’ elaboration in John 15 of the image of Himself as the true vine, His Father as the vinedresser, and ourselves as the branches.  This echoes back an even earlier usage in Isaiah 5–the famous “Song of the Vineyard”–and the Lord’s lament at the degeneracy of his once choice vine in Jeremiah 2.  Of course, the word wine connects with this Scriptural patrimony, but it does so les evidently than does the phrase ‘fruit of the vine’ which, upon each hearing, encourages us in our imaginations to see the particular Eucharistic event as part o fthe unfolding of God’s universal plan within history to rescue us from the destruction and chaos occasioned by our sinfulness and bring us into communion with Himself and with each other in Christ.[2]

And so, the new English translation of the Roman Missal is not meant to revert the Churchback to the old Latin liturgy, as many fear.  Forty-eight years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, and thirty-eight years after the first publication of the English Sacaramentary, the Holy See through the new International Commision on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)[3] and Vox Clara Committee[4] thought that it was now time to revise the English translation of the Roman Missal which was published as the English Sacramentary.  ICEL and Vox Clara both felt that there was a need to make a new translation that would be more thorough, clearer and nearer to the Latin original text.  Why this preoccupation with fidelity of the vernacular translation to the original Latin text?  We will shortly answer this sensitive question.

As early as 1992 when the old ICEL issued a proposed new translation of the Ordinary of the Mass of the Missal of Paul VI (presumably that project is now moot and academic since the disbanding of the group) until the appearance of “semi-offcial” English translation in 2009 of the Ordo Missae of the Missale Romanum editio typica tertia, I was hopeful for the revision of the Missale Romanum editio typica of 1969, and the editio typica altera of 1975, both under the pontificate of Paul VI.  Both earlier typical editions appeared in English translation of the Roman Sacramentary published by the old ICEL, and in Tagalog and other vernacular translations published by various diocesan liturgical commissions.

Reasons to be Hopeful

Hopeful, because

  1. I thought that finally some needed corrections could be put into place in this latest edition of the Roman Missal, vis-a-vis the presidential prayers: the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi could be applied to the text of the prayers.  This is my response to the question I just posed concerning the fidelity of the vernacular translation to the Latin original.  With the present translations–in English, Tagalog and Cebuano–I somehow have the feeling that they were hurriedly done given the exigency in 1969 of coming up with a workable translation for use in Masses in the vernacular[5].  In the process, the truths of the Catholic fraith were watered down in paraphrases and generalizations, and the results are vague statements and platitudes that do not explicitly express the Catholic faith.  In other words, some truths were somehow “lost in translation.”
  2. I am also hopeful for the revision because I have always felt even before my priestly ordination in  1979 that the language of the Missal in the vernacular, since it is addressed to God, should be above the casual manner of human speech.  In other words, it should be elegant and dignified, respectful but not distant, nor detached, or cold.  With the new translation I thought that this situation could finally be remedied.

These are the two main reasons for my high hopes for the new Englsih translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.  There is reason to hope that the postconciliar liturgical renewal will continue with, and be enhanced by, this new English Missal.

At the time I wrote this article, I had not yet seen the entire published Englsih Missal.  I have a soft copy of some parts of it which also includes the new Ordo Missae.  I have noted the verbal changes in various parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, and as a whole, I like them.  I have also read quite a number of articles pro and contra published in the web, and have noted the merits and demerits of the points they raised.

The Case of the Tagalog Missal: Aklat ng Pagmimisa sa Roma

It seems to me that the present situtation of the new English translation can be compared to the introduction in 1981 of the then new Tagalog translation of the Missal, the current Aklat ng Pagmimisa sa Roma spearheaded by my friend and classmate in the minor seminary, the late Monsignor Moises Andrade.  I was a young priest then, and I remember how fellow priests protested and created stir against the new translation which was so different fro the translation then in use, the Misal Romano of Monsignor Jose Abriol.  For one I questioned the quaint title of the book: Aklat ng Pagmimisa sa Roma.  I realized it was a literal translation of the Latin, Missale Romanum, which was formerly translated as Misal Romano (from the Spanish).  Then, too, I thought the language of the Aklat ng Pagmimisa was archaic and difficult to proclaim, the sentences/phrases of the orations were in many places convoluted, such that by the time one got to the end of the prayer, one did not know exactly what one prayed for.  The Aklat also used a somewhat stilted, poetic style–with measure and rhyme–which I felt was rather too contrived and artificial.  One of the disputed words in the Aklat was ‘hinawakan Niya ang tinapay’ for ‘He took the Bread’ in the Consecration formula, which many of us then thought would have been better translated as ‘kinuha Niya ang tinapay,’ which is the more accurate translation of the Latin accepit panem.  Another word that was disputed was ‘pagindapatin,’ for ‘to make worthy’ which we felt would be more naturally translated as ‘marapatin’.  These expressions and others like them might have sounded familiar and normal speech in Bulacan, but certainly not in all of the Tagalog-speaking regions.  When I asked Monsignor Andrade why the Tagalog translation did not undergo a trial period for corrections and reactions the way the old ICEL did with its green and gray books, he told me that the process was tedious and would take long.  Let the priests wrestle with it, he said; there is no other offical Tagalog translation approved by the Holy See.  Thjat was thirty years agao.  Today, the Aklat ng Pagmimisa is the standard liturgical book in all parishes in the Tagalog region, and while there are still occasional complaints about the Tagalog vernacular translation, all seems quiet on the pastoral front.

First-Hand Experience of the New Translation

Since Advent 2011, the whole English-speaking world-except the Philippines–has started to use the new English translation.  In the Diocese of Novaliches, where I serve as pastor in a subdivision parish, the Local Ordinary, Bishop Antonio Tobias, decided to have the new English translation used in English Masses in order to, in the bishop’s own words, “slowly acquaint the parishioners with the language of the new translation.”  Although I would have preferred the this were done more systematically withy proper catechesis, I plunged into it head-on, and the results were unexpected.

For one, the change was no big deal for the Mass-goers.  They responded to the dialogue without difficulty; there was no big deal about ‘And with your spirit…,’ no big deal about ‘through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault’ in the Confiteor, no big deal about ‘consubstantial,’ about ‘sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall‘ in the Eucharistic Prayer II, about ‘I am not worthy that you enter under my roof…’  They were quite attentive and conscientious in their responses.

What I myself found out was because I was so familiar with the old translation to the point of having committed to memory the Ordinary of the Mass–three of the Eucharistic Prayers included–realized that I could very easily trip on the words of the new translation for the simple reason that I thought I knew exactly what was coming, but o my surprise the phrasing was different from what I have gotten used to.  Hopefully this will eventually be remedied with constant use.

So how do I find the English of the new translation, particularly the presidential prayers?  The first thing I observed is that the translation has mostly retained the courtliness and stateliness of the Latin original.  Compared to the simple and direct language of the former translation, the language of the new translation bespeaks of a healthy recovery of formal language, the language we address to God.  There is in the prayers a rich theological density or complexity, a whole theology that makes us attuned to God and thus transfigures us, in contrast to the accessible, bland, flat and abstract language of the former translation.  Another obvious quality of the prayers is the poetry, the Biblical metaphor and concrete imagery they contain.

The Importance of Language in Worship

At this point the obvious argument in favour of the translation based on the principle of dynamic equivalence would be the use of simple, succinct and direct language which so appeals to our postmodern sensibilities.  Why use a language pattern in worship that is so estranged to the speech of the ordinary person?  Should not the language of worship reflect a speech pattern identical to that of the ordinary person’s in his communication?

In response to this, liturgical scholar Uwe Michael Lang comments that “[l]anguage is not only an instrument that serves to communicate facts, which it seeks to do in the most simple and efficient way, but it is also the means to express our mind in a way that involves the whole person.  Consequently, langauge is also the means by which we express thoughts and religious experiences.[6]

The use of the sacred language–and this rightly includes Latin–in the liturgical celebration is part of what St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae calls ‘solemnitas’.  The Angelic Doctor teaches: “What is found in the sacraments by human institution is not necessary to the validity of the sacrament, but confers a certain solemnity, useful in the sacraments to exercise devotion and reespect in those who receive it”[7].  Sacred language, being the means of expression not only of individuals, but rather of a community that follows its traditions, is conservative: it maintains the archaic linquistic forms with tenacity.  Moreover, introduced in it are external elements, in so far as associated to an ancient religious tradition.  A paradigmatic case is the Hebrew bibilical vocabulary in the Latin used by Christians (Amen, Alleluia, Hosanna, etc), as St. Augustine already observed.[8]

The Old and the New Prayers Compared

At the beginning of this talk, I said that there is much hope for the continuation of the postconciliar liturgical renewal with the new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal.  It attempts to capture concepts of the faith contained in the Latin text more accurately, and thus embodies the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi, specifically in the euchology of the Missal.  The prayers we pray at Mass ought to clearly express what we believe.  By way of example, let us take a look at the Collect Prayer for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  This Collect was in the pre-conciliar 1962 MR, the so-called “Tridentine” Missal, for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany.

Collect–Latin text (2002 MR):

Familiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, continua pieta custodi, ut quae in sola spe gratiae caelestis innititur, tua semper protectione muniatur.[9]

A quasi-literal English translation would render it as:

Guard your family, we beseech you, O Lord, with continual mercy, so that that (family) which is proppingt itself up upon the sole hope of heavenly grace may always be defended by your protection.

The Old ICEL, using the principle of dynamic equivalence in 1973, rendered it in English translation as:

Father, watch over your family and keep us safe in your care, for all our hope is in you.

The new, corrected version of the new Roman Missal, using the principle of formal equivalence, renders the prayer thus:

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection.

Comparing the two versions of the Collect prayer, it is quite obvious that the version used in the 3rd edition MR has more substance to it than the rather lame and bland rendition of the 1970 MR.  For one, the idea expressed in the ut-clause–reliance on the hope of heavenly grace–in the 3rd edition MR is absent from the 1970 MR.

In general, with the new translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, the Liturgy will be more formal and theologically deeper, more evocative emotionally and intellectually.[10]

Conditions for the Continuation of Liturgical Renewal

For the liturgical renewal to continue, however, it will need more than just the third edition of the Roman Missal.  Several factors play an important role in achieving this renewal.  There may be others, but these are the more obvious ones:

  1. instill love and respect for the Liturgy, especially the Mass, in the seminary training of candidates for Orders–in the classroom, in the chapel and in the apostolate;
  2. review the ideas/concepts behind the ars celebrandi of priests when they celebrate the Mass;
  3. fidelity-not rigidity–to the directions or rubrics in the Roman Missal.
In terms of directions or rubrics, aside from the suggestion for adlibbing, as in “in these or similar words,” all three editions of the Roman Missal are clear and if adhered to by celebrants (“say the black, do the red,” as they say) can contribute to a reverent, God-centered celebration of Mass.
For postconciliar liturgical renewal to continue, the seminary formation of candidates for Orders will have to be seriously looked into, both in classes on sacraments and liturgy and in seminary community liturgical celebrations.  What is taught in the classroom must be practiced must be practiced in the seminary daily liturgical celebrations so that a tradition of ars celebrandi is established and imbibed by seminarians preparing for Holy Orders.  It is from the healthy interweaving of sound theologico-liturgical studies and praxis that we can produce priests who have a sense of the sacred, a sense of awe and wonder before the majesty of God, a sense of the mysterium tremendum in the liturgical action they carry out for God’s people in the Church.  If seminary liturgies are sloppily and carelessly celebrated; if seminarians are allowed to “tinker” with, and make unauthorized changes in the Mass, chances are, after ordination, they will repeat the same abuses in the parishes where they will be assigned.  Qualified professors of liturgy and sacraments who know Church Tradition and have a healthy respect for it, need to instill in the hearts of the candidates for Ordination a respect and love for the Liturgy, especially the Mass.


Ultimately, however–and this is my conclusion to this paper–the right direction for liturgical reform depends on the individual celbrant and how he celebrates the Mass: his belief, his attitude, his devotion or the lack of it.  A priest is a steward of the mysteries of God in the Church.  Aas steward (other than acting in persona Christi capitis), the Mass is a treasure entrusted to him by the Church which he must cherish, guard, and preserve.  It is not something he is free to tinker with and make changes to, depending on his understanding or the need of the moment that he perceives.  The Mass he celebrates is not “his” mass; it is the Church’s.

If the priest does not honestly beieve that through his agency simple bread and wine become the precious Body and Blood of the Lord both during Mass and after it; in other words, if he does not dvoutly believe in Transubstantiation and the REal Presence as transmitted to us by the Church and Sacred Tradition, and instead interprets it according to how he understands it; if he does not believe that the Mass is above all the making present of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in an unbloody manner, that it is also the sacrifice of the Church in union with that one sacrifice of Christ; if he sees the Mass solely as a community meal that memorializes the Last Supper; if he regards the Mass primarily as a feast, which celebrates the coming together of the community, and not as the highest form of worship that the Church can render to God under the headship of Jesus Christ the High Priest, then, no matter what revisions the Roman Missal undergoes, liturgical renewal as desired by Vatican II in Sacrosanctum concilium and as envisioned by PCP II will continue to be held hostage by pseudo-liturgists and celebrants who see the Liturgy and the Mass as their “property” and thus indulge in “creative” tinkering to entertain themselves and their audience.


[1] Secretariat, Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II), Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, 1992, Acts and Decrees, nn. 176-181, pp. 66-67.

[2] Cf. Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, Chairman of ICEL, Address to the USCCB, 15 June 2006.

[3] The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is a mixed commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite.  The purpose of the Commission is to prepare Englsih translation so the each of the Latin liturgical books and any individual liturgical texts in accord with the directives of the Holy See.

[4] Vox Clara is a committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthn efective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

[5] The 1973 English translation of the Roman Missal was based on the principle of dynamic equivalence, which is the preferred model for translation in the Instruction Comme le prevoit.

[6] Uwe Michael Lang CO, “The Language of Celebration”

[7] Ibid, Summa Theologiae III, 64, 2; cf. 83, 4.

[8] Ibid., cf. “De doctrina Christiana” II, 34-35 [11-16].

[9] Custodio means “to watch, protect, keep, defend, guard.”  It is common in military language.  Innitor, a deponent verb, means “to learn or rest upon, to support one’s self by any thing.”  Innitor also has military overtones.  The thorough and replete “Lewis & Short Dictionary” provides examples from Caesar and Livy describing soldiers leaning on their spears and shields” cf. Caesar, De bello Gallico 2.27).  Munio is similarly military term for walling up something up, putting in a state of defense, fortifying so as to guard.  Are you sensing a theme?  We need a closer look.

We must make a distinction about pietas when applied to us and when applied to God.  When pietas is attributed to God, it means “mercy”.  Pietas gives us the English word “piety”.  L&S says pietas when applied to persons is “dutiful conduct toward the gods, one’s parents, relatives, benefactors, country, etc., sense of duty.”  It furthermore describes pietas in Jerome’s Vulgate in both Old and New Testament as “conscientiousness, scrupulousness regarding love and duty toward God.”   The heart of pietas is “duty.”  Pietas is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (cf. CCC 733-36; Isaiah 11:2), by which we are duly affectionate and grateful toward our parents, relatives and country, as well as to all men living insofar as they belong to God or are godly, and especially  to the saints.  In loose or common parlance, “piety” indicates fulfilling the duties of religion.  Sometimes “pious” is used in a negative way, as when people take aim at external displays of religious dutifulness as opposed to what they is “genuine” practice (cf. Luke 18:9-14).  (Prayer analysis by Father John Zuhlsdorf, What Does the Prayer Really Say blog, 07 February 2011)

[10] Jerry Filteau, “Liturgy will be more formal, theologically deeper” in Roman Missal, website of the USCCB.

Homily of Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2011


by Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ
Feast of Immaculate Conception 2011
Church of the Gesu

I’ve thought about this for quite some time and with some difficulty. I figured, Mary being conceived without original sin, and remaining free of sin throughout her life—all this would be just too conceptual for me unless I tried to make sense of it from ordinary human experience. If I wish to continue firmly holding in faith this dogma of the Church and giving it my unflinching assent, I figured I had better get busy. I’d better get busy trying to make sense of Mary’s extraordinary estate from what I can ordinarily grasp in this day and age, where you and I are right now, and with a sinner’s eyes like mine. I mean, just what kind of conscience could I suppose Mary to have had, so that she freely chose to not sin all of her life? What kind of consciousness, what moral landscape, what spirituality could I suppose Mary to have had, so that her sinlessness in conception and through life would, (a) continue to make sense to me and my faith, and (b) teach me to live as a good person here and now?

My brother Jesuits and the Cenacle sisters and I are good friends with this married couple. Itago na lamang natin sila sa pangalang Gorio at Betchay, a wonderful married couple, highly successful, sweet kids, a beautiful home. They do say that they’ve had their moments, and we believe them. They’re very sincere couple, and they’re able to laugh at themselves and their own foibles even with us around. And Gorio has this funny way of toasting Betchay, sort of giving her a tribute in front of us. He would raise his glass and say, “For my wife—she is a saint to be married to a man like me.” But see, Gorio is a good man, a dutiful and faithful husband and father despite the many temptations in his line of work. I asked him one time, “So, Gorio, how do you keep from falling?” And with great candor and naturalness, he said very quietly, “Alam mo, Arnel, kapag dumarating ‘yang mga sandaling ‘yan, iniisip ang asawa ko. She immediately comes to mind. I think of her face, the face of a woman who’s been very patient with me, who’s done a fantastic job with our kids, who continues to hope in me, in us as a married couple and as a family. Si Betchay, Father, nasa isip ko parati.”

I have another old friend in Cebu, his name’s Roy. I’m very close to him and his wife, Joy. They’ve been married 23 years. They have eight kids—all still in school. Manoy Roy used to run an upscale talyer. It was doing very well for some years. It put all of his kids through school, funded travels with his wife, awarded them a very comfortable life. Until he and his Joy joined the Alay sa Dios community at the Jesuit parish in Cebu. Their business went downhill from there. Why? Because Manoy Roy finally decided to be honest in business. “Gikapoy na ko’s panikas, Father. I just got sick and tired of these under-the-table deals that garages habitually make with insurance companies, at the expense of customers.” Since then, Manoy Roy and Joy have depended a lot on scholarships and grants to put their children through school. Gone are the niceties they used to enjoy. But, you know what, it is amazing how deep their joy is—their commitment to the parish is steadfast, their resilience puts me to shame, and their cheerfulness just bowls me over. I asked Manoy Roy one time if he was ever tempted to go back. “Natental ko, Padre oy; I’ve been tempted a lot, Father” he says. “If I really wanted to, dali ra kayo; it would be so easy. But I always think of my family, my sick mom, and my community, Father. And I realize, nah, it’s not really worth it.”

Something closer to home now; my mom and dad always had a difficult marriage when I was younger. In fact, in all my high school years in the Ateneo de Davao, I often played the role of reconciler at home. But I did it for selfish reasons. I was always afraid my parents would split up and I’d be known in school as someone from a broken family. Back in those days, that was a stigma. So I took it upon myself to always end wars between them. I’d talk to them separately, and then together, and try to knock sense into them. When I talked to my dad during those times, he would always say: “Alam mo, anak, kung hindi dahil sa inyo ng Kuya mo at ni Jonathan (my younger brother), matagal na kaming hiwalay ng mommy mo.” My dad, all these years, mightily fought the temptation of abandoning us, because our faces were always before him.

Now maybe, just maybe, one thing that kept Mary freely choosing the good was always seeing faces of real people whom she really loved especially through difficult times. Maybe, her being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit was something that happened all her life long, not just during the annunciation. Maybe she was always overshadowed by these faces her beloved, most of all, the face of her son. This must have been the kind of conscience that Immaculate Mary had, the kind that has kept Gorio faithful to Betchay, the kind that has strengthened Manoy Roy’s resolve to keep being honest, the kind that’s kept dad and mom together for 47 years—that appearance, that arrival of faces of the beloved in her consciousness. Mary, of course, might have been privileged to have loved so much more deeply than we ever can, so that her beloved’s faces lasted her through her own deaths and resurrections. By this kind of love might her days have been ruled. Right now, I could not think of any other reason how one could remain ever so sinless, unless she actually loved at every single moment of life, seeing the faces of her beloved—faces more than ideals; faces, more than regulations; faces, more than paradigms; faces of real people she really loved.

Could it be that what somehow divides us as a people, as a Church, as a community is caused by the blurring from our consciousness of faces of real people we love? Do we seem to see abstracted ideals, norms, paradigms much more vividly than we can actually tie faces to them, faces of real people we profess we love? Or could it be that when we are at each other’s throats, we’ve long begun fighting for some thing rather than some one? Could it be that one of the most profound reasons why we hit an impasse is that we no longer have faces before us in our passionate desire to fight for our ideals? Would it be safe to say that while Mary lived each day from ideal to ideal, from norm to norm, from fight to fight–to all of these were nevertheless fastened the faces of her beloved—so that whatever she chose to obey, to do, or to fight against, she did out of real love for people whose faces were always before her?

As a Church, we need to take stock not only of what we love but also and more so whom we love. When we say we love God, that love must have faces automatically if not desperately attached to it, and not just some free-floating ideal of what loving God is, or what a Church is, or what a family is, or what Jesuit education is, or some kingdom of God, some rarified realm, glorious and triumphant—but faceless.

I don’t think “immaculate” means “rid of what is totally human in order to engage the totally divine.” Rather, I think immaculate means being overshadowed by the Spirit of great love for real people, through whose faces God emerges and disturbs and calls. When we, your pastors, desire to keep the Church “immaculate”, pray for us so that faces of real people light the way towards our ideals, instead of our ideals blinding us from the faces of people we’re supposed to love and serve. And we pray for you, too, that people you love may continue to be the deepest reason to choose wisely, to obey, to do, and perchance, to fight.

And so we pray for Mary’s help: “Turn then, o most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us, and after this, show unto us the fruit of your womb, Jesus.” Show us his face that we may desire sin less because we love more.

Ad majorem + Dei gloriam!

Margaret Silf to give a talk on Ignatian spirituality in Ateneo de Manila University on

Everyone is invited to REFLECTION DAYS WITH MARGARET SILF a four-day
lecture and reflection series featuring renowned spirituality writer
Margaret Silf on January 26-29, 2012 to be held at the Walter Hogan
Conference Center, ISO Complex, Ateneo de Manila Campus.

Silf is the author of several books on prayer and the spiritual journey such as Inner Compass, Companions of Christ, Close to the Heart, Taste and See, and the The Gift of Prayer (Winner, Catholic Press Association Award). The featured topic for each day is as follows:

Jan 26, 2012 – Living God?s Dream: A Fresh Look at the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Jan 27, 2012 – Discernment: Finding a True Course in a Bewildering World Jan 28, 2012 – The Other Side of Chaos: Breaking Through When Life is Breaking Down

Jan 29, 2012 – Faith in the Future:What It Means to be a Person of Faith in Today?s World

This event is a joint project of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality (celebrating its 20th year), the Center for Family Ministries (celebrating its 25th year) and EMMAUS Center for Psycho-Spiritual Formation (celebrating 30 years)

Registration fee is 1,000 PHP per day inclusive of snacks and materials. A discounted rate of 3,600 PHP is offered to participants who register for all four days on or before January 16, 2012.

Interested participants may contact Ruby or Bheng at telephone numbers 426-4250 or 426-4251, celphone number 0916-3020702 or email,

Born in l945 and raised in Sheffield, England, Margaret Silf currently lives in Cheshire, in the northwest English midlands. She received her B.A. in English from the University of London and an M.A. from the University of Keele.  In 1992, Margaret Silf made her first retreat and shortly after began training as a prayer guide, mentored by Jesuits in the British Provence. She made the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in daily life in 1996-97 with the British Jesuit, Gerry Hughes, author of God of Suprises. After having worked as a translator in Germany and a systems programmer in the UK, Margaret decided in March, 2000, to retire to write and conduct retreats, full time. As a result of conducting retreats and making
speeches, she spends a great deal of her time on the road, an experience she enjoys. Aside from writing books, she is also a regular columnist for America magazine, a contributor to the New Daylight series of daily readings for Bible Reading Fellowship and can be heard on BBC local radio.

From Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit:

MARGARET SILF was born and grew up in Sheffield. Although her parents were not Christians, she was baptized in her local Methodist Church and attended Sunday School until the age of 11. At the time, Margaret did not appreciate this, but has since come to cherish and be deeply grateful for her Methodist roots. After being confirmed at 14, Margaret felt herself to be in a ‘spiritual desert’ in her early adulthood, until a personal crisis led her to resume her search for God – she was greatly helped by an ecumenical chaplaincy near Keele University where she was studying for an MA in English, and where she still worships today.

Margaret doesn’t see herself as belonging to any particular denomination, despite her connections with both the Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, but rather identifies herself as an eager spiritual pilgrim.

Margaret now travels widely, meeting people from many religious backgrounds and exploring their faith. She reads widely, and is particularly interested in developments in science and their implications for theology and spirituality, and spends much of her time leading retreats. Margaret’s On Making Choices and On Prayer are two slim volumes in which she offers words of wisdom, encouragement and advice on two important aspects of our spiritual life. Margaret’s previous books for Lion are Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way and One Hundred Wisdom Stories from Around the World (2003).

Eulogy for Fr. Guido Arguelles, SJ (1930-2011) by Ricky Jalbuena

Fr. Guido Arguelles, S.J. (Sept. 17, 1930 – Oct. 29, 2011)

My dear friends, today I share a tribute to a man of Christ, not just for the sake of honoring him, but to inspire and enlighten all of you in your own personal quest, by knowing more about our dear friend, Fr. Guido Arguelles of the Society of Jesus, who died on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2011, at the age of 81.

Much of what I shall share with you today, I have shared with Fr. Guido and the A.I.M. Chapel community during his 70th birthday. Guido was more thrilled to have a eulogy whilst alive, as he could bow, smile, sing and dance to all in great gratitude for a wonderful and beautiful life. I’m sure he’s now doing his oratory, song and dance to Our Lord and the Saints, as he marches into heaven.

Many have asked me who inspired me to serve the Lord and His community. I have already committed 32 years of my life for the A.I.M. Chapel community.

Many of you may presume that it was the influence of our dear friend, Fr. Jim Donelan, S.J., who was a former President of the Ateneo de Manila, and a founder of A.I.M. and our chapel. I must admit that Jim was only the
third mentor and influence. The second was the great Fr. Horacio de la Costa, a world-class historian, a former Jesuit Provincial, who was my college professor. The foremost inspiration is Fr. Guido Arguelles; I love Guido dearly.

I have known Guido for over 42 years. He was my theology and homeroom
teacher in 1st Year High School at the Ateneo de Manila, back in 1969. What
made him my #1 mentor and inspiration through all these years?

First, Guido was one of the humblest, sincerest and funniest Jesuits I have met. He may be a ham, but that’s for show. Guido readily admits faults upon his realization, and many times, he has apologized in public, that he is also a sinner like us, and that he has grave sins. That is a humbling experience, and takes a lot of courage.

What could be his grave sin? That is between him and God. But as a long time friend, I can speculate, which brings me to the 2nd reason, Guido emulated Christ’s commandment of LOVE. Sadly, that may have been Guido’s biggest problem. Guido loved “his neighbor”, particularly the poor and oppressed, too much….to the point that the love becomes too heavy a cross, and he would be hurt gravely. His being “Christ-like” becomes a dilemma because as man, we have limitations. Christ could turn water into wine, multiply bread and most important, carry OUR sins. Guido can’t. Yet, due to his great love, Guido tried to serve to the point that he over-extended himself, spread himself to thinly, and at worse, be bitter and cynical to those who oppress the masses. Thus, contradicting the commandment of love and not properly using the talents Our Lord gave him, are two sins Guido has confessed to his intimate friends. On top of that, pushing himself to the limit compromised his health, both physically and mentally. I personally believe that this continued stress may be the root cause of his smoking addiction, which eventually caused the emphysema.

This leads me to the 3rd reason why I look up to him. Throughout his life, Guido was committed to God’s Word, the Truth, and endless fought for social justice. From the time I met him in the late 60’s, together with Fr. Jose Blanco, S.J., Guido would be active in rallies against the Marcos dictatorship, and he eventually continued this crusade in his radio programs at Veritas. Guido would be active in fighting corruption through our justice system. He would always set up programs to feed or educate the poor.

But even in this respect, Guido has humbly admitted his sin of prioritizing his projects over the priority of God. This is a common problem with us, as our pride and sense of being become focused on our work, accomplishments and vanity; all these are useless escapes promoted by media and our material driven society.

Amazingly, at the end of the day, the Spirit brings Guido back to focus, to serve God primarily, and then His children.

This then is my 4th reason: Guido has been strengthened, guided and protected by the Holy Spirit whenever he put himself in the line of fire. I use to wonder if Guido would survive the martial law years with his endless battle for social justice and against corruption. His life was at risk many times. During the late 70’s, Guido was a regular celebrant at the U.P.
Chapel, but sadly, he was asked to leave due to his vigilance. For roughly 10 years, Fr. Guido was a fiery crusader in his radio program at Veritas. On the air, he would put himself at great risk to serve the people and many would wonder if he would still be around for another day. We have a history of hundreds of media men, many on radio, who have been snuffed by those in power. Guido was blessed and was a pillar at Veritas during the 80’s.*

But it was not only physical threats that he had to encounter. There were many mental, emotional and spiritual trials. Guido would even be ostracized by many of his fellow Jesuits. I thank God for giving Guido the perseverance to stay and even soar with the Society of Jesus.*

Unfortunately, the mental and emotional torture became too heavy, and in the mid-80’s, Guido got burnt out and had to take a sabbatical in the U.S., to rest and have a much needed retreat and encounter with Our Lord. Guido was abroad when the EDSA Revolution came. The Lord humbled Guido to be away in our day of social and political triumph.

God did not want Guido in the euphoria, because the work for social justice was not over, as all of us clearly know today. Furthermore, can you imagine the effect on Guido’s pride if he became a hero of EDSA? God wanted Guido to be a hero in ordinary times, for the ordinary lives of ordinary people, everyday of their ordinary life. Given that, Guido was gifted with a SPARK for our ordinary lives.

This brings me to my 6th reason: Guido was gifted with one of the sharpest and creative minds that I know, to the point of insanity. Through the years, I have seen so many great ideas flash in his head, that organizing
and editing his work is indeed a task. Many of you have read his work and reflections. Simple, beautiful and inspiring. Hopefully, much of these writings will soon be consolidated in a book. During the last two years, Guido would tell me that he should have spent more time writing, and in the process, could have been more effective in serving, inspiring and helping others, particularly the poor.

Guido is indeed a great communicator. His effectiveness is complemented by his sense of humor, and his love for music, literature and the arts. All of us have been entertained by his singing and dancing. He could sing the tunes of many Broadway musicals, and even add a dash of opera and inject an oration from a play.

In the process, Guido made us laugh, cry, and feel the word of God deeply. He hits us in our core. How does this happen? When we come to mass, most people have defense mechanisms around. The Israelites where similar; they didn’t even want to hear God directly. This defense mechanism makes many of us not listen to God’s Word. It could come as rationalizations or simply, justification as a social trend. Guido has a gift of humor, which opens our hearts and minds. The laughter puts down the defenses. Then, when Fr. Guido delivers God’s Word, we are hit in our hearts, many times deeply, as our conscience is naked and open to true examination. Yes, Guido hits us in our core.

My final reason is that Guido was ALWAYS THERE, particularly to comfort you. He may do this through his singing, dancing, jokes, or simply through his charm and smile. He has even made dying people laugh. Many years ago, while he would do socio-political work with student group like KASAPI, Guido was known to make “beso-beso” on the cheeks of the high school and college girls. The girls would complain about his “wet kisses”; yes, wet from perspiration, dust, dirt, fumes and smoke, as Guido would return from a rally, street march, or from charity work with the poor and marginalized. In spite of the sweat, many girls would still line up for a kiss, and we young men would envy his charm. We all loved him.  In his desire to help and comfort all, there were sadly a few, who took advantages of him, and yes, he gets burned and had to suffer the consequences.

Fr. Guido was helping street children way before it became a trend. During the 70’s, Guido was in charge of Boys Town, Marikina. About 12 years ago, Guido managed a home for homeless teenage boys, a group which was difficult to handle and generally avoided by philanthropic homes. He tried his best, but eventually had to terminate the project when his health began to deteriorate.

For several decades, Guido helped the poor, particularly farmers, and started a livelihood project in Payatas. Indeed, Fr. Guido was a man for others. His example and dedication, managed to convince me when I was a young high school student, to spend two summers being a volunteer in Boys Town, and to even commute regularly with the public transportation to Marikina. Years later, his inspiration made me volunteer to serve Fr. Jim Donelan at the A.I.M. Chapel. I have now been serving the chapel for 32 years, and the SPARK came from Guido. From 1996 till 2009, I requested Fr. Guido to be a regular mass celebrant at the A.I.M.  Chapel, and I am proud to day that he was the most dedicated and committed amongst the pool of priest we had. His energy even surpassed the younger priest.

In summation, I can attest that Fr. Guido Arguelles SJ is TRULY A MAN FOR OTHERS and a LOYAL SERVANT OF CHRIST. Guido lived a life of simplicity, and did his best to imitate Our Lord. His gravest fault may be that a mere man with so many limitations, tries his best not to just preach, but to truly live a Christ-like life, to the point that it hurts. Just like Christ,
Guido loves his neighbor, particularly the ordinary person and the poor. Guido loves all of us here. In fact, he loves us too much. That’s the cross he bears, whilst at the same time singing and dancing. That’s why I love
him. That’s why you can learn and be enlightened by his life’s story, with all its trials and jubilations.  I shared many of these thoughts twelve years ago during Fr. Guido’s 70thBirthday and his 50th Anniversary as a Jesuit.

Today, I share them with you as Fr. Guido marches with the Saints as he
enters Heaven, and eventually sings and dances for Our Lord.

–Ricky Jalbuena / Oct 30, 2011