Mass with Morning Prayers with the Dominican Friars at the Santissimo Rosario Parish Church inside University of Santo Tomas

Last Saturday, my friend invited me to a 6:00 a.m. mass at the Santissimo Rosario Parish Church inside University of Santo Tomas.  It was convenient for her since she mostly lives near UST.  For me, since I live in Makati, it was an adventure.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m.   I took a bus along EDSA to Cubao.  At the end of the EDSA-Aurora intersection, I took an Espana jeep to UST for Php 13.  It is early morning.  There is no traffic.

The UST is a beautiful campus with grand colonial spanish buildings.  I entered the main gate and passed the Arch of the Centuries.  The road is flanked by many trees.  I see joggers everywehere.  I asked one of them where the church is.

“Straight ahead, then turn left,” she replied.

The church is raised a few steps above the ground.  The lighted cylindrical roof appears cloud-white, bright and luminous, and supported by columns topped with ornate leaves.  The style appears classical but subdued by the simplicity of geometrical forms of lines, triangles, and squares.  But on the altar, the roof is hemispherical or polyhedral.

What captured my attention is the larger-than-life statue in the altar wall:  the statue of a crucified Christ framed with a triangular arch.  On the left of the Altar is a statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  On the right is that of St. Thomas Aquinas.

I looked around.  There were about a hundred parishioners seated.  I saw my friend on the left side of the aisle.  She wore a white T-shirt and a black jogging pants.  I went to her and sat.

The Dominican friars are coming to the altar one by one, sitting at the back of the altar, while facing the people.  This is the first time that I saw these mendicant monks in their white habits.  They were unhooded and their fifteen-mystery rosary is tucked at their sides like swords dangling on their black chastity belts.  If you are a demon, these Dominicans are terrifying to behold.  St. Dominic once placed a rosary around a posessed heretic and he commanded the demons to testify to the power of the rosary and the power of Mary.  After their ordeal, the demons left the man in the form of red hot coals.  If these Dominicans would go out to the world in this war gear and preach the Catholic Faith once again, what a havoc they will wreak to Lucifer’s kingdom.  They have annihilated the Albigensian heresy in centuries past; they can surely annihilate all new heresies of the modern age.  With the rosary.  With Mary.

It is the custom for Dominicans to say the breviary as a community; the Jesuits, being the Catholic Church’s rapid deployment missionary force, are dispensed from this rule.  So after the Angelus was said by a lady, two  Dominican friars went to the lecterns on each side of the altar.  They represent the left and right choirs.  In centuries past, I can imagine these two choirs seated facing each other with no microphones, their voices echoing in the church walls, piercing the very dome of the heavens, shaking the foundations of the world.

It appears that past animosities between Dominicans and Jesuits are gone.  Decades ago, the Dominicans proposed that Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval be the Patron of the Philippine Islands, in commemoration to the victory of the Spanish-Filipino naval forces over Dutch forces.  The Jesuits were in uproar: Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion, the Patron of Ateneo de Manila University, was already the patron of the Philippine Islands, because the United States of America is under Mary’s patronage under this title, and Philippines was at that time a colony of the United States.  Until today, the Jesuits in Ateneo still continue the hallowed tradition of giving out Miraculous Medals with blue ribbons every October.  The Miraculous Medal contains the image of the Immaculate Concepcion.