Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

 Jim Paredes wrote an article in Philippine Star: Is there a God? An afterlife? A hell? Why are we here?  From this article, we can see that Jim Paredes conception of God is an immanence, a Modernist heresy; his afterlife is Buddhist; he does not believe in Hell but in the restoration of all things as in Origen’s apocatastasis; and his meaning of life is too vague compared to the definite statements of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Principle and Foundation of his Spiritual Exercises.

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: Is there a God, Hell, or Afterlife? What is the meaning of life? A response to Jim Paredes

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.

Ateneo Latin Mass Society: Homily for the Memorial of St. Augustine of Hippo by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ

For the Memorial of St. Augustine of Hippo
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Sir 39, 6-11; 1 Jn 4, 7-16; Mt 23, 8-12

by Fr. Tim Ofrasio,SJ
Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at the Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel of the First Companions, 25 August 2011

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ celebrating Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel of the First Companions, August 25, 2011.

Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ celebrating Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel of the First Companions, August 25, 2011. Photo by Dinky Nievera.

“Nos fecisti ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.”
“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
“Nilikha Mo kami para sa Iyong Sarili, O Panginooon, at hindi palagay ang aming puso hangga’t hindi ito bumabalik sa Iyo.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

You probably recognize this beautiful quote; it is from Book One, chapter One of the Confessions, written by the saint we honor in this Mass today. It aptly summarizes our deep human longing to find perfect contentment and satisfaction that no one and nothing in this world can ever give us. Saint Augustine felt this inner restlessness in the 4th century; we still feel it now in the 21st century. It is the soul tending towards God.

In just two days, on August 27, we will remember St. Monica, and the day after, on August 28, her son, St. Augustine: their testimonies can be of great consolation and help for many families also of our time.i

Monica, born in Tagaste—in present-day Souk-Arhas, Algeria—of a Christian family, lived her mission of wife and mother in an exemplary way. She helped her husband Patricius to discover little by little the beauty of faith in Christ and the strength of evangelical love, capable of overcoming evil with good.

After her husband’s premature death, Monica dedicated herself courageously to the care of her three children—two boys and a girl—among them Augustine, who in the beginning made her suffer with his rather rebellious temperament. As Augustine himself would later say, his mother gave him birth twice; the second time required a long spiritual labor, made up of prayer and tears, but crowned in the end by the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive baptism, but also dedicate himself entirely to the service of Christ.

How many difficulties there are also today in family relationships and how many mothers are anguished because their children choose mistaken ways! Monica, a wise and solid woman in the faith, invites them not to be discouraged, but to persevere in their mission of wives and mothers, maintaining firm their confidence in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.ii

As to Augustine, his whole life was an impassioned search for truth which initially led him to teachings that intoxicated him and gave him great acclaim and human wisdom, but which nonetheless left him empty and restless deep inside. He felt within himself an unnamable void that needed to be filled. In the end, not without a long interior storm, he discovered in Christ the ultimate and full meaning of his life and of the whole of human history. In adolescence, attracted by earthly beauty, he “fell upon” it—as he says honestly (Conf 10, 27-38)–-selfishly and possessively with behavior that caused some sorrow in his pious mother.
But through a toilsome journey, thanks also to her prayers, Augustine opened himself ever more to the fullness of truth and love, to the point of conversion, which occurred in Milan, under the guidance of St. Ambrose, the great bishop of Milan.

Thus Augustine remains for us as model of the way to God, the supreme truth and good. Tardius te amavi”, “Late have I loved Thee,” he wrote in his famous book of the Confessions, “Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient yet ever so new, too late have I loved Thee… For behold You were within me, and I outside; and I sought You outside… You were with me and I was not with You… You called and cried to me and broke open my deafness: And You sent forth Your beams and shone upon me and chased away my blindness” (ibid.).

It was only then that he realized what the emptiness and restlessness he felt inside himself meant: it was the absence of God in his life, and when he found Him at last, he could exclaim, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
This is the reason why one image of St. Augustine depicts him with his right hand raised to heaven, holding a heart—his own restless heart—on fire. It is also the symbol of our own innermost desire: to be one with God. For, isn’t it true that we all somehow feel a restlessness deep within that could not be satisfied by material goods nor be assuaged by our achievements? There is always that hankering for something more. And so we spend our life running after that undefinable something more, which Augustine aptly describes as “you were within me, and I outside; and I sought you outside …” Even in our prayer, we feel that God is not within us; He seems to be outside of us.

Marahil, ang dahilan kung bakit ganito ang nararamdaman natin ay sapagka’t hindi pa natin ganap na naisususko ang sarili sa Kanya; hindi pa tayo ganap na namamatay sa sarili tulad ng dapat maganap sa nagnanais sumunod sa Kanya. We find it difficult to die to self because it is quite harrowing to have our selfish heart torn by the roots and have it replaced by a heart that lives for God alone. In other words, we have not yet been given the grace to experience true conversion.

Brothers and sisters, we will probably spend our lifetime hankering for this perfect contentment and peace longed for by our heart. It calls for conversion, and we cannot will it; it is only God’s grace and mercy that will do it. But at least, we could desire it, and in this Eucharist, let us—through the intercession of St. Augustine and St. Monica—ask for the grace to desire it.
Praised be Jesus Christ.

Ateneo Latin Mass Society: Homily for the Solemnity of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ

31 July


by Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ
Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at the Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel of the First Companions, 28 July 2011, 6:30-7:30-pm.

Fr. Tim Ofrasio in a Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School, 28 July 2011

Fr. Tim Ofrasio in a Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School, 28 July 2011. Photo by Dinky Nievera.

The saint we commonly know as Ignatius of Loyola was born Iñigo López de Loyola in all probability in the year 1491, the last and youngest son of Beltrán Ibáñez de Oñáz and Marina Sánchez de Licona. He took the name Ignatius about the year 1540 out of devotion to the martyr-saint of Antioch. Around the year 1507, at about 16 years of age, he left his ancestral house for the town of Arévalo to serve at the court of a distinguished Castilian hidalgo, a friend of his father’s, Don Juan Velázquez de Cuellar, the contador mayor or chief treasurer of Castile. His first biographer, Pedro de Ribadeneira, describes the young Iñigo as “a lively and trim young man, very fond of court dress and good living.” A collaborator of Ignatius, Juan de Polanco, tells us that “Iñigo’s education was more in keeping with the spirit of the world than of God; for from his early years, without entering into other training in letters beyond that of reading and writing, he began to follow the court as a page; then served as a gentleman of the Duke of Nájera and as a soldier till the age of twenty-six when he made a change of life.” In Ignatius’ own words in his Autobiography, he was “up to the age of twenty-six…a man given over to the vanities of this world, and took special delight in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire of winning fame.” In 1521 while he was at the service of the Viceroy of Navarre, Don Antonio Manrique de Lara, the Duke of Nájera, he fought with others in a bitter resistance against the French troops in the siege of the fortress of Pamplona. The events of that day are well known. A cannon ball of a culverin or falconet passed between the young soldier’s legs, shattering the right one and damaging the other. The disabled Iñigo was out of the fight, and his fall meant the end of all resistance.

His conversion from worldliness to spirituality did not come easy. During his convalescence in the castle of Loyola, he read two books which focused his thoughts on Christ, whom he was to serve so outstandingly well, and on the saints he felt he wanted to emulate. He reflected and questioned himself on the ‘spirits’ he felt were at work within him, some disturbing and some consoling, and learned to distinguish what was authentic from what was false. This experience of ‘discernment’ was to be with him all his life. Renouncing his hopes of a great career, he left the world of human glory to lead a life of prayer and austerity at Manresa, racked by scruples and temptations. This hard apprenticeship, in which God treated him “as a schoolmaster treats a child,” helped him to master his tendency to extravagance and indiscretion.

Deeply sorry for his sins and disorderly life, he asked for the grace to have a horror of the sinful world, but this spiritual introspection was not morbid. Rather, it brought him face to face with Christ on the cross, who had died for his sins. His whole being was alive with the sheer wonder of having been pardoned and saved, and with what he came of speak of as ‘familiarity with God’. “What am I doing for Christ? What shall I do for Christ?” These colloquies of master and servant, friend to friend, reach out beyond the life of Ignatius so that his sins, together with the sins of the human race, are gathered into the redemptive dispensation, the work of the Blessed Trinity. His meditations and the mystical experiences granted him by God made of him an apostle determined, for the love of Christ, to save souls and lead them towards perfection. Later, a number of companions were to share his ideals and in their turn spread and defend the faith by preaching and the ministry of the word, by the sacraments and every form of charitable service. Ignatius never stopped urging them to come ever closer toward the pure love of Jesus Christ, to seek his glory and the salvation of souls until they excelled in the love and service of God. Thus the human dynamism of the convert Ignatius had found its firm and sure direction.

In our present context, how relevant is the experience of St. Ignatius to us who are over five hundred years removed from him and his time? Specifically, what does he say to us as we strive to live out in our daily grind the ideal of being prophets, lovers and dreamers for the renewal of the Church—the same Church which Ignatius so well loved, and for which he founded the Company of Jesus?

For starters, Ignatius was himself a prophet. He discerned the need for renewal for the Church in his time, just as Martin Luther saw the abuses committed by churchmen of his time, and sought change. But while Luther chose to effect change outside the Church, Ignatius sought change within the Church. He felt that a spiritual renewal was in order, and he proposed the fruits of his mystical experience at Manresa to change the lives of individuals—men and women who had influence and who could assist in his perceived mission of change.

Ignatius, too, was a lover – not in the worldly sense by which he understood the word, and probably has progeny to prove it – but in the sense that his worldly love that sought satisfaction in romantic exploits and knightly pursuits was transformed into a deep love for the person of Christ and his kingdom. Thus, from a vain and haughty man of the court skilled in the use of arms and warfare, he offered his sword to the Virgin at Montserrat, and exchanged his fine and elegant garments of a gentilhombre for a poor beggar’s rags. It was his deep love for Christ crucified that inspired him to offer himself completely, asking nothing in return save that of knowing and doing God’s will for him. It was this love burning so ardently in his heart that contaminated and inspired his first companions, not the least Xavier of Navarre, to go on a perilous mission in the unchartered East – India, Japan and China.

Ignatius was a dreamer. He dreamed of conquering kingdoms in the hearts of men and women, and replacing them with the Kingdom of Christ. His meditations on the Kingdom and the Two Standards in the Spiritual Exercises were transformed visions of his court experiences before his conversion. In his own lifetime, he witnessed the young Company of Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom of God in far-off places where only the conquistadores dared to venture – in the New World and in the East Indies. But where the imperial sword cut off life and looted the resources of the natives, his companions sought to defend the defenseless indios and planted in them the seeds of Christian faith. Many of his companions shed their blood for the realization of the dream they shared with him.

Only men and women of vision – men and women who have dreams, who are in love, and who are unafraid to venture into the unknown – can effect change. They are the visionaries who transform the Church in any age in order that the enduring message of the Gospel may speak and be understood by its hearers. The long, colorful, and tumultuous history of the Church bears this out: men and women of vision being catalysts of change: Peter and Paul, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Ignatius of Loyola, and other great men and women of the Church after him.

I used to believe that compared to the youth of yesteryears today’s young people are devoid of idealism, of vision, of dreams, immersed as they are in the wonders of modern information technology. But the many fine young men and women I have met in my years as a seminary formator, theology professor, and more recently as pastor disproved my belief. Today’s young people—and you who are present here—are still capable of idealism, of vision and of dreams. Your very presence here says that you want to channel your dreams and ideals for the greater glory of God and for the good of this country. If radical leaders can harness the idealism of the young for their own political ends, more so can Jesus Christ our King inspire you and keep your hearts aflame for a greater, more noble venture for an even nobler purpose. He challenges you to follow His Standard, the Standard of the Cross. Unlike other human ventures, yours will not be a lost cause, because it is not self-serving. Our Church today needs young people like you to effect change, to strive for renewal. It will not be an easy task, but our Commander-In-Chief has already triumphed, and our victory is assured. Can you and will you, like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, follow Him? Praised be Jesus Christ!

Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) at Ateneo de Manila High School on August 25, 2011, 6:00-7:30 pm

Latin Mass at Ateneo High School for the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo

Latin Mass at Ateneo High School for the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, August 2011

Everyone is invited to a Latin Mass on Thursday, 25 August 2011,
6:00-7:30 pm at Ateneo High School Chapel of the First Companions. It will be a sung mass (missa cantata) in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite. This mass is a votive mass in honor of St. Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church. The priest celebrant is Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, SJ, professor of Liturgy at the Loyola House of Studies.

6:00-6:20 pm Rehearsal in the singing of the mass responses and the other chants
6:20-6:30 pm Prayers before the mass
6:30-7:30 pm Latin Mass
7:30-7:40 pm Prayers after the mass

The mass is sponsored by the Ateneo Latin Mass Society. Donations for
mass intentions are welcome. The mass intentions will be read before
the mass.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr.
Ateneo Latin Mass Society

Fr. Tim Ofrasio celebrating the ordinary form of the Roman Rite in Latin at the Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel

Fr. Tim Ofrasio celebrating the ordinary form of the Roman Rite

Schedule of Traditional Latin Masses in the National Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and Christ the King Parish (14-19 Aug 2010)

Societas Liturgiae Sacrae Sancti Gregorii

An apostolate dedicated to the celebration, propagation and promotion of the Traditional Latin Mass of St. Gregory the Great, implementing the Motu Proprio, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM of Pope Benedict XVI.

Christ the King Parish
Greenmeadows Ave., Quezon City
National Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Military Ordinariate, Villamor Airbase, Pasay City
Lower Church Main Altar
FIRST ANNIVERSARYof the Traditional Latin Mass Apostolate Saturday, August 14, 8:30am
Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Celebrant: Rev. Fr. John Anthony Napulis, FFI
Rector, Shrine of Mary Co-Redemptrix
Talamban, Cebu City
Sunday, August 15, 9:15am
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Celebrant: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cesar Salomon
Rector, Nat’l Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Saturday, August 21, 8:30am
St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Widow, Holy Woman
Celebrant: (To be announced)
Societas Liturgiæ Sacræ Sancti Gregorii
Traditional Latin Mass Apostolate
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sunday, August 22 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 9:15am Celebrant: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cesar Salomon
Rector, Nat’l Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Saturday, August 28, 8:30am
St. Augustine,Bishop, Confessor
Celebrant: Rev. Fr. Anthony Ranada, SVD
Parochial Vicar Sto. Rosario Parish, Dampalit, Malabon
Sunday, August 29, 9:15am
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Celebrant: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cesar Salomon
Rector, Nat’l Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus