Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween Party

We had the halloween party of the Knights of the Altar organisation last night, good fun. Since this is the Philippines there was nothing untoward and it even began with a prayer. It involved a dance contest, nice food and lots of dancing overall. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

The girl in the white dress is Sadako from the Ring movie.

One of the entries in the dance contest.

Hope everyone is well,

In Christ through Mary,


Rainy Days

I know that I haven't posted in a while but I didn't have much to write about: things are just going on as usual really. Took a few photos lately, though. Thought you might like to see what things are like here when it rains, as we're coming to the end of the rainy season now.

See how flooded it gets!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Saturday, what a day.

Here are Omay and Glenn, two of my friends here, in the Mediterranean cafe in the Podium Mall, Ortigas, where we went yesterday. The staff weren't very friendly and the service was passable but I didn't care because the food was really good and as I have to go halfway across the city to get decent European food I wasn't going to complain about something as petty as service. It's the food and the company that matters.
We had a really good time. We started out in Quiapo as I wanted to visit a church called San Sebastian that is one of the cultural treasures of Manila as the exterior is made entirely of metal. It sounds dreadful but it's actually very beautiful as it was built in 1891 and had withstood all the earthquakes since. Unfortunately it was closed but I got to see the exterior anyway which is very interesting. Later that day I learnt that this is a no-go area at the moment because of the sometimes violent anti-government rallies that form around it. Thank the Lord we didn't encounter anything like that, just a few beggars.
We then went to the Podium and Mega malls, had lunch and went to a few shops. I bought, among other things Raymond Arroyo's biography of Mother Angelica, the founder and CEO of EWTN, the Catholic television network that is the world's biggest religious network and is now broadcast to 105 million homes all over the world. She really is an amazing woman, Catholics and all Christians owe her so much.
I was surprised to find out that Oktoberfest has even made it to the Philippines. We went to a big avenue that had been filled with tables and chairs for the evening. For 150 pesos per person (1 pound 50, 3 US dollars) you got a table, as many beers and loaded nachos as one could physically consume and got to see live bands perform on the stage. At the end there was a rather hastily put together firework display that unfortunately caused the area where we sat to fill with smoke. Many sparks also rained down on us and burnt a big black spot onto my white linen trousers but never mind, it's all an adventure I suppose. I said that the closing prayer of the event should have been, "save us from the fires of hell".
Hope everyone is well,
In Christ through Mary,

More floats from La Naval

Okay, so it's actually St. Vincent Ferrer. Thanks to Br Lawrence for pointing it out.

Now this one's easy. It's St. Peter Martyr who was killed with an knife to the head, hence here a knife is in his head. Old-fashioned obvious Catholic imagery at its best, before somebody decided that people couldn't possibly be represented as having bodies, I mean, that would counter heresy. See the Good News Bible illustrations if you don't get what I'm saying.

I'm It

I've been tagged by Patti at Mercy Drops Falling.
Here are the instructions of the game:

1. Go into your Archives.

2. Find your 23rd Post.

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to it).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

My line is from a post entitled "The French Party: a cultural coming together" about the party I went to at the house of the French community here: Tahanang Puso, roughly translated as "Heart's Home". Incidentally I'm having dinner there again on Tuesday.

"I'm really surprised at how much I have identified myself as a European since I've been here."

Quite good for a random selection, don't you think?

I tag Br. Lawrence OP at Contemplata Aliis Tradere, Elizabeth at A Little Flower Garden, Jordan at Contemplating the Laundry, Julie at Practicing Catholicism and Peter at Proslogium Quaerens Intellectum.

Have fun,
In Christ through Mary,

Friday, October 21, 2005

More floats from La Naval

So, Br Lawrence says that it's not our holy father. Who is it then? :-)

Any guesses?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

photos from trip to Matabungkay beach

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trip to Matabungkay Beach

The photo function isn't working for me right now so I'll post the photos tomorrow.
Yesterday we went on a day trip to Matabungkay beach in Batangas province. We left at 6:30 am for the long but very worthwhile trip. The beaches here are broken up into private resorts where you pay a set fee but get the priviledges of a cottage where you can take shelter from the sun or rain and somewhere to cook you food. As this is a tropical country the water was lukewarm and very nice to swim in, so different from the freezing cold sea of England. The huts behind me are mini-cottages that float on the water but get a little submerged during high-tide. I'm now suffering from the inevitable sunburn (sometimes being white is really annoying) but it was a great day enjoyed by all.

Happy feast of St. Luke,
In Christ through Mary,

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More floats from La Naval

Now I know for definite that this one is St. Joseph, who could forget those radishes? I would have thought that lilies were more appropriate but there you go. Amusing and slightly strange.

Now this is a Dominican who must have had a particular love of the Blessed Sacrament, ideas anyone?

Novena for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy

Adoremus, the society for the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy is asking us to pray a novena for this intention, crucial at this time of the Synod of the Eucharist. Let's all promote this vital intention.

The Novena

Thanks to Shawn Tribe for the link.

In Christ through Mary,


Saturday, October 15, 2005

More floats from La Naval

Can't remember who this is, sorry.

Ok, so it's not St. Dominic, not sure then who it is..

Went to the Marian and Eucharistic Assembly today, it was so long. At the end the Bishop gave a plenary indulgence and I was thinking, well, we deserve one after being here for so long. Still, it was nice of him to give it. Another only-in-the-Philippines moment was had when the congregation cheered when the indulgence was announced, how POD is that.

In Christ through Mary,


St. Teresa of Avila

I have a special devotion to St. Teresa of Avila whose feast it is today and one of the many things which I still haven't seen in Rome but the one that I wish to see the most is this sculpture of her ecstasy or transverberation in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. For me, the writings of the mystics are the most inspiring of all the saints and motivate me to love Christ more than any other written word. I first read the writings of St. Teresa when I was 18 in my first year of University and bought "The Way of Perfection". My 18th year was one for me of the greatest spiritual significance. It was the year when I first felt called to religious life and through the writings of St. Teresa and St. Therese of Lisieux, went from somebody who identified himself as a Christian to somebody who wanted to love God as much as he possibly could. I say wanted because I recognise of course my sinfulness and how little I do love God but the desire is there and that's the first and most important step. Two ideas of St. Teresa had a very profound impact on me. Firstly, something that she says on one of the first pages of the Way of Perfection and I paraphrase here:
Jesus has so few true friends that those he has must be good ones
Such a simple notion but so true, who upon reading those words would not want to be a good friend of Jesus? The second idea is that of detachment: the ancient Christian notion that to from everything but God we must be detached. This does not mean of course that we cannot have any friends, be married or have possessions but we must recognise in all these things that they are not our ultimate love and so we must not love them ultimately. We can discern when we are attached to a person or thing when we are hurt when they do not spend all their time with us or when we feel neglected by them, even if they have the best intentions. Discerning our attachments is one of the most important and one of the hardest objectives in the pursuit of the Way of Perfection.
Thus with this background knowledge of how important St. Teresa is to me you can imagine how I felt when in 2003 I had the great priviledge of visiting Avila and seeing the important sites in her life. Greatest among these was the singular honour of hearing mass in the very chapel where she experienced the ecstasy depicted in the sculpture by Bernini shown above. This was one of the most moving experiences of my life. The convent, built in the sixteenth century but lavishly decorated since was the home of Carmelite enclosed nuns. For those of you don't know they are the nuns with the strictest enclosure in the Catholic church, as the saying goes "At Carmel, there is just you and God". The convent thus has a congregation of apostolic sisters who look after it and let in visitors because the nuns cannot leave the enclosure. It was just as one would like it to be: when the priest who was taking us around knocked on the grand wooden door the sister who answered it opened a little panel set into the door to inspect the visitor before she opened the door, fantastic. We were let in and wandered through corridors littered with ecclesiastical treasures of the renaissance and baroque eras til we entered the chapel for mass. The chapel was of course unbelievably beautiful with a painting of the ecstasy above the altar and whilst father was saying mass we could hear the nuns singing the office (prayers said five times a day). I couldn't help tears from falling.
St. Teresa describes the ecstasy as follows:
...Beside me, on the left hand, appeared an angel in bodily form, such as I am not in the habit of seeing except very rarely. Though I often have visions of angels, I do not see them....But it was our Lord's will that I should see this angel in the following way. He was not tall but short, and very beautiful; and his face was so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest rank of angels, who seem to be all on fire. They must be of the kind called cherubim, but they do not tell me their names. I know very well that there is a great difference between some angels and others, and between these and others still, but I could not possibly explain it. In his hands I saw a great golden spear, and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he pulled it out, I felt that he took them with it, and left me utterly consumed by the great love of God. The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one's soul then content with anything but God. This is not a physical, but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it--even a considerable share. So gentle is this wooing which takes place between God and the soul that if anyone thinks I am lying, I pray God in his goodness, to grant him some experience of it.
The reason why this sculpture is such a good depiction for me is that it was sculpted by Bernini. Bernini ( who also created the Holy Spirit window with its bronze angels in St. Peter's basilica) was not just an artist but also a very devout Catholic who heard mass every day. For him this sculpture was a way to convey the faith that he loved so much.
St. Teresa of Avila,
Pray for Us,

Friday, October 14, 2005

More floats from La Naval

Blessed Jane of Aza, mother of St. Dominic and a holy woman in her own right. Please don't me ask to explain the goblin like creature to her left because it's past 9pm and I really don't feel like researching it. Maybe Br. Lawrence will enlighten us, he probably knows, :-).

Pope St. Pius V, only sainted Dominican Pope (so far), responsible for the codification and promulgation of the Tridentine mass and the changing of the Pope's clothes to white to correspond with his habit! I'm blessed enough to have visited his tomb and the room (of course lavishly decorated by now) where he stayed when in Santa Sabina, motherhouse of the Dominican order in Rome.

Other news : tomorrow is the Marian and Eucharistic Congress of the diocese, I'll be there with the teachers and Fr Allan from 1 til 7 pm, please pray that it will be mostly in English or I'll be bored to tears, :-(.

In Christ through Mary,


Thursday, October 13, 2005

More floats from La Naval

As requested by Br. Lawrence OP, here's a couple more of the fantastic Santo floats from the La Naval procession.

St. Martin de Porres, the first black saint in the Americas.

And our very own San Lorenzo Ruiz: the first Filipino saint. Patron of catechists and of our parish.

Not much happening at the moment, I was supposed to be going on a preaching trip with the Dominican student brothers to a far away province on Saturday but there wasn't room on the trip. I've just finished writing my periodical exam for the elementary school students, that's coming up next week. After that we have the two week semestral break but I'll still be busy in the afternoons because I'll be doing the Bible study in the slum areas. Keep in touch.

In Christ through Mary,

Monday, October 10, 2005

Our Lady of La Naval, night of a thousand candles

Here's the full description of the day. Once properly attired we headed off at 3pm to join the procession. It was cloudy but because of the humidity the heat was stifling. I was very pleased when I realised that I was meeting many friendly, familiar faces in the form of the Dominican student brothers or coristas, as they call them here. That's the results of spending a couple of weekends in the student house, great times. Anyway, after getting my candle I had the honour of joining the group that was composed completely of friars and, um, me. Yes, I stuck out like a sore thumb, habitless as I unfortunately was. Did I care? Not one bit, I was enjoying it too much. Our group was the last in the line of saints and came directly in front of Our Lady herself. As we processed along we said the rosary. The procession was very long and tiring in the heat and by the time we reached the church for the solemn enthronement I was muttering about the possibility of special indulgences. When we did finally reach the church of Sto Domingo the human chain had to keep back the thronging thousands so that the priviledged few, including me, could get up onto the resplendent sanctuary. I am pleased to tell you that Our Lady had her own personal elevator that took up to the throne after which many Marian anthems were sung. The provincial then said a few words, gave thanks and we all left to get some much deserved nourishment. I cannot convey the emotions I felt to have the honour of taking part in such a wonderful devotion. I pray that Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval would grant me the honour of being part of the Dominican family all my days.
In Christ through Mary,

Our Lady of La Naval, night of a thousand candles

There were far too many Dominican saints, each with their own float to show you so I settled on just giving you a glimpse of the magnificent Our Lady of the Rosary de La Naval.
Oh all right then, I couldn't resist showing you this Japanese Dominican Blessed. Kimono and mantilla, now that's a cool combination. How about a Catholic Madama Butterfly?

And finally, here I am squashed into the car with the OPLs (Dominican laity). This country is so POD, even the Dominican laity have a uniform! That's more than some sisters in the West.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What obsolete skill are you?

Songs of Innocence, Introduction
You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take
many forms, including heroic couplets, blank
verse, and other iambic pentameters, for
example. It has not been used much since the
nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer
rhyme without meter, or even poetry with
neither rhyme nor meter.

You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the
joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the
rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as
a series of little poems. The result (or is it
the cause?) is that you are pensive and often
melancholy. You enjoy the company of other
people, but they find you unexcitable and
depressing. Your problem is that regularly
metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.

How cool, much nicer than my Harry Potter quiz result.
Thanks to Holy Whapping for the link.

I went to the incredible La Naval procession today, full details tomorrow.
God Bless,
love y'all,

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Two convents, a dinner and a day of shopping

Yesterday was the the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and I went to two convents. The first was the Missionaries of Charity, the sisters of Bld. Mother Teresa. They were celebrating the anniversary of their foundation with five hours of adoration and recitation of the rosary. The people were organised into batches who said five decades before Our Lord exposed in the blessed sacrament. After the rosary we left the chapel and received a drink and some biscuits for our devotion. The chapel was beautiful with a gold coloured (not sure if it was made of gold or not) tabernacle, nice altar and crucifix and stations of the cross. It did not neglect the celebration of the sacraments in any way but in every other way was very simple. It was my favourite kind of simplicity: the kind that thinks that the best should be given to Our Lord but doesn't concern itself with the comfort of the people. So there were no pews, one had to sit on the hard ground and there were there was only one electric fan. Consequently the chapel was really hot and very uncomfortable, a bit too much for me but I appreciate the sentiment and am really impressed at the sisters who can live in that way.
In the evening we went to the grand procession held at the St. James' school, run by the Dominican sisters of Siena. These sisters are really kind and friendly and always prepare very nice meals for us when we visit them. All of the students of the school were there and it was a very vibrant occasion. The students processed in with a larger than life size statue of Our Lady of the Rosary who was greeted by applause and cheers from the students. Once the image was set in place a consecration to Our Lady was made, the Salve Regina was sung and Fr Allan blessed the crowd. This was quite amusing because it was pouring down with rain at this point so it was rather difficult to distinguish between the holy water and that which poured down from the heavens. The occasion was completed by a short firework display and then we had dinner. It was a lovely evening.
Today I went to Divisoria, the mall of the masses, described in detail in previous posts. We were quite scared because at one point SWAT police started running towards a commotion in the middle of the street and I thought there might be a terrorist but it turned out to be simply a fight.
Hope everyone is well,
In Christ through Mary,

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

15Oh No!

You scored as Draco Malfoy. Spoilt and proud, you place high value on the purity of wizard blood and look set to follow in your father's somewhat shady footsteps.

Draco Malfoy


Hermione Granger


Albus Dumbledore


Ginny Weasley


Ron Weasley


Sirius Black


Remus Lupin


Severus Snape


Harry Potter


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

I'm not really like this, am I? I better sort myself out. I really need your prayers if it is. Thanks to Lauren for the link.

St. Francis of Assisi

Happy Feast of St. Francis. It's a tradition of the Franciscans and Dominicans that on the feast day of St. Francis a Dominican is the chief celebrant at mass for the Franciscans and vice versa. So it was that our provincial here, Fr Ed Nantes went to say mass for the Franciscans today. The funny thing about this is that it's only the mass celebrant and the preacher who go, none of the other Dominicans attended today and none of the other Franciscans attended on St. Dominic's day. One feels that the rivalry still holds.
I went to Market 3 today: the worst of the squatter areas. The difficulty in going to these places is not really physical, it's not tiring but very psychological. One has to really suppress one's sense of disgust and revulsion at the filth and horror at the half dressed, often undressed children wandering through this wasteland. It's such a good experience to go to these places every day and just be with these people in their trials. It makes my time here feel worthwhile.
Just remembered that I should take a look at EWTN. This is a big day for them as both of their religious congregations follow St. Francis.
In Christ through Mary,
The painting is The Stigmatisation of St. Francis, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Monday, October 03, 2005

The terrible plight of the poor here

A couple of pics to give you an idea of the conditions in the squatter areas of the parish where I help with the Bible study and play with the kids Monday to Friday.

A house floats precariously on the filthy waters that surround the parish: the sea has been reduced to diluted toxic waste by industrial pollution.

Shacks made from pieces of plywood and cardboard joined together with corregated iron rooves, surrounded by rubbish, are all that make up this community called Market 3: the worst of the deprived areas.

Please remember these people in your prayers and if you can afford it, donate to aid agencies, these people are hungry.

In Christ through Mary,


Parishioners in love triangle shocker!

This story has it all: two guys fighting over one gal, the big guy vs. the little contender, a pregnancy (who is the father? We just won't know until the kids are born!) and domestic violence; all under the gaze of clergy who make little effort to stop it. What's this: another scandal in the Church? No, just the romantic liaisons of three dogs who live in the parish, namely Wi Chu, San Chai and Inigo.

Two males and one female dog within the confines of a parish was always going to be a hormonal timebomb. However, it wasn't considered to be a problem because it had long been known that Wi Chu, the big sandy one, took himself outside for extra-curricular activities. What was anticipated was the onset of puberty in Inigo, the little grey one at a similar time to San Chai, the black and white female but it seems that Darwinian ideas (please no ridiculous haloscan about this word) have been borne out; she's gone for the bigger guy. Little Inigo, poor guy, unable to cope with the rejection keeps getting in the way of their courtship and so puts himself forward for a beating by the much bigger and stronger Wi Chu. We are very disappointed by the way San Chai has conducted herself. Since her coat is black and white we had thought that she had was a professed Dominican but were shocked to discover that her vows meant little to her when faced with Wi Chu. She is hereby summarily expelled from the Order. We are all in anticipation til she gives birth to discover who is the father of her puppies, we'll just have to wait .