Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry Christmas

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Sorry that I haven't posted for so long but it was so hectic here in the days leading up to Christmas and then the last few days there was no internet so there we are. I can't get blogger to put my photos up right now and I have a cold so I'm going to finish now but I'll definitely post properly tomorrow if I am able.
God Bless,
Daniel

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas is coming...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while but I've been caught with everything that's happening here. The Advent and Christmas season is a really busy time here and I've already attended three Christmas parties. The first was KADSA: that's the organisation that brings together all of the Catholic schools in our diocese: Kalookan. This was held at San Jose Academy. They had hoped to hold it outside but the sky was threatening heavy rain so it was too risky. Outside it was nice and warm but inside were we were there were 10 air conditioning units which together made the room into an ice box. Otherwise it was very enjoyable with nice food and a fun gift exchange and raffle. I came home with two gifts.
Wednesday night was the Christmas party of St. James' Academy which is run by the Dominican sisters of Siena. Their congregation is so kind and generous: they took out all of the school staff, nearly 200 people and paid for a buffet dinner for them in a Vietnamese restaurant. The restaurant was in a mall called Eastwood in Eastwood City, a new development close to Mandaluyong City, a new financial district in Metro Manila. I'd never tried Vietnamese before so I didn't know what to expect but I really enjoyed it, it was a very different taste from anything I've ever had.
This morning was the beginning of the Simbang Gabi, a tradition here where mass is said at 4am for the nine days before Christmas. So we all got up at 3:30am and headed into the church. I was amazed to see that it was packed to the rafters and I had no choice but to sit in the choir area right next to the drums and electric guitars played by members of El Shaddai, a Charismatic movement here. I actually got caught up in the spirit of it all quite easily. The enthusiasm was rather infectious and my recently purchased missal doesn't hurt either: I actually understand the readings now, LOL.
I hope everyone is having a happy and holy Advent season,
Keep in touch,
In Christ through Mary,
Daniel

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mass in Latin and Anniversary of Dominican Province

Wednesday was the anniversary of Fr Allan's ordination so we had a special mass in Latin with Ferdy playing the music of the Missa de Angelis and me singing it. We started with the asperging and I sang "Asperges me Domine". Next came the kyrie where I made a couple of mistakes. The sanctus went well but the one thing I hadn't thought about was synchronising the start of the pieces of the mass with the preceding prayer of the priest. So, it happened that I forgot that the Agnus Dei came straight after the Sign of Peace and Fr Allan had to look in my direction before I started singing it which was a bit embarassing but ok. I think the communion piece: Ave Verum by Elgar went the best as I just sang the Soprano part. It's a very tranquil and gentle piece which I thought made it perfect for communion. For the recessional music Ferdy simply played music on the organ rather singing something as this is more fitting. Despite our mistakes I think it went very well and several people commented on it as "very solemn" and "very beautiful". It was the first Latin mass ever to be said in this parish. I hope it is the first of many to come.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the founding of the Philippine Dominican Province on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we celebrated it by having a whole day of festivities in Angelicum College in Quezon City. This began at 8am with volleyball, basketball and other sports. I didn't arrive until 11 as the driver was busy so I was just a spectator. After lunch it was time for the presentations of the history of the various houses that make up the province. As is always the case with the Dominicans here nearly all the presentations were extremely well done and two of them could almost have been used commercially. After this we had mass and then dinner. It was a wonderful day and as always here I was made to feel completely at home and very much part of the Dominican family despite the fact that I was the only layperson there. Tomorrow is the birthday mass of our Bishop,
In Christ through Mary,
Daniel

Missionaries of Charity First Profession Pictures

As promised here are a couple of photos of the first profession of the Missionaries of Charity in Tayuman.



A sister receives her cross: the symbol of her crucified spouse.

In Christ through Mary,

Daniel

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Busy Busy Busy

Advent is a very hectic time in this parish as everything seems to happen at the same time. There are first confessions, first communions and all the rehearsals and preparation that is required. There are also a whole host of Christmas parties to attend starting with the KADSA, Catholic schools assocation this evening. Oh yes, and from December 16 there will be nine days of mass at 4am blasted out throughout the area on loudspeakers so I feel I'm going to be very sleep deprived by December 25. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam I suppose.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the ordination of Fr Allan, the parish priest and we will celebrating it with a sung Latin NO mass, sung mostly by yours truly because we didn't get around to teaching a choir the Missa de Angelis. We're going to begin the mass with the asperging, use de Angelis throughout and I'm going to sing Elgar's Ave Verum during communion. This is going to be the first time that almost everyone in the congregation has ever heard a mass in Latin so it's going to be interesting as to how they react. Please pray for me that I will do a good job with the singing.
In Christ through Mary,
Daniel

Saturday, December 03, 2005

First Profession and First Speaker

Sorry that I haven't posted in a while but it's mostly same old around here lately. One of the dogs gave birth to nine puppies last night so we were all excited to see them this morning. I bet the poor thing is so stressed: I mean, imagine having nine babies trying to feed at the same time!
This morning was the very beautiful mass of first profession of 8 Missionaries of Charity. I will put up photos as soon as they are uploaded to the computer. I love the MCs because they have adapted to working with the poorest of the poor so well without compromising anything. Their habits are simple and practical but still very traditional. To me their habit is the authentic interpretation of the requirements given for a habit by Perfectae Caritatis: the Vatican II document on religious life. They also don't take the erroneous view that in trying to be poor we should impoverish our altars. Their chapel is simple but beautiful and embodies the idea of giving the best to God but the least to ourselves. There are no seats or pews and the floor is very plain but the tabernacle, altar and crucifix are ornate. A perfect balance and the true spirit of poverty: we should never be afraid of spending money for God, nothing is too good for him.
This afternoon Father Allan called on me over lunch to be the first speaker at the altar servers' Advent recollection completely out of the blue. I only had one hour to prepare myself but it turned out alright. It's difficult because they only understand so much English but I like these experiences because they make me feel like I could be a preacher. I managed 40 minutes before I floundered completely as it appeared that they weren't understanding anything by then: I think I exhausted the simple stuff in the first 30 mins. Anyway, I hope that my poor attempt gave them something, it was done in love anyway.
Other news: I'm getting the music ready for a NO mass in Latin we're going to have here next Wednesday, Fr Allan's ordination anniversary, so a few words with St. Cecilia that I won't mess it up would be much appreciated.
I hope everyone is well,
Keep in touch,
In Christ through Mary,
Daniel