This is what a compleat Catholic should fight for — the return of the one, true Holy Mass. The Mass of all time. The Tridentine Mass.
After much contemplation, I decided to heed Arnaldo‘s months-long advice and attended the Holy Mass for the first time (except last Valentine’s Day) in such a long time. I attended an afternoon English-language mass in nearby San Pedro Apóstol; humorously, the sermon was conducted in Tagalog (but that matter is for a future blogpost).
Anyway, I would like to reiterate that my haughty contempt for the Novus Ordo Missae still remains. Regrettably, there is nothing much I can do about it at the moment. And as I wait for the opportune time to act for the return of the Tridentine Mass –the mass of all time–, why should I not attend my Faith’s congregation anymore?
The above case is what I scribbled about in a previous blogpost. An online friend of mine, Roberto, a frequent visitor to this humble blog, wrote a comment there that oganized religion should not matter anymore as long as I have faith in Jesus. However, this has been the belief of many a deist and a few agnostics for many centuries. It is understandable that these kind of people are fed up with religious strife in all parts of the globe. That is why John Lennon fancied a peaceful world without organized religions in his celebrated song Imagine. Marcelo H. del Pilar et al. lived proudly as a deist for years in Spain. Young freethinkers guising themselves as intellectuals have decreed that organized religion and faith are but for desperate fools and ignoramuses.
But, by shunning religion from their lives, did they find true peace and contentment that everyone has been yearning for ages? No. For a brief period of time, I myself eschewed the idea of a god and an afterlife many years ago. Trust me, it was the gloomiest part of my existence.
People who believe in God but do not believe in religious groups are like spiritual orphans, believers of God but without direction because without a community. And the danger lies in the fact that uniquely individual concepts about God will only lead to further division instead of unity. Now, if they say that organized religions usually lead to religious discord, it is not the fault of religious organization’s fault per se. All organizations are made up of humans, and we know that humans are not perfect creatures corporally and mentally. As such, it is not unusual to find cracks or dents in a seemingly well-fortified organization. Such people are what we call fanatics or extremists, unmindful of dialogue but advocates of jingoism and war. Worse, some founders and leaders of religion tend to be warmongers themselves by writing pugnacious remarks and decrees against nonmembers.
Be that as it may, religious discord should not be made as an excuse not to affiliate one’s self into a certain congregation. Becoming a member of a certain religious group does not mean that a person has already downplayed spirituality. Religion and spirituality complement each other. One should take note that the word religion originated from the Latin infinitive verb religare which means “to bind together” or “to reconnect”. It is because religion is what “binds us together” and “reconnects” us to God.
We have a duty to praise God and not to merely pray nor talk to him. God is not simply a “spiritual friend”. Realistically speaking, God is not a friend for the simple reason that he is God (you do not praise your friends nor do you pray to them, do you?). In a congregation, one can find himself in a community praying to God. There is a sense of belongingness, that the people around you believe what you believe. And that is what God wants; that is what is written in the Holy Bible. So why should it be defied in the first place?
In addition, I do not claim that salvation is a monopoly of the Catholic Church. Regarding the salvific fate of members of other religions, only God should know.
Organized religion is not the cause of wars. It is caused by men who do not understand their religion, as long as that religion does not exhort its members to wage an all-out war against other groups.
My friend Arnaldo has been scolding me for weeks for this rather impious stance that I have toward the modern Catholic Church. But I still go to churches, if only to mutter a short prayer of gratitude, praise, and support. I frequent the mysterious Santo Sepulcro church every Friday, not really to attend Friday masses but as a devotee and to practice my Catholicism.
But other than that, I abhor the Novus Ordo Missae — “the new Ordinary of the Mass” which we –Catholics and non–Catholics alike– are all familiar today.
The nearest church to our place (the San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church which shelters the arcane Cross of Tunasán) is just walking distance away from our apartment. I used to attend masses there when we were new in San Pedro. But remembering the traitorous history of how the Tridentine Mass was cunningly replaced by the Novus Ordo Missae, I stopped attending mass altogether, feeling that I’m doing history and the Christian faith a great disservice.
After having read and understood by heart the contents of the controversial book Till The End of Time With the Mass of All Time by the late Atty. Teodoro R. Domínguez, I started to harbor misgivings toward the kind of Catholic Mass which is celebrated today. It is nothing more than a conspiracy between top Protestant ministers, liberal theologians, and even Freemasons. The arguments and facts presented by Atty. Domínguez, an expert in Canon Law and Apologetics, are difficult, if not impossible, to refute. I was totally disillusioned, especially because during the time that I first read the book, I had just reconverted to Catholicism (I was an atheist-agnostic for a couple of years).
Last year, me and my family were about to stroll in Alabang Town Center when I noticed something “strange” going on inside the nearby St. Jerome Emiliani and Santa Susanna Parish Church. I noticed that the priest was facing the altar. We stopped by the church’s entrance, just to make sure if my suspicion was correct. And yes, they were celebrating the Latin Mass, all right! Perhaps only God could describe the elation that I felt during that time.
Suddenly, my mind flashbacked to 2003, the most difficult year of my young, married life. I was bicycling all the way to that church from our home in BF Parañaque just to attend Mass (I was then attending Mass everyday, not just on Sundays, since I had just reconverted to the Faith — I was very hungry for holiness). I chanced upon Rev. Fr. Grato Germanetto, CRS outside the church. He’s the parish priest of St. Jerome Emiliani and Santa Susanna Church. I gathered myself up for a conversation, to check if this Italian priest knows something about the Latin Mass, because I was then ignorant about it but was all eager to learn more and support it. Sadly, what he told me disappointed me: he said that the Novus Ordo Missae and the Tridentine/Latin Mass were both the same, and that he didn’t sound appreciative of French Archbishop Marcel-François Lefebvre (1905-1991), one of the bastions of Traditionalist Catholicism and founder of the Society of St. Pius X. He just gave it a shrug of the shoulder, as if the fruits of Vatican II, i.e., the new Mass should really happen, and that Archbishop Lefebvre’s non-acceptance of it was a big mistake.
We parted ways after that brief conversation, with more questions left unanswered in my mind.
That is why I was surprised that, a few years later, his parish church suddenly decided to bring back the Latin Mass. Was that short conversation of ours inspired the good reverend to think twice? LOL! That’s too pretentious of me already. But anyway…
The Latin Mass was being celebrated there in that Alabang church every Sunday at 9:30 AM. But recently, they stopped. Up to now, I don’t have any idea why. Even the website dedicated to it didn’t offer any explanation. So after that short-lived ecstasy, I was again disillusioned.
But Arnaldo reproved me by saying that the Holy Catholic Church didn’t disappear just because the Mass was changed into something else. The deduction he brought forth is that I don’t stop being a son just because I disagree with my parents. My argument is that a son should still love his parents but not support their illegal drug business. This is a deep theological debate which I will not dare discuss further especially since I am no theologian, nor am I worthy to even defend my case; I’m not a holy man.
Nevertheless, I see his point. If many Catholics will follow my direction, then the Holy Mother Church will lose more members. Or perhaps these Catholics will join dissenting Traditional Catholic groups such as the Society of St. Pius X or, worse, Protestant cults. That will only betray Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts of reuniting with Traditionalists all over the world (and hopefully it will also include the Iglesia Filipina Independiente).
Right now, me and my wife are doing something in our spare time to “free ourselves from time constraints” once and for all. And once things fall into place smoothly, then I will have all the time in the world for my advocacies. And one of them is to bring back the Latin Mass, at the very least in the community where we will move in to (we’ll be moving to nearby Calambâ very soon).
But until then, what? What of the Holy Mass?
We’ll see this Sunday…
Two nights ago, I was chatting with a young chap from UPLB. He was practising his Spanish with me. Our conversation then shifted to Catholicism. And this young man impressed with me with his knowledge of the Catholic Church.
I was born a Catholic, but wasn’t really a devout one. But my father is. He comes from a very religious family. Anyway, my dad is from a generation whose elders were brought under a strict Spanish Catholic environment. I was what you’d consider a Catholic by affiliation, and that is all. I was nonchalant about my religion, and even ignorant about most of its teachings.
When I stepped into the world of college life, I was exposed to a myriad of ideas, precepts, beliefs: Iglesia Ni Cristo, Marxism, Freemasonry, atheism, born-again peeps, etc. Since I’m a person who reads a lot, I explored and researched about other creeds. In the end, this (mis)led me to believe that the religion I grew up with is a false one. =(
After brief stints with other groups, the funny thing was I ended up as an atheist for the next two years or so!
But as they say, God works in mysterious ways.
I was brought back to the Catholic fold last 2003 due mainly to personal researches about my country’s Spanish past. Along the way, I was able to discover and realize the leyenda negra (black legend) being hurled against the Spanish clergy. Ironically, I ended up defending the Spanish friars against everyone attacking them although I was still an atheist! Little by little, my “reconversion” was on its way. I soon became an agnostic. And one September night of that year, as I was pondering whether to have my wife abort our second child or not, God gave me a sign.
You see, 2003 was the worst and arguably one of the best and memorable years of my life. I was jobless, disowned by my folks and various relatives, living in a decrepit bodega, penniless, you name it. It was during this year when I did nothing but read, write, ponder, steal books, ponder some more, dream. And since I was (surprisingly) having difficulty in getting employed, I thought that having another baby was too much (I was already then an agnostic during this time). I was goading my wife for days to give up the baby. I was giving her horrible scenarios of what might happen to us if she doesn’t accept abortion as a solution: poverty, poverty, and lotsa poverty. Finally, I was able to make her say yes. We planned of going to Quiapò to buy an infamous pill (Cytotec) to kill the fetus.
I admit, however, that I felt uncertain and very afraid of doing it. So before committing the crime, I prayed to God for the very first time in years. While walking desolately along Chino Roces Avenue one night on my way home, I muttered, “Lord, if you are indeed real, show me a sign —any sign— that you disapprove of this abortion”.
The sign came that very night. Upon arriving home, I talked again to my wife (without telling her that I prayed). I told her that we have to abort the fetus soon, the next day, while the it is not yet in human form (an infamous argument by “pro-choice” advocates). Quietly, she agreed. And as we slept together, I thought of my prayer – I had no idea what kind of sign I would receive… if God were ever real. After a few minutes, we drifted to sleep.
But moments later, my wife woke me up. I was surprised — she was crying! In between sobs, she said she’d rather not have an abortion. She said she’s willing to face anything —EVERYTHING— just to keep the baby. I embraced her, and broke into tears as well.
It was no coincidence or anything like that. It couldn’t have been any clearer: that was the sign I’ve been waiting for…
GOD IS REAL.
And so a few months later, a very handsome José Mario Guillermo II P. Alas —Momay— was born. And my stupid fear of poverty-ridden-days-ahead was just that: plain stupid. Because now our kids are four, and we’ve never been better than before!
Fast forward to today. Me and my wife will have been married for a decade this coming September 13 (our anniversary). Although we’ve been married civilly, we haven’t had a church wedding yet.
It’s every Filipina’s dream of being walked down the aisle. As a Catholic husband, it’s everything for me as well. The rite of marriage for devout Catholics is very sacred. And so we’ve decided to be wed under Church ceremonies. It is never enough to remain married only in pen and paper or in the eyes of the law.
And since it’s going to be our tenth year together, we decided to marry under Church ceremonies. And my wife even went a step further by suggesting that it should be a Latin/Tridentine Mass wedding.
My wife has always known my passion for everything Catholic. In fact, she learned about the Tridentine Mass only from me. But although it was I who taught her about the Latin Mass, I’ve never even thought of marrying under that rite!
I’ve learned about the “reality” of the Latin Mass during those bleak days of 2003 when I was deep into Philippine history. Although renowned Philippine historian Fernando Ziálcita will not agree with me (he once told me that one shouldn’t interrelate Christianity to Philippine history), one cannot help studying Philippine history vis-à-vis Philippine Christianity (because I firmly believe that the Philippines is a Christian creation; Spain was but a tool). One particular book which really grabbed my attention was Till The End of Time With the Mass of All Time written by the late Atty. Teodoro R. Domínguez (A.A., L.L., B.), himself an ex-atheist who converted to Catholicism. Funds for the publication of this controversial book was from a certain Therese Villanueva de Vargas.
It was from this book where I learned about the brief history of the Tridentine Mass, the alleged “Lefebvre schism”, the crisis within the Vatican, the Society of St. Pius X, even Canon Law (I wasn’t really familiar with it before). In this book I was also introduced to then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI; he was then Prefect of the highly important Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now headed by William Cardinal Levada). And through this book, I instantly became a fan of Cardinal Ratzinger (that’s why when our beloved Pope John Paul II passed away, I was rooting for Cardinal Ratzinger to take his post — and my prayers were answered!).
I got this book from my mentor, the eminent Filipino scholar, linguist, and historian Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera. And I was even intrigued when Señor Gómez told me that he once contacted Atty. Domínguez for a telephone interview. Señor Gómez said he had a hard time in doing so because he had to go through a lot of people and a tedious verification process before finally being able to speak to the erudite lawyer. Señor Gómez also mentioned to me that Villanueva de Vargas’ various businesses were ruined, and that she went bankrupt.
The reason behind this? Señor Gómez had an accusing finger on Freemasonry, the nemesis of our religion (but that’s another story). I am not so sure if all this information is correct. Well, I’m not saying that Señor Gómez was exaggerating or something to that effect (he’s not that kind of person). It’s just that I’m surprised about the intriguing nature and controversiality of this issue (I just hope I could contact Ms. Villanueva de Vargas).
I tried contacting Atty. Domínguez myself (I think it was also 2003 or early 2004). I found his number in the phone directory (because Señor Gómez lost his contact number) and dialled him. The person who answered the phone was Mrs. Domínguez herself! She was a very polite lady (quite young if you ask me), but I could easily tell from the suspicion from her voice. She asked me how I got their number, what my agenda was, and all that verification stuff. I simply told her that I had the opportune chance of reading her husband’s book and had wanted to attend a Latin Mass. She said that her husband was already too old and weak to accept calls (by then, he was already receiving the Holy Communion privately at their house), but politely told me that I can attend one of their services in a church somewhere in Quezon City (Our Lady of Victories Church in New Manila). I didn’t ask anymore, but apparently she’s hiding her husband against some form of “threat”. She also told me briefly about her husband’s tiff against the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin who was the first to oppose the Society of St. Pius X, calling the members schismatic (the Domínguez couple were members of this Catholic Traditionalist group).
Although I wasn’t allowed to speak with Atty. Domínguez, I learned a lot from his nice spouse.
Then a few years later, as I was searching his name in the internet, I found out that he already passed away… =(
I won’t go into details of the book lest this blog post becomes a book review. But all I can say is that it opened my eyes to the crisis —the current crisis— that the Holy Catholic Church is currently facing. And that is one major reason why I no longer attend Sunday masses in churches near us (although I stop by to pray and pay my respect). Because such masses are orchestrated by the “Conciliar Church”.
Let me add a sixty-third reason: Facebook and the internet!
That was a joke.