Quote for the weekend.

I discovered this from the newsletter of the Cathedral Church of St. James (Anglican) in Toronto. The Dean of Toronto, the Very Revd. Douglas Stoute, was talking about how the Church is a transformative force in society. And he ended his article by quoting—much to my amused surprise—Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world
would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they
take themselves out of the slums. The world would mould men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behaviour but Christ can change human nature.”

Ezra Taft Benson was the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the 1980s, before Gordon Hinckley took over. I may not like their theology, but as the old saying goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day…

Have a good weekend!


Greater things

Nina Terol posted this on her site, a piece by Dr. Rodriguez from the school paper. (Nowadays, that is not something I, as an Atenean, am proud of, to be honest.) Well worth reading. I suppose it does raise questions of its own.

If you ask me, while I am proud to be Atenean, there are greater identities to possess that we should even be prouder of. Being part of one nation is one thing. We ought to be celebrating that these days. In fact, I have a pin with the Philippine flag on it, and I’ll wear it on some occasions until the real Independence Day on June 12.

(On this note, I have a suggestion: why doesn’t the Government emulate the Europeans and mandate that at 12 noon of June 12, everyone stops everything for two minutes to remember those who died for their country, and then sing the National Anthem in the national language everywhere after that? I think having it on a working day should make such rituals easier.)

I suspect that some Fil-Ams studying in the best universities in the US may have a better sense of pride in their country than some Filipinos in Ateneo.

But I don’t really have much truck with nationalism, to be honest, because as one who believes in God and in the Church which God established, this is the aspect of my identity that I celebrate more. I may be Filipino, but I am first Catholic and Christian. I was baptized before I registered to vote. And I am speaking of something that extends through time, and subsists in every place where the Gospel has been spread. This awareness has helped me to see beyond my identity as an Atenean, and I discovered this, thanks be to God, working with those who aren’t, who are sometimes much better people than some of my fellow Ateneans are.

Mother’s Day, part two.

If you have forgotten to give anything to your moms, the French will be observing Mother’s Day this weekend. The origins of this dating may have to do with the feast of the Visitation, but that is yet to be verified.

In France, it is observed on the last Sunday in May, unless Pentecost happens to be on that date, in which case it is moved to the first Sunday in June.

So to the French, Happy Mother’s Day! And let’s all not just leave it for one day out of 365/6!

The Hymn of the Soviet Union and other Russian favorites

To be honest, if there is one thing that I miss about the fall of the Soviet Union, it was one of the most stirring national anthems of the 20th century. It was something I yearned to hear after hearing it the first time at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Fortunately, there is a site where one can download several different versions of it!

Of course, we all know that I’m not the only one who misses it—the Russian Parliament voted to adopt the melody in 1999 as the basis for a new national anthem.

But to be honest, I like the kind of stuff the Russians adopted for their national hymns. My favorite pre-communist national anthem from Russia is the hymn called “God Save the Czar,” which was famously quoted in the 1812 Overture. They also adapted “God Save the King/Queen” which was a 19th Century fad. Yes, I also like the kind of stuff the Brits adopted for national hymns. Here’s another one: “And did these feet in ancient time…”


Yes, I collect sound clips of national anthems too. There’s one particular favorite of mine, “O Canada,” for which a certain Philippine university owes Canada some, um, credit. (Just wondering, everyone: when it is published in programs for instance, does it mention “Adapted from ‘O Canada,’ music by Calixa Lavallee”?)

Corpus Christi and the translation of feasts

I am personally not a fan of transferring feasts unless absolutely necessary. The absolute necessity, for instance, lies in transferring feasts outside Holy and Easter Week and outside the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter. (Of course, even within the Anglican Communion, the rules differ according to which part of the world one is in. In Canada, the Birthday of St. John the Baptist, 24 June, is considered “a Feast of the Lord” and therefore can take precedence over a ferial Sunday, much like in the Roman usage. In the Philippine Church, sadly, it is not—even if Manila’s patron saint is indeed John the Baptist.)

What I am deploring here is the tendency post-Vatican II to translate some weekday feasts like Corpus Christi to Sundays, mainly because of a mistaken belief that most people only take part in Mass on that day. It is a slight exaggeration. I could say “many,” and imagine the numbers of people at all the weekday Masses in the Ortigas area!

In any case, what I am deploring is a tendency to disrespect the traditional rationale for such odd, or in Filipino/Tagalog, alanganin occasions. Corpus Christi was appointed on a Thursday because it was supposed to be seen as a more festive parallel to the Maundy Thursday celebration of the institution of the Eucharist. (In fact, I think it should be clear to liturgists in parishes that the “more festive” nature is shown in that Holy Thursday transfers of the Eucharist should not involve the same ceremonial for Corpus Christi processions.)

My favorite pet peeve of course is the translation of Epiphany to the nearest convenient Sunday after New Year. If that were the case, we should stop singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” because the twelve days in question run from Christmas Day to the traditional date, January 6. Twelfth Night is a Shakespearean play which may have been performed for that occasion which, in many parts of Europe, still remains the culmination of Christmas celebrations. Fortunately, this year the feast of Epiphany, transferred or otherwise, fell on the correct day.

The point is that one of the disconnections (paradoxically) that modern society makes is the separation of the sacred from the secular. The “stripping of the altars” in the English Reformation of which Eamon Duffy speaks, and more dramatically in the Puritan regime, was also a desacralization of time. The phenomenon of “Sunday Christians,” with the so-called “more holy elite” taking part in weekday religious rituals, is a modern one that may have to be resolved by trying to bring back a sense that all time is sacred. And it may start with a reminder that days like Corpus Christi fall outside Sunday to remind us that the Lord’s marvelous works happen every time.


Oh, and by the way, any Corpus Christi processions this Thursday or Sunday?

Something that caught my attention during my birthday

One influence on me that has only recently become clear was that of an Anglican religious order named the Society of St. John the Evangelist, founded by Fr. Richard Meux Benson back in 1866 in England. Commonly known as the Cowley Fathers after the church where Fr. Benson served as curate, its spiritual tradition has been described as a cross between Trappist and Ignatian. (In the US, its house in Cambridge, Mass., has a chapel with a stained glass window showing a Basque kneeling while offering his sword.) Their contemplative life is matched with active forms of outreach.

Two former members of the Society live here in Manila. One of them, Fr. Joseph Frary (who has been mentioned in the past), first introduced me to the order. The other, Fr. Charles “Joe” Mock, who is assistant chaplain at Brent School, then introduced me to their Rule, about seven years later. Fr. Charles (to avoid confusion with the other Fr. Joe) keeps close ties to the Society, being a member of its associate group the Fellowship of St. John and an annual retreatant at their main US house.

Fr. Charles shared his copy of the Rule with me, and he says that he found it very fruitful. The American congregation adopted this new Rule in 1996, and felt that it would serve a great need outside the Society that they decided to make it more widely available. Given what the some Christian communities need in this country right now (and of course, given what some of us, myself included, need), I think this will serve the purpose of stimulating reflection on what being a Christian in community is about, from a different perspective—given the faddish tendency to adopt certain “worldly” paradigms of church growth.

This long introduction leads me to the passage that struck me last Monday, while waiting for an old friend. This comes from a chapter on “The Challenges of Life in Community” (emphases mine). Here it is:

“The first challenge of community life is to accept wholeheartedly the authority of Christ to call whom he will. Our community is not formed by the natural attraction of like-minded people. We are given to one another by Christ and we are called to accept one another as we are. By abiding in him we can unite in a mutual love which goes deeper than personal attraction. Mutual acceptance and love call us to value our differences of background, temperament, gifts, personality, and style. Only when we recognize them as sources of vitality are we able to let go of competitiveness and jealousy.”

The Rule of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Chapter 5.

(The Rule was published by Cowley Publications, which has recently been bought out by another publishing house.)