Tag Archives: Pope Francis

The Significance of Flores de Mayo/Santacruzan

It is during our Catechism classes (particularly for those who have attended one) that we’ve learned about the basics of our Christian faith, specifically about Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother. The first time I attended a Catechism class was held inside a church and organized by the parish community in a small humble town where I came from. I was about 6  or 7 years old then. It was summer time and the kids were taking their month-long school break, so it was an opportunity for our parish to teach catechism on Saturdays for the entire month of May. Being a pious person, my mother encouraged all of her girls to attend the said catechism class. My older sisters and I were really excited to be included in the said class as we thought there would be a chance for us to play with our friends thereafter.

Apart from learning new things, the said catechism class turned out to be very entertaining and productive particularly during the month of May, as it is also the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. After class, the catechist would invite us to the garden side of the church called “Mary’s Garden”, where a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands. The said statue was quite different because Our Lady wore a crown of flowers. It was the time when the catechist told us about the association of the Blessed Mother with the month of May, that the “May Flowers” symbolizes the Blessed Mother as the Queen of Heavenly Gardens!

My mother was eagerly excited preparing our white dresses and the home-made flower garlands to be placed around our heads and which we will be used during the last day of May, the main event of the celebration. After the Holy Mass, we would carry small baskets with some cut flowers or petals, sprinkling them while walking to the altar, wearing our simple yet decent white dresses, all for Mama Mary. The parishioners would also bring flowers for offering in honor of the Blessed Mother. This is known as “Alay sa Birhen”. Going home, everyone got small brown paper bags filled with goodies distributed by one of the donors, and just like kids we enjoyed opening the bags of candies and cookies. That was the most exciting part of all!

This is the reason why these memories of a humble celebration of “Flores de Mayo” in our home town are still vivid in my mind. There was also a Santacruzan celebration but the highlight of the event was the beautiful image of the Blessed Mother placed in a decorated carriage accompanied by the family of the Hermana Mayor and other Marian organizations and with the parishioners singing related Marian songs.

Throughout the decades however, the Flores de Mayo/Santacruzan festivity continues to evolve. In these modern times, there have been major transformation in the celebration of Flores de Mayo. Nowadays, the focus appeared to be more geared towards the “Santacruzan” celebration which is the parade of beautiful ladies or the so-called “Sagalas” emulating the real “Queens” of medieval times wearing their elegant expensive costumes and with good-looking men escorting them. Seemingly, the main highlight of the event is no longer the Holy Mass and the flower offering but the parade of good looking men, women or even gay people, as if people are watching a beauty pageant! As a matter of fact, large government and private offices as well as commercial/mall establishments are organizing similar events and would even invite famous celebrities and beauty queens to elicit more crowd for commercial and tourism purposes. It has also been observed that some people would go to church not necessarily to attend related religious activities (Holy Mass, Recitation of the Holy Rosary, etc.) but to watch the parade and take photos of the beautiful participants for their social media accounts, downplaying the real essence of the Flores de Mayo, the main focus of which is the Blessed Mother. In fact, some spectators start to disperse after watching the participants of “Santacruzan”, forgetting that the carroza (or carriage) of the Blessed Mother is usually at the tail end of the procession.

We would understand if there are calls from the Church reminding its parishioners to be mindful of the original intent of the Flores de Mayo festivity and for them to maintain “sacredness and dignity” during the said celebration. We are advised to celebrate the Flores de Mayo/Santacruzan “in a simple manner”, excluding the “worldly considerations”, and “extravagance and style”. The clergy emphasized that “everyone is welcome to participate spiritually, regardless of gender or sexual orientation” and “express their love for the Blessed Mother”.

It was further emphasized that the Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan should serve as an opportunity for priests and other parish communities to teach catechism, particularly on the devotion to the Blessed Mother. As such, said external and worldly gestures that would weaken and negatively affect the true essence of these festivities should as much as possible be avoided.

I share the same observations of some of the clergymen and I would like to echo their call for each and every Catholic including priests and other religious to “reorient” the said events to their primary goal: That these events have religious roots specifically to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and that the said religious significance should not be influenced by the world of consumerism, modern ideologies, and non-religious subjects.

While there is nothing wrong with having fun and merriment during the May festivities, what is more important is for us to bear in mind that the center of Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan is the Blessed Mother and that should not be taken for granted.

This year, Jacinta (10) and Francisco (11), the kids who witnessed the apparition of the Blessed Mother, known as Our Lady of Fatima will be canonized as saints this year by Pope Francis.

jacintafrancisco

They will be the youngest saints ever in the history of the Catholic church. Our Lady asked these young kids to recite the Rosary daily and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. Despite their being young, these children offered some sacrifices to Our Lady such as giving their lunch to beggars and some mortification.

I hope and pray that our fruitful participation in the said celebrations will help develop our spiritual growth, specifically our real interior devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the model of our Catholic faith and charity and enhance our genuine help to poor and disadvantaged neighbors. Amen.

Happy Mary’s month to all!  Let’s take time to pray the Holy Rosary.

 p.s. cto for featured photos

Pope Francis Visits The Philippines!

Were you part of the huge crowd who waited and saw the Holy Father in person?

Yes, I did see the Holy Father in a Pope-mobile but from afar and just a speck, after the Holy Mass at the Luneta Park. An overwhelming ecstatic crowd, about 5 to 6 million people, attended the said gathering which surprised the Holy Father and his entourage. The people didn’t mind the downpour;  they remained in their respective places waiting and participating during the entire Eucharistic celebration.  Finally,  the effort and the long walk (some roads were closed and it was difficult to get near the venue) paid off and they were all worth it!  It was a once in a lifetime moment, a rare opportunity to see and attend the Holy Mass officiated by no less than the Holy Father himself, and this time it was held not at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s square but in the Philippines!

Pope Francis short visit to the Philippines was indeed meaningful to each one of us, pariticulalry for us Filipino Catholics. While we may not be as fortunate as those who were invited and chosen to speak and perform before him, or had the chance to kiss his ring and be blessed, the mere sight of the Holy Father even in an instant or on television made us happy. Did you feel that too, young Bosconians boys and girls?

We have learned so many things from Pope Francis’ visit basically from his homilies and messages during the entire event. His speech during his meeting with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas could serve as a guide for the students on how to battle the worldy temptations especially in this modern technological age. Pope Francis stated that having too many “information” which can be sourced from the internet and on the web could be helpful to the students especially in their studies but it also poses real danger to them as well. Pope Francis wants to see “holy young people” and not “museums of young people”. He further stated that the most important subject to learn in life is to learn how to love and through this, allow the said “information” to bear fruit. The Holy Father likewise taught the youth about the 3 languages of the mind, heart and hands and to use them harmoniously, as in to think well, feel well and do well.

Some of the people who have seen Pope Francis especially during the Tacloban gathering shed tears because they felt God’s presence in his persona. Some of them said,  the Pope was able to comfort them, identify with them, and understand what they’re going through.  His personality was filled with so much compassion, aside from being humble and sincere.  Sa maikling salita,   nakita at naramdaman ng mga tao ang  “awa at malasakit” ng Santo Papa sa kanila.

While it was brief, the memories of the Holy Father’s visit in the Philippines will be embedded deep in the hearts of the Filipinos. His visit definitely deepened the faith of each one of us but as Pope Francis said, we should be able to put our Christian faith into practice by helping the poor and the disadvantaged.

Marian Exhibit

By: Ronnel S. Rea: Grade IV Adviser

The MARIAN Exhibit is one of the important celebrations at the School of Saint John Bosco. The purpose of this Marian Exhibit is not only to show the different beautiful images, statues and the many wonderful “titles” of the Blessed Virgin Mary (“Mama Mary” as we fondly call her) but to educate the community about her life and how she continues to touch and inspire our lives.

Mama Mary’s worldwide apparitions and messages only reminds us that she is always there to help in accomplishing our duties being followers of Christ, that is to love God and love our neighbors especially those in dire need. She is there to lead us closer to Jesus. She plays a vital role in our spiritual journey and in our Christian faith. Our Mother, being the model of faith, of hope and of love, is challenging us to emulate her life with simplicity and humility.

Pope Francis once said, “Let us ask Our Lady to teach us how to live our faith in our daily lives and make room for the Lord”. Just like a mother to her son, our Blessed Mother embraces all people with her motherly love and care. She wants us to love God and to spare some of our time for Him through good works and other means and for us to stay away from sin.

Our beloved patron saint himself, Saint John Bosco had a strong love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Mother guided St. John Bosco in his work mission particularly in the “Apostolate of the Young”, specifically in educating the street children, and other disadvantaged youth.

As in the past years, the School of Saint John Bosco continuously been informing on and propagating the devotion to the Blessed Mother by having Marian Exhibit. Last October 20- 24, 2014, the teachers and staff had been very busy in the preparation of the said event with the supervision of their beloved Principal, Ms. Ofelia C. Agapay and their hardworking Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Lolita Paz Villanueva.  A Holy Mass and a Holy Rosary were held with the statues and images of Mama Mary around.   The said beautiful statues were provided by the teachers and parents, and some of these even came from Liliw, Laguna  borrowed by our Principal.

mamamary

The success of the Marian Exhibit provided a sense of fulfillment and happiness in everyone’s heart.

The Fr. Dominic We Knew: A Tribute To Our Founder

Pope Francis in one of his homilies, particularly addressing the message to all priests throughout the world indicated, among others, that a true priest is one that brings the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need…..the priest that stays close to the marginalized and acts like a shepherd living with the “smell of the sheep”. The Holy Father also mentioned that when a priest “doesn’t put his own skin and own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks” from those he has helped”.

Similarly, Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter during the Proclamation of the Year for Priests, indicated that “a priest hold the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods…. Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshiping the beasts there … The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”.

Aah, who would forget Rev.Fr. Dominic Curto’s missionary works in Laguna, specifically the Catholics in Calumpang where he initiated the construction of a new Catholic church and the first Catholic School in the said place. How can we not pay tribute to his apostolic labors and his tireless service? How can we not praise his accomplishments and be grateful for the moral and spiritual services provided us, even amid problems and difficulties.

Fr. Dominic, whom we fondly called “Lolo”,  truly exemplified the qualities of a true priest, one who experienced how a sheep smells, so to speak! He had more direct and visible contact with the locals. He was a priest who smiled easily and readily mingled with everyone, from all walks of life and in all corners of the barangays, particularly the needy and the disadvantaged. He was deeply appreciated and admired especially by the kids who used to follow him wherever he goes, probably mesmerized by his foreign looks and towering height!

While Fr. Dominic appeared quiet and composed, he was a good communicator to his parishioners using his English with an Italian accent. Fr. Lolo was loved by many, making him more “at home” in our place. That is why he loved staying in the Philippines, and tried to adopt the Filipino culture so much that he even wore most of the times his “barong-like” polo shirts whenever he visits the nearby towns of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, especially Calumpang where he had learned to speak Tagalog words.

Fr. Lolo was a loving and generous person, even if he had nothing in his pocket. He will really go out of his way to help those in need and make something worthy and noble happen. He did not forget to visit the sick and perform the necessary sacraments.

Even if Fr. Lolo was not feeling well, he pretended to be well performing his priestly and sacramental duties. When he was seriously ill and weak, he tried his best to get involve as the founder of the St. John Bosco School by whispering to and encouraging his parishioners to go on and live in accordance with God’s teachings.

Unfortunately, God the Father called Fr. Dominic at the age of 92 on August 1, 2014, the feast day of St. Peter in chains. His parting during this feast day of St. Peter may be a sign that he was ready to knock the doors of heaven and that St. Peter would be there to welcome him. Fortunately, however, Fr. Lolo was privileged to have served God and His followers for such a long time on earth.

Now that Fr. Lolo will no longer be able to visit us physically, his memories and good works will be engraved in our hearts. Let us thank God for giving us a priest like Fr. Dominic who was instrumental in one way or another developing and nurturing our faith and spiritual lives. Indeed, Fr. Lolo was not only a priest for himself but a priest for everyone, a priest for Italians, Indians and most of all for Filipinos!

Fr. Lolo, if he were still around, would surely thank all of us in return for the love that we have shown him and for the prayers that we have offered for him. We will surely miss our dear Fr. Lolo but we can always rely on his continued help by praying to him (in Jesus name) that we will be able to cope and bear the struggles in life and be at least Christians or at most Saints-in-the making!

Eternal rest grant unto the soul of Fr. Dominic, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.