Why do we cover crucifixes and statues during Lent?
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
Have you ever wondered why part of our Lenten Tradition is the veiling of Crucifixes and statues in the Church? It is ironic that in the most sacred time of the year we cover those sacred images that could somehow help us reflect and even inspire us to pray deeply. The Sacred images are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Or earlier before the beginning of the celebration of Easter Vigil.
In covering religious images during the Lenten season, it encourages us to center our attention on the Passion and death of our Lord. This is also the reason why the only images not to be covered are the Stations of the Cross. As Stations of the Cross precisely provide a moment of contemplation for this purpose. By praying the Stations of the Cross we meditate on a specific event from Christ’s last day. It allows us to reflect upon Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.
Therefore , Veiling of Crucifixes and statues during Lent helps us to focus more on the saving action of Christ – His passion, His death and Resurrection. We are thus invited to contemplate on the Paschal Mystery – the work our loving Father sent His only begotten Son to fulfill his mission on earth.
A MESSAGE FROM REV. FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES
We are set to embark on yet another trip around the sun. The year 2016 has been an amazing journey for me. I could only count my blessings which is , for me, beyond measure. God is a generous God , that is His nature because He is love. God is gracious even when we are unworthy of His grace. New Year, therefore, is an opportunity for us to express our gratitude to God. Our life should be an expression of endless praise and thanksgiving to God. We are filled with reasons to be always grateful for. And so we also thank the people around us. People who have become very much a part of our existence – like our family, relatives , friends and people we encounter in our day to day living. They are gifts to us as we are to them. Sometimes, we take them for granted. Expressing gratitude may not be that easy for us. At times, it is easier for us to thank other people than those who are most near to us , like our family. Do not be afraid to show affection and gratitude to those dear to us. One day we may not have a chance. Everybody needs a little affirmation and a simple ‘thank you!’ goes a long way.Let us always remember – “He who thinks, thanks!”
Let this New Year celebration be an opportunity for us to reflect. If you could go some place to be alone with God , that would be great. As for me tonight I’ll just spend sometime in front of the tabernacle. Spending time for contemplation is an important part of my New Year’s celebration. This is the time for me to re-evaluate myself. To make an honest contemplation about myself. And so I ask myself, How did I spend this one year of my life that has just passed? How did I fare for my spiritual growth? Was I able to serve God and people entrusted to me to the best I could? Have I given the best of myself? Have I loved more than I should? And then we try to resolve whatever needs to adjust for the coming year. I actually never make New Year’s resolution. But I always ponder and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance , inspiration and strength to persevere.Yes we need to reflect. Socrates once said that – “An unreflected life is not worth living!”Happy New Year everyone …and I pray that God may grant the desires of your heart. Godspeed! All the best for 2017
From my heart to yours,
SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S NATIVITY (Christmas)
SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S NATIVITY (Christmas)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
Allow me to begin my insights with a story.
A CHRISTMAS STORY: Mary’s Dream
I had a dream, Joseph
I don’t understand it, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our son.
The people in my dream had been preparing for about six weeks.
They had decorated the house and bought new clothes.
They’d gone shopping many times and bought many elaborate gifts.
It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren’t for our son.
They wrapped them in beautiful paper and stacked them under a tree.
Yes, a tree, Joseph, right inside their homes! They’d decorated the tree with sparkling ornaments.
There was a figure like an angel on the top of the tree.
Everyone was laughing and happy.
They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our son.
I don’t think they even knew him.
They never mentioned his name.
I had the strangest feeling that, if our Jesus had gone to this celebration he would have been intruding.
How sad for someone not to be wanted at his own birthday party!
I’m glad it was only a dream. How terrible Joseph, if it had been real!
This story creates an impact on me as I reflect on the message of Christmas. It may just be a story but it is not far from reality. Yes, nowadays people celebrate Christmas totally without Christ. Christmas has become more of a secular celebration. People greet each other “Happy Holidays!” If you watch Christmas Concerts or Christmas Parades – most of them could be so festive, elaborate and at times ostentatious but without Jesus. They depict Santa Claus, Snow Man, reindeer, Christmas Tree etc, but there’s no mention of Jesus.
I believe the celebration of Christmas is senseless without Jesus. Why would we celebrate a birthday of a someone without honoring the real celebrant. Christmas is not about us! It is about Jesus. We do not contemplate on our personal happiness on that particular date. We do not focus on our personal need. Christmas is to contemplate about God’s saving act for the love of mankind.
Christmas is about a God of love. God indeed is great. Can you imagine, despite man’s infidelity, God even sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world? ” Because of the birth of Jesus, the God who is not visible to us, became visible. We experience the Father’s love through Jesus, We have come to know God deeply through Jesus. Jesus revealed who the Father is to us. Our hearts should be filled with gratitude for we received the most amazing gift of all i.e. the gift of His Son, Jesus. Isaiah 9:6 “For a child is born to us, and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, wonderful, counsellor, God the mighty, the father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.
On this blessed night, when we approach the nativity scene adoring the infant Jesus, let us bear in mind that the image of the child Jesus is more than an adorable cute baby boy. That child grew up – the one who came to serve and not to be served, the one who brought healing to the sick, consolation and pardon to the sinners, the one who raised the dead, he proclaimed the good news, who was put to trial, abandoned by his friends, tortured and crucified, died and was buried. But on the third day rose again. All these in order to save us and all because of love. Philippians 2:6 gives us a more profound understanding of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, “Although he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, rather he emptied himself and taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross.
On the first Christmas eve 2000 years ago, God communicated to us in a language loud and clear His message of love. “For God so love the world, He gave us his only begotten Son.” And with joy in our hearts, let us proclaim these glad tidings as loud as possible to all the people. Let us bring Christ’ message of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
And let us bring Christ back into Christmas that we may find real happiness. How? By not focusing on self but on the real birthday celebrant – our Lord Jesus Christ. Make some spiritual exercises seeking to grow in union with Christ – Pray , receive Sacraments specially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Offer the Lord praise and thanksgiving. Learn to give and to be grateful always. Do some good deeds, practice charity as it is the real spirit of Christmas. And then share that joy and celebrate it with your family and friends.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS?
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
Why is celebration of birthday of so much importance to most of us? Come to think of it, man is not born every year. So what’s the point of celebrating one’s birthday? Some people get hurt when we simply forget their birthdays. You always get in trouble if you fail to remember and to greet a loved one on his or her birthday. I always wonder how people came to be greatly affected by the anniversary of their birth. Someone jokingly said “Why celebrate the fact that you are a year older and now one year closer to your penultimate fate which is death? Practically the date of one’s birth should just be another day , just a reminder that a year has passed. But each year on our birthday we look forward for some meaning and significance of our existence.
Culturally , we vary in our celebration of birthdays. To some it serves as a family event. In other culture they specially give importance to rite of passage, a celebration of the coming of age. For instance, in Japan, the coming of age day recognizes all those who have turned the age of 20. In the Philippines a ‘debut’ is celebrated at their 18th for girls and 21st for boys. In some Hispanic countries the 15th year is the most important one called ‘quinceanera’ And here in North America, usually sweet sixteenth is an important family event. Celebration of birthday is never complete without birthday cakes in any culture. I prefer birthday cakes to be always round for to me , it symbolized the cyclical nature of life. Life is a cycle.
But why really a need to celebrate birthdays? When we celebrate birthday whom do we honor? Do we honor ourselves? NO! But we honor the source of our life and the people who give meaning and significance in our existence. The most important person in a birthday party therefore is not the celebrant , but the people around the celebrant i.e. his loved ones. Therefore , the day of our birth is to give honor to God and to our family and friends, specially our parents who gave us life. It is so wrong if our celebration of birthday is always self-centered. Like, we always expect surprises, gifts and parties in our honor.Well , there’s nothing wrong with that so long as we acknowledge the real meaning of our celebration. Celebrating the anniversary of our birth is not just about gifts and parties. It is first and foremost to celebrate the life that God gave us and to offer Him praise and thanksgiving for it. It is a reminder of God’s goodness and graciousness. When our Lord Jesus was born on Christmas day, it was to glorify His Father and to save us. His birth therefore means service, sacrifice and love. On Christmas day therefore our concern should never be focused on what we’re gonna receive but on what we are to give. For on Christmas day, we contemplate on His birth and what He was coming into the world to accomplish. It was Jesus’ manifestation of His obedience to the Father and His great love for us. His birth is giving and love.Ultimately, His mission was accomplished on Easter, the day of His resurrection.
Birthday is one day in our life when we rejoice commemorating the beginning of our existence not just to count the time that has passed but to remind ourselves that each day is a new gift. To those who are only thrilled on what they are to receive on their birthday and thinking that it is always material things that could give meaning and happiness to their existence , bear in mind that we have already received the best gift i.e. the gift of Life. We receive so many gifts daily not just on our birthday. We only need to recognize and acknowledge those gifts in our lives. Birthday is actually a challenge to reflect on one’s legacy. Like, how am I going to spend the rest of my life? What legacy will I leave behind? How would I want to be remembered? What is the purpose of my existence?
“Let them eat cake” to me means let us rejoice, let us celebrate the gift of LIFE & LOVE!
Rev Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
Father Allens Special Message – The Feast of the Archangels…
September 29, is the feast day of the three Archangels combined.
Certainly these magnificent spirits and powerful allies love us humans and so we ask for their guidance, strength and protection.
On this Feast day, let us thank our Lord for the Archangels who have often entered into history as messengers in God’s providential plan of salvation. Let us also remember our close connection with them in Christ, and frequently turn to them for their intercessory protection and assistance in times of trouble.
(Excerpt from CatholicCulture.Org.)
The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who are venerated in the tradition of the Church. Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, “Hail, full of grace,” is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Michael. St. Gabriel is observed on March 24 and St. Raphael on October 24.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.”
Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.
Father Allen’s September 8th, 2016 Message following Birth of Mary photo
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
In my ministry as a priest , I have never doubted Mary’s refuge in times of struggles and challenges. She never fails to give me the necessary strength that I may persevere always. And I owe her so much that despite my own shortcomings and weaknesses she’s always there inspiring me that may remain faithful to my calling. I love the Blessed Virgin so much and I thank God for giving her to us to be our mother too. Thank you Jesus!
Today (8th September) , we celebrate the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We love the Blessed Virgin Mary and honor her with great reverence and devotion simply because she is the Mother of God. Because of her “Fiat,” God’s plan of salvation was made possible for mankind. In her blessed womb , the Incarnation of Jesus became a reality. It is but fitting that today we rejoice with a grateful hearts to the Blessed Mother for giving us her Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
“The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.” » Saint John Damascene
History of the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The source for the story of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel written about A.D. 150. From it, we learn the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, as well as the tradition that the couple was childless until an angel appeared to Anna and told her that she would conceive.
The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Perhaps because of its close proximity to the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not celebrated today with the same solemnity as the Immaculate Conception. It is, nonetheless, a very important feast, because it prepares the way for the birth of Christ.
But why do we take the Blessed Virgin Mary in such high regard?Let me answer that question by borrowing lines from some of my favorite saints. These holy men and women gave us the most profound insights on the Blessed Mother.
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
–Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”
–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church
“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”
–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
‘Mary having co-operated in our redemption with so much glory to God and so much love for us, Our Lord ordained that no one shall obtain salvation except through her intercession.’
–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
“Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”
“To give worthy praise to the Lord’s mercy, we unite ourselves with Your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to You, because She is chosen from among men and angels. Through Her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through Her, man became pleasing to God; Through Her, streams of grace flowed down upon us.” (1746)
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
–Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit — this prayer has never failed me.”
–Saint Mother Teresa
Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.
–Saint Francis de Sales
After the love which we owe Jesus Christ, we must give the chief place in our heart to the love of His Mother Mary.’
–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
Let us pray the Memorare
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.
Father Allen’s August 19th Message
Father Allen’s Special Message
ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Monday, 15th August, 2016
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is being celebrated on 15th of the month of August. The Feast commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into heaven, before her body could begin to decay – a foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. Because it signifies the Blessed Virgin’s passing into eternal life, it is the most important of all Marian feasts.
The Feast was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of Dormition, a word which means “the falling asleep.” The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary’s body was assumed into Heaven dates from the fourth century, in a document entitled “The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.” The document is written in the voice of he Apostle John, to whom Christ on the Cross had entrusted the care of His mother, and recounts the death, laying in the tomb, and assumption of he Blessed Virgin. Tradition variously places Mary’s death at Jerusalem or at Ephesus.
“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”