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Liberal education opens the mind to realities—Comms Bureau chief

Rev. Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona said that the very reason for AB’s existence is to provide education for the freemen and the youth who contribute to the church and civil society. 

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Rev. Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona on Sunday, April 18, delivers homily during the mass for the125th anniversary of Arts and Letters.

The UST Communications Bureau director reminded Thomasians on Sunday, April 18, that the goal of liberal education is to open one’s mind to the world. 

“One of the goals of liberal education is to open the mind of its students to the reality of the world, to learn from its truth, and to contribute to the advancement and the development of society,” Rev. Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona said. 

Aytona compared the Filipino struggle to the plight of ancient Galileans in the Gospel of John. According to him, Filipinos are “starving” for basic goods, healthcare, and immediate vaccination. 

“[T]his starvation that we experience is a result of the lack of charity and justice which we have been longing for as a nation,” he said.

“Many injustices, corruption left and right, extra-judicial killings, shameless exploitation of mother nature and many others are haunting us as the largest Christian nation in the far east,” he added.

Aytona also noted that the primary purpose of the catholic-liberal education at the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) is to form discipleship who “knows Christ, follows Christ, and makes Him known.” 

He said that the very reason for AB’s existence is to provide education for the freemen and the youth who contribute to the church and civil society. 

The mass was co-celebrated with the UST Sacred Theology Dean Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P. AB marked the celebration of its 125th anniversary yesterday with a Eucharistic celebration and will end in March 2022. Ian Patrick Laqui

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Online Eucharist ‘next best thing,’ but incomparable to in-person masses—IR faculty

While online masses are a good alternative, these are still “incomparable” to face-to-face Eucharistic gatherings, faculty members of the University’s Institute of Religion (UST-IR) said Tuesday, March 30. 

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UST-IR Asst. Director Catalina Lituañas explains that face-to-face mass encourage community participation.

While online masses are a good alternative, these are still “incomparable” to face-to-face Eucharistic gatherings, faculty members of the University’s Institute of Religion (UST-IR) said Tuesday, March 30. 

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, UST-IR faculty member Leo Ocampo pointed out that online masses are just “ways to compensate” with the absence of religious gatherings amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Although these are not sacraments—ang online masses ay, by no means, a ‘mass,’ pero kumbaga it’s the next best thing to nothing. Pero it’s not the mass. They are not comparable,” he said.

Ocampo also emphasized that online sacraments are “no substitute for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” as mentioned in a Vatican document titled, the Church and the Internet.

“[S]acraments are for living persons [and] are received through signs and symbols. These signs and symbols are experienced in the flesh…[S]o as far as the Church is concerned, sacraments can only happen in person,” he said. 

Meanwhile, UST-IR Asst. Director Catalina Lituañas explained that face-to-face masses allow parishioners to pray together, which is not the case for online masses. 

“If there are restrictions, we cannot really go out, […] then we have to stay home for our safety. But there is really a lot of difference if you are physically present in the Church. Iba yung participation mo sa Eucharist [and] your participation sa community prayer,” Lituañas told TomasinoWeb.

“Kasi inside the Church, when you participate in the mass, you don’t just pray alone. We pray with the community,” she added.


Limited capacity

The Inter-Agency Task Force allowed on March 26 “once-a-day” church gatherings from April 1 to 4, with attendance limited to only 10 percent of the church’s seating capacity. 

However, the surge of Covid-19 cases in the country placed the Greater Manila area under enhanced community quarantine until April 4, which will prohibit masses during the Holy Week.

Then-Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillio said that the ban on church gatherings is a breach in the separation of church and state. 

Ocampo explained that the churches are “big enough” to handle 10 percent church capacity, considering the size of the religious establishments and the protocols practiced to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

“I think it is very manageable…[A]nd the Church is very faithful in following government regulations, proper sanitations. We even created a new ministry for that in the Archdiocese of Manila,” he said. 

Despite the absence of face-to-face church assemblies, Lituañas said that the faithful could still observe the Holy Week from the comfort of our homes.

“Marami tayong guides for the Holy Week celebration so we can still pray together with the family, recite the Rosary. Meron pa rin tayong Seven Last Words, so this Friday you can tune in pa rin sa livestream sa Facebook,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ocampo stressed that it is important for Catholics to “remember what God did” during the Holy Week.

“Religious gatherings help us to remember what the Lord did…[O]f course, there is the availability of online broadcasts, but also, the more important thing is your internal disposition. Attune yourself to God, remember what he has done to you, be grateful, and hopefully, respond in love,” he said.  

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‘No contact’ Ash Wednesday, says Bishop Pabillo

According to Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Broderick Pabillo, the Vatican instructed the ash to be sprinkled on the heads of churchgoers instead of the traditional rite of marking their foreheads. 

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Photo by TomasinoWeb

Philippine churches will be implementing a “no contact” observance of Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17, which marks the start of the 40-day Lenten season. 

The churches have observed this practice last year as a COVID-19 precaution.

According to Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Broderick Pabillo, the Vatican instructed the ash to be sprinkled on the heads of churchgoers instead of the traditional rite of marking their foreheads. 

“Wala nang contact. Lalapit sila at bubudburan ng abo ang kanilang ulo,” Pabillo said in an interview in Teleradyo.

Pabillo noted that the traditional dictum, or the “repent and believe in the gospel,” will still be included. However, the directive said that instead of repeating the formula from the Roman Missal to each attendee, it will only be said once by the ministers. 

“At ‘yung formula na sinasabi na ikaw ay tao, tandaan mo sa abo ka babalik, magsisi ka sa iyong mga kasalanan…[‘Y]an po ay sasabihin na lang ng minsanan sa lahat,” he said.

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Pabillo urges faithful on Black Nazarene feast: ‘Put Jesus in your struggles’

The bishop also said that devotees became more intimate with Jesus despite the changes in the Quiapo church’s traditional celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene. 

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Archdiocese of Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillo says Jesus on the cross is not punishment but faithful's salvation. (Photo from Manila Bulletin livestream of fiesta mass for Nazareno 2021)

The Archdiocese of Manila auxiliary bishop urged Catholic devotees yesterday, Jan. 9, to include Jesus in their struggles during the mass for the feast day of the Black Nazarene.  

“We do not deny the suffering that are with us, but put Jesus there at magtratransform po ang ating kahirapan sa ating kaligtasan,” Apostolic Administrator Broderick Pabillo said. 

Pabillo used the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to further amplify his message. According to him, it was Jesus’s struggle that led people to salvation. 

“[A]ng krus ay instrumento ng pagpaparusa, ng pagpatay…[H]indi tinanggihan ni Hesus na siya ay i-akyat sa krus. Si Hesus na nasa sa krus ay hindi na parusa kung hindi kaligtasan para sa atin,” he said. 

The bishop also said that devotees became more intimate with Jesus despite the changes in the Quiapo church’s traditional celebration of the feast of the Black Nazarene. 

Although health professionals warned devotees to stay at home, thousands of Filipinos flocked to Quiapo Church which astounded netizens as videos and photos of the festivities surfaced online. 

The Manila Police District estimated that around 400,000 visitors were seen in Quiapo today. Quiapo church announced that it would hold at least 15 masses, with only 400 visitors allowed for each mass.

The scheduled mass will also be livestream at Quiapo Church’s official Facebook account for non-physical mass goers. 

Unruffled devotion

Prior to the pandemic, devotees walked through the streets of Manila, with some attempting to kiss or wipe the image of the Black Nazarene with a cloth in hopes that their prayers would be granted. 

Thomasian Nazareno devotees, however, remained unruffled amid cancellation of the annual Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene. 

“Kahit di tayo physically present, sa ating pagdadasal sa ating mga tahanan, sa online connection lang, ay lumalapit tayo sa Diyos,” Pabillo said. 

Thomasian devotees resorted to alternative ways to practice their devotion to the Black Nazarene. 

“I try my best to attend their online mass everyday,” first-year Communication Arts student Chiqui Cabrera told TomasinoWeb. 

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“If you really have faith with him kahit nasaan ka kaya mong pakita na devoted ka sa kanya,” second-year journalism major and devotee since nine-years of age Kyle Llamas told TomasinoWeb. 

Another journalism student, who wished to be known as “an unworthy servant of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” practiced his devotion this year differently as well. 

“This year, since it is the pandemic, I went out of the door to greet the car procession of Señor Nazareno, which was held by my parish as I waved a napkin, venerating the image of the suffering Christ,” he told TomasinoWeb. 

He also said that he feels sympathetic to the devotees who were not able to practice their devotion due to COVID-19 constraints. 

The City of Manila cancelled the annual Traslacion last year, Oct. 23, due to the pandemic. Devotees hold a grand procession each Jan. 9 to commemorate the 1767 transfer of the venerated image of the Black Nazarene from Intramuro to Quiapo. 

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