HIBLA NG SANDALI

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Wag kang magtira ni konting hibla
At baka ‘di ko tuluyang mapalaya ka.

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Inheritance from my Grandma (Reflection on the Rosary and Succession)

Today is the feast day of the Our Lady of the Rosary. Tomorrow will be my exams in wills and succession. And I think it is fitting to reflect on these two things: rosary and succession/inheritance.

Back in the seminary we would always start the day with this: Benedicamus Domino. Prayers. However, I learned the basic catholic prayers even before I started going to school because I grew up in a home were faith is given importance. My grandmother taught me how to pray the rosary at an early age. She would tag me along whenever she attended the mass at barangay chapel every Saturday. I could still vividly remember those days when we were brought by my grandma to the church to hear mass on Saturdays. I could still remember wearing my new clothes on my birthday and other big celebrations like Christmas.

It was grandma who would lead the rosary. It was my grandma who will call and remind us her apos to pray the holy rosary. It was her who will always call the attentions of her naughty apos or woke us up when we fell asleep. Her enthusiasm to pray was inspiring and she was consistent. It was my grandma who was the team leader, my mother the assistant leader and us as the grumbling-sleeping members. Even at the bigger community in our barangay, my grandma would lead group of senior citizens so much so that during the culmination of her thirty one days of novena and devotion to Mary during May there would be many cantors, visitors and neighbors at home. I loved it. I loved the meriendas.

I could also remember how she would pray twice as hard when one of her apos would get sick. How she would pray novenas in honor of saints I did not know at that time. How she would pray all the mysteries of the holy rosary and its litanies in one night. And it was effective. It was miraculous. Until one time, my younger and baby sister got terribly sick. As always, she prayed. We prayed. I prayed seriously, sincerely. At the end of the rosary, I could still remember her daring and bold words asking the mercy and healing of Christ and the intercession of her beloved Mother Mary. It was not a plea anymore for life. It was an exchange, a bargain of her life in favor of the life of my younger baby sister. Her words were sincere when she said Ginoo, indi man pagkuhaa akon apo. Ako na lang ang kuhaa. Shortly after, my sister recovered from her illness. Shortly thereafter my beloved Lola Berta got sick and after some time joined her creator.

There was one experience as regards praying the Rosary that I cannot forget when I was in elementary. At that time, there was still that image of the Our Lady of Fatima being brought by devotees to different houses. And the image would stay for a night in the home of a particular family. The image was scheduled to stay overnight at home. During that time, I had a terrible fever and I felt unpleasantly cold that I was barred to go out and play. Mother asked me to lead the rosary so that according to her I will get well and be able to play again with the other children every afternoon. My head felt lighter after the prayer. I was wearing a sweater when I prayed but I had to remove it because I was already sweating. I did not know what happened. But I was assured that I can play the next day.

I continue to cherish her memories of my grandmother. Her legacy I will continue to remember. Her trust, her piety, her sincerity I will continue to be grateful of. Her life was an instrument that I may know and have faith in God. She was my lola, whose love to God and Mary is my precious inheritance. And it was at this very same home where I inherited my religious belief.

I use the term inheritance not in the strict legal signification but rather loosely to be under the category of “obligation” and purely personal in character. Under Article 776 of the NCC, inheritance is defined as ALL THE PROPERTIES, RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF A PERSON WHICH ARE NOT EXTINGUISHED BY HIS DEATH. And I bear with me the obligation to deepen and nourish that which I inherited. 

It was at this very home where I learned to fear God. It was at this very home where I first encounter the love of God manifested by the love of my parents to each other and to us, their children. It is at home where I learned my first catechism. It is at home where I saw and learned many Christian values of respect, love, trust, piety, honesty and sincerity. It is at home where my journey of faith to God all started. It is at home where I first encountered Mary and her rosary, valuable inheritance I have.

The Holy and the Grave

(A Summary of Peter Brown’s Chapter One of His Book “The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity)

This first chapter of Peter Brown’s book entitled “The Cult of the Saints” gives us an introduction and a glimpse of the thesis of his whole opus. This chapter deals with the “how” of the cult of the saints emerged, orchestrated and functioned in the late antiquity. This chapter, or the whole book we may say, is brought about by the problem that the author was trying to deal with the cult of the saints. He said in his premises that the cult of the saints has received a certain amount of attention… But the full implication of what it meant to contemporaries has not been explored fully as it deserves. This summary is presented on three topics namely, On Emergence, On Orchestration and On The Function respectively.

On Emergence

The emergence of the cult of the saints was ushered by the old belief of the Mediterranean people. Their belief was that the “heaven” and “earth” is separated from each other. The former has divine attributes i.e. stability and permanence etc. while the latter has all the imperfections and dregs or in other words they are the contrast of each other. This belief is most probably influenced by Platonism. Another platonic element in this belief is the liberation of the virtuous soul from the imprisonment in the flesh through death. Death would then allow the soul to regain its proper place up above the heavens together with the stars. (One of the explanations why the tomb of the Egyptian pharaohs was a pointed pyramid was because of this belief that the pharaoh would one day be one of the stars in the sky.)

The most important factor in the emergence of the cult of the saints is the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead. This Christian belief (later a dogma) is a radical contrast to the belief of the Mediterranean people. This resurrection of the dead is a reversal to the above belief that bodily life is limited only to this world. The believed barriers between heaven and earth had been broken and the graves especially those of the saints were considered privileged places where the contrasted poles of heaven and earth met. We can now surmise that the Christian cult of the saints, since it emerged from the graves, rose outside of Rome because the cemeteries were situated at the peripheries of the city due to the Roman belief that the dead bodies were desecration to the city.

On Orchestration

With the growth of the cult of the saints from the cemeteries came also the shift i.e. from inconspicuous and unremarkable places to prominent, recognized and established places in Rome. In these areas are found great architectures and impressive landscapes.

This shift occurrence had a very important consequence. The bishops of Western Europe came to orchestrate the cult of the saints in such a way as to base their power on these cemeteries where great architecture (e.g. Basilicas and shrines) would eventually shoot to blossom.

The tombs also were orchestrated in a manner that it became a public property and became also the focus of community worship or ritual especially the tombs of the saints. And by this orchestration or joining of the Holy and the Grave set the distinction of the Catholic Church from its Byzantine and Near Eastern neighbors. We can clearly trace the rise of the holy dead because the shrine and the official religious leadership slide so easily together.

On the Function

We have seen that the cult of the saints broke away the barriers between the Holy and the Grave, Heaven and Earth, the Divine and the Human, the Living and the Dead. Due to that breaking away, there involved changes that seem congruent to changing patterns of human relations in late-Roman society at large. The cult of the saints functioned to designate the dead human beings as the recipients of unalloyed and great reverence, and it also linked these dead and invisible figures in no uncertain manner to precise visible places and, in many areas, to precise living representatives. Furthermore, the cult of the saints became the herald of radically new forms of reverence. It also was one of the reasons of the rise of many important religious sites whether for worship, for pilgrimages and for many other religious purposes. It also became one of the important factors in the unification of the few (the elite or the learned individuals who were able to make arguments as regards their faith in the Supreme Being) and the vulgar (which constitutes the majority during that time) by the new leaders (bishops and clerics) of the “new cities outside the towns” because it was their source of force and energy. The cult of the saints introduced new forms of the exercise of power, new bonds of human dependence. And finally, this cult of the saints gave new hopes for protection and justice in a changing world.