Wednesday, August 01, 2007

God Is So Alive

I was privileged to have witnessed the Solemn Dedication and Consecration of a church twice this year. First was our very own Shrine of St. Therese of which Boydee and I played active roles in its fruition. Second was yesterday's dedication of the church of which Fr. Benny is the parish priest, the St. Alphonsus de Liguori Parish in Magallanes.

This time around, I was able to concentrate more on the ceremony than its execution (unlike in St. Therese). Despite the long wait, we were asked to go at 4pm but the mass actually started at 5, I was thankful for being there. Despite my aching flat butt and my uneasiness in wearing heels now that I'm almost 3 months pregnant, and despite my hunger, I patiently watched, listened, sang, participated in the 2-hour ceremony of dedicating the newly built church to God.

The whole ceremony was not without its share of long rituals, cute gimmickry (children singing), long, unfamiliar songs with a choir that sad to say had more soloists than the beautiful, pleasing blending of voices (but their song arrangements were really noteworthy!), meaningful speeches, chants, and of course, the usual mass proceedings.

Still, the whole set of unique rituals like the lighting of the altar, consecrating of the altar table, incensing, etc., performed by the Cardinal and his assisting Archbishops and Bishops, with their Master of Ceremonies and other priest concelebrants was amusing and educational to watch. Each ritual had its significance for being part of the whole and I can only thank the Catholic Church for preserving these rites through the ages so that we may get a glimpse of our culture, our history and an appreciation of the richness of our religion.

As HE Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales wiped oil on the altar table that was to be consecrated, I could not help but feel so blessed to see and feel God so alive in one place, in the hearts of so many people. This was the birth of a new house of God in its physical aspect, but more than that, this was the re-birth of a community. This was a community intent on re-building the structure that burned down 3 years ago and yesterday, on the feast day of their patron, through the kind and focused leadership of Fr. Benny, a new edifice stands. And you can see in the faces of the people, that there was joy... and fulfillment for being part of something good and something for His glory.

The church is done but the work never stops. Everyday, we are part and instrumental in the building of churches within our community. We may already have the structure but the real church is really its people. We are the church and each one of us is the brick, the hollow block, the nail; and our own construction is an on going thing. But it's not the money that oils the work-in-progress. Oh no! It is the love towards our brothers and sisters; it is our common faith in the Lord Almighty; and it is our commitment and strong resolve to always strive to be good and devout Catholics - all for His glory!!!

Congratulations Father Benny and to the Magallanes community and parishioners!

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