Feasts in June-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, July 5, 2014
JUNE is a special month for the Sacred Heart Shrine in Bacolod because it holds many special celebrations. Foremost of which is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus celebrated last June 27. The feast is not a constant date because it changes annually but it definitely is celebrated in the month of June.
A nine day novena precedes the big event. The Sacred Heart Shrine is always packed with people on the daily Novena Masses but on the feast itself, the Shrine overflows with devotees. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most revered devotions in the whole Philippines.
We always fly to the patronage of the loving heart of Jesus when we are in distress and His Merciful Heart always hears and answers our prayers.
The Sacred Heart Shrine has one of the most beautiful images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its altar. The eyes of Jesus are so expressive. It oozes with love and affection. His arms are stretched out claiming dominion over all of His Father’s creations and also His great power to crash all that is not well and evil in this world with His compassionate heart.
The devout active devotees of the Sacred Heart come in white shirts and purple every First Friday and they were all present during the feast. A procession took place in the grounds of the shrine before the concelebrated Mass in the afternoon and there was camaraderie over the agape after. Thank you Sacred Heart of Jesus for always hearing and answering our prayers.
Another special event in June in the Shrine is the Mass of the Holy Spirit. June is the start of all classes in the Philippines and the seminarians are the most privileged to have the opening of their classes with no less than Bishop Vicente Navarra officiating a Mass particularly for their intentions.
These are God’s chosen children and they need the anointing of the Holy Spirit’s 7 special gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
The seminary, as Bishop Navarra says, is no ordinary school or boarding house. It has special subjects, lessons, and time schedules where the students follow a pattern for a particular purpose which leads them to a careful assessment that is suited and fitted for a seminary life.
The seminary is not the easy way out. It is the road less traveled and most often the demands are too rigorous. The need to cling to the Holy Spirit is most imperative in order to willingly give one’s self to a vocation for the priestly life.
From the preparatory to the fourth year, there is a total of 57 students this year. Usually in the preparatory and the freshman years, the numbers are big. But they start to dwindle as they advance in grades. Today, in the graduating class are six hopefuls. By God’s grace, may we see all of them welcomed into the priesthood.
The Mass of the Holy Spirit was scheduled last June 13, which was also the Feast of San Antonio de Padua, the second patron of the Sacred Heart Shrine. In the Mass, Bishop Navarra himself blessed the bread that was offered by the faithful devotees which were distributed after the Mass.
It was very fitting that the Mass of the Holy Spirit fell during the Feast of San Antonio de Padua. St. Anthony is not only best known as the Patron Saint of Lost Items. But he was a great preacher anointed by no less than St. Francis of Assisi himself to be the first teacher of his order. St Anthony was very effective as a preacher. Huge crowds of about 30,000 at times would come to listen to his sermons. On some occasions, he would need a bodyguard to protect him as people would snip with scissors a piece of his habit as a relic.
In 1946, the Catholic Church declared him a Doctor of the Universal Church. St Anthony’s life was an example of what a Christian life should be: steady courage to face the ups and downs of life, the call to love and forgive, to be concerned for the needs of others and to deal with crisis great and small by total trust and dependence on God. Exactly what a seminarian needs to emulate.
This is the calling of priests. To be eloquent preachers who can call people to come to a God they can adore and praise. His simple and dedicated life to his faith and his God is what priesthood is all about.
We pray that the Sacred Heart of Jesus will bring more priests to His fold and may we be more active and devout followers of the faith!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 05, 2014.