Entering the Holy Doors: What Else You Need to Know

So I started my pilgrimage to the Holy Doors (Porta Sancta) this Maundy Thursday, with family in tow.  Thinking it was the perfect time to do it, we made our first stop at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.

First Church:  Manila Cathedral

Porta sancta

The grand archway at the Manila Cathedral

Not knowing what to expect, we went to the cathedral and was surprised to find a large throng of people outside the church walls.  There was a chrism mass going on which was officiated by Cardinal Luis Tagle and attended by several priests all over Metro Manila.  This mass is especially celebrated for priests after all, in commemoration of the institution of the holy priesthood established by Jesus Christ.

After the mass, we went our way through the parish office, to be informed that the Pilgrim’s Passport would be distributed at the front of the church.  By the time it was our turn, we passport ran out and we would have to wait for the next batch of distribution in the afternoon.  Rather than be disheartened, we made our way to the next church.

Second Church: Shrine of the Divine Mercy

We reached the shrine around 1pm, when it was hot and humid.  The church was overflowing with people, but in a smaller scale that was manageable.  There was enough passports to distribute to pilgrims.  Except for my son, all 4 of us were given passports.

Pilgrim passport

After completing the steps required, we had our passports stamped at the parish office.  Because it was Holy Week and there were many people in the churches, it took us more than 2 hours to complete everything.  We decided to complete the other four churches (including Manila Cathedral) on a later date.

Important Things You Need to Know

There are a few things that you should know before going on a pilgrimage:

  1. The Pilgrim’s Passport is free, however you may make a donation of any amount.  The pilgrimage is not advisable for children below 15 years old.
  2. Each of the five churches indicated in the passport has it’s own set of steps.  Read the instructions in the passport as this will be your guide in completing it.  No shortcuts please.  You may try to do this, but our Lord will know it.
  3. The Jubilee Year of Mercy runs until November 20, 2016, so anybody wanting to complete it can spread out and plan their pilgrimage carefully.
  4. The most important part of the pilgrimage is not just going there, but what you get in return.  Please have the purity of intention.  It is not a field trip.  In visiting the Holy Doors, you get a plenary indulgence for your sins.  For a complete understanding on this, you may want to read more on how a plenary indulgence is obtained.  Visit the Divine Mercy website for details.
  5. The passport only lists 5 churches, but there are other churches that have been identified by other dioceses.  I am posting the list of churches from the Diocese of Cubao and Pasig City.  Every diocese in the country has the authority to designate a Holy Door within their area.  I would suggest that you check your local diocese for information.
  6. For those who are sick or incarcerated, Pope Francis has also given special attention to them.  These are special instances and the details are discussed in the Vatican’s Misericordiae Vultus.
Posted at the Diocese of Cubao's website

Posted at the Diocese of Cubao’s website


From the Diocese of Pasig website

From the Diocese of Pasig website



Never Go to Mass Empty Hearted, Empty-Handed

holy_massWe have the tendency to go to mass empty-handed–or rather, empty-hearted. How?

As Catholics, it is our spiritual obligation to attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  But probably, it has become so routine for us that it has become just that–obligatory.  We do the sign of the cross, make the responses, fall in line for holy communion, do the prayers–then it’s done.  Our “job” is done for the week.  We have better excitement watching a movie.

But going to mass should be more than that.  We should always have that anxiety of meeting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  People have seem to lost that belief.  We must always have that intensity of finding Jesus in the mass, especially at the consecration when the host and chalice are raised.  In an apparition by the Blessed Virgin, she has requested people to offer prayers at the moment of consecration.  It is at this moment that our Guardian Angels offer to Jesus all our prayers and intentions.

Isn’t that beautiful?  Our guardian angel carries our prayers and intentions.  So whatever is our prayer and intention it goes straight up to Jesus, STRAIGHT UP.  So we should always have our attention focused on the main celebrant.

Bring with you intentions of your friends, for healing, for supplication, whatever.  Are they sick or in despair?  Are they people who terminally ill?  Do you have problems that need guidance?  Bring these at the foot our Lord during the Holy Eucharist.  He appreciates those that bring with them their hearts and good intentions.

Let me just replicate what the Virgin of Guadalupe said to St. Juan Diego:

Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother?

A blessed week to everyone.

Communing with Nature at Mary Immaculate Parish

My kid had his first communion recently at the Mary Immaculate Parish at BF Almanza in Moonwalk, Las Piñas City.  For Catholics looking for a different place to go to this Lenten season, this church will be a good stop to make your Visita Iglesia. 

More popularly known to residents as the “Nature’s Church”, the church was constructed in 1986 by no less than famed architect, Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa.  The church sits on 6,000 sqm. complex and is made of indigenous materials.  The ceiling is made of anahaw/cogon leaves that were hewn together.  The lights are made of capiz shells and fashioned into doves, making it appear that doves (as represented by Catholics as the Holy Spirit) were floating in the perimeter.  No trees were cut within the vicinity as can be seen by the tall sampaloc trees that dotted the area.  The seats were designed as tree stumps and the altar made of natural material (a tree maybe?).  For nature lovers like me, it’s truly refreshing to pray in such as open area like this.  It’s an ideal place for weddings too!  A perfect venue for a garden wedding.  I wish I had known this place earlier when I was planning on my own wedding.

The altar with the floating Jesus in the background

The church also has an active parish.  Fr. Fidel Fabile is the Parish Priest and the one who presided over the first communion of the children.  My son liked everything about it, including the aviary just near the Prayer Room. 

Doves made of capiz surround the ceiling

Getting there is a little difficult, since this little known place is not as popular as the church where the Bamboo Organ is.  Either you take Alabang or Coastal Road but you will still land on the same route going there, that is, Alabang-Zapote Road.  Those with a Friendship Sticker can get in Moonwalk Village without a hitch, but for many of those who don’t have it or any transportation for that matter will have to take a jeep plying Marcos Alvarez then drop off at Moonwalk.  Just ask local residents how to get there.

Now that Holy Week is just around the corner, the Mary Immaculate Parish is a nice church for reflection and prayer.

Have a good week!