January 06, 2017
On Epiphany, we thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ, a gift given to all of us throughout the world, throughout time. Like the wise astrologers, we respond by bringing our gifts to the Lord: our ways of praying, our ways of singing, our ways of thinking,
December 07, 2016
Every year, Filipinos celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception in Manila with a grand procession of hundreds of images of the Virgin Mary. The tradition started on Dec. 8, 1619, when the first procession of the images of the Blessed Mother was held in Manila. It lasted for 15 days, according to historians. During the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines, which lasted for 300 years, the annual procession, which was supposed to promote catechism, became a display of wealth and fashion of the ruling elite. Today, the procession, which was held on the first Sunday of December, has become a showcase of the most prominent Marian images in the country. A military brass marching band accompanies the procession of devotees who are dressed in white as they parade around the old walled city of Intramuros in Manila. The annual Feast of the Immaculate Conception is one of the traditional "Holy Days of Obligation," meaning observing Catholics should attend Mass and avoid any nonessential work, to commemorate the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the birth of Jesus, but rather the birth of Mary to her mother, St. Anne. In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed that the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, "from the first moment of her conception... immune from all stain of original sin."