Christ the King Church, Greenmeadows

Among the churches that we visited for our 52 Churches Project, Christ the King is among those which rank high in terms of popularity for weddings. When we got there to hear mass, a wedding has just ended. Two people I know personally also got married in Christ the King last 2013.

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On an interesting note, the yellow sign above is one of the few signs at the church grounds which provide nuggets of wisdom. In particular the sign above says: “Your [attendance in] mass becomes useless if you’re angry at your neighbor.”

Sto. Nino Parish Shrine, Bago Bantay

The child Jesus (the Santo Nino) has always been a reminder of the childlike simplicity that we should have when we approach God as our Father. In the Philippines, however, the child Jesus has also been portrayed wearing regal clothes, also reminding us of the divine kingship of Christ. That was the image of the child Jesus in the front facade of the Sto. Nino Parish.

The child Jesus has always been the more relate-able image of Jesus for me. In fact, when I teach children catechism, it would always be easier to explain to them how to live in a Christlike manner, by citing the anecdotes of the child Jesus in the Bible.

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A Change of Mind

I can’t sleep. An earlier conversation between me and my fiance, Patrich, keeps replaying inside my head, and I’m wondering how it got this far without either of us thinking twice. We were swept off by all of it, by the ideal of a dream wedding. I still remember when it all came crashing down on me:

“Patrich, I don’t know what’s happening,” I said in near tears.

Di ko din alam (I also don’t know what’s happening),” Patrich replied.

“I’m confused,” I murmured.

We just came home from a wedding convention, where all our wedding needs could supposedly be met by all the suppliers we could ever think up under a single roof. We were met by a barrage of flyers, all displaying limited offers or deals for flowers, clothes, make-up, reception venues, photography, videography, and even rentable air-conditioning; sales people, all trained to tell you what you need and why they could provide it best; and  flashing lights, grand decor, and loud music, all there to give you an impression of how epic your wedding could be. We were swept of by all of it. We were swept of by how quickly we were supposed to make decisions, because the offer was ‘limited.’ We were swept off by how ‘cheaply’ we could get things because of all the add-ons we could get (but probably didn’t need). We were swept off by a culture that celebrates weddings as ‘the happiest day of your life.’

And it’s true. I agree. Our wedding day potentially is the happiest day of our lives, and for many Filipinos, that is the case. I am not against having grand themed weddings, documented every step of the way, with elaborate preparations and programs. Such weddings can truly embody celebration and togetherness. We were different, though, or rather, we used to be. All the preparation that’s happened so far has confused me, and for a moment I lost track of what I — we — really wanted for our wedding.

As I look back to what I consider to be my dream wedding, ours is potentially becoming one that I didn’t want in the first place. Patrich agrees. We looked back on what we agreed upon before we got engaged — a solemn liturgical celebration and a simple gathering with our family and closest friends. We don’t need the same-day edits. We don’t need so many albums. We don’t need reception halls with high ceilings and rolls and rolls of drapery. We don’t need disco lights and wild party music. We don’t need bubbles or smoke machines. We d0n’t need so many things that we currently have right now. We just needed the ceremony, a simple reception, our family, our friends, and perhaps pictures to remember our wedding day by.

What is more important to us is not the wedding itself, but our marriage. Instead of fussing over which supplier to get, we wanted to prepare ourselves spiritually, to make sure that when we do get married, we would always be of service to God and to each other.  Instead of spending too much on our wedding, we wanted to have a proper home to live in and a proper life to give to our (future) children. Through this process of preparation, we hoped to learn to be more responsible with our resources and to dedicate them for the most important things. Perhaps, we should turn back. Before we could get lost in the physical preparations for our wedding, perhaps we should rededicate ourselves to our real goal: our marriage.

Eleven months from now, we will get married, and it’ll be grand. Not because we’ll be looking like royalty, but because God’s going to be in it.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Mahinhin cor. Mayumi St.

I’ve been to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish before for Visita Iglesia — a yearly tradition that my family (and many other Filipino families) usually do during the Holy Week. I don’t remember what year it was, but it definitely was part of one of the seven churches we visit as part of the tradition. I’m also quite familiar with the church, because it’s near a the Claret School, which I also used to visit for Taekwondo practice.

The Church is circular, and it reminds me of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP in some respects and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in others. It’s quite a simple church, and what I particularly like is that at the wall behind the altar, is a pronouncement of faith: “Ikaw ang aking pag-asa. Ikaw ang aming buhay at muling pagkabuhay. (You are my hope. You are our life and our resurrection.).” Truly, a reminder of who Jesus Christ is in our life.

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Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Kanlaon St.

The Our Lady of Lourdes  Parish (or as my family calls it, simply, “Lourdes”) is probably the Church where I have heard mass the most times. The family used to wake up quite early, and we’d almost always go for mass at around 9am or 10am after a short, light breakfast. My parents still does this with my younger siblings. Oh, and this is also where my parents got married, so I guess it will always be a special place for my family.

Patrich and I would always hear first Friday mass here, and of course, this is one of the churches we visited for the project. Lourdes has also turned into one of our special places.

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