Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Feast Day July 31
Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)


As far as I can tell, because our records don't go back very far, these are all the surnames included on the Chamorro side of my family tree :

San Nicolas

These are all Hagåtña names.  And none are pure, indigenous Chamorro names.  But somehow these Spanish, Mexican, South American, Filipino and possibly Portuguese settlers married Chamorro women and their descendants spoke Chamorro and lived the Chamorro culture and, above all, did not consider themselves Spanish, Mexican, Filipino or anything other than Chamorro.

And they were all Catholic.

Whoever were my pure Chamorro ancestors, at some point, became Catholic.  Thanks to :

A Jesuit
Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores
Founder of the Catholic Mission of the Marianas


The missions south of Guam, the Carolines and Marshall Islands, were sponsored by American Jesuits.  When they would travel to Guam, they often stayed at the Capuchin Friary where I lived.  That's how I got to know a few of them.

They were older; in their 60s, 70s and 80s.  They had spent 20 or more years in small islands, many without electricity.  Some of their islands had just 300 people on them.

They lived a very simple life; building chapels and churches with simple material.  They learned the native languages and knew everyone in their islands.

When they stayed at the Friary, I saw how materially simple they were.  One older Jesuit came in from the airport around 2AM and couldn't find a key to his guest room.  So we found him sleeping on the hard floor at 630AM.  But he had no complaints; "I'm used to it," he said.

They had a great demeanor about them.  Balance.  Pleasant, friendly but with a kind of dignity.  A kind of hardness, but in a manly way.  Fatherly.

In conversation, nothing taken to extremes.  Neither sullen nor loquacious.  On church topics, nothing extreme either.  It seemed to me one could never get into an argument with them, because it takes two to argue.

Later I learned Ignatius' teaching about trying to find commonality with others and lead by gentle persuasion.  These men were conversing with fellow priests, most of them of the same generation and Catholic culture.  There was hardly anything to argue about.  Still, there was a kind of civility in their tone.

Jesuit Bishop Martin Neylon had that Jesuit cordiality.  I do not speak of his record as a bishop; I was aware not every priest agreed with his policies, but what's new about that in the Church? 
Father Hugh Costigan was a giant of a missionary.  He founded a trade school on the island of Ponape, with funds he obtained from all over the globe.  He had friends everywhere.  He was a tall man.  Formerly in the Philippines and spent World War II there under the Japanese.  He knew Father Dueñas because of that and defended Father Dueñas against Tweed's accusations of breaking the seal of confession.
Jesuits were my professors....summer Scripture classes on Guam; various classes in Berkeley; pastoral counseling at Creighton.
Jesuits were my spiritual directors for a while.
All during my formation years as a future priest, my annual retreats were Ignatian, based on Jesuit spirituality.
Sometimes we were lucky to have a Jesuit passing through Guam and could do an 8 day retreat on Guam.  Other times, I'd fly to Saipan and do a retreat there with a Jesuit.
Two directors I remember well.  Father Rice from the Jesuit retreat house in Cebu (Philippines) and Father Orlando Torres from Puerto Rico, who I hear is some higher official now in Rome.
One retreat was particularly important to me.  It was with Father Rice at Maturana Hill in Saipan.  The summer of 1987.  I was going through a severe testing of my vocation.  The details are not important.  It had nothing to do with celibacy.  It had everything to do with attachment to success.  Ignatius' focus on freedom from attachments was just what I needed.
But freedom is not something you decide to have; flip a switch and there you have it.  It is a grace.  But I got that grace, unexpected and unplanned - as grace often is - one night on that retreat.  The moment the freedom came, around 9PM, I had to go see Father Rice, who graciously received me even though he was done for the night.
I will be forever grateful for those Ignatian retreats and recommend them if they are done well.
I always try to get my hands on anything written by Ignatius.  I love his way of thinking.  "Our manner of proceeding...."  Not only what to do, but also how to do it.
Great synthesis of human psychology and Catholic faith.
So, thanks, Bishop Neylon, Fathers Fahey, Nicholson, Costigan, Rice, Sullivan, Mulhauser et al.  Much appreciated!
  • God's actions are like water drops on a sponge; the devil's like a waterfall on rocks.
  • Go in their door, as long as they come out your door.
  • Think about how you're going to do it, not just that you'll do it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Follow me now.  Take it all in slowly.

But "James" in Chamorro is, mainly, SANTIAGO.

OK, follow me now.

It all starts with the Hebrew name Yaakov.  In English, we know it as Jacob.

But in Latin, which was the language used by the Church for thousands of years all over Western Europe, Yaakov is Jacobus.

In Latin, the J sounds like an I or a Y.  So sometimes it was spelled Iacobus.

To shorten it, the Spaniards would say Iago (from Iacobus).

Now, "saint" in Latin is "sanctus."

To shorten "sanctus," the Spaniards turn it into "San" or "Santo."

But there are two other versions of James in Spanish/Chamorro.

Santiago also got shortened to Tiago (a name found in Portugal and Brazil), and from Tiago we get Diego.  So Diego is another form of Santiago.

To confuse you some more, Diego is also the Spanish form of the Latin name Didacus.  But that's enough of that.

Finally, there is the form Jaime.  In Spanish and Chamorro, that would be pronounced HAI - MEH.

Jaime also comes from a shortening of Jacobus because at first it was shortened to Jaume, and from Jaume to Jaime.

Even in English, we see the progression :

JACOBUS becomes JACOME (in parts of France)
JACOME becomes JAMES (in England)


Saint James the Greater, whose feast is celebrated today, is the Patron of Spain.  There is a huge shrine to him in a city named after him, Santiago Compostela in the province of Galicia in Spain.  What's the connection?

Tradition has it that Saint James the Apostle of Jesus (in Spanish, Santiago Apostol) went from Israel to Spain preaching Christianity.  He was, therefore, if the tradition is correct, the first Apostle to evangelize the Iberian Peninsula.  Saint Paul talked about going to Spain, but more than likely never did.

Many scholars doubt this tradition because Saint James died rather early, and in Jerusalem, not in Spain, in the year 44AD.  On the other hand, this would have given him roughly ten years to make the trip to Spain, from the time of Jesus' Ascension and the time of his own death in 44AD.

The tradition continues that the body of the martyred saint was brought back to Spain and buried in Galicia.  In time, his tomb was forgotten due to wars and foreign invasions.  Then, centuries later, a shepherd, guided by a star, was lead to the burial site and discovered it.  From then on, a succession of churches were built on the site, called Compostela because, as tradition has it, it was a star (stella) that lead to the discovery of the field (campus) where the body lay.  Again, some scholars dispute this and think the name comes from other possible origins.

Whatever the case, the cathedral/shrine to Saint James in Compostela became a major destination for Christian pilgrimages in Europe.  It was the shrine of an Apostle, a big deal to Christians.  Yet, it was safely in Christian lands, not like the other holy places in the East which were under Muslim control and more dangerous for Christians to travel.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

In the Middle Ages, the shrine of Saint James in Spain was a major pilgrimage center for all of Western Europe.  A series of roads eventually were mapped out to bring pilgrims - walking by foot - to the shrine.  It was called the Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James.  All along the route, there were specially-marked towns where pilgrims could receive hospitality.  There, a church official would mark a certificate with a stamp that the pilgrim had reached that far.  When they completed the journey to Compostela, they received the final recognition they had fulfilled the pilgrimage and gained the graces and indulgences attached to it.

Saint James dressed as a Pilgrim

The scallop shell, or concha de vieira in the Galician language, became associated with the pilgrimage to Santiago and we're not sure why.  We do know that one wore these shells after one completed the pilgrimage, on the way back home.  Nowadays, people wear them on the way to Santiago.

Modern Pilgrim in Traditional Attire

The medieval pilgrim, who went on foot, carried a staff.  He wore a wide-brimmed hat for protection.  He wore a cape and carried a water gourd and a pouch or wallet.

San Roque dressed as a Pilgrim

Gourd, staff, wide-brimmed hat and shell.

The Pilgrim's Passport, marked with the stamps of some of the official towns and churches along the Camino de Santiago, the Way of Saint James.

When one reaches the shrine at Santiago, one receives the Compostela, the certificate of completion.

Santiago Matamoros

In addition to all this, Saint James rose in prominence in Spain when the Spaniards warred against the Muslim Moors who had ruled over their country for many years.  A Spanish king dreamt of Saint James, who then lead them in battle, appearing on horse back.  The Christians defeated the Muslims, and Saint James was then known as Matamoros - the Moor killer!

Santiago Matamoros
Patron of Paete, Laguna Province in the Philippines

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The town of Paete in the province of Laguna is very famous for its wood carvers.  Many religious statues are done here as well.  I paid a visit to one such workshop on a recent visit to the Philippines.

Padre Pio is pretty much in demand here.  That's him in the back, still lacking a head and hands.

Etching the elaborate designs of Padre Pio's traditional Roman chasuble.

He has a handsome head and proper vestments, but I guess the hands come last.

Rows and rows of miniature Madonna and Child.

Ever wonder where many statues of St. Pedro Calungsod come from?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Capuchin Father Cornelius Murphy was elderly and retired from the pastor's job in the 1970s.  Instead, he was an assistant at my parish and was given strictly sacramental duties; Mass, confessions, communion calls and responso or prayers for the dead.

He was completely old school.  Unlike the other priests, he carried a veiled chalice with him in his hands as we processed from the sacristy to the altar.  When we accompanied him to a responso in the home of the deceased, we knew we'd be there for a long time; his prayers for the dead were very long compared to the other priests.

One evening at Mass, a Host fell as he was giving communion.  He stopped communion and picked up the Host and consumed It.  Then he asked one of the altar boys to bring him a purificator, one of the linen towels used for Mass.


When he was given the purificator, he put it on the spot where the Host had fallen.  He then continued giving communion, but people were conscious not to step on the purificator.

Right after Mass, Father Cornelius went to the spot with a cruet of water and, on his knees, poured a little water on the floor and wiped it dry with the purificator.

Another priest came in and asked what happened.  When we explained it to him (a much younger priest), his reaction gave us the impression he thought Father Cornelius went overboard in his concern for the fallen Host.

But the visual impact never left me and I felt there was something totally right about what Father Cornelius did.  It's what I do now when a Host unfortunately falls to the floor.  If Father Cornelius' action impressed me many years ago with a concrete example of reverence for the Real Presence, if I do the same today, perhaps I might make the same impression on others.

Traditional Rules

In the 1962 Missal, there is a chapter in the rules for Mass concerning defects that can occur, mostly by accident, in the Mass.  When it comes to a Host falling to the ground or floor, the rules state that the priest is to pick up the Host reverently, then pour some water on the spot and dry it with a purificator.  (De Defectibus, no. 45)

1970 Missal

The rules after the Second Vatican Council tell the priest to pick up the Host reverently if It should fall to the ground or floor, but there is nothing further said.  If the Precious Blood should spill on the floor or ground, then that area should be washed with water and the water be poured into the sacrarium, the special sink in the sacristy which empties into the ground. (GIRM no. 280)