Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I decided to postpone an essay about the Virgin of Antipolo for another day to answer some Internent memes, which will hopefully serve as a break from all the reflections I've been posting lately. The first meme is from Andrew of Unam Sanctam, while the second is from Arturo Vasquez of The Sarabite blog. Please forgive me for condensing both memes into one post. Hehe.

The first meme concerns the books I am reading at the moment. I like to consider myself a wide reader-- from theology books to devotionals, from pseudo-Pieta prayer booklets to treatises on special effects, humorous, sonorous, holy and sanctimonious. My current reading list is a jumble of these things. The first book is Umbeto Eco's The Name of the Rose. This is the third time I am reading it-- and since I already have the gist of it-- I decided to take a more leisurely pace this time around. Thus, on some nights I only read a single chapter, while on others, I could read up to a hundred pages. There was even one time when I read only a single paragraph. I won't spoil the book to those who haven't read it yet, but it is definitely an exercise in erudition. Eco delivers with devastating wit, and as I mentioned in the past, his thoughts on the nature of heresy and the religious psyche of the time are exceptional. Definitely a must read.

Another book which I am reading is The Art of Ray Harryhausen. Growing up, I've always admired Mr. Harryhausen's work-- his incredibly detailed stop motion armatures literally came alive on screen for me. Gwangi, the Ymir, the Kraken, the Hydra, and of course, the legendary skeleton battle in 'Jason and the Argonauts' were some of the most memorable fixtures of my childhood. The book brims with an enchidrion of pictures-- from concept art, to set pictures, to models, to press releases-- all of them highlighting Mr. Harryhausen's work. The text itself is warm and inviting, almost casual, which I like. Perhaps the most important thing I gleaned from reading this is that these stop-motion monsters were animated not just by clever photography, but more importantly, by the sense of wonder that permeates Harryahausen's myriad works.

Finally, I am reading Social Aspect of the Holy Eucharist: Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress, which contain, among others, a wealth of pictures from the 1962 Eucharistic Congress in Manila, as well as all the speeches and addresses delivered by priests, bishops, civic leaders, and government officials during the Congress. The images, I thought, were enough reason for me to borrow this book from the library; it like looking into a window into the past, the calm before the storm, before the Council unleashed a wave of modernity onto the life of the Church. The addresses themselves are extremely well-written; here was a time when people were still able to profess their ideas eloquently and elegantly. A very good read.

I tag Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Arturo Vasquez and Kenny.

Now, the second meme. The following is a list of my four favorite saints-- I did not include the Most Holy Virgin in this one because I think it's rather like asking 'who is your favorite mother'. It just seems, I don't know, surreal to me.

1) The Great Archistrategos of God, St. Michael - I was baptized Miguel Carlo in April of 1989, and since then, I've always wondered about just who my patron saint is. St. Michael is of course called the 'archangel' in Scripture; although whether this is just a title or the choir he belongs to, there have been many debates. It was Saint Michael who cast out the profligate dragon from the vaults of heaven to the depths of hell. It was he who, wielding a spear, is destined to do battle with the dragon once again, and it is he who is called 'Who is like God'. And if, like me, you like flaming swords, then St. Michael is the saint for you. Oh, and San Miguel is also the brand of one of my favorite beers.

2) Saint Eulalia - The virgin who was decapitated unsucessfully, and stuck into a barrel full of knives which was then let to roll on a jagged, rocky side of a hill. She is the patron saint of Barcelona as well.

3) Saint James the Great - Known as Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moor-slayer) in Spain, his images used to scare me as a child. Imagine a sword-wielding, gloriously happy warrior seated on a steed about to crush someone and you have the icon with which I grew up thinking this saint was. He was triumphalism and theatricality personified, and you just have to love warrior saints. Santiago y cierra Espana!

4) Saint Lorenzo Ruiz- The first native Filipino canonized by the Vatican, San Lorenzo was made to suffer grievously by the Japanese. The force fed him buckets of water and jumped at him from a height, causing the liquid to come out of every orifice in his body. And if that weren't enough, they stuck him upside down, along with two priests, down a huge hole filled with shit and other unmentionable filth. He also prayed the rosary ceaseless and said he would gladly undergo the whole ordeal again than renounce his faith.

My favorite blessed is Blessed Miguel Pro. We used to have a rather crude statue of the blessed in our old house, though sadly it was eaten away by decay. My dad always told me to be like Blessed Miguel at all times-- names were very important in our culture, so he always told me to act like my tocayo or namesake. For him, that was the ultimate veneration one can render a saint, and I am proud to share the same name with this (hopefully soon) glorious martyr of God.

If I would have my way, J.R.R. Tolkien would be canonized this very day. Tolkien saw his mother suffer and die for her Faith, and considered her as a martyr. Here was a woman who was ostracized by her own family for being a papist, and this suffering faith nurtured Tolkien into the Catholic he eventually became. Aside from this, 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Silmarillion', and indeed, the whole of his legendarium are modern day classics that overflow with a genuine Catholic piety. It is a shame how he is constantly protested against by some so-called 'Traditionalists'.

I tag Andrew, Nicholas Larkin, and Jeffrey of the Roving Medievalist.


Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Good post. I am going to have to refuse your tag, because right now, I am reading absolutely nothing. Sad but true. I am just too busy.

Mark Cephas Tan said...

Indeed, the greatness of Tolkien is reflected in his books as well.. You have a nice blog..