Last November 6, the Grade School, Middle School, and High School students, as well as the faculty and staff of Xavier, gathered as one community in the High School Gym, celebrating a Mass to remember and honor our departed ancestors.
The Eucharistic Celebration was celebrated by School Director Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ and concelebrated by School Chaplain Fr. Arturo Borja, SJ, Fr. Candido Lim, SJ, Fr. Joseph Ly, Fr. Guy Guibelondo, SJ, and Rev. Bro. Ernald Andal, SJ.
In this solemn occasion, we, as one body, were once again reminded of our Christian duty, which, as Rev. Ernald Andal put in his homily, is to “remember, celebrate, and believe.”
We were asked to remember. Rev. Andal began his homily by helping us recall a few departed people who were instrumental to Xavier School – Paul XuGuangqi, Fr. Jean Desautels, SJ, and Fr. Ismael Zuluoaga, SJ, to name a few. We also remember our ancestors and our departed loved ones and their “heritage of love” that we inherit today.
We were called to celebrate. We “celebrate with hope,” hope that the souls of our departed loved ones are now enjoying eternal life with God, hope that those who are not may soon be granted that blessing, and hope that we, the pilgrim Church, may be able to follow our ancestors in the good they did and learn from their lives.
And of course, we were challenged to believe. “We believe. We believe with faith,” Rev. Andal stated. “We believe that the path they took will also be available to us.”
Rev. Andal closed his homily with a video clip in Chinese depicting a touching story of a boy and his dying grandmother. He concluded the homily with a reminder for us to “remember, celebrate, and believe,” connecting them with Jesus’s lines from the Gospel, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
What was a celebration to honor the dead soon transformed into a shining manifestation of culture, not only the Catholic culture of ancestral veneration, but a culture incorporated with the traditions of different societies, a culture truly Xaverian. Following the homily was a Rite of Ancestral Veneration where incense, flowers, wine, and fruits were offered for the departed, each representing gifts for them to enjoy in the afterlife. Following that, the gong was struck thrice and the whole school bowed their heads in reverence for each strike.
As the mass went on, the community maintained their reflective, solemn disposition throughout the celebration, actively responding as one and joining in the singing. The commentator and readers were lively, and the singing, led by the grade school choir, was gracious and heavenly. Xavier’s Knights of the Altar and Eucharistic Crusaders also helped by serving in the Mass. Truly, the student body showed conduct worthy of being called true disciples of Christ.
This Eucharistic Celebration served as an opportunity for the Xavier community to partake in the tradition of venerating our ancestors. However, more than bowing for them or offering flowers and fruits, we are challenged to continue praying for them, that their souls may enter God’s heavens and that they may partake in His eternal goodness.
That being said, the mass may have ended, but our duty as members of the Church lives on. We must continue “remembering, celebrating, and believing,” not just this month of November but for the rest of our lives, not just in our mind but also through our deeds, and not just for the dead, but also for our fellow living. Through that, we can become better builders of God’s Kingdom here on earth and become closer to Jesus in the process, so that when time comes that we join the departed, we can wholeheartedly respond to Christ, claiming that we believed and followed His teaching: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”