Last November 7, 2014, the Xavier School community gathered at the Fr. Rafael Cortina, S.J. Sports Center for a Eucharistic Celebration honoring our dearly departed and the forefathers of the school. The mass was presided by school chaplain, Fr. Arturo Borja, S.J., and was concelebrated by Fr. Candido Lim, S.J.
During his homily, Fr. Borja talked about how people often choose to not serve others and argue with them about certain things. He emphasized that, in order to spend eternal life with God in heaven, we must learn how to become Men for Others, a trait that the ideal Xaverian possesses.
Ancestral veneration is a very common rite followed by Filipino-Chinese families, who often flock to the cemeteries on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to pay their respects to their deceased family members and to spend time with them. This practice is followed due to the practice from Chinese culture wherein a person’s obligations towards his or her elders continue even after death. While the practice is often linked to the Buddhist religion, it is not necessarily religious but it is a practice observed to strengthen family ties.
To instill the value of respecting and honoring our forefathers, this ancestral veneration rite was incorporated into the Eucharistic Celebration, which is a Catholic practice. This results in a practice that is uniquely Xaverian. After the homily, the ancestral veneration rites were observed. A special table with a memorial tablet, a mark often used in Chinese culture to remember and honor departed loved ones, was set up near the altar. Fruits, wine, and flowers were offered on the table. Afterwards, lighting of the incense was done by Fr. Borja, which was followed by the Xavier community reverently bowing three times at the sound of the gong as a sign of respect.
Members of the Xavier School community, as a distinctively Chinese-Filipino one, honor the forefathers of the school, the Jesuit founders, who brought the school to what it is today. This is why, during the month of November, Xaverians shall be brought to the Hall of Gratitude so they may have the opportunity to show their respects to the former school ancestors by practicing the tradition of ancestral veneration.
Even after the ancestral veneration rites are observed this month, we should never forget to always honor our dearly departed loved ones and the forefathers of our school. We should never forget to thank them always. If it were not for them, we would not be who we are today.