Monthly Archives: June 2016

‘Knock and it shall be opened’

‘Knock and it shall be opened’

The Holy year of Mercy and the Holy Door
THE FIRST HOLY YEAR
In 1983 when a Holy Year was declared to mark the 1950th anniversary of the death and resurrection of our Lord, a major aspect of the Holy Year has been that of pilgrimage to Rome, to make reparation for sin and to renew the conversion of one’s life.

A very important symbolic act performed by each pilgrim has been to pass through the Holy Door. Christ identified Himself as “the door.”

In his bull Incarnationis Mysterium proclaiming this Holy Year, Pope John Paul II stated that the Holy Door “…evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish. Jesus said, ‘I am the door’ (John 10:7) in order to make it clear that no one can come to the Father except through Him. This designation which Jesus applies to Himself testifies to the fact that He alone is the Savior sent by the Father. There is only one way that opens wide the entrance into this life of communion with God. This is Jesus, the one and absolute way to salvation. To Him alone can the words of the psalmist be applied in full truth: ‘This is the door of the Lord where the just may enter’ (Psalm 118:20)
THE HOLY YEAR OF MERCY
The year 2015 was unexpectedly announced by Pope Francis during a penitential service at St. Peter’s Basilica on March 12. Beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception December 8, 2015, it will end on the Solemnity of Christ the King, November 20, 2016. The motto being “Compassionate like the Father”
Having already described his papacy as a “kairos” of mercy, defined by the New Testament as a privileged moment in God’s plan of salvation, Pope Francis said the time is ripe for the message of mercy. “I am convinced that the whole Church, which has much need to receive mercy, because we are sinners, will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time,” the pope said.

Following after the Mass to open the Holy year of mercy, Francis opens the Holy Door in the basilica. Each of Rome’s major basilicas has its own holy door, which are traditionally sealed from the inside and only opened during jubilee years. The door usually is sealed with bricks as a symbolic reminder of the barrier of sin between human beings and God.
THE HOLY DOOR

Those who pass through a Holy Door during this jubilee year will receive a plenary indulgence, which removes all of the temporal punishment for sins committed up to that time — provided the recipient also goes to confession, receives Communion, and prays for the pope.

Moreover, when the door opens, the obstacles of passage to our Lord are removed. During the Holy Year, we hope and pray that the obstacles of personal weakness, temptation, and sin will be removed so that we will have a holy union with our Lord.

Pope Francis has announced an opportunity for Catholics to obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy by passing through a designated Holy Door during the Year of Mercy, or performing one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy; and fulfilling the usual conditions of having the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, receiving Sacramental Confession, Holy Eucharist, and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.

The Holy door will become a door of mercy to which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope. ‘The world needs to discover that God is Father, that there is Mercy, that cruelty and condemnation is not the path.’ (Pope Francis)

There are only three simple ways to enter the Holy Door, get nearer to God our Father, which will assure us at the same time through plenary indulgence, that we will see our lost beloved ones who have left ahead of us and joined our Lord. The Sacrament of Confession, Holy Eucharist and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father.

The six designated Holy Doors in the Philippines are as follows:

1) San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod City Negros Occidental
2) Saints Peter and Paul Parish of Bantayan Island, Cebu
3) National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles
Jaro, Iloilo

4) Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu City
5) Parish Church of St. Anne of Molo, Iloilo

6) Divine Mercy Church of Biluso, Cavite City

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imageJazz beyond Borders

I remember a particular line in Billy Strayhorn’s composition ‘Lushlife’, found  in the first eight bars of the verse. It goes like this, ‘I used to visit all the very gay places, those come what may places, where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life, to get the feel of life, from jazz and cocktails’. Many people stereotype jazz as the genre of the elite. People who were born with a silver spoon. Who are the elitists? According to my sources,  Elite, is a small group of powerful people in political and sociological theory, such as an oligarchy, that controls a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power in society. This group is given more privileges than ordinary people  in a society. They can be big time politicians,  big earners in fields of  business, law and  medical professions to cite examples. They are the people who have the currency to pay for anything they want. Branded clothings, limousine services, fine dining, private jets, go to an opera, a Broadway show, and once in a while, a jazz gig.

In a jazz venue, be it in the US where jazz found its grassroots or other countries that have a wide audience in jazz like Japan, Canada, or the Philippines, is it fair that only a person belonging to an elite class can have the opportunity to appreciate jazz?  Herbie Hancock, a renowned jazz pianist is one among others who spearheaded ‘International Jazz Day’. This special celebration was conceived in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact. To raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, to reinforce international cooperation and communication. Every  year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating racism, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change.

The Philippines in one way or another joins this special event each year on the 30th of April. Small, cozy jazz venues hold their own events as a way of recognizing this art form and help find the country’s  own niche in the field of International Jazz. The question is, is it well funded? IJD organizers hands over a special plaque of appreciation to anybody who wants to join this event. By using social media like Livestream, Ustream, Facebook Live , et al,  jazz musicians of diverse culture and race can play, be heard and seen over the world.

I am a jazz artist based all over. Jazz musicians are like gypsies who never stop moving, and improving. The creativity process never stops in a particular gig or recorded performances. Who are the jazz artists? Moreover, what is Jazz music? Jazz spans a period of over a hundred years, encompassing a very wide range of music, making it difficult to define. Jazz makes heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and the swing note. Although the foundation of jazz is deeply rooted within the black experience of the United States, different cultures have contributed their own experience and styles to the art form as well. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as “one of America’s original art forms.

I recall my mother saying that Filipinos are eternally singing. Music runs in our DNAs for many special reasons. The Philippines was already in the groove way back before World War 1st. My grandfather for one was a member of a big band in Los Angeles while picking oranges in the morning. Is this what you call elite?  This country is gifted with very talented musicians but not given enough avenues and chances to learn music. Taking up Music courses in college is a fortune to begin with. There are foundations who give scholarships to talented and deserving students, unfortunately, these organizations are a handful. We have no access to buy better instruments unless we go to the US or online shopping like Amazon. Music students in the Philippines are not motivated enough to create more as parents would time and again remind their children that there is no money in music. That is not true. I will agree to the fact that the glory days where our leaders would concentrate on the art and the artists as well, has  gone to oblivion. Whatever happened to our love for music, for jazz, for freedom of expression?

The prestigious Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen held in Japan annually, had just concluded and I was fortunate enough to be one of the judges. I take pride to be chosen as part of the jury during the competition. This competition stems from the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association (SKSCA), a volunteer-based non-profit association that helps promote and facilitate friendly relations between Seattle as sister city of Kobe, Japan. Founded in 1957, the Seattle-Kobe relationship was the first such partnership for both cities. The exchanges between these two cities are varied, ranging from cultural, educational, business and governmental. In addition to the official sister city relationship, there is also an official port relationship, as well as strong economic ties between many companies of these two regions. This is where the Kobe Jazz Vocal Queen comes in. I was there sitting as one of the judges and I said to myself, our country can do this. Our nation has an overload of talented vocalists who can focus on this genre given the right education, knowledge, skill, and right mentoring.

I have a dream that soon, the greatness of our country will again be known through Jazz music. As  Susan Rice  (U.S. National Security Advisor) would say , and I quote “Like democracy itself, jazz has structure, but within it you can say almost anything.” Join me in realizing this endeavor.