Rorate Caeli

Holy Week (1962 Missal) in the Philippines: A Personal Account

This past Holy Week, the Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy (PLDM) in the Diocese of Cubao celebrated the principal rites of Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum according to the Missal of 1962. A few other ceremonies were celebrated according to the Missal of 1970, but in the spirit of the “Reform of the Reform.”

The celebrant was Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo, a young priest who has regularly celebrated the Traditional Mass since 1997 and who has been the parish priest of PLDM since 2007. Since September 2007, Fr. Zerrudo has effectively transformed PLDM into a biritual parish. Daily Low Mass and Sunday and Feast Day Missa Cantadas according to the 1962 Missal are celebrated in addition to the regular daily and Sunday schedule of Novus Ordo Masses, the latter celebrated with worthy vestments and on a “Benedictine” altar.

The decision to celebrate Holy Week according to the 1962 Missal was made shortly before Passion Sunday. As far as we knew, no regular parish in the Philippines had celebrated Holy Week according to the classical Roman Rite since 1970 – and now, we had little more than a week to plan everything! Fortunately, we had the advice of the elderly Msgr. Moises Andrade, a great lover of the Traditional liturgy, and of an ex-SSPX seminarian who acted as MC. Our Sunday TLM cantor, Felix Valenzuela, had a great love and knowledge of Gregorian chant and was able to train other singers in time to form a schola for Holy Week. I myself acted as crucifer and as one of the main servers during the ceremonies, while helping to visualize and plan the ceremonies beforehand.

The “Traditional community” and the regular parishioners of PLDM had led separate lives (so to speak) up to this time, save for the fact that they were served by the same priest. Since this Holy Week was going to be for both communities, a modus vivendi to enable the regular parishioners not to feel left out was reached. Roles were assigned to representatives of both communities: for example, after the chanting of each Latin reading from the Epistle side of the sanctuary, an English translation of the same was read from a side lectern (outside the sanctuary) by one of the regular lay lectors. While most of the propers were chanted by the schola for the Traditional Mass, the regular parish choirs sang a few of the propers as well Latin hymns for the Communion rites. Finally, for the Easter Vigil, the schola and the parish choirs sang as one. Servers of both the TLM and the regular parish NOM joined forces for the ceremonies of Holy Week. Given that many of the latter group had not even seen a Traditional Mass before, this was no mean feat. The parish office also printed hundreds of special missalettes with English translations of the ceremonies. Since not everybody could have a missalette, the text of some of the ceremonies were also projected on a screen to the right of the altar.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday’s procession and principal Mass was celebrated in the morning according to the 1962 Missal, but with the Gloria Laus ceremony at the door of the church inserted into the rites. (This ceremony had been removed in 1955.) Since the choir for the procession was made up of young girls dressed as angels, the decision was made to make them sing only selected antiphons (in Latin) from the processional chants, using simplified melodies belonging to the Tridentine-era Philippine tradition of sacred music. This was one of the “compromises” that had been decided on, so that both communities could take part in the Rites. In accordance with centuries-old Philippine tradition, the churchgoers brought their own palms, which Fr. Zerrudo blessed by going around the whole church sprinkling the palms with holy water; only coconut leaf crosses (to be affixed to the palms) were distributed at the altar rail during the blessing of palms prior to the procession.

A few minutes after this Mass ended, Fr. Zerrudo celebrated a second Palm Sunday Mass according to the 1970 Missal (in English), but ad orientem and with a glorious Roman chasuble.

Every night from Palm Sunday to Holy Wednesday, penitential processions with life-sized statues of saints, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Lord in His Passion were held in the streets surrounding the parish church.

Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are national holidays in the Philippines, and as in other parishes, the PLDM church was packed to overflowing for the principal rites. It was a relief to note that the use of Latin had not scared people away, and even attracted additional attendees.
The foot washing was no mere ceremony: the twelve viri selecti (or apostoles, as we call them) were very poor men whose legs were encrusted with dirt and mud, and their right feet really had to be scrubbed with soap before being kissed. For a quarter of an hour, these men were the most important in the whole parish. Afterwards, they had the honor of holding the canopy for the Blessed Sacrament during the procession to the altar of repose. After the procession to the altar of repose, people began leaving the Church. I had to run to a lectern to tell people that the ceremonies were not yet over, whereupon the crowd obediently went back to their seats. Soon afterwards, the Stripping of the Altars was held. The night was spent by the faithful doing the traditional Visita Iglesia (visiting the traditional seven churches on Maundy Thursday night) to venerate the Blessed Sacrament in various altars of repose.

Good Friday

Good Friday was the best-attended ceremony, with the crowd flowing out of the church and way into the streets around it. The Passion was chanted by Fr. Zerrudo, Fr. Froilan Rivera (of the Prelature of Infanta) and the cantor Felix Valenzuela (who sang the role of Cronista). In the Philippines it has ever been the custom for laymen (even prior to Vatican II) to act as deacons of the Passion and even to vest as deacon and/or subdeacon for the chanting of the Passion. This was due to the severe shortage of clergy with which our country has always been afflicted. In consultation with Msgr. Moises Andrade, we decided to follow this custom in the case of the Cronista as we couldn’t find a cleric able to take on this role. However, the cantor vested only in cassock and surplice, not in alb (as would have been the practice prior to Vatican II). Fr. Rivera was completely new to the Traditional Rite, but after a whole night of rehearsing and of rigorous tutoring by Mr. Valenzuela, was able to sing the role of Synagoga very well.

Initially, we servers tried to get the people to do the traditional genuflection before kissing the feet of the Crucified. However, due to the size of the crowd (there were nearly a thousand people that day) a surge forward to venerate the Cross was inevitable, depriving the people in front of any space in which to genuflect. To our amazement, the people in front – without any prompting – spontaneously began to crawl on their knees to the cross. This had the effect of slowing down the surge while allowing people to express their reverence to the cross. Many people also left their footwear at the pews and went barefoot. The adoration of the Cross took so long that, after singing all the prescribed chants in the 1961 Liber Usualis, the schola still had the time -- and the excuse -- to sing the Vexilla Regis (whose liturgical use in Good Friday disappeared in 1955). After Vexilla had been sung, we told the large number of people still crawling on their knees to go back to their seats and to adore the Cross after Communion. Some went back, but others continued to crawl to the Cross – how can you stop such piety? And so the schola chanted another Crucem Tuam, after which a substantial period of silence ensued to let some more people adore the Cross.

In a traditional Philippine Holy Week, all of Good Friday is taken up in devotional and paraliturgical ceremonies, and PLDM was no exception to this. The only difference is that the priest vested in black cope rather than in red. While some people resumed venerating the Cross after the service of Good Friday, a penitential procession with the purple-robed “Santo Entierro” (a recumbent statue of the Dead Christ) accompanied by richly vested statues of the Mater Dolorosa and the saints of the Passion (SS. John, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and others) started on its way. After the long procession ended at nearly nine in the evening, the Santo Entierro was venerated inside the church, to be followed almost immediately by a second procession with the Mater Dolorosa (the “Soledad” procession) with all the participants including Fr. Zerrudo going barefoot along the asphalt roads. The first procession had commemorated the Burial of Christ; the second procession commemorated the Blessed Virgin Mary, alone and grief-stricken, going home to St. John. The second procession ended with the recitation of the Stabat Mater and the incensing of the Mater Dolorosa. The night ended with Fr. Zerrudo hearing confessions.

Easter Sunday

Easter Vigil began at 12:15 AM of Sunday and ended at quarter to four in the morning. Because of the lateness of the hour, there were markedly less people in attendance. Nevertheless, the regular lay lectors turned out in full force, such that after the chanting of each Prophesy (and of the Epistle) in Latin, there was a different lay lector to read the English translation. [Remember the "modus vivendi" I had written about.] We had the joy of witnessing the reception of a convert into the Catholic Church, who had the additional blessing of being baptized according to the Traditional Roman Rite.

Fifteen minutes after the Vigil ended, the last major ceremony of a Philippine Holy Week began: the "Salubong" (literally “Welcome” or "Encounter"). The Salubong began with two processions – one of men accompanying the statue of the Risen Christ, and the other of women accompanying a statue of the Blessed Virgin veiled in black – meeting in front of the church. To the sound of brass bands and the cheers of the large crowd, the two statues met, whereupon a young girl dressed as an angel was lowered from a crane onto the statue of the Virgin. The “angel” lifted the black veil, revealing the Virgin Mary all radiant in white and blue. Why the Virgin, and not Mary Magdalene? This is because Philippine piety has always considered the Mother of God to be the first witness of the Resurrection, and this belief is enshrined in the Salubong ceremony. In 1971, the Congregation for Divine Worship allowed the first morning Mass of Easter in the Philippines to have the “Salubong” as its Entrance Rite. And so Salubong was followed by Fr. Zerrudo intoning the Gloria and the celebration of a Novus Ordo (English, ad populum, but very reverent) at an altar set up in front of the doors of the church. With that, Holy Week 2008 ended -- and what a historic week it was for us!

This was the first time that a regular Philippine Catholic parish had celebrated a Tridentine Holy Week since 1971, and mistakes and less-than-ideal situations were inevitable. The lack of personnel familiar with the rites and the chants also forced us to resort to certain customs that, while old and not unknown, were certainly less than ideal (for example, having a lay cantor chant the Epistles and Prophecies as well as the part of "Cronista" during Good Friday). And, to our great regret, we were not able to sing Tenebrae. It would have been brutal to make our poor cantor sing ALL of that (as the rest of the schola wasn't as yet up to the task.)

Nevertheless, judging from the feedback we got, we had succeeded in our main task: to bring the entire parish community to a deeper appreciation for the Traditional Roman Rite. While not a few were perplexed by the length and intensity of the rites and the use of Latin (a common question being: "will the sermon also be in Latin?" -- asked not in jest, but in all earnestness), others were loud in their appreciation for the reverence, solemnity and grandeur of the rites. I remember, walking by the side of the church after the rites of Maundy Thursday, hearing a woman saying aloud: "napaka-solemn, napaka-ganda" (so solemn, so beautiful!). And lest anybody wonder about the impact of the schola on everyone present: they got an invitation to sing at the birthday Mass of the local vice mayor!
By the way, I'd like to thank my friend and fellow server Gerald Cenir, from whose blog I borrowed the pictures for this post. (Gerald was thurifer for all the Holy Week ceremonies mentioned here.)


  1. A wonderful account, C.A.Palad!

  2. Anonymous12:58 PM

    Not to be the only negative voice, but this worries me greatly: " Roles were assigned to representatives of both communities: for example, after the chanting of each Latin reading from the Epistle side of the sanctuary, an English translation of the same was read from a side lectern (outside the sanctuary) by one of the regular lay lectors."

    This is the exact kind of rite blending that we should all be against -- not for.

    Either we're assisting at 1962 Masses or not. But to rite blend should never happen.

    This post, C.A., should not have read "Holy Week (1962 Missal) in the Philippines: A Personal Account"

    You attended a 1965 mass.

  3. Yes... A Traditional Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII (1962) becomes a 1965 Mass only because readings in the Vernacular were made, outside the Sanctuary, by laymen, after the official liturgical reading by the clergy, in Latin.

    This is a very common practice in Traditional Mass communities around the world, and it certainly puts into practice Art. 6 of Summorum Pontificum.

    Charity is essential in our comments regarding the practical application of Summorum Pontificum.

    The comment box is closed for the time being.

  4. Comment box reopened.

  5. Anonymous11:24 PM

    Thanks Carlos for the moving personal account, and thanks to New Catholic for posting this. It is rather disappointing that some of the initial comments were less than charitable (to put it charitably) and focused more on rubrical deficiencies rather than on the fact that for the first time since 1970 an Easter Triduum was celebrated in the Philippines in a diocesan parish church according to the 1962 Missal. It should not be overlooked that almost all traces of the Traditional Latin Mass disappeared from Philippine Catholicism in the aftermath of Vatican II, and that the overwhelming majority of Filipino Catholics have no experience assisting at or serving in the Traditional Latin Mass. The fact that the regular Novus Ordo crowd at the PLDM is beginning to warm up to the TLM should be a cause for great joy for all TLM-loving Catholics, not an opportunity to nit-pick and heap criticism.

    I congratulate the TLM community at PLDM for a fine job organizing the the Easter Triduum according to the extraordinary form despite the short notice. The success of the Traditional Latin Mass at PLDM, despite the vocal opposition by some misguided individuals, actually served as inspiration for our own group located South of Manila to look for a parish that would celebrate the Mass according to the extraordinary form. We have found that parish - St. Jerome Emiliani at Alabang Town Center. The parish priest there, a Somascan, agreed to a regular 9:30 a.m. Sunday Missa Cantata in the extraordinary form, beginning June 29th, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. We are presently attempting to organize a schola, train altar servers and an MC, buy altar furnishings and vestments, prepare missalettes, flyers and posters, and even arrange for TV broadcast. I myself am contributing towards the purchase of roman baroque vestments, and we are asking/looking for others to donate the other needed items. The sheer amount of things to do and prepare can be overwhelming since we are starting practically from scratch. We look to emulate example of PLDM, and hope to duplicate its success while avoiding its mistakes. We are hoping that the regular celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at a prime Sunday time slot will attract many young people, especially those who, like the members of our group, desire a return to a traditional form of worship.

    It cannot be denied that the SSPX in the Philippines contributed in a significant way towards raising the awareness among traditionally-minded Filipino Catholics of the rich heritage lost by the Philippine Church following Vatican II. However, it would seem that the rise of Traditional Latin Mass at PLDM may have affected attendance at the SSPX's main church in Quezon City. On the two occasions that I assisted at the Sunday morning High Mass at the Our Lady of Victories, I estimated attendance at around 200, a significant decrease from the over 600 who regularly attended the 9:00 High Mass. It would be interesting to find out how many of the 400+ people who regularly attend the TLM at PLDM came from Our Lady of Victories.

    Richard Friend

  6. Anonymous3:29 AM

    Thanks for all the kind comments!

    As for rubrical deficiencies: believe me, if all of these Holy Week rites had been celebrated only for the regular TLM crowd, we would have done everything "strictly by the book".

    Organizing this cycle of ceremonies, though, made us realize that if we were to accomodate and attract the much-larger NOM crowd, some concessions had to be made. It was as much a matter of diplomacy and of winning an entire parish over, as it was of rubrics. Hence the provision for vernacular readings and for the use of a projector. This was our chance to attract the people of the parish to the TLM, and that meant bending backwards (including committing some infractions against the rubrics -- although we tried to minimize these) to accomodate them on certain matters. Either that, or risk turning the people against the TLM.

    For example, the use of lay readers of English translations of the readings was due to the fact that we did not want to alienate the entire corps of lectors. To have deprived them of any and all roles in this most central event of the liturgical calendar would have wounded more than a few people's sensibilities, and since these people are influential, we had to find them a role that would not violate the rubrics, or at least deviate from the rubrics only in the smallest way.

    If we wanted to be strictly rubrical, for example, we could have asked Fr. Zerrudo to simply recite the Passion on Good Friday from the Gospel side of the Altar, since there was no subdeacon. That is what he did for Palm Sunday. However, the solemn and dramatic rendition of the Passion on Good Friday is so central to Filipino piety that to omit it would certainly have made a major, negative impression on the churchgoers. And so, we reached back to an ancient "contra legem custom" in the Philippine Church and got Felix the lay cantor to act as Cronista. However, we did NOT vest him as a subdeacon, precisely to underline that he is not a cleric.

    As for the "apostoles" of Holy Thursday -- it would have been quite difficult to get them into the sanctuary in an orderly fashion for the prescribed bow to the celebrant before the washing of feet, for various reasons best left unmentioned. So, we omitted those bows.

    There were also times when what I call "Novus Ordo" reflexes kicked in. During the veneration of the Cross, for example, some of the first adorers did not genuflect, no matter how many times I and the other servers told them to do so. Thank God that the "surge" occured -- with the unintended effect of making everybody kneel before the Cross!

  7. Bro. Caloy,

    Indeed, your effort will be made known to us here in Davao City. thanks for bringing the holy experience in the web. How's our plan in bringing una voce here in the Philippines? Pro Deo et Ecclesia

    Bro. Ryan

  8. I would suggest to anonymous, that he attends mass at any SSPX chapel in France and he/she will see that the epistle is always done in vernacular and the gospel is only ever said in Latin at sung or high masses.

    Vernacular readings at mass is hardly a modernist innovation and not necessarily to be feared, so long as the readings can be proclaimed in Latin too.

  9. Anonymous12:52 PM

    In France, yes, unfortunately the SSPX use the verhacular. And that is dissapointing.

    However, the priests are the ones reading the vernacular from the altar -- not laymen from outside the sanctuary.

    And, the SSPX around the rest of the globe rejects that modernism.

    I just believe when we start saying things like "if we were to accomodate and attract the much-larger NOM crowd, some concessions had to be made" sounds close to a Bishop Troutman here in the states. The basic idea is that laymen are too stupid to understand tradition and must fulfill their God complexes by participating physically in Mass.

    This is both insulting and untrue.

    Why not give pure tradition a try before automatically giving up and starting from a watered down point?

    We have already given much on our side, accepting the '62 Missal and revamped Holy Week instead of trying to get the '45 Missal and pre-'56 Holy Week.

    Why give in more if there is no need?

  10. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Dear anonymous;

    I appreciate criticism, even when it is harsh. However, may I request you to at least NOT hide behind anonymity? At the very least, please adopt a consistent screen persona.

    I too, prefer the pre-1956 liturgy, and I hope to see the day when it can be reinstated in at least some major churches. Holy Week as it stood c. 1950 is, in my mind, inexpressibly richer than the 1962 Missal's Holy Week. And I firmly believe that the restoration of Catholic Tradition will inevitably see a clamor for the eventual return of the Missal as it existed prior to the first Bugnini reforms.

    I would like to remind you, though, that the current use of the 1962 Missal was preceded by the use of the 1965/1967 Ordo Missae until about 1983, including in the SSPX and in the earliest "Traditionalist" circles. Even today, the Traditionalist Benedictines use the 1965 Ordo Missae. Tradition, once discarded, cannot be restored overnight. Baby steps back to it are necessary. Just as more than a decade of using the 1967 Ordo Missae preceded the use of the 1962Missal, so we might have to use the 1962 Missal for at least a decade more before we can even consider asking for permission to use the Missal as it stood c. 1950.

    Analogously, in those areas where the movement for the Traditional Mass scarcely existed until very recently, the celebration of the 1962 Missal might have to be initially "eased in" by less-than-ideal compromises. Call it modernism if you like: if we were modernists, we would not even be sticking our necks out for the 1962 Missal in the first place, surrounded as we are by a clergy and a hierarchy largely stuck in the 1970's. Doesn't the fact that we couldn't even get another cleric to act as subdeacon, tell you something about the state of our clerics' knowledge of liturgical tradition?

    Next year, I hope that we can have a "pure" 1962 Holy Week, complete with a full compliment of clerics and of choirs. Even that will have to be preceded by more catecheses and more rigorous training.

    Fr. Zerrudo and his Trad community have been promoting the TLM since 1997, and I myself have been involved in the fight for Tradition since 2002, when I was barely twenty. In those short but turbulent years, we have learned to what depths of liturgical ignorance our people and many of our clergy have sunk. Too stupid to understand Tradition? I'm afraid that that is true of many laypeople and not a few clergy in our shores. Let's put it this way: where you Americans were in the 1970's, that is where WE are right now. Try thinking how hard it is to promote the TLM in that kind of atmosphere.

  11. Anonymous9:10 PM

    The reading of the readings in the vernacular by laypeople from outside the sanctuary is not a violation of the rubrics at all, as long as the priest/deacon/subdeacon performs the readings as prescribed.

    Remember, in the TLM there are absolutely no rubrics for the behaviour of the attendants. They can do whatever they want (of course only rubrically speaking, because their actions should involve a certain reverence).

    The modernists who wanted to get rid of the TLM constantly used the strawman, that the old ladies were saying rosaries during the mass. Every Traditionalist I have met has agreed (and so has the Vatican) that saying the rosary during the mass might not be the best way to follow the mass, but is perfectly permissible.

    There is rubrically no difference between a layperson saying the rosary during the mass and a layperson reading an excerpt from the bible which happens to be the one that the priest has just proclaimed.

    In fact at least in Germany it was customary in the 50s in some parishes that at least during low masses a lector read the readings aloud in the vernacular at the same time as the priest read them silently.

  12. Anonymous11:42 PM

    What happened in the 1950s, despite what some might think being that it's pre-Vatican II, was the leading up to the dismantling of the Mass. So yes, you're right -- that was happening. And it was wrong.

    There's no rubrics governing the congregation because "active participation" was properly understood unlike now. Pope St. Pius V made the congregation's role clear and never, ever envisioned lay readers in Mass.

  13. Anonymous9:46 AM

    I did not say that this is a way to do it that should be encouraged everywhere.

    But you attacked Mr. Palad's wonderful effort by saying that this congregation and priest were violating the rubrics.

    So I just wanted to point out that it is not, and that you are therefore attacking a strawman here. Indeed, under the very special circumstances described by Mr. Palad the way it was done seems to me like a good solution to a difficult problem.