I entered the Ateneo in 1995, roughly fifteen years ago. Yes, almost two decades of pure, undisturbed “blue” education. In fact, remembering it makes me myself blue.
Yesterday, the Ateneo College celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, one of those Masses in the year, which, err, reminds students, to some degree, that the Ateneo college is still a Catholic college. The truth of the matter is though, anyone who enters the Ateneo college will not get that Catholic feel. It’s as good as a secular school. Anyway, that is not the topic I’d like to dwell on.
Yesterday, the main celebrant, Fr. Karel San Juan, SJ, a newly ordained priest, discussed how the Holy Spirit is like an outpouring of three kinds. There is the outpouring of positive energy, the outpouring of wrath that renders people weak and faced with the reality of immortality and lastly, the outpouring of the Spirit that empowers people to hope. The liturgy was as usual, so-so. It was good though that the liturgy opened with the singing of the Taize, Veni Sancte Spiritus. It could have been better though if it was sung with more volume and power.
Now on my senior year in the Ateneo college, I could proudly say that the Masses of the Holy Spirit in the Ateneo de Manila High School I heard in the past were, by far, the best and most inspiring liturgies.
When I was a student in the High School, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was a big and very solemn event. It was held in the early evening, around 5:00 PM and classes would be held in the afternoon. Yes, we’d go to school at around 12:30 in the afternoon.
The Mass of the Holy Spirit in the Ateneo High School featured the finest rituals of the Roman Liturgy. It was also filled with symbolic practices such as the closing of lights, the lighting of candles and the reading of the Prayers of the Faithful in different languages including Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilocano, Ilonggo, Chinese, Spanish and English. Ateneo High School students would also remember the Mass’ most memorable hymns such as the Veni Creator Spiritus, Veni Sancte Spiritus and the Come Holy Spirit, traditional hymns that always evoke great solemnity and power.
There would also be a salu-salo that follows after the Mass where parents and students interact and celebrate and prepare the classes for the upcoming academic year. It’s surely a good way of beginning the year, signifying the close ties that should be fostered between the home and the school.
The school would be spruced up with classrooms overflowing with students and their families as well as faculty members sharing food and stories. It is surely an enduring tradition in that corner of the Ateneo de Manila University. With the first Mass of the Holy Spirit said in a Jesuit school in 1548 in the College of Messina, this tradition, this Santa Misa hecho ayer, should never fade away and should never be treated merely as routine.
Here’s a link to two songs rendered by two faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila High School for the Mass of the Holy Spirit 2010: