First, last, only | Inquirer News

First, last, only

/ 08:14 AM September 15, 2013

This was one Holy Mass where I felt I was in heaven.

I heard Mass at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels in the West District of Singapore. It was a 15-minute drive from the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Orchard Road where my brother was hospitalized. It was a Sunday, Aug. 25, and with the flurry of activities surrounding his condition, we missed the afternoon Mass schedules in the nearby churches. Thanks to our friend Courtney who searched on the Internet for  the last Catholic Mass, we jumped into a cab and prayed we would reach  the church in Bukit Batok East Avenue 2 in time. Never mind the distance or the cost (about P500 taxi fare). We just couldn’t  let Sunday pass without attending Mass.

Yes, we arrived in the nick of time. We knelt down for a few minutes then the Mass started. This Holy Mass put my spirits in high gear. The church was beautiful. The pews were separated in four  sections around the altar. Lighting was subdued. The interiors were modern and there was  a sweet atmosphere around the church.


You couldn’t hear a sound. Two rooms were built on the left and right of the altar with soundproof glass panels  where families with children and babies could stay.  Such a brilliant idea to prevent distraction!


Ushers met us and directed people in organized lines during communion rites and then wished us good evening  at the door after the Mass. Such a show of discipline and organization!

Just beside the altar (so we could see them in full array) was the choir. It was  simple choir singing but the music just swept through your being. There were no overly loud musical instruments, no screen projections. Just angelic voices and the violin.

The crucified Jesus was not nailed to a cross. He was hanging from the ceiling hovering over  everyone attending the Mass. His hands and feet were still in crucified position but He seemed near to you and embracing you from above.

The priest and the entire celebration  made me experience a Mass that could have been my first, last and only one. The serenity and peacefulness of the place and the solemnity of the Holy Mass made me feel that this could be the way it is in heaven.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, M.C., co-founder and Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Contemplative Brothers of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, once wrote that in the sacristies of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity all over the world, one can see a little board hanging to remind each priest that he should celebrate each Mass with devotion, freshness, contemplation and enthusiasm. The board says: “Priest of God, Celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass, Your last Mass and your only Mass.”

Fr. Vazhakala said  these words apply to the celebrant as well as the participants. I agree.


I couldn’t help but yearn for that kind of experience when I am in churches here in our country. It’s not good to compare but I just pray that our Holy Masses can create the same ambience for every Holy Mass like it’s our last celebration.

Sadly here are some comments we hear about going to Mass: “Mass is boring.” “I don’t get anything out of Mass — why should I go?” “Why can’t I just pray alone?” These are common sentiments, especially among young people.

The great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, in his talk before teenagers, said “If you don’t get anything out of Mass, it’s because you don’t bring the right expectations to it.” True.

When I heard Mass at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, I wasn’t there to be entertained by the music. I prayed and claimed for a miracle for my brother. And because I was battered emotionally, I came to Mass with the expectation of being refreshed in God’s presence. And so I saw it as an opportunity to worship, praise and thank God for all that He has done for us and for the miracle that I have not yet seen but strongly claim  will happen.

The Mass lasted  exactly an hour. Even while going out of the church, everything was still hushed and orderly. The mass books that had been handed to us when we entered the church  were returned to  ushers by the door. You looked back and saw no  litter or mess left behind. The church was still spic and span.

We went back to the hospital with renewed hope for my brother. We lifted him in prayer during the Mass and we claimed in our hearts God’s miracle for  him recover quickly.

On Friday, he was rushed to the ICU in isolated status. Saturday, we arrived in Singapore. Sunday, we went down on our knees and sought God’s mercy at the Holy Mass. On Monday, he was declared stable. Tuesday, he was back in his condo resting. It was a roller-coaster of emotions but God’s miracle came in a whirlwind too. Our prayers were swiftly answered. It was worth the expense going there.

On top of that,  I experienced one of the best Holy Masses in one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever  visited.

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My brother received his miracle. I received my own, a  spiritual renewal in what could have been a stressful occasion. Thank you, Lord.

TAGS: Faith and Belief, Religion

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