By an official decree issued 18 years ago I established the parish of Sta. Ana, one of oldest parishes in the archdiocese, as a diocesan shrine dedicated to her honor and patronage. Last Monday, July 24, on the 8th day of the novena, with the parish priest Msgr. Martiniano Gorgonio as concelebrant, I presided the Holy Mass to celebrate the 18th anniversary of its establishment and dedication as a shrine.
The eucharistic celebration began with the blessing by Msgr. Gorgonio of 12 votive lights carried into the church by 12 married couples representing the first apostolic family of the Risen Lord Jesus accompanied by His Mother Mary. I now call these couples as the Sons and Daughters of St. Anne representing the entire cluster of GKK families that make up the parish.
The purpose of a parish church as a shrine (sanctuarium in Latin) as provided in the Code of Canon Law (c. 1230) is to promote a “special devotion frequented by the faithful as pilgrims”. Furthermore, “at shrines the means of salvation are to be made available to the faithful: by sedulous proclamation of the word of God, by suitable encouragement of liturgical life, especially by the celebration of the Eucharist and penance, and by the fostering of approved forms of popular devotion” (c.1234).
What is “special” about our devotion to St. Anne? She and her husband St. Joachim can be role models for today’s parents in their prayer, care, education and formation of children especially of young girls as they did for their daughter Mary whom God chose to be the Mother of Jesus.
When we pray, “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us sinners…” we are reminded that in a mysterious way the Holy Spirit intervened in the moment of her conception in the womb when as an embryo she became human with all the genes of her mother Anne and of her father Joachim. Part of these genes is the power and freedom from moral disorder called sin rendering her immaculately sinless, an absolute requirement for her to become the Mother of a Sinless Son of God. With such inborn gifts Jesus could teach us how to love as humans without being sinfully inhuman.
Sad to say, today inhumanity to fellow humans is no longer sinful. There are illegal and immoral ways and means that are now considered as okay and not sinful because they answer human needs and resolve human problem effectively and many are doing it. This is not right. It is all wrong from our Church’s moral teaching.
So with the Church and with the prayers of St. Anne and St. Joachim and their daughter Mary let us strongly say, wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it, and right is right even if nobody is doing it.