A Catholic tradition after the celebration of Holy Thursday liturgy is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which carried in solemn procession to an Altar of Repose, a place exquisitely decorated with flowers and lights. In this altar, the Blessed Sacrament will “rest” until the Good Friday liturgy. Just as the disciples stayed with Jesus during His agony on the Mount of Olives, we accompany Him with prayers and contemplation.
Traditionally, Catholics make seven visits* to the Blessed Sacrament, visiting seven different Altars of Repose in seven different chapels or temples. These visits are done between Thursday night and Friday morning. Each visit is accompanied with a meditation based on a biblical passage of the Passion. Several saints and theologists have written meditations to guide the prayer.
In Old San Juan, there are seven chapels that prepare their altars (or “Monumentos”) for the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Every year, thousands of Catholics of all ages walk through the cobblestone streets on Friday morning, paying respects and worshiping the Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament. These chapels are scattered all around the old city: San Francisco, Colegio de Párvulos, San José, San Juan Cathedral, Capilla del Cristo, Siervas de María Convent and Santa Ana.
If you want to complete this Pilgrimage, make sure to arrive early to Old San Juan, as the lines to enter the chapels are long, you have to walk a couple of blocks between chapels and there’s no sense on rushing yourself. After all, it is a beautiful act of devotion. Chapels close at noon, in time for the rest of Good Friday services.
I used to do the visits on Thursday night to please Mom. Since she was on a wheelchair, going to Old San Juan was unpractical. Instead, I drove her from chapel to chapel in the city until we completed the visits, which were close to midnight. Taking her to visit Jesus on her last Triduum is one of the best memories I have.
After a long time, this year was my first visit to “Los Monumentos” in Old San Juan. It was a beautiful experience. The heat, the long walk uphill, the fast didn’t matter when I went to visit Him. Those were minimal to what He endured for us. I found the comfort that I’ve lost. I’m some way, I found my way back.
Here are some pictures I took during the visits. I wish I could capture the whole experience: the sounds, the aromas, the presence of God. I hope this images can inspire you to go visit Jesus soon.
Iglesia San Francisco
Colegio de Párvulos
Iglesia San José (the oldest church in the island, currently under renovation)
San Juan Cathedral
Capilla del Cristo (it opens only on special ocassions)
*I’m inclined to think that the tradition of Seven Visits is an Hispanic one, that comes from Spain. I’ll have to look this one up.
In theory I should hate “Top Chef.” Like a greek ship to a siren, I am tantalized by and drawn to Bravo on Wednesday nights. In my apartment living room, I sit salivating over fuagra and saffron, ingredients I have never even heard of. As the judges rave over Mike Isabella’s brazed pork shoulder with pepperoni sauce, I sit with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries, wincing in pain as I slowly peel layers from the roof of my mouth.
It’s torture. Forget the gruesome games of “Saw”or our countries favorite form of torture: water-boarding. Sit a criminal in front of an episode of “Top Chef” with a glass of water and whole grain spaghetti, no sauce; he’ll be talking in no time.
Despite the self-harm that goes along with watching “Top Chef,” millions of viewers tune into see the “chef-testants” duke it out with artistic and sometimes whimsical dishes. They marry flavors that don’t seem conceivable in a normal person’s head: Bacon Licorice Peanut Butter Hors D’oeuvres?
I started watching “Top Chef” the day of the season one finale. They had a full day of marathon; I watched it straight through. From that moment on I was hooked. There’s some strange excitement that goes along with an episode of “Top Chef.” Like any reality show, there’s drama, but the drama comes from the extreme passion in these chefs.
“Top Chef” takes cooking to the next level, putting the chefs in crazy cooking circumstance. It’s not easy to cook conch over an open flame on a beach with out getting any sand in the dishes.
The challenges aren’t always that drastic. Some involve cooking with just one hand or one pot. This past season, one challenge had the chefs cooking without any tools: no spatulas, can openers, etc. In the heat of the moment Fabio grated cheese through a shelf.
Season eight just ended, with the reunion airing last Wednesday. “Top Chef: All-Stars” was all about chefs from previous seasons returning for redemption. Eighteen finalists from the past seven seasons returned the “Top Chef” kitchen to fight for the crown they had missed out on.
Richard Blais of Atlanta, born on Long Island, took home the crown. In season four, Richard was the runner up. He was the favorite to win his season, but he choked in the finale. During the “Top Chef: All-Stars” reunion show he said that he doesn’t regret having lost back in season four; it gave him a reason to look over his technique and win the toughest season of “Top Chef” yet.
Blais stands out in the pack of “chef-testants” for he use of “molecular-gastronomy,” the study of the physical and chemical process that happens while cooking. He has made bacon ice cream and fuagra ice cream. Richard is currently hosting his own show, “Blais Off” on the science channel about his scientific cooking methods.
Blais said that he would compete again. Maybe in the future there will be a season of “Top Chef” for the past winners.
With the end of “Top Chef: All-Stars,” “Top Chef Masters” has begun. In “Masters” renowned chefs take on the quick-fires and elimination challenges.
“Top Chef Masters” airs on Bravo, Wednesdays at 10.
A toddler died Monday after being found unresponsive in the back seat of a sweltering car parked outside his gynecologist mother’s workplace, police said.
The 21-month-old boy was left for hours in a car seat while his apparently distracted mother worked at the medical office in the northern town of Barceloneta, police spokeswoman Maria del Pilar Bon said.
Dr. Cynthia Galinaltis apparently forgot to drop the child off at daycare and found him in her car in the mid-afternoon, according to investigators in the U.S. Caribbean territory.
The toddler was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead.
Authorities did not say if charges would be filed against the mother. A phone call to her office went unanswered.
The boy was left in the car in the outdoor parking lot of a typically bustling outlet mall, where Galinaltis has an office.
Such deaths have risen since the 1990s, when U.S. laws began requiring that small children be strapped into rear-facing car seats in the back seats of vehicles to avoid air-bag injuries, according to Kansas-based organization Kids and Cars.
Experts say leaving a child in a hot car is not always a sign of negligence, but is often the tragic result of a distracted or sleep-deprived brain, or a sudden change in routine.
I think the only reason why I know about parts of shows like Jersey Shore and Secret Life and other shows I don’t watch is because of The Soup. So when my friends talk about Jersey Shore for instance and I tell them something that happened and they reply with a sarcastic tone like ‘You don’t even watch that show, how would you know’ ☜ insert eye roll
I come back with my own sarcastic tone and say “I saw it on The Soup”. And then they have the nerve to tell me ‘What the hell is that?’ ☜ insert another eye roll here
Today, while I was checking Facebook, I read the following post on the Team Coco FB page:
(I obliterated the name and face of this person for privacy issues).
It is not the first time I’ve read posts like that. Actually, I see posts like that almost every day, all of them written by teens and young adults who want a quick shot of fame and wealth. Why these kids think they deserve it?
The answer is clear: we have shifted our scale of values. Fame and wealth are more valued than honesty, effort, perseverance, attaining goals. We live in the society of fast food, disposable diapers and Google. Are you hungry? Order a pizza. Wow, is that the new iPad? I must have it. It doesn’t matter that I have one that is less than a year old. Why study? Wikipedia knows all the answers. I only need to google “nuclear reactor” and I’m ready to appear on CNN to discuss the Japan nuclear crisis. In a nutshell, we want everything and now. We are entitled to it. After all, if Snooki received $32,000 as a speaker, then everyone else should. It is our constitutional right (even if I don’t know who wrote it).
It is ironic that these kids beg Conan O’Brien an instant launch to fame. They claim that they are his devoted fans and therefore they are entitled to their opportunity. However, Conan O’Brien is the total opposite of what these kids want to achieve. He earned his position in the entertainment business through years of hard work and sacrifices. He prepared since he was a kid (while other kids were playing baseball, Conan took tap-dancing lessons). He studied in one of the top universities in the United States, and he studied hard. He was so dedicated to his extracurricular work at the Harvard Lampoon, that he was elected twice to be Editor (only person that has achieved that). He started on the bottom, and worked his way up. He never stop working, he never conformed to his situation, he never asked for favors. His talent, his skills, his effort, his hard work took him to the privileged place he is today. His final speech at the end of The Tonight Show contains inspiring words that came from his experience.
"Work hard. Be kind".
Personally, I learned that lesson from my parents, especially my Dad. My dad started as a messenger when he was 16 and worked hard, very hard until he had his own business. He did not only was doing his best on his job, but also in other roles: in our school PTA (he was elected President for years); at the Owner’s Board of his office building; at the Sports Club where my brother played basketball. Even without a college degree, he raised to be a leader in the industry and the community. I am grateful that I learned the value and rewards of hard work and kindness through him. Rewards as fulfillment of purpose, leaving a legacy, contributing to society, and (of course) money and recognition from others. I’ve learned and experienced that the feeling of earning something is way better than the feeling of being given something.
However, the recent examples that we see in our society are sending an opposite message: instead of hard work, society is rewarding outrageous behavior. Our stars and role models are mostly uneducated young persons, willing to sell their dignity. The “hard work” is translated to excess drinking, use and abuse of drugs, exploration of human sexuality and violence. Ignorance is applauded while “nerds and geeks” are ridiculed and bullied. Talent and skills are not longer required. Kindness has been replaced with intolerance. The driving force of society is own personal benefit instead of the welfare of everyone. Don’t think teamwork; think strategic alliances. These are the lessons kids are growing up to, even in their homes.
Therefore, every time I read the words “Conan, I want to be famous, help me…” I worry about these kids. What are the messages that we, as a society, are sending the youth? How distorted are our values now? Is this society still willing to reward “work hard and be kind”, or are we too late? I hope not.