A Day of Adrenaline Rush and Victory

I am one of those guys who are not excited with sports. I didn't share my kababayan's penchant with basketball or boxing. So, going to a sports event is never a priority during my stay here in Thailand. Yet I still said “yes” when a Filipino boss asked me to join him watch the football match between Philippines and Vietnam.

Thailand is this year's host of the AFF Suzuki Cup for Group A. The games are held at the biggest stadium in Thailand, the Rajamangala National Stadium. This stadium can hold around 60,000 people, which makes it very hard to fill.
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Rajamangala National Stadium of Bangkok


See the riot police in the above photo. They are there to ensure peace and order. The Vietnamese football fans might riot at the end of the game. He he.
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AFF Suzuki Cup VIP Tickets


We bought the VIP tickets that has seats located near the entrance of the players' dugout. Each ticket cost 500 Baht! Very expensive and I almost wept when I had to part with my money.

Aside from the Philippine-Vietnam match, the tickets also allowed us to watch the second match between Thailand and Myanmar.

I noticed that the Thais are very organized in cheering with their team. They went in groups and have flags and noisy instruments that they can use to cheer their team. They even have little kids as cheering squads like this one:
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Thai kids as cheering squad

We also saw a many Vietnamese and they are also organized. I was sad that I couldn't see any group of Filipinos outside the stadium. Where are our cheering squad?

I was disheartened to see a giant Vietnam flag on the other side of the stadium. Vietnamese audience really outnumbered the Filipinos. Even our seatmates are Vietnamese but this didn't stop us from cheering on the Azkals, which is the Philippine football team.

The game was truly exciting! Both side didn't score during the first half but there are times when score is just a hair breadth away. The Vietnamese were very noisy but the Filipinos did their best to shout their support to the Azkals. Even my voice became hoarse because of too much shouting.
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Players going to their dugout at the end of first half.

Second half became more exciting because the Vietnam team became more aggressive. But their offence is no match to the high wall of defenders of the Azkals. The best part of the game is when Azkals hit their first score courtesy of Chieffy.
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Caligdong after hitting the winning goal.
Caligdong after hitting the winning goal of the night.

It is the happiest moment of the game. Me and my boss shouted, jumped and clapped like there's no tomorrow. On the other hand, that goal silenced the Vietnamese audience. It is as if knives pierced their hearts.

I enjoyed watching that game. The most enjoying part is that we won. Good job Azkals! Hope that you reach the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

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Image of Chieffy came from the AFF Suzuki Cup website. You can read the detailed report of Azkal's victory on that website.

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This will be my last post before I retreat from the Internet because of the busy days ahead. Hope to see you again few days before Christmas.
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Solitude in the Portuguese Church of Kalawar

I was happy because of my visit to Bangkok Cathedral. My soul was awashed with the beauty of that church. However, I felt that something is still missing. My day's adventure is not yet complete because I didn't get an ample time for prayers and contemplation. Sister Vianney, who helped me enter the being-renovated cathedral, only gave me few minutes to pray. I really wanted to pray for an hour or at least to finish praying the Rosary. My soul yearned for solitude in front of the Lord's altar.

I was walking along Thanon Charoen Krung when I spotted a street marker pointing the way to “Kalawar Church”. Since it was still early afternoon, I decided to go to the church with a hope that it is Catholic.

I discovered that the church is inside a school called Kularbwittaya School. I am glad that I was not prohibited to enter. I knew that the church is a Catholic church the moment I saw it.
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Side view of Kalawar Church

I also knew, the moment I laid my eyes on this church, that it will be another beautiful Catholic church.

The official name of the church is Holy Rosary Church but its original name is Kalawar Church. Kalawar or kalawario is the Thai word for Mt. Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified.
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Tall spire of Kalawar Church

If Bangkok Cathedral is a Romanesque styled church then Kalawar Church is a Neo-Gothic church. The differences between Bangkok Cathedral and Kalawar Church is a reflection their history. The cathedral served as the home of the missionaries Society of Foreign Mission of Paris. The Kalawar Church, on the other hand, was the church of the Portuguese who rejected the French missionaries.
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Kalawar Church

The current structure was built during the reign of King Rama V, a.k.a. Chulalongkorn.

If the exterior is beautiful then the interior is breath taking. The beautiful designs of the ceiling and the altar was enough to make me kneel in reverence and almost made me shout. I suddenly felt a joy for seeing something that is both elegant and holy.
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Interior of Kalawar Church

I also like the altar because the tabernacle is at the center, which is its rightful place. The Santa Mesa (holy table) is engraved with the image five holy women; namely Saint Agatha of Sicily, Saint Agnes, Saint Cecilia, Saint Lucy, and Saint Filomena. These five women was brutally killed because they didn't denounce Jesus Christ.
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Altar of Kalawar Church

At the center of the altar is the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary with the infant Jesus handing out rosaries to Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena.

I spent around two hours praying. I am missing a lot of things and people in my home. I felt the weight of being a foreigner in a place that I can never call “home”. It is good that God helped me find this church so that I can converse with Him in solitude.
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Image of Jesus Christ in Kalawar Church
Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart

What I like with Kalawar Church is its remoteness. It is like a little secret in the middle of Bangkok. Tourists are rare so I wasn't distracted by the camera flashes and the noise of disrespectful tourists. The only “distraction” that I experienced was when the altar was being prepared for the evening Mass.
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St. Joseph and the young Jesus in Kalawar Church
Saint Joseph and the young Jesus.
There are beautiful images inside this church but the most precious of these is the image of Our Lady of the Temple, which I forgot to take a photo. It was said the image was brought by Catholics when they fled the original church in Ayutthaya during the Burma-Siam War. My favorite image is this image of Saint Michael the Archangel:
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Saint Michael the Archangel in Kalawar Church


The ceiling above the pew is covered with cloth that has beautiful design.
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Ceiling of Kalawar Church


However, the ceiling above the altar is much better.
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Ceiling of Kalawar Church's altar.


The ceiling depicts the many titles of Mama Mary like the “Seat of Wisdom”, “Tower of Ivory” and “Star of the Morning”.

The Kalawar Church is very away from my place in Thailand but it served as my refuge. It is now my favorite church in Thailand. It is beautiful and the best of all is that it is very quiet, which is perfect for those moments when I want to hear His voice.

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Are you a Catholic visiting Thailand? Do you have questions about finding a church in Bangkok? Tell us about it by leaving a comment.

Almost Locked Out of Bangkok Cathedral

Finding a church is a must for me whenever I travel. That's why why this blog has a lot of posts about churches. Nothing changed when I reached Thailand. Despite the fact that it is a Buddhist-dominated country, I know that I will find a Catholic church somewhere.

My search was not in vain because I discovered that there are many Catholic churches in Bangkok. Most prominent of these churches is the Bangkok Cathedral located at Bang Rak District. The cathedral is the residence of the archbishop of Bangkok Archdiocese.
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Bangkok Cathedral

How to Go to Bangkok Cathedral

My journey to Bangkok Cathedral involved a lot of walking. I went down the Saphan Thaksin Station of the Sky Train and then walked northwards along Thanon Charoen Krung. Since I was not allowed to reach the cathedral through the gates of Assumption College, I walked few meters more then turned left to Soi Burapha Street and left again to Soi Oriental Street, which is the interior street of the cathedral complex.
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Map showing BTS-Saphan Thaksin Station and Chanoen Krung Road.
Google map showing BTS-Saphan Thaksin Station and Thanon Charoen Krung.
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Vicinity map of Assumption Cathedral (Bangkok Cathedral).
Vicinity map of Bangkok Cathedral.

The faster way to reach the cathedral is by boarding a ferry at Saphan Thaksin Station. You can then disembark at Oriental Pier, which is just a short walk to Bangkok Cathedral.
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Oriental Pier is at the end of this road. The white building to the left is already part of the cathedral complex.

Bangkok Cathedral

I felt like I'm in Manila the moment I entered the cathedral complex. The place is like a mini-Intramuros because of the presence of European-styled buildings.
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Old buildings within the Bangkok Cathedral complex.
Old buildings reminded me of Intramuros.

I have never seen a church like the Bangkok Cathedral in the Philippines. The architectural style of this cathedral is called Romanesque. The cathedral looks simple but beautiful. Its exterior is made of red bricks, which stands out from the white buildings that surround it.
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Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok City

The official name of this church is the Assumption Cathedral, in honor of the Virgin Mary when she was assumed in to Heaven.

It was good to note that the current structure of the cathedral was made through the generous donation of a Chinese businessman, Mr. Low Khiok Chang. He is known for helping in the construction of many churches in Singapore, Thailand and China.

Of course I wanted to enter cathedral but the door was closed.
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Doors of Bangkok Cathedral

I pushed, turned the door knob and then pushed again but the door didn't budge. I discovered  with great disappointment, that the cathedral was closed due to renovation  It will open its doors again in 2014. Alas, I will never see what is inside Bangkok Cathedral.

Fortunately, I saw a religious sister (whose name is Sister Vianney) and she helped me enter Bangkok Cathedral through the back door.

The interior of Bangkok Cathedral is indeed beautiful! The ceilings are well decorated and the altar is splendid. I didn't take any photo because it is prohibited. I just borrowed some photos from the Bangkok Cathedral Facebook page so I have something to show to you.
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Interior of Bangkok Cathedral

Notice that the ceiling has stars in blue background. The striped colors of the beams are unique and I have never seen before in other churches.
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Altar of Bangkok Cathedral

The tabernacle is located at the center. The ceiling above the altar also have beautiful paintings. The image of Our Lady of the Assumption is located just above the tabernacle.

I can say that the interior of Bangkok Cathedral is one of the best that I had ever seen! The ceiling is elegant and the arrangement of the altar is correct. Being surrounded by such beauty is enough to make me contemplate better about our Lord, who is the creator of every beautiful things on earth.
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A view of the choir loft.
Front wall of the cathedral as seen from inside.

The Couvent De L'Assomption is located within the cathedral complex. The name of the convent shows the Frenchiness of the place.
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Couvent De L'Assomption

The propagation of Christian Faith in Thailand was tasked to the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris. Thus, the first structure of the cathedral was made through the efforts of a French missionary (Father Pascal) and a French architect during the reign of King Rama II.

The cathedral and buildings surrounding it became the home of missionaries arriving in Bangkok during the 1600's up to Second World War. A French community grew up around the cathedral. This is the reason why the French Embassy was located in the vicinity of Bangkok Cathedral.
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Archdiocesan office of Bangkok
The Archdiocesan office. The tall building at the background is the Lerdsin Hospital.

Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Bangkok Cathedral in 1984. It is not surprising that I saw him in front of the cathedral.
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Blessed Pope John Paul 2

Saint Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, was also present.
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Saint Peter holding the keys

I parted ways with Sister Vianney when we went out of the cathedral. She said that she will pray for me and then gave me these flowers:
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Flowers from Sister Vianney.

I did not get the chance to pray for long time inside the cathedral and I may never get a chance to attend a Mass there but what I got is a prayer from a person consecrated to God and that is a great blessing for me.

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Information about the Bangkok Cathedral and Low Khiok Chang came from Wikipedia.

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Have been to Bangkok? Did you got the chance to visit Bangkok Cathedral? Tell us your experiences by leaving a comment on the combox below.
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Now I Begin with Thailand

It is precisely two months and three days since I left the Philippines. Time passed very quickly and it is just less than a month before I go back home. I think the time is ripe for me to talk about my adventures here in Siam.

Fortunately, I managed to keep myself from being a recluse inside my room. If the opposite was the case then I have nothing to tell you, dear Reader, and this blog will cease being a travel blog. I am glad to announce that I already visited a lot of places in Thailand. I roamed Bangkok and I even went to a remote area in northeast Thailand.

So, here are what you should expect in the coming weeks on my blog:

Church Hunting in Thailand


Since I am a Catholic and an enthusiast of the Catholic heritage, my foremost goal was to visit the churches in Thailand. Another reason for church hunting is that I need to attend the Holy Mass. The church is my refuge especially when I am sad and feeling so homesick.
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Bangkok Cathedral in Thailand

Churches are rare in Thailand since majority of people are Buddhist. However, Catholicism made a mark in this country and so I can show you many interesting churches, one of which is the cathedral shown on the above photo.

Interesting Bangkok


Bangkok is a crossroad of cultures. That's why this city has colorful culture. I already visited some places in the capital city (and I hope to visit other parts of the city in the future). Some are interesting and some may be mundane but they are all part of this wonderful city.
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Victory Monument of Bangkok, Thailand

Cooking Like a Noob


I am learning a lot of things here in Thailand. I already learnt how to ride a bike just after two practice sessions without any training wheel nor any help from other people! Another skill that I'm trying to learn is cooking.
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My Pork Giniling


Above is the sauteed pork giniling, which is one of the dishes that I cooked that have tolerable taste. Alas! Most of the food that I cooked tasted bad. I eat my badly cooked food as my punishment for being an awful cook.

I will talk about some of my cooking in the coming posts so expect this blog to become a sort of [awful] culinary blog. Aside from my own cooking, I will also talk about the Thai food that I had eaten.

Maybe some of you are good cooks. Please give me idea on what to cook next. I will try to cook it and show you the result. ;-)

Outside of Bangkok


Dreamworld Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok is not the only interesting place in Thailand. There are a lot of tourist spots outside of the capital. So far, I already visited an amusement park and a protected forest. Ancient temples were also plentiful in this country of old kingdoms and empires. I haven't visited an ancient temple yet but I am planning to see Ayutthaya, which is a city of old temples.

These are the things that you can expect in the coming posts. So, let me serve as your eyes and I will show you the grit and glamour of Thailand.

My Last First Friday in the Philippines

I spent my last first Friday night in the Philippines by attending a Mass at Don Bosco Church in Makati City. Some of you might ask, “last first Friday?” I know it is confusing. First Friday means that it is the first Friday of the month. I consider this a special day because it is offered by the Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
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Don Bosco Church in Makati
Don Bosco Church

I am quite sad during that Friday because of my impending departure to Thailand. I will miss a lot of things, especially my family and of course my Beloved. That's why I was glad that she went out of the office early to be with me during the Mass.
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Altar of Don Bosco Church


We went to the nearby Walter Mart to eat dinner. We chose to eat at Karate Kid, which is a Japanese fast food restaurant.

My Beloved ordered the Chicken Teriyaki.
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Chicken Teriyaki of Karate Kid


I abstain from eating meat during Fridays so I ordered Fish Katsu.
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Fish Katsu of Karate Kid


Our dinner was good. What I cherished the most is our conversation. We talked about our work, thoughts and other things that we encountered during the day. Even mundane things stopped being mundane when we talked about it. Face-to-face conversation can never be replaced by video chatting.

Karate Kid is the last restaurant that I have dined in the Philippines. I haven't visited any fast food restaurant yet here in Thailand. I kind of miss the local Filipino restaurants like Jollibee and Mang Inasal. I also miss going to First Friday Mass and adoring the Eucharistic Lord.

I already miss my country. I feel that I am an exile in a foreign land, which reminded me of this poem:

Thou shalt abandon everything beloved
Most tenderly, and this the arrow is
Which first the bow of banishment shoots forth.

Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt
The bread of others, and how hard a road
The going down and up another’s stairs.


Read more about this poem in this blog post of Father Z.

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This would be my last post about the events that occurred in the Philippines. Next posts will be about my adventures here in Thailand.

Rodic's One-of-a-Kind Tapsilog

I have a confession to make. I haven't tasted Rodic's tapsilog when I was still a student in UP Diliman. 

“No way!” Some true-blue Maroon might exclaim. It was said that you can never call yourself a true UP Diliman student if you haven't tasted the tapsilog of Rodic's. Maybe I was not a true UP student back then. But now, when I am already an alumnus, I can say that I already partaken of this famous tapsilog.

My brother brought me to a branch of Rodic's located at the corner of Masaya and Maginhawa Streets. The place was newly occupied by Rodic's during that time and the construction works are not yet finished.
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Rodic's Maginhawa Street Branch
Rodic's Maginhawa Street branch. Notice that the walls and ceiling are not finished yet.

The original Rodic's is located in UP Diliman Shopping Center. The restaurant caters to budget conscious students. Rodic's already became a landmark inside the University because of its 5 decades  existence and, of course, of its unique tapsilog.
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Sabaw of Rodic's
Sabaw!

The Rodic's staff were prompt. They immediately brought the cold water and sabaw (soup). Our tapsilog came after about half-an-hour later.
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Tapsilog of Rodic's
Rodic's tapsilog.

Tapsilog is a fusion of tapa (cured pork), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (sunny side up egg). It is one of the common dish in carenderias and cheap restaurants. What made Rodic's tapsilog unique is that the cured pork was shredded. What I like about it is that it is easy to chew. The taste of this tapsilog is really good.

The price of Rodic's tapsilog is cheap, I think, compared to fast food restaurants in the area. 

Rodic's tapsilog is really yummy! Now I know what I missed during my college days. 

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Have you tasted Rodic's tapsilog? Or did you know other restaurants that have good tapsilog? Tell us about it by leaving a comment on the combox below.

A Season for Saints and the Departed

I consider the current Halloween celebration as alien to the Filipino culture. I remember during my youth that Halloween is not being celebrated. There was no Halloween parties or “trick or treats”. Even scary mask is not for sale at the local sari-sari store. What we had is not a celebration but a solemn commemoration of our loved ones, who passed away.

My mother always buy candles before the month of November begins. She lights up all of those candles in the night of All Soul's Day. One candle for each of our departed love ones. One candle that stands as if  in prayer for the sake of their souls.
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Candle for the dead.
(Photo by Bangin)

Many people, specifically the youth, already forgotten the importance of praying for their dead relatives. They were distracted, instead, of the Halloween noise that is being promoted by the media and big businesses. The commemoration for the dead suddenly became the celebration for the undead. Wearing costumes of monsters and evil creatures are very cool nowadays that some parents even don their babies with Devil's horn. They even have the audacity to bring the “horned” baby to Sunday mass!

A baby, gift of God to the couple, was made to wear a demonic symbol and then brought to Holy Mass! An innocent baby being shown to the Eucharistic Lord as a little demon. What an insult to Jesus Christ, who defeated the Devil by dying on the cross.
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Lodovico Carracci - An Angel Frees the Soul of Purgatory
Saints praying for the sake of those who are still in Purgatory.

My father told us a story of their “pangangaluluwa” when they were teens and still living in Bicol. They go to their neighbors houses on the night of All Saint's Day (November 1) or All Soul's Day (November 2) and sing songs for the dead. Their neighbors would either give them money or candles but some refuse to give them any thing.

Pangangaluluwa or kalag-kalag in the Visayan Language is nothing but story for me. I am yet to experience it. Unfortunately, traditions like the pangangaluluwa are dying out fast. Young people are more inclined to experience the fads imported from America than ones handed down by our ancestors.

There is a reason for the name Halloween. Hallow means holy as in “hallowed be thy Name” in the Our Father prayer. Halloween should be a hallowed occasion and not an occasion to scare people. That's why I approve of activities of some parishes that aim to bring holiness back to Halloween. One of this is Halloween Party where the people dress like their favorite saints.
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Kids in costume of Mama Mary and an angel.
(Source: CBCP for Life)

Aren't the kids cute? 
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Children of Holy Angels University wearing saints' costumes.
(Source: Holy Angels Univ FB  page)

Gore, terror, fear – these are the focus of the current Halloween Season. What was forgotten is that this season is the season of holiness and of hope. Holiness of the saints who received the so-called beatific vision and hope for those who are in Purgatory, waiting for God's call. This Halloween is the season for the saints and the departed and I hope you celebrate this season with prayers and reverence to our Lord.

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The painting on this blog post was painted by Lodovico Carracci with the title, "An Angel Frees the Souls of Purgatory".  The source is Wikimedia Commons.

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What can you say about the current Halloween celebration? Are there halloween traditions that your family or community observed when you were young? Let's talk about it by leaving a comment on the combox below.