Bernardo M. Villegas
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Shrine to the Holy Family

           A papal document that will be even more important to the survival of humanity than the recent social encyclical Laudato Si on climate change issued by Pope Francis is the pastoral letter he will issue before the end of the year on the family after the completion of the two synods of bishops from all over the world.  The destruction of the family can inflict greater harm on mankind than the destruction of the environment.  As Pope Francis warned us Filipinos last January, we should “beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.”   In his meeting with families at the Mall of Asia, he cried out:  “Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats!  The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families.  Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself.  The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family.”

          A concrete response to the appeal of Pope Francis has come from a group of professionals and workers who are putting up a shrine to the Holy Family where thousands of Filipinos and other Asians will flock to pray to the Holy Family of Nazareth for the “beauty and truth of the family” and to actually celebrate important family events like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other gatherings that strengthen the relations of family members with one another.   I am referring to the Holy Family Pavilion that is now being constructed on a ten-hectare property in Silang, Cavite.  The whole complex is called Angelfields.

          The Pavilion will be an architectural wonder.  Designed by 3 Arkitektura, it will have three separate roofs:  Jesus, Mary and Joseph overlapping and interconnected shelters sitting above three interconnected circle-shaped platforms.  The shape of the main roof with its north to south axis, measures 10 meters long, and is rendered in the shape of a dove, symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit.  At 1,500 feet above sea level, its altitude, orientation and design allow for prevailing winds to flow and breath throughout the structure. The whole set of buildings will also warm the heart of Pope Francis since 3 Arkitektura is a practitioner of Green Architecture.  The use of air-conditioning will be reduced to the strict minimum.

          One of the levels called Aqua en Vino will operate as a restaurant and lounge open 360 days a year from 7:30 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.  The facility can accommodate special events such as wedding receptions, anniversaries, family gatherings, birthdays and corporate events.  Aqua, which measures 300 square meters has a banquet sitting capacity of 150.  Vino’s floor area is 500 square meters.  When the two are combined, some 400 individuals can be accommodated in the total area of 800 square meters.  Vita will have an indoor and outdoor section, each having a sitting capacity of 70.   Operating 360 days a year, it is envisioned to be a fine dining area and may be booked for various types of functions.  Vita will be designed to have a casual classic elegant interior finish.  Already there is a small restaurant within the entire complex that is open to the public and gives a sampling of the excellent dishes that will be available for those who will be attending family gatherings in the Pavilion.

          At the upper level is the MAGNIFICAT, designed and shaped like a cathedral, a multi-purpose event hall. There will be 21 stations of the Holy Family.  The apostolic mission of the Pavilion will be captured by a symbolic reference to the 153 fishes caught by the apostles when Jesus Christ instructed them to “put out into the deep water and lower their nets for a catch.”  Each of these fishes will be represented by a tilapia (St. Peter’s fish) curved into the walls of the atrium by gifted mosaic artist Candice Cepeda Velasco.  The head of each fish will be crafted from 24 carat gold. The developers of the project are sparing no expense in immortalizing the imperative command of the Divine Fisherman to launch into the deep and to catch fishers of men, which are represented by the 153 large fishes that were caught.

          The central attraction of the Pavilion will be the image of the Holy Family, which is being sculptured by Maria Faykod.  The hand of God envelopes the Holy Family, the veil which symbolizes divine breath crosses the center of the Holy Family from top to bottom, flowing from heaven through the Child Jesus and to the world.   As the description of the art work of Maria states: “The beauty of the work of art helps us to discover the goodness of the Lord under the virginal and maternal gaze of the Virgin Mary, younger than sin and messenger of Heaven towards which she invites us to turn our eyes:  the invisible rendered visible to our eyes by the authentic beauty which transforms the material,  opening our minds and touching our hearts in expressing, at the same time, the mystery of God incarnate wounded in His body and the  mystery of Man whose life and death acquire a new sense of the redemptive Passion of Jesus.”  

     After the Holy Family Pavilion was inaugurated on August 20, 2015, I invite families not only from the Philippines but from the whole Asia to visit it to pray especially that the dreaded “ideological colonization” that threatens the purity and beauty of the human family, based on a stable marriage between a man and a woman, will not enter our shores.  This threat has been recently made more stark by the decision of the US Supreme Court to declare that gays and lesbians have a “constitutional right” to get married.  As Pope Francis said in a talk he delivered in Rome, giving to same-sex union the legal status of marriage is to bastardize this sacred institution.  Let us pray that our leaders will never make the mistake of the five members of the U.S. Supreme Court that literally constitutionalized same-sex marriage (the saving grace was that there were four of the Justices who dissented from the majority opinion).  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.