JUST OUTSIDE THE ENTRANCE of the Ayala Westgrove Heights, a few minutes from Sta. Rosa, stands the Church of St. Benedict. It is a gift to the community by the developer, Ayala Land.
In conceiving the project, the designers had to look to the roots of faith experience and discover what people really need to pray. In this modern world, we talk fast, eat fast, travel fast and even pray fast.
Our impatience to get to the end and our focus on completion rather than on the process is a real danger. For instance, when we read the scripture too quickly, we may miss the message or when we recite prayers mechanically, we are not comforted by the faith in the words. All these have a power all its own and we do not reap it. St. Benedict realized that power, so he took the time to let prayer work within him. It is hoped that his inspiration and example would help the community glean more from attentive, purposeful prayer.
Designed in his honor
This, likewise, was the way this church was designed in his honor. It took more than five years from conceptualization to completion. Now it is a reality.
St. Benedict initiated and was committed to the monastic system. During the fifth century he was able to set up 12 monasteries in Subiaco, Italy, one of which is the Abbey in Subiaco. This monastery has a distinct Mediterranean character and has served as one of the inspirations for this church.
From the proportions of the façade and the roofing to the rose window and the long and narrow openings, the church in Westgrove resembles that Abbey. Features such as the arches, bell tower and the courtyard framing the church were also inspired by the same model, each one allowing some space and shield from the outside.
Indoors, the air is passively cooled by clerestory windows and the lofty ceiling, although air-conditioners are in place. Lighting is muted, with the stained glass windows providing charming illumination. There is also a glow from the altar because of the patina of gold leaf behind the crucifix, which was taken from a vision of St. Benedict.
Symbol of our faith
From the time of the early Christians until today, the cross has been the symbol of our faith. From the writings of St. Gregory the Great, we learned that St. Benedict had a deep faith in the Cross and worked miracles with the sign of the Cross. It is from this Cross of St. Benedict that the cross at the top of the church was modeled.
In the medal of St Benedict, there is inscribed Crux Sacra sit mihi lux, which means: ?May the Holy Cross be my light.? Indeed, may the Holy Cross and this church serve as the community?s light.
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