Spain-based Filipino priest and author Gilbert Luis R. Centina released his latest novel in New York last week.
The novel, “Rubrics and Runes,” tells the story of a religious friar caught in the maelstrom of conventual and secular political intrigues when the two supposedly incongruous worlds collide.
When the fictional José Morán entered the monastery, it was to pursue the “highest form of chivalry.” But his fate as a religious priest takes a precipitous turn when social paroxysm grips the fictional island-nation of Islas e Islotes after the downfall of the government.
To cover up his own misdeeds, his corrupt religious superior seizes the ensuing chaos and collaborates with human rights violators in the military to accuse the friar of a heinous crime.
The plot unravels as those who claim to follow Christ wade into politics, taking for granted his injunction to “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Centina said in a statement that the novel unmasks “cassocked hypocrites.”
“Rubrics and Runes” is the first novel written by Centina under his real name. The previous one, “Wages of Sin,” was released under a nom de guerre in Honolulu in 1988.
“Rubrics and Runes” is the fourth book he has released this year, the most productive span so far in his entire literary career.
Critics have described Centina, who entered the Augustinian monastery in 1964, as “a leading Christian voice in contemporary literature.”
Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila ordained Centina a priest in 1975 before he volunteered to go to the mission a mission in Peru. A year prior to his ordination, he won the Palanca Memorial Awards, the country’s highest literary honor, in English poetry.
His works have been included in Philippine high school and college textbooks, including the Filipino Heritage, the country’s first encyclopedia.
Besides English, he also writes in Spanish and in two Philippine languages, Hiligaynon and Tagalog.
He received the Asian Catholic Publishers Catholic Authors Award in 1996, which he considers as his most treasured recognition, along with his being selected as one of the outstanding chaplains of the Philippines in the year 2000 by the Knights of Columbus.
A well-traveled writer, he has visited many places in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and Asia, including Tibet. He works and lives in Spain and spends his downtime in the New York metropolitan area where his parents and some siblings reside.