In six days, on Oct. 21, the Philippines, a dominantly Christian and deeply religious country, will witness the canonization of its second saint, Blessed Pedro Calungsod. With each passing day, the excitement escalates. In fact, excitement is an understatement. What word would be apt to describe the 5,000 Filipino pilgrims--mostly from Cebu and Cebuano-speaking provinces--who are expected to attend the canonization rites for Calungsod at the Vatican, or the laborious preparations of the Archdiocese of Cebu for the grand procession and national thanksgiving mass on Nov. 30, or the cultural and artistic renditions by ordinary people of the life and faith of the teenage catechist?
Just the other day, I was surrounded with lively talks and speculations about and over who from media outlets in Cebu will be going to cover. I was a church beat reporter for a year so I could just imagine how much in high spirits the local media is. I mean, it is not everyday one gets to cover directly or indirectly a canonization. It’s another religious milestone for the country. For all we know, it might take decades for another Filipino saint to be canonized, let alone blessed.
I was three years old, barely speaking and walking, when San Lorenzo Ruiz, a family man and the first Filipino saint, was canonized in Oct. 28, 1987. He was canonized by the much loved Pope John Paul II. It is refreshing to be able “to be aware” of a canonization. It is even more heartening to know that my young sister and her generation and the generations after her will now have a new role model to extract inspiration from, apart from the singing and dancing stars of South Korea.
Thinking deeper, I think it is more than just the event that is exciting. It is the fact--an important one--that Calungsod was an ordinary teenager. A teenage saint! Oh, I’m not saying a teenager has to die violently for his or her faith in order to get sanctified, just like what Calungsod (and Ruiz) did. What I’m saying is a teenager was able to do something extraordinarily well--to have the courage to not just face fear but deal with it, to have the selfless ability to sacrifice time with family and friends for a greater cause, and to have the perseverance and faith to accomplish an important mission. Calungsod, for me, sounds like he’s now shouting from his place on God’s side that if he was able to do extraordinary and awe-inspiring things amid barbarians and harsher natural conditions, so we could we in this digital space and age. And age, for that matter, is of little significance.
For more information about Blessed-soon-to-be-Saint Pedro Calungsod, visit this page dedicated for him.
- Nancy -