STRONG intimacy with God through prayer and contemplation is the basis of being good spiritual shepherds of the Word.
This was the message of Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, D.D. to the alumni of the UST Central Seminary during their 73rd anniversary homecoming at the Seminary gym last January 23.
In his homily at the Santissimo Rosario parish church, Adams emphasized the need for priests to contemplate and pray in silence in order to understand the words of God through his son Jesus Christ.
“Relationship with God enables us to speak as we are,” Adams told the 12 bishops and more than 250 priests who attended the annual event. “Closeness to God does not make our hearts small. It doesn’t impoverish our intelligence. On the contrary, it gives us what we need, to penetrate creation in its entire splendor.”
He cited the example of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, who institutionalized the Church’s philosophy in his writings.
“St. Thomas prayed to obtain an intelligence that is true, that is valid, clear, and dynamic,” Adams said. “Thomas was able to receive, understand and even welcome pagan ideas. He managed to extract wisdom from pagan ideas. He was open in a powerful way to God, to His creation, to all human ideas.”
According to Adams, intelligence without God can be destructive, adding that even brilliant thinkers can bring darkness to the world.
“Intelligence can do many things. It can construct systems of ideas. But as we know, many philosophers did not cast light on the world,” the Papal Nuncio said.
“Truth, freedom and fraternity are all Christian ideas. But if one sets apart these ideas from a union with God, the result will be a delirium that distorts reality, where so much evil can be done,” he added. As men of the cloth, Adams said that priests need to contemplate in silence, just as what Jesus did during his ministry.
“How can we open our souls and our world to the word of God if we do not enter into the silence of God from which the Word comes from?” Adams asked. “Jesus’ words were born in silence, on the mountain where he prayed to His Father. Only if you and I will pray and contemplate can we arrive at the truth.”
Preserve integrity, wisdom
A day before Adams addressed the UST clergy, priest-turned-governor Fr. Ed “Among Ed” Panlilio tackled moral integrity and good governance as keynote speaker of the first of two conferences held in connection with the alumni festivities at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex auditorium last January 23.
“In the backdrop of black propaganda from adversary groups, it is not easy to run for public office when the power of money and muscles dominate the election campaign, which becomes a daunting task and rigorous effort for priests who plunge into politics,” Panlilio said.
Speaking from his own experience, he took the challenge to run as governor of Pampanga as a last resort, “when moral decay reached its highest point and no lay man would ever dare to challenge the gambling lords of the area.”
Panlilio added that the country’s clergy should focus on helping people from all walks of life to strive for good governance and responsible citizenship in barrios, barangays, parishes, dioceses, towns, and provinces.
The governor also suggested that the existing Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting be upgraded into the “Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Citizenship” to enable people to become good citizens of the country, thereby arresting corruption spawned by patronage politics.
“As priests of the Church, all are called to determine their own social frameworks in order to foster good leadership and citizenship,” Panlilio said.
Fr. John Baptist Lee Keh-Mien, D.D. the bishop of Hsinchu, Taiwan, graced the second conference, discussing the topic “Thomasian Priests: Men of Ecclesiastical Learning.”