WHAT is a saint?
This was the question tackled by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday, Day 2 of Ambag 2021, the University-wide retreat at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.
To be a saint is to be a “normal Christian,” said Villegas, the former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), as he decried the “normalization” of lying, cursing, extramarital affairs and other sins in society.
“A saint is a normal Christian. The problem with us is that we have become too abnormal. We have made sin normal. We have made lying normal. We have made extramarital affairs normal. We have made cursing normal. We have made cheating normal,” Villegas said.
Villegas, who wore the Dominican habit as a member of the priestly fraternity of the Order of Preachers, called on UST faculty members and staff to always preach the Christ’s saving act on the cross.
Saying the University has no room for “cowards,” Villegas urged them to be like Christian martyrs who courageously stood for the Lord and were eventually rewarded with eternal joy.
“Sa UST, bawal ang duwag. Hindi tayo basagulero pero bawal ang duwag. Bawal ang duwag sa krus kasi kung duwag tayo sa krus, wala tayong karapatang tawaging Kristiyano,” he said.
“They can kill my body but they cannot kill my faith, my soul. Where is your joy? Your joy cannot be in your fat salary envelope. Your joy cannot be in the popularity that people give you because all of that is temporary. What makes you happy? The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr. O.P., prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, said the retreat was as an opportunity for the participants to allow God in their lives in the University.
“If we are going to weave everything together, maybe we’ll produce what is very close to our hearts, and to us Dominicans…to contemplate. Or to put it in another way, long, loving peace, long, loving gaze of our experience here in UST,” Sipalay said in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration.
Sipalay reminded attendees of the importance of contemplation not just in their University experience but also in their lives.
“Retreat [is] to find God in this experience. Where was God in all these years I am here in UST? What is contemplation for us? We allow things to unfold before us and we have to see where is God in that experience,” Sipalay said.
He also called on University faculty and staff to emulate the Blessed Mother’s contemplative attitude as she kept her faith in her son Jesus despite the challenges she had experienced.