Thousands of devotees welcome the image of San Pedro Calungsod at South Road Properties, Cebu City before the National Thanksgiving Mass for the second Filipino saint. Photo by Jaime T. Campos

01 December 2012, 12:56 p.m. – SOUTH Road Properties, Cebu City—CEBU Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal called on hundreds of thousands of devotees to yearn for the “true love of Christ” — the same love that compelled St. Pedro Calungsod to “die a thousand deaths” — in his homily during a thanksgiving mass here yesterday.

“True love and pure love flow from the heart of Jesus crucified,” Vidal said. “Pedro [Calungsod] made many sacrifices. He had to die a thousand deaths so that one more death doesn’t matter anymore.”

Speaking before a crowd of roughly a million devotees, some of whom flew from other parts of the country for the National Day of Thanksgiving for Calungsod’s canonization, Vidal said the second Filipino saint should be emulated for
being steadfast even in the face of mortal adversity.

“We have to follow Calungsod in his youth, to be honest,” he said. “It is the love of Christ that compelled him to lay down his life and it is this love that compelled us to honor a life called out of love.”

Love today, he said, is rooted in self-serving ways, seeking only fulfillment. This is the complete opposite of the short life lived by Calungsod, who did not experience the frivolities of youth.

“Our love today seeks the easy way out and fulfillment without facing consequences,” Vidal said. “Calungsod spent his youth learning the basics of faith, acquiring self-discipline, developing virtue in the fibers of his flesh and in the marrows of his bones.” 

“Some people say they can love without believing, but that is like saying to swim without even jumping into the water, or breathing without air,” he said. “Even the most elementary form of love requires us to believe in the love of Christ.”

Vidal said yesterday’s thanksgiving was meant to give honor to the one “who was forgotten but now remembered.”

“The celebration today is a testament of how one life refuses to die because it lives on as part of God,” said Vidal, who worked for the beatification of Calungsod during the papacy of Pope John Paul II.

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino III urged Filipino Catholics to “remain ardent in our pursuit of the full Catholic’s way of life” as he recounted the life of Calungsod.

“Our gathering today embodies the Filipino pride and the contribution of St. Pedro Calungsod,” he said in his message to the nation following the mass.

“Centuries have come and gone and still we see today that the light of his (Calungsod) faith in the Lord burns brighter than even before,” he said.

He added that Calungsod, who was canonized last Oct. 21, reflected the kindness of the Visayan and showed how an individual becomes a bulwark of faith.

“May the life of Calungsod continue to be both guide and inspiration to the Filipino nation and to the entire human race,” Aquino said.

Calungsod studied catechism at a very young age. At 14, he had to leave his family and friends to join the Jesuit priests in the island of Ladrones (now Marianas).

In Marianas, he assisted Fr. Diego Luis San Vitores.
The mission territory proved to be hostile. Some even accused the missionaries that the water they were using for baptism was poisoned.

Calungsod died at the age of 17 on April 6, 1672. A native stabbed him with a spear and bludgeoned him in the head with a machete out of hatred for the Christian missionaries.

A procession preceded the thanksgiving mass, with images coming from dioceses surrounding Cebu. The pilgrim image of St. Pedro Calungsod was brought to the “Templete” at South Road Properties by a fluvial parade.
Brylle B. Tabora


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