MANILA—Speaking before a vast crowd during the National Thanksgiving Mass for Cebu’s homegrown saint, Archbishop-emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal called on the faithful to live an integrated life, stressing that a true Christian cannot live a double life.
A true Christian can be faithful in living his Christian faith and be a faithful citizen of his country at the same time, the retired Cebu archbishop said.
Fidelity to the Christian faith should not run counter to one’s observance of the law, he said. “If we have to be Christians, let us be good citizens as well, observing every just law, practicing justice, in all our affairs being honest in word and deed.”
“Let our citizenship be empowered by our Christian faith, seeking to apply God’s will in the public and private life,” the cardinal said, exhorting the vast throng of devotees that filled up the 27 hectare empty space of South Road Properties in Cebu City on November 30.
Delivered alternately in English, Cebuano and Tagalog, Vidal’s homily was punctuated with applause from the public as he addressed the mammoth crowd with a personal touch, as that of a father to his children.
“Let our gratitude this day be sustained by the daily conduct of our lives. Let our faith empower us to be faithful followers of Jesus and beautiful citizens of our country. Let us no longer live dual citizenship. Good Christians but bad citizens.”
He urged for consistent laws that would form people to become good citizens not only for the country but ultimately for the next life.
The country’s laws should be in place to serve the public good, he said—starting from “individual human body, to the human community, to the wider environment.”
He said the essence of sainthood is nothing less but consistency in living one’s Christian life, because “any inconsistency will ultimately lead to the breakdown of human society.”
“In regard to the self we must exercise self mastery, in regard to others, justice, in regard to environment, care and respect. In every level, we exercise restraint, for that is the nature of rational beings,” he added.
No shortcut to holiness
Reflecting on modern day’s take on love, the cardinal noted that present generation’s idea of love is rather selfish and self-seeking.
“It seeks the easy way out, it seeks fulfillment without facing consequences. It does not assume responsibility,” said the diminutive cardinal, his voice booming.
He said the real meaning of love—a love that edifies and purified by faith—must be taught to the young of today.
“This is the love that we must teach our young, not the love that is self-seeking, not the love that sets no limits to the self, not the love that robs lovers of their soul, but the love that gives dignity, the love that edifies, the love that ennobles,” he said.
He acknowledged that following the right thing is not always easy. But emphasizing on the life of the young saint, he said the love that St. Pedro has shown “can point us to the future because it is timeless.”
It is a love that is patterned after than of Christ, he said.
“Other forms of love make a semblance of sacrifice, though they are merely acts of despair. Others give no value to sacrifice at all because they are merely acts of self-seeking. True love, pure love flows from the heart of Jesus crucified,” the cardinal stressed.
Vidal also urged the people to exercise patience and perseverance as they strive to live faithfully their Christian life, saying “there is no short cut to holiness.”
“We all have to learn to wait, to be patient, to strive our best every day, to have faith in God” as lack of patience and perseverance can only lead us to infidelity, he said.
Joining Vidal in the Eucharistic celebration were Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Manila Archbishop-emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam and numerous bishops and priests all over the Philippines and abroad.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar Binay and some Cabinet members and Senate officials were also around during the Mass.
Cebu local officials led by Governor Gwen Garcia and Mayor Michael Rama also attended the celebration.
The Mass was preceded by a foot procession of devotees that began at 1 p.m. going towards SRP and a fluvial procession of the image of San Pedro from Mandaue City to the Templete.
Reports estimated around a million people came to celebrate the Thanksgiving Mass that began 5 p.m. and ended at 7 in the evening. (CBCPNews)